Monday, April 14, 2008
Lady Gallant - Suzanne Robinson
I had this book in the TBR pile for a very long time. I heard very good things about it but at the same time I was unsure about how I would feel as I'd also heard the hero behaves very badly towards the heroine. I'm happy to say this was an A read!.
The ladies of the palace called Nora Becket "mouse". But beneath her shy, artless ways hid the heart of a lioness. A daring spy in Queen Mary's court, she risked her life to rescue the innocent from a terrible fate. Yet it was Nora who needed rescuing when cutthroats attacked her - and when Christian de Rivers, a lusty sword-wielding rogue, swept her out of harm's way...and into his arms. As magnificent and mesmerizing as a hawk, Christian both frightened and excited Nora, even as he pursued her with a single- minded passion that left her longing to be caught. Yet soon she would discover that she had reason to be frightened. For the dashing nobleman had his own secrets to keep, his own enemies to rout - and his own brand of vengeance for a wide-eyed beauty whom he loved only too well...
I think one of Robinson's strong points is how well she conveys the atmosphere of the period and bloody Mary's reign. I found myself nodding in agreement while I read her historical note in the beginning and how she understood the politics of that time. She manages to express that in the story's setting and background.
Kit and Nora could not have been more different but it's easy to see how she would be attracted to him and what attracts him to her. The story flows very nicely and Kit and Nora seem set for a happy ending when he believes he has found proof of her betrayal. Those were not easy times to be trusting when that might mean a horrible death. Till he can be sure of her actions he treats her as a traitor whose intentions are to spy on his family.
Those scenes are particularly intense. Kit's abuse is hard to read about as he plays with Nora's insecurities and uses them against her. Knowing from the beginning whose side she is on only makes it more painful for the reader.
He does eventually find out the truth and goes back to her to ask for forgiveness, But the strength that Nora could not find on her own she finds when she feels she needs to protect her little page. Kit grovels for while but Nora is inflexible and while I enjoy a good grovel scene as much as anyone I'm glad that Robinson didn't use it to end the story. Kit and Nora needed to get to know each other better and eventually change which does happen in the course of the last chapters. Nora stops being the mouse she used to be and starts demanding (and getting) respect, and Kit learns to trust her.
One last word of praise for how she wrote the characters. They are interesting, complex and attractive. We can feel their pain and their sorrows. And in the end, their happiness.