Time for another medieval romance from Julia Latham. This one again follows the story of a member of the League of the Blade, the society in Latham’s early Tudor England that protects the innocent and seeks justice for the wrongs of society. The League is the only thing that ties this book to Latham’s other three, as the characters here are new and possibly give a set up for another series following more of the knights and the ladies that come into their lives.
Adam Hilliard has been raised by the League, but feels their justice has not been extended to his family. He sets out on his own to kidnap the youngest daughter of the Marquess of Martindale, without letting the League know what he’s doing. Adam believes that the Marquess murdered his parents and wants to use his daughter, Lady Florence as leverage to be able to challenge him to combat and hopefully get the truth about his parents. Though he does his best to keep things in hand, Florrie provides a challenge, as she’s different than he expected.
Florrie hasn’t spent much time away from the secluded castle in Yorkshire. Her father kept her hidden and she behaved more as a servant to her family rather than a daughter of the house. Though afraid at first, she sees her kidnapping as a way to have an adventure with some new friends before she has to give up the small amount of freedom she has to go to a convent and completely cut off from the world and her family.
When Adam learns along the way how her father really feels about Florrie, he is more determined to face the man, especially when Florrie does everything she can to work her way into his heart. Florrie makes it her mission not only to have an adventure, but to find out the truth behind her kidnapping and why Adam is as driven, yet doesn’t seem to understand the odd way he behaves around her. When they reach London, both have a decision to make about their future and hope there is room for love.
What could be an interesting story is bogged down by Adam’s need for revenge, his singlemindedness until it’s almost too late, and the constant reminder that he was raised by the League of the Blade. When his parents died, the League took him and his brothers to a secluded castle and educated them in the ways of fighting, stealth and other things a Bladesmen would need to know. What they lost out on was dealing with living day to day in the real world. This, in the end, makes Adam a deadly, yet naive character and I felt there was much eye rolling on my part as I was reading his handling of certain situations.
Florrie is also naïve, but she comes off more in the way of a sheltered lady, rather than someone who is happy to be oblivious to the nature of life as Adam sometimes is. Due to a childhood injury, she’s left with a severe limp, but she’s coped well with it and has an optimistic outlook on life, though it’s definitely not a rosy outlook. She understands the nature of people and is willing to go with life as it happens, mostly because she’s been handed a harder life due to her injury and her father.
What starts to grate and give much eye rolling besides Adam is the constant repetition of Florrie’s destiny of entering a convent, Adam’s refusal to reveal anything of himself while he wants to know everything about Florrie, his constant need to be the protector, even over his brother Robert who is a man himself, Florrie thinking she can change Adam from his quest and Adam thinking that what he’s doing is justice and not revenge. That’s quite a list. Latham’s books, while entertaining, of course aren’t really historically accurate, but the characters in this one don’t really save it to being about average as the other three she’s written.
D+ C- (Florrie did save it, though Adam just needs to grow up quite a bit more)
Read more reviews of the related series by following the series’ tag.
Adam Hilliard, secret Earl of Keswick, lives for one thing: to kill the man who slew his parents. Raised in secrecy by the League of the Blade, he would do anything to restore his family’s honor.
Lady Florence Becket is the key to his revenge. But when he kidnaps her, Florrie is neither frightened nor furious, as most other young ladies would be. The bold and powerful stranger who spirited her from her father’s castle could give her the freedom and adventure she craves.
She is moved by his quest. He is captivated by her courage. They have no defense against the passion ignited by a single kiss. Adam has taken her from all she’s ever known–but now Florrie will delight in her scandalous seduction.
Read an excerpt.