Wednesday Reviews

The Queen’s Guard by Traci E. Hall

The year is 1147, and Lady Isabella de Lacey is traveling to Jerusalem with Queen Eleanor, King Louis of France, and his army of crusaders as a member of the Queen’s Guard. Having first arrived in Constantinople, the Queen has Isabella spy on Raoul Laskaris, Emperor Manuel’s closest guard, not knowing that Raoul is acting as a spy for Manuel.

Isabella is fiercely loyal to the Queen, because she saved Isabella from an abusive husband and will give her life to protect her. Knowing she could possibly lose her life, she must find out what the Emperor wants with King Louis. Raoul and Isabella form an attraction to one another that they both try to deny. Throughout the story, they face many obstacles that bring them closer together.

The author weaves a well-written story of political intrigue, espionage, attempted murder and mystery. There were so many twists and turns to the story that at first I wasn’t sure how the plot was going to come together, and I was pleasantly surprised as I read on.

What really stood out for me in this book was the Queens Guard, a group of talented women the Queen chose to protect her. I enjoyed the author’s rendering of the strong, individualized personalities of each of the women. What is so unique about them is their relationship with the Queen; they are like daughters to her and share a special bond. While there is not anything in history to support the idea that Queen Eleanor had Guards that were women, the focus of the close-knit group of women was a clever invention. I highly recommend this book.

4 stars

You can also find my review on…

Layered Pages

Narrow Marsh by A.R. Dance-Cover currently unavailable

Narrow Marsh by A.R. Dance is a different type of historical fiction than I usually read. I typically don’t read about the “common” man—my normal fare for novels set in England are about a royal personality—so when the opportunity arose to review a book about a man growing up in Nottingham of 1811, a time when the wages were low & the hours were long. Workers had very little rights, and while some might be willing to live this way, that is not true for William Daniels, the main character. For me, the plot is where Dance excelled in this novel. The tension between the upper and lower classes is what kept the story rolling, as well as the forbidden relationship between William and a certain young lady. I also appreciated that although this was a time period that I have read little about, nothing was confusing or misleading. It was a very light read, but at the same time, very informative. My one qualm about the novel was that I didn’t always feel what the characters were feeling. I knew that William was in love, but I didn’t always feel it. At times there was a bit more telling than showing. I feel like some of that just has to happen in historical fiction, otherwise the book would be forever long, but it was something that I noticed while reading. Narrow Marsh was a nice departure from some of the romance-heavy historical novels out there. This one is definitely not focused on the romance, and, overall, it was refreshing for that very reason.

3.5 stars

Beth Bulow
Layered Pages Review Team

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