Merrimon Book Reviews

Edward IV

Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham

Duke of Gloucester
later, Richard III,
brother to Edward IV

From Medieval Book Reviews
Her One Desire
Her One Desire by Kimberly Killion
by Kimberly Killion

Can a spy love the daughter of the Lord High Executioner?

Kimberly Killion's debut medieval romance combines political and sensual passion in a riveting read from start to finish. With an English heroine, the daughter of the Lord High Executioner and a Scottish spy for a hero, Her One Desire brings to life all the intrigues and danger of late fifteenth century England.

With the Lord High Executioner as her father, Lady Lizbeth Ives knows people look at her with disgust as they keep their distance. Planning to escape the clutches of Lord Hollister, the king's chief warder, Lizzie intends to expose this man's treason and rid herself once and for all of this man's evil. As she takes her leave, she comes across an all too familiar scene of her father at work --- a man with a whip raised, meting out punishment on two men accused of crimes. Knowing Broderick Maxwell is a prisoner in the Tower, Lizzie Ives knows she must do something. In helping him to escape, she also escapes herself from her dark tortured past and an arranged marriage which will kill her soul. But, in doing so, she has just put herself at risk. Will this Scottish spy protect her? Who is a danger to whom? She works to protect the crown from a treasonous plot. He seeks a means of getting France to side with  Scotland as a means of protecting the borderlands. How can these two enemies at such cross purposes, ever come to love one another --- yet love is exactly what they do, a love that awakens each to their fullest, a love that breaks the darkness in their hearts and souls.

Having seen suffering first hand, Lizzie Ives is a woman determined to alleviate the suffering of others. Not only does she render assistance to prisoners, but her determination to actively stop from being a victim herself to Lord Hollister adds a richness to her character. Broderick Maxwell, heir to the Warden of the West Marches, feels a responsibility to his family and the people of the Scottish border lands. As determined as Lizzie is to expose the treason against King Edward IV to the Duke of Gloucester and seek refuge, as a spy, Broc knows more about the political alliances beneath the surface. Torn between protecting her and his need for the information she possesses, Broc is a man true to his vow. Handsome and strong, Broc is also a man troubled in spirit. Lizzie is English, not at all the type of wife for a Scottish laird. As the two work together despite their different political loyalties, somehow can these two wounded spirits find joy deeper and more rewarding through love than all the forces, internal and external, that would separate them?

Her One Desire combines rich characterization, a sexy romance, and a suspenseful plot into a riveting read from start to finish. Although darker than many of the medieval romances I have been reading, Her One Desire hits just the right chord for me. Choosing the Lord High Executioner as a character, Kimberly Killion allows the reader to see a darker side of the period, but a darker side that renders the romance between Lizzie and Broc all the more moving. Kimberly Killion does a magnificent job in her creation of a mean, horrible villain, one who is simply wicked on multiple levels. Don't pick this one up expecting a light read but rather a romance with a wide range of emotion from humor, to sensuous tension, to something more soulful. In Her One Desire, Kimberly Killion creates a portrait of transforming love, one that reaches into the very darkness and brings a very special happy ending to the hero and the heroine --- two people whose troubles and triumphs make them feel destined for one another on the deepest levels. Amid the tension-filled political dangers, Kimberly Killion creates moments of delightful, humorous twists that lighten the heart. The language here is full of colloquialisms, giving a nice texture to the book. On a medieval level, this book has a certain tone that encapsulates the medieval world. Without resorting to the sometimes coarse levels of such genres as the earlier medieval fabliaux and later fabliaux-influenced English/Scottish tales recently being printed right before the start of this book, the colorful slang in Her One Desire gives a certain realistic feel for the everyday language used among people. What a bold and wonderful move to choose the Lord High Executioner as a character to give a certain window into the Medieval world not often seen! Dramatic, dangerous and full of passion, Her One Desire makes the reader feel the tensions of love amidst this precarious time in English history, a time rife with intrigue, while also giving the reader a glimpse at the tensions between England and the Scottish border lands. Kimberly Killion's debut medieval romance is fresh in vision and a very welcome addition to the genre.

In romance, Scottish romance is a genre to itself. Much of the political intrigue here takes place in England, although the Scottish borderland spy as a hero gives a nice look into an auxiliary intrigue behind the scenes at the time of Edward IV and Richard III. While there might be a lot of debate between what is a Scottish romance, linguistically, the English spoken in Scotland is usually studied together with the English spoken in England as late Middle English. Although there are quite a lot of differences, in literary circles, influence was not so rigidly defined, as Chaucer later influenced a school of poetry called the "Scottish Chaucerians", hence my reference to fabliaux influenced English tales being printed in this time period. The colorful slang is often spoken by the Scottish characters in this romance. I am clarifying my usage just because lovers of Scottish romance might take offense. Although England and Scotland have unique histories, (and unique subclasses of romance based on the two), the literature of the time and the literary/linguistic influence between England and Scotland was not so clearly delineated as to remain within the borders.

Publisher: Zebra (July 1, 2008)

Reviewed by Merrimon, Medieval Book Reviews
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