Merrimon Book Reviews

Henry I
Reign: 1068/1069 -1135
fourth son of
William I the Conqueror

Norman White Tower at the center of the Tower of London. Built in 1078 by William the Conqueror (reigned 1066-87) inside the southeast angle of the city walls, adjacent to the Thames. This was as much to protect the Normans from the people of the City of London as to protect London from outside invaders.
Photo credit:
David Illiff

From Medieval Book Reviews
Out of the Dark
Out of the Dark by Joann Smith Ainsworth
by Joann Smith Ainsworth

Fresh exciting medieval romance with suspenseful plot
1120 AD.  Britain.  After an illness, Lady Lynnett sees only murky shades of light and dark.  Despite being second cousin to the late queen, she sees herself as flawed.  After an argument about her parents' plans for her marriage, Lady Lynnett finds herself lost and alone in the cellars of the King's castle --- alone until she overhears a murder plot.  The one man to whom she can turn is Basil, the Sheriff of London, and a man whose voice sounds a little too close to the conspiring voice she heard in the cellar.  No one else may believe her, but Basil has a duty to protect the king and his realm.  As he seeks to find out the identity of the the men she heard, Basil finds himself torn between protecting a woman for whom he is falling in love and protecting his family as the charges of corruption come a little too close to home.  Lady Lynnett feels like her whole world has changed before her.  Can she look within and learn to trust herself?  As she learns to stand up for herself, will it be enough to enable her to stand up for love?  Can Basil and Lady Lynnett uncover the plot before it is too late?

In OUT OF THE DARK, Joann Smith Ainsworth creates a medieval romance that grabs the reader, leading her/him inside the heart of the story from the first pages.  Lady Lynnett has an inner nobility beyond her relations to the king.  As an Anglo-Saxon in a Norman court, a certain tinge of suspicion surrounds her.  Closer to home, her family does not understand her unearthly vision and her special relationship with her grandmother, now deceased.  Basil is exactly the right man for this special lady.  Although practical rather than mystical, he also knows how to ask questions and see beyond the surface in his role as sheriff.   Loyal and honorable, he does not take justice or his oath to protect and defend lightly.  Quick-witted, he matches the lady in intelligence.  Most importantly, Basil believes in her when others don't. Joann Smith Ainsworth does an excellent job at creating fascinating, fresh characters and placing them in a suspenseful setting that keeps a reader glued to the pages.

Joann Smith Ainsworth uses a modern prose style that flows easily and adds to the suspenseful pace of the conspiracy.  At the same time, she packs enough history into this medieval romance to please medieval lovers.  She juxtaposes realistic images of the times such as that of the river Thames with the more mystical elements of a life deeper than just the surface world of the senses.  Tight plotting and a focus on scenes central to the story makes OUT OF THE DARK a fast but powerful, dynamic romance.   If you are a medieval junkie, OUT OF THE DARK has a fresh sense of originality that will undoubtedly make romance a special treat.

Publisher: Samhain (March 2009)
Author website

Reviewed by Merrimon, Medieval Book Reviews
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