2008, Medieval Romance (1150s England and Wales)
Forever, $6.99, 320 pages, Amazon ASIN 0446617563 Part of a series
Take a road romance in a too-little used Medieval setting, add just a soupçon of the paranormal, and you have the recipe for a good romance with Magic in His Kiss.
Nicole de Leon is a Welsh princess of the Pendragon - King Arthur's - line through her mother. But when her English father died, she and her sisters became wards of King Stephen. Now that Stephen's war with Maud is over and his son dead, he is in negotiations with Henry Plantagenet to be his successor. He has also recollected that he has a Welsh princess who may be used for an alliance with a prince who would make peace with the English. Nicole's Welsh uncle Conner wants her to wed a prince who would unite the country under the Pendragon name and fight the English.
Poor Nicole is in an English convent where she has spent the last eight years and unaware of all the machinations surrounding her - until Rhodri ap Daffyd arrives. He has been sent by Nicole's uncle Conner to bring her back to Wales and, pursued by the English, they have many adventures, hardships and narrow escapes, falling in love along the way.
Rhodri is a bard of some note, his songs and harp-playing acknowledged to be among the best, and whose greatest ambition is to participate in a contest to designate the royal bard. He is a very likable man, a warrior as well as a musician, and one whose talents ease their travels in surprisingly non-monetary, though very important, ways. During the long journey to Wales, he finds that the pinnacle of his ambitions may not be what he'd always believed, but instead lies with Nicole. But how can a mere bard, no matter how talented, aspire to wed a princess?
Nicole has mixed feelings about journeying to Wales but, when push comes to shove and she has to make a choice early on, she casts her lot with Rhodri, inexplicably sure he is worthy of her trust. She even tells him her greatest secret: she can hear the spirits of the dead who are bound to the earth, and believes it her mission to help ease them to the other side. It is a mission that puts up a stumbling block or two on the journey, but one that cannot be ignored. Together Nicole and Rhodri are an engaging couple and I enjoyed their story.
This is the last book in a trilogy of the de Leon Sisters, so there are a few problems with filling in the backstory for those who haven't read the previous books, and the presences of couples from those previous books who pop up out of the blue. But for the most part, this was handled fairly well. However, the ending was a bit abrupt; I could have used 20-30 pages more to ease into it.
But, all in all, I can recommend Magic in His Kiss for those who are looking for a good Medieval romance - something all too thin on the ground lately.
-- Cheryl Sneed
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