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Friday, June 2, 2006

Lord of Danger by Anne Stuart

Half-sister to Richard the Fair, Alys has been schooled in the sheltered ways of the convent, far from the treachery and intrigue of castle life. Until she is taken from the cloister and brought to a place filled with secrets. Here she is to meet her future husband, a man some call a monster. His name is Simon of Navarre, a powerful and mysterious lord practiced in the black arts. This sensual stranger both terrifies her and fascinates her...and sets her heart burning with an unfamiliar fire.
Jaded by war, no longer able to believe in human goodness, Simon has turned toward the realm of darkness. But the master magician finds himself bewitched by the innocent Alys, who fears his very touch could damn her forever. Yet even as Simon begins to work his seductive magic, Alys senses the wounded soul beneath the cooly elegant facade. Now, as the two become pawns in Richard's treacherous scheme to become England's king, only one power can save them: the unstoppable force of love.

Alys was literally ripped away from her mother as a child and sent to a convent by her half-brother, Richard, who is a cousin to the King of England. Simon of Navarre is Richard's wizard, and to keep him happy and in line while he plots to murder the King, Richard offers him Alys' hand in marriage.

I truly enjoyed this story, my first by Anne Stuart. Simon was a dark hero, which I absolutely adore. I'm not as bad as Mailyn about it, but I get as excited over a dark, tortured hero as the next girl.

He spent the first part of his life fighting in the Crusades and is now as jaded and evil as they claim him to be. He wants Alys for the alliance she will bring him and fully intends on discarding her when he's gotten what he wanted. He doesn't plan on falling in love, however.

Alys is a big fat coward, who's scared of everything, but shows courage when protecting the ones she loves. I didn't think she was nearly as cowardly as she thought she was, which was one of the things Simon came to love and respect most about her. I thought she was a great heroine.

Now, for the things I disliked: Alys' sister, Claire. She was EXACTLY like my freakin drama queen sister and I couldn't stand her. She was vain, spoiled and a real brat. She thought only of herself and fully expected Alys to clean up all of her messes for her. She was beautiful, and had no qualms what-so-ever about preening and using her beauty to her advantage. There was a secondary plot involving Claire and a moral knight, Thomas, that drove me insane. While Claire wasn't cruel-hearted, she was self-centered enough to think the world revolved around her and I don't think she deserved a love story of her own....until she was perhaps more grown up and mature. Barring that, she needed to be taken down a peg or two and she wasn't. She was offered to Simon as well, but she said she'd throw herself out of a tower window before she'd marry him, and she forced Alys into marrying him instead, even though she (Claire) was convinced he was the devil himself.

Towards the end of the book I thought she was going to have an epiphany and decide she'd been acting like a spoiled rotten brat, but instead she induldged in a pity-party and threw a temper tantrum. Not very well done of AS in my opinion.

The second thing I disliked was the ending. It was very abrupt and left a lot of questions unanswered. Richard framed Claire for the murder of his wife, and with only 20 pages left to go, she was still in a cage on her way to London to be sentenced by the King. I thought there should have, at the very least, been an Epilogue, but overall I enjoyed the book and would recommend it.

4.5 out of 5

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