Merrimon Book Reviews

From Medieval Book Reviews
Silk Dreams
Silk Dreams by Diana Groe
by Diana Groe

A medieval romance of loss, opulence and detours.

Silk Dreams is a historical romance set in the time of the Byzantine Empire with glimpses of the Norse, Greek and Arab cultures of the time through the characters. The hero and heroine are drawn together by chance. They must fight their backgrounds and forces separating them while political intrigue threatens to disrupt the entire empire. The Scandanavian woman Valdis has been banished from her homeland right before her wedding because, being epileptic, she is considered evil and cursed when her seizures are seen by the groom and his family. Valdis is sold to a Greek eunuch Damian on an auction block in the Byzantine empire who teaches her in all the arts of an Odelisque (harem) woman in order to use her to political means within the Arab world of Constantinople. When he hires the Nordic warrior Erik, banished also for having committed murder, to teach Valdis Greek, will her heart and life be in danger? Will Erik remain true to his oath to serve the emperor? Will he protect Valdis within a world where sexual purity may be the only thing that can protect her from a brutal culture? Will the political intrigue of her captors interfere with Valdis and Erik's carefully laid plans?

Silk Dreams creates a romance where suspenseful moments inspire a fast-paced read as historical politics and cultures clash around the characters' personal lives. The richness of the Odalisque culture combined with the secretive romance and sexuality heighten the passion. The unfolding politics and loyalties magnify the suspense as Valdis and Erik try quench their passion together yet hidden from the watchful eyes of others.

Diana Groe's skill shines in the details surrounding the main hero and heroine romance. Chloe, who were basically prisoner even in an opulent Odalisque world demonstrated such courage and strength despite her punishment. Punished for impurity, Chloe tells Valdis not to look at the world through what she has lost. The romance between Erick and Valdis emerges more passionately because it is built on the grounds of their losses and the detours. The character of Damian the eunuch was superbly multi-faceted with all the many ways he dealt with love, women and his manhood. I loved him despite his devious plots! The author writes memorable secondary characters that intrigue as much as the hero and heroine --- memorable long after the cover is closed.

In addition to the characters, Silk Dreams provides a rich culture and historical background for this romance. The scenes focused on with language learning and the use of runes in the book ground the historicity and the suspense. The stark contrast between the images of luxury in the harem and the brutal way the culture treated women added both atmosphere and depth to this romance. The glimpses at Christianity through the eyes of Valdis who worshipped the Norse gods add a layer that intrigued me. The understanding of one religion through the eyes of another revealed both the strengths and weaknesses of each in new ways. In Silk Dreams the reader sees three religions seen differently through the eye of various characters.

Publisher: Leisure (July 2007)

Reviewed by Merrimon, Medieval Book Reviews
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