Grade : A

The third book in Elizabeth Lowell's Disputed Lands series, Enchanted rounds out the series with a story as gripping and enjoyable as its prequels, Untamed and Forbidden. Like the other two, I've been reading and re-reading this book for several years, yet it never fails to keep me eagerly turning pages to rediscover the beautiful love story of Simon and Ariane.

Simon the Loyal earned his name for his complete devotion to his brother Dominic le Sabre (his romance is told in Untamed), whose life he saved in the Holy Land. In return, his brother saved Simon as well. But unlike his brother, Simon bears the guilt of having been entrapped in the lures of the woman whose husband instigated the plot which trapped both Simon and Dominic in a Saracen hell. As a result, he hates and distrusts anything he cannot weigh and measure, things such as mystical gifts - and love. It is out of loyalty to Dominic, and not love, that he agrees to marry the cold Norman heiress Ariane, to prevent her father from declaring war on the Disputed Lands.

Ariane the Betrayed has known nothing but dishonesty and brutality from men. Once betrothed to a powerful Norman lord named Geoffrey the Fair, King Henry I has sent her to the Disputed Lands to find a husband, and to keep her father and her intended from becoming a threat to his rule. But before she departs, Geoffrey drugs and rapes her, intending to force her into marriage. The King, however, has his say, and she rides north to the Disputed Lands, betrothed to a man she has never met, named Duncan of Maxwell. But plans change, and she weds Simon instead. Having known the brutal embrace of a man she trusted, she knows she cannot spend a lifetime enduring the marriage bed, and plans to make an attempt on Simon's life - not with the intent of murder, but that of forcing him to kill her in self-defense, ending her nightmare forever. Of course, Simon has no intention of killing her, and she finds herself married to a man who trusts her as little as she trusts him.

Unlike the previous novels, there is no prophecy involved in this story, but there remains about the same amount of mystical content: just enough to enchant, but not so much that it takes the reader out of the passionate love story. The characters are strong and likable, and readers who have enjoyed the previous books will find be happy to see Simon get his own story. Both Simon and Ariane are fierce and intelligent, each deeply loyal - and extremely stubborn - and perfectly made for each other. Their story is one of love coming to a couple who refuse to believe in it, and it is perfectly, passionately, and tenderly executed. The magic woven into the story enhances it, and the result is an unforgettable tale of romance and enchantment.

Enchanted is a terrific novel, a passionate love story, and an absolute Desert Island Keeper. To all who enjoy passionate and tempestuous romances, I recommend this book, and the whole of the Disputed Lands series. You won't regret it.

Reviewed by Heidi Haglin
Grade : A

Sensuality: Hot

Review Date : May 18, 2001

Publication Date: 1994

Review Tags: 1100s knight magic

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