Merrimon Book Reviews

Richard I

The Near East in 1190, before Richard's conquest of Cyprus

Ruins of Dürnstein Castle, where Richard the Lionheart was kept captive.
From Medieval Book Reviews
Crusader's Lady
Crusader's Lady by Lynna Banning
by Lynna Banning

Disguises, oaths and and danger in a medieval historical romance

Jerusalem, 1192.  The Third Crusade.  Marc de Valery swore an oath to protect the king.  Marc however is not blind to the realities of the Crusades.  Hardened by war, he sees beyond into the ugly ground experiences of war and the Crusades.  Soraya al-Din swears revenge against Marc when Khalil, a man she calls her uncle, is killed.  Dressed as a lad, she only hopes she can maintain the disguise long enough to exact her revenge.  First she must complete Khalil's task of delivering a message.  For his part, Marc is not an easy man to hate.  At every turn, he surprises her with his kindness and inner nobility.  Soraya herself is not like any lad Marc has ever encountered.  She speaks Arabic and Norman French and her eyes are not the typical color of a Circassian.  When he discovers that she is no lad, but rather a woman, she only seems to mystify him even more.  Drawn to her, yet sworn to protect the king, Marc walks a fine line as his party travels through from Jerusalem to Cyprus, from Italy to a journey over the French Alps.  Will Marc be able to protect Richard without revealing his disguise to his enemies?  Will Soraya and Marc be able to find love or will duty and danger thwart their romance?

In CRUSADER'S LADY, Lynna Banning makes an exciting entry into the world of medieval romance.  Previously known for her western romances, Lynna Banning adds a freshness, giving readers a look at the lesser explored landscapes and alliances of the medieval world.  Soraya's disguise provides the ground for several humorous and sexy scenes as her innocence and womanhood are awakened by Marc's body.  Lynna Banning unmasks the disguises for the reader, but not for her characters, creating a suspenseful atmosphere as two characters missions overlap and diverge from one another.  Outside Marc's small group, danger threatens from the outside, adding another layer of suspenseful action as Marc and Soraya travel across the landscape, a landscape of countries with their own allegiances and political aims.  At each step, one slip could spell danger for the king or the members of their party.

CRUSADER'S LADY makes medieval history an integral part of the romance, bringing real historical events and persons into key moments of the romance's plot as well as the development of her characters.  Lynna Banning's ability to synthesize history and imagination into the very heart of this romance makes
CRUSADER'S LADY an exciting romance for medieval lovers.  The exquisitely placed portrait of Eleanor of Aquitaine brings a whole layer of richness to this romance and the transformation of her characters as romance enters their hearts.  Medieval history lovers will find a special delight in Lynna Banning for upping the level of historical detail to more than just a backdrop.  The romance, the themes of disguise and unmasking, and the layers of suspense are an added bonus that just make this romance fun reading from cover to cover. 

Publisher: Harlequin Historical (March 2007)

Reviewed by Merrimon, Medieval Book Reviews
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