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Fact and Fantasy in a Delightful Mix
I have read some other works by this author, and I found this one to be a particular delight. It is a slow-moving character piece for the most part, so if you are expecting some kind of massive action and drama, you will need to adjust your expectations. The author has artfully combined the real history of Henry II with a magical, fantastical storyline involving a direct male descendant of the wizard Merlin. In fact, Rolf is trying desperately to break a curse that involves both Merlin and the men in his line. Merlin is still alive, after a fashion, but living trapped in a rowan tree, cursed by a former lover. This woman in the distant past cursed not only Merlin but also men directly descended from him, especially the first-born sons. I won’t go into any more detail about the curse, but suffice to say that Rolf is Merlin’s last hope. His success hinges upon whether or not he can get the woman he loves through non-magical means. He has seen this woman in his dreams, so he knows who she is. However, when he meets the lady, she is on her way to meet the man she has been betrothed to since she was a child.
The book is actually a fascinating look at medieval times, including courtly life and the role of women. The heroine of the novel is rarely given any choice in anything, from who she is to marry to which kirtle she should wear. I enjoyed watching the slow unfolding of the story and that the heroine truly seemed to be a product of her times. I did find myself curious how this young woman was going to react when her heart led her one way but duty—which seemed truly ingrained in her character—required another. She is definitely different from most heroines in historical romance, where authors tend to give them almost more modern ways of thinking and acting. I appreciated that the author took the harder road for this one. This is an excellent story. If you like historical romance that includes true history mixed with a little magic and fantasy, you will most likely enjoy this book.