by Jan Alyce Avery, historical (2007)
Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 1-59998-703-1
Jan Alyce Avery's Shadowed Knight is a familiar story. We have a bastard knight who'd been rewarded by his liege with land and all, but he has to marry the heiress that comes with the goodies. The woman in question is the independent sort who does not want to marry at all. The hero, Richard Berenger, also comes with a familiar best friend sort while the heroine Lady Margaret D'Arcy, at 24, is used to running Warnmack on her own in the last six years after the men in her family were killed. Naturally there would be all kinds of power issues that the two have to deal with, along with reluctant attraction, until some bad guy starts trying to get everybody killed. I'm sure you have read at least twenty medieval historical romances with this storyline in the past.
However, Shadowed Knight is still worth a look if you ask me because of several things that stand out above its overused storyline and various scenes that feel too familiar due to their adherence to the formula. One, the author tries to strive for some kind of historical accuracy here and there despite the fact that the characters seem to be contemporary characters at times transplanted to a Medieval Café joust night. Okay, that's not really a good thing, but really, the anachronistic pop psychology the characters have going on here aren't that bad, I think. However, I do love the fact that Margaret lives up to her role as that independent type without crossing the line to outright stupidity like so many heroines of her kind tend to do. She really can take care of herself. Richard has issues, but then again, they always do. But he grows to appreciate the bloodthirsty aspect of his wife soon enough, a fact that I get a kick out of.
In short, this medieval romance won't win any awards for originality but the main characters have some memorable chemistry and they also make quite a kick-ass formidable husband-and-wife team once they sort out most of their initial differences. If you have a fondness for the whole arranged-marriage theme in medieval romances and you are not too much a stickler for historical accuracy, Shadowed Knight may be a pretty good way to spend a few hours in a day.
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