Queue My Review

September 19, 2008

Review: Secrets of the Knight by Julia Latham

Filed under: Review — Tags: , , , , , , , — jjmachshev @ 11:30 am
Secrets of the Knight by Julia Latham

As I was a bit of a tomboy growing up, I’ve often wondered how tomboys fared in days of yore. Were they beaten into submission? Could they run away and if so, to what? Were there men strong enough and secure enough to let them live in a manner different than that customary for women of the times? I’d like to think the last was true, so I was very interested in reading “Secrets of the Knight” by Julia Latham when I realized its heroine is a female warrior. This is actually her third (and I believe final) story in a series about ‘knights’. I hadn’t read the first two and didn’t have any problems reading this as a standalone novel.

Diana isn’t like other women of her time. She spent her childhood escaping to ‘the lists’ every chance she got and even entered a tournament in disguise as a 17-year old. It was there she was noticed by the “League of the Blade”–a group of anonymous swordsmen who fight for the defenseless—and she was recruited to their cause. On her first assignment, her impulsiveness and immaturity result in a situation where she has to kill a man, a Viscount no less, and her life changes forever. Six years later, her impulsiveness leads her to capture and imprison the one man who ‘might’ be able to identify her as the murderess…and her life changes yet again.

The current Viscount Bannister has no idea why he’s been imprisoned in a dungeon. But after a childhood in the sterile environment of a future priest, he can’t stand captivity. So instead, he focuses on the interesting woman who is his only contact with his captors. When he frees himself and realizes she was his captor, he decides not to expose her deed, but rather play a waiting game to figure out what her real purpose was. The more time he spends with her, the more he realizes that she is the only woman he can imagine building a future with. But he will have to convince her to spill her secrets…even if he must seduce them out of her.

I thought it was very cool that a woman from this era was accepted as a ‘Bladeswoman’ in this secret society. Her unwillingness to accept the limits of traditional roles for women of that time was quite refreshing. She made no efforts to ‘hide’ her abilities, yet didn’t come off as mannish. She could be the poster child of her time for ‘women’s lib’. What I never really understood was WHY Diana made the choices she did. Other than hearing ‘she wasn’t like other women’, we never learn what made Diana the woman she is. That bugged me throughout the book. I kept waiting…but no joy.

I liked the author’s inclusion of traditions and mores of that time in history and season and thought she did a fine job of including them without bashing the reader over the head with them. Her characters acted true to their inner natures even when presented with surprising and unusual situations and I quite liked that. Her love scenes were quite passionate, but I honestly never felt the growth into love between the hero and heroine. I felt the lust, but not the love. It seemed that so much of the story was taken up with needless conflicts caused by a lack of communication between the two. And there was very little meaningful input from any of the secondary characters; they were all quite forgettable with the exception of the younger sister who was an outright witch!

As a work of romantic fiction, I quite enjoyed reading Diana and Tom’s story in “Secrets of the Knight”. The detractors I’ve mentioned could well be things that other readers might not even notice. So if you’re looking for a medieval story of a woman’s libber paired with a knight in slightly tarnished armor…then you’ll definitely enjoy Julia Latham’s story. I enjoy the Victorian novels she writes under the name Gayle Callen, so I may give her next medieval a try as well.

Until next time…

 

Reviewed by Julie

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