Thursday, July 30, 2015

REVIEW: Heart of a Knight by Barbara Samuel

Heart of a Knight
by Barbara Samuel

Publisher: HarperCollins
Page Count: 368
Release Date: first August 1997
Format: Kindle

How got: personal Kindle library

First attention getter: the author

Synopsis:

From GoodReads:

NO HEART EVER BEAT SO NOBLE—NOR SO STRONG

Britain, 1351. After an arduous exile to flee the darkness and danger sweeping her lands, Lady Elizabeth D’Auvers returns home to Woodell Castle, yearning only for her looms and her quiet life. To her astonishment, she finds the castle and farmlands thriving, thanks to Lord Thomas of Roxburgh, a knight errant whose size and strength offer protection to Elizabeth’s castle and its people.

Lord Thomas’s warm gaze makes Elizabeth’s flesh burn with unaccustomed fire, and her defenses crumble, leaving her heart as vulnerable as her trembling body. Yet chilling thoughts trouble her mind. For there is something dark and mysterious about this man—a secret that makes him as forbidden to desire as he is impossible to resist.

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 3

I gotta say this book was actually a bit disappointing. I’m used to strong, dramatic stuff from Samuel and this one was just so-so. Not horrible but not that awesome either.

I liked that the author strives to give us a firm grounding in history, citing occasionally the Black Death and the social unrest among the classes due to it. She also gives enough details, setting-wise, to firmly establish the story in the late Middles Ages rather than a vague “medieval” setting.

Yet, she veers from past patterns and seems to stay away from anything that could be considered “heavy” or substantial. There’s no in-depth look at how society is affected by the Black Death nor is the class different between our two leads explored like it screamed out to be. In the past, this author has really given me food for thought with her forbidden romances, but this one was just lacking that spark that could have been there.

I liked the leads well enough. I was invested in their developing relationship and in the potential danger hanging over their heads due to Thomas’ hidden status as a noble and the pending marriage for Elizabeth. However, they seemed to fall into stereotypes more often than I liked. Elizabeth was the perfect demure and beautiful medieval lady, seemingly perfect in every way. Thomas was your big and brawny peasant, virile, strong, and just a butch of a man. I sighed more than once at these cookie-cutter characterizations.

Secondary characters fall into the same trap. Isabella is the slutty, teenager step-daughter. Robert is the bratty step-son. Isabella’s betrothed is instantly in love with her. Of course, they are all reformed by our two leads and their circumstances (note the heavy sarcasm…). Another neat little trap Samuel fell into with this one.

So, not a horrible book but not up to the standards I’ve grown to expect from Samuel. Maybe this is an older work; I don’t know. Setting and world-building show some effort. Characters are mostly stereotypes, though the leads are still enjoyable to a point. I was at least in tune with them enough to care about their relationship’s eventual outcome. I wouldn’t read this book again; it’s that forgettable. Sad, for a book by this author to fall into that chasm.

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