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Book CoverLawson’s review of Secrets of the Knight (Bladesmen, Book 3) by Julia Latham
Historical romance released by Avon 26 Aug 08

As I think a few readers are bemoaning (maybe), there aren’t a lot of different settings in historicals. So when Julia Latham’s books come out, I usually snap them up because medieval aren’t found around much. I was a bit behind in reading this one, as I’ve been in a major funk and uh. . .disappeared from reviewing. As Syb says, bad, bad Lawson, and I would have to agree, as a search shows the review for One Knight Only, book two in this series, went up in November 2007. But to amend things and get down to some reviewing business…

The legendary League of the Blade sent Diana Winslow to Castle Bannaster to watch Viscount Bannaster. A cruel man, her assignment is to protect the women of the castle from his abusive actions. In protecting one of the servants, the viscount ends up dead. Diana flees in fear and has no other assignment from the League to keep her busy. She is instead banished to an estate in Yorkshire with her sister by their brother.

The problem arises six years later when the new Viscount Bannaster, Thomas, comes to hopefully pay court to the Winslow sisters. After receiving the title from his brother, he does some not so wise things to keep his life on track in the way he thinks it should go. These acts were present in the first two books of the series, Thrill of the Knight and One Knight Only.

Diana knows of the wicked deeds of the viscount, and fears he will recognize her from years before, so she instead kidnaps him and keeps him in the dungeon to protect herself and the dreams of her sister. But when he fails to arrive at the estate as planned Diana must do everything she can to keep him hidden and her culpability in the past and present to herself and get her life back to the way she’s used to.

This all, of course, goes awry when Thomas escapes and sets out to punish Diana with seduction.

It’s an interesting story, using the semi-villain from two books and making him the hero of this one. What made him work is 1) his history, 2) his explanations for his behavior and 3) his honesty about what he had done and not trying to dodge the fact that he deserved to suffer his consequences. Plus spending time in a dungeon gives him the idea that he did some time for his past crimes anyway. Since he was the second son and not expected to inherit, Thomas was destined for the church and when he does become the viscount, he does his best to be the warrior that’s expected of him, instead of the scholar and cleric he’s always trained to be.

Diana seemed to be a bit more a woman of her time, or at least a bit more of one compared to the other two heroines in the first two books. Her sister-in-law’s jealousy of Diana and her sister had them forced to a far flung estate and out of London, but Diana instead does her duty and manages the household as best she can. Her participation in the League of the Blade, limited though it is, doesn’t fit much with the historical times, but then I’m sure there were some girls, like Diana, who had indulgent (or neglectful) fathers and let them train to use some weapons.

As they fall in love, talk about their pasts and lives, these two wounded and rather guilty souls do find their happily ever after, and it’s nice to see a villain become a hero without giving up his bad boy nature too much. The siblings of Diana give ample kinks to the plot, even if they are one note characters doing what they will try to do best, throw those kinks in the works. Overall, it’s a good way to pass the time and gives two guilty people the chance to make amends and make their own happy endings.

lawson-icon.jpgGrade: C+

Read more reviews of this series by following its tag.

A knight never reveals her secrets…
When young Diana Winslow arrived at Castle Bannaster, her beauty and bravery disguised beneath a servant’s dress, she had no idea her life would change forever. But now the cruel and lecherous Viscount Bannaster lies dead–and the novice Bladeswoman cannot escape her guilt. Nothing, not even fighting for the Crown, can erase her fears…especially when she comes face to face with Thomas, the viscount’s startlingly seductive brother.
Desperate to keep him from discovering the truth, Diana attempts a daring abduction. But all her skills as a knight are no defense against the powerful, irresistible nobleman who has just become her prisoner. A man with a mystery of his own. A man who eyes her so hungrily, so wantonly, that he could tempt her to give up all her secrets for one wicked night in his arms…
Read an excerpt.

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