Merrimon Book Reviews

Wenceslaus, King of the Bohemians

Richard II of England

Anne of Bohemia

From Medieval Book Reviews
A Knight Most Wicked
A Knight Most Wicked by Joane Rock
by Joanne Rock

Passion, secrets, and divided loyalties: a medieval romance that delights the heart on many levels

Arabella Rowan cannot understand why she was chosen as a lady in waiting for the large retinue of women to accompany Princess Anne of Bohemia to England. Arabella prefers open air and freedom, not the closed-in spaces of courts and intricate social customs. After all, her father never acknowledged her and rumors of sorcery haunt her grandmother Zaharia's reputation. How can she bring honor to her countrymen and family? She flees to the woods for one last moment of freedom and to cry out her frustration, only to be seen in this one private moment, by a handsome knight! Tristan Carlisle, a warrior who has spent years in service to England's kings, is none too pleased to have been assigned the duty of a courtier. When war rages with France, accompanying a nuptial entourage of ladies chafes and irritates this ambitious knight. Nevertheless, Tristan realizes that the key to gaining land and power rest on keeping the princess and her ladies safe. When he discovers that the gypsy who had captured his heart in the forest is now masquerading around as a lady in waiting, Tristan must uncover the secrets behind the lady impostor if only he can resist the powerful attraction between them. Innocent, unaccustomed to talking to men, and forewarned of their danger, Arabella knows she must keep her secrets from the this handsome knight and an English court that frowns on the healing arts of women, but how long can she hide the passion that Tristan inspires within her?

Joanne Rock's A KNIGHT MOST WICKED combines a lesser explored historical setting, a play on the medieval classic Tristan romance tale and a fascinatingly rich hero and heroine in a romance full of passion and intrigue. Arabella is a wildcat, a woman who prefers freedom and acting on her own will rather than bowing to others. A healer, medicine for her is an inner calling, one that drives her to help even in the face of danger. Although the court setting with its intrigue, rumors and power plays chafes at her most inner sense of her self, the unfamiliar setting also allows the reader a glimpse into the depths of her character, a woman whose loyalty and honor emerges as she protects the secrets and those she loves and yet as a woman who takes risks. Joanne Rock places Tristan, a knight set on winning favor and protecting England's interests, in the precarious position of protecting a woman from danger while he determines the risk she herself poses---not only to England, but to his heart. Tristan is not a man to easily accept betrayal of any kind!

Joanne Rock's plot challenges her characters, placing them in the midst of a danger unknown. In A KNIGHT MOST WICKED, Joanne Rock creates dynamic characters who grow not only in their passion for each other but within themselves as conflicts test their loyalties and indeed their most inner selves. A perfect balance between rich characterization and a plot full of perilous and sometimes delightfully subtle twists from within and without the guarded entourage keeps the reader glued to the pages, never quite knowing from where the next danger will arrive. As shadowy figures following the entourage create an ominous backdrop, the greatest dangers yet might still be to the heart as both Arabella and Tristan come face to face with the past. To the sheer delight of medieval fans, Joanne Rock interweaves the tragic medieval tale of Tristan and Isolde within her story, creating a playful and romantic contrast between it and Arabella and Tristan's story of love and divided loyalty. Joanne Rock's Tristan story is not a tragedy, but a romance that moves the heart. Indeed, A KNIGHT MOST WICKED captures the very essence of the medieval period on multiple levels.

Publisher: Harlequin  Historical (March 2008)

Reviewed by Merrimon, Medieval Book Reviews
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