REVIEW: The King’s Mistress by Sandy BlairTuesday, June 5, 2012 1:00
Sandy Blair is known for her Scottish romance novels with paranormal elements and her humor, which are infused into her books. She knows how to keep a reader entertained. This time with The King’s Mistress, instead of her humor-filled paranormal romances, we get a lovely story woven into and around the fabric of Scottish history.
Britt MacKinnon is King Alexander’s captain of the guard and has been sent to fetch Greer Armstrong, his sire’s favorite bed partner, back to Edinburgh Castle for the King to continue with his bedroom antics, which he should be participating in with his queen – so that Scotland will not be caught without an heir. So instead of taking what opportunities he can to keep the man on the straight and narrow, Britt finds himself on horseback galloping across the country toward a woman he never really liked during the time she spent at the castle.
In the meantime, Geneen, Greer’s twin sister, has just learned that Greer is carrying the heir to the throne. Knowing Greer’s life would be in jeopardy if the queen ever finds out about her condition, Gen believes the only way to make everything right and safe is to pretend to be her twin, convince the court she is not pregnant – which won’t be difficult since Gen isn’t with child – and then hightail it to Ireland, which is where she’s sending Greer to have the babe and keep them both out of harm’s way.
That’s when the knock on the door comes and Britt enters her life. He doesn’t realize he has the wrong woman in tow when they begin their trek back to the King. And that’s what I love about Ms. Blair’s characters – they’re intelligent and they work things out without having to be smacked over the head. Britt is a wee bit confused why he’s suddenly attracted to this woman, when he wanted nothing to do with her before. Something isn’t quite right where this Greer is concerned, things just don’t add up. By the time they reach the castle, he has it all figured out, and he’s the only one who knows what Gen is up to and why she’s doing it.
Though Gen’s plan sounds good and may work, as life is wont to do, things just don’t go as she wants. It’s the Queen she has to fear, lies and deceit and immediately being thrown into the dungeon without anyone’s knowledge. Fortunately, Britt again figures out what’s happened and knows he has to be diligent in watching over Gen while she’s at the castle. But it’s only the beginning of the Queen’s machinations while trying to save herself from being tossed away like leftover garbage from breakfast, now that she’s on her own with only a few loyal servants’ help. While I can understand her angst and wanting to keep her life as she knows it, I just can’t bring myself to sympathize with her, even knowing she’s a real character from history. Or maybe that’s why I can’t side with her – a real person going to such lengths and then some, when she is no longer entitled to her station. Especially the depth of her lies. Although I know a person did what they had to in her day and age, it still doesn’t sit well.
Therefore, as you can now guess, I’m usually not one who likes to read books dealing with an historical timeline and its characters. I mean, there’s only so much you can do with that history, especially if the story is following real people. Ms. Blair has chosen to weave Britt and Geneen into all the actual facts surrounding King Alexander and Scottish politics of the time, and she does it so very successfully. I enjoyed these two characters from the beginning. Once they trust each other, the attraction truly begins, and the romance between them is fraught with danger, but they hold steady as long as possible before the past does what the Queen fails to do.
I like that Britt faces that past head on, after realizing he can’t leave Gen behind, no matter where his life is headed. He needs her. Going home to face the family he hasn’t seen in years is more difficult than he ever thought, but he’s determined to tie up all loose ends to bring Geneen into his life permanently. And, let me tell you, Britt is in for one heck of a welcome home, nothing left as it was when he walked away years before.
This is a wonderfully written and very romantic story. Ms. Blair has a keen knack for detail and dialogue, leading you straight into 13th century Scotland like you belong there. Her characters talk the talk and walk the walk, never misstepping to pull the reader out of the story to question what’s going on. They are charming and strong-willed characters who will tug you into their lives right off the bat, giving you the opportunity to see firsthand how they live, love, and survive with determination and pride, never relinquishing hold of their integrity.
If you’ve not read Sandy Blair before now, you’re just in time to enjoy one very talented Scottish historical author.
The long way home could be the shortest road to ruin.
The king of Scotland is in a snit. Which means Britt MacKinnon, proud captain of the king’s guard, has an onerous task: fetch Alexander’s favorite paramour back to the royal bed—now. Never mind that the crown should be about the business of getting a legitimate heir. Especially since England’s Edward I would love nothing more than to seize an empty Scottish throne.
When the handsome soldier appears on her doorstep, Geneen Armstrong has to think quickly. Her twin lies abed in her cottage, pregnant with the king’s bastard. If the barren queen learns the truth, the foolish girl’s life won’t be worth a farthing.
She must somehow transform her graceless, plain-spoken self into her vivacious, talented sister. Then, after the court is convinced she carries no child, use her herbal knowledge to sour the king’s taste for her sister’s company—for good.
By the time Britt realizes this unusually articulate, ungodly stubborn woman is the wrong woman, tendrils of attraction have already tightened into a bond. A bond that will be tested when the king’s unexpected death puts Scotland’s very destiny at stake—and unleashes an ever-tangling web of court intrigues, secrets…and lies.
Read an excerpt.