Lord of a Thousand Nights
Fans of Hunter’s previous novels know that Morvan Fitzwaryn has vowed to reclaim his ancestral home of Harclow. As Lord of a Thousand Nights opens, Sir Morvan, hero of The Protector, is laying siege to Harclow as well as to nearby Black Lyne Keep.
Lady Reyna Graham of Black Lyne has a plan. She sneaks into the enemy camp, disguised as a courtesan. She offers herself to Sir Morvan in exchange for his promise that after the siege the men will not attack the nearby town. In fact, she intends to drug and kill him. Unfortunately she doesn’t know that the town already negotiated a peace with the occupying army, and that Sir Morvan is at Harclow. The man she approaches is not Morvan but Morvan’s officer, Ian of Guilford. Ian lets the act play out until Reyna tries to work up the courage to plunge a dagger into his chest. Ian then tricks Reyna into leading him inside the castle and putting a bloodless end to the siege.
Ian’s victory offers Reyna a reprieve: he spares her from the trial for the murder of her husband, Robert of Kelso. In spite of this, she rebels every chance she gets. It’s not that she’s ungrateful, but she is frightened by the feelings Ian stirs in her, which threaten the vows she made to herself and Robert. Alas, her rebellious acts cause her to be caught in a compromising position, and she is left with two choices: return to her abusive father in shame, or marry Ian.
After they are wed, Ian and Reyna try to solve the mystery of who really murdered Reyna’s first husband. They are forced to trust each other with their darkest secrets and learn that only through unburdening their souls will they be free to truly love each other.
I had some issues early on with Reyna. Her behavior bordered on the childish. For example, Ian thinks her innocent of poisoning her husband and allows her to be involved in the cooking, but to reassure the rest of the castle orders Reyna to be the first to eat. In response, she pretends to choke and collapse after the first bite to humiliate him. Yes, Ian was technically the enemy as far as the residents of Black Lyne Keep are concerned, but his arrival benefited Reyna more than anyone else, making her minor rebellions illogical. Only after she starts to trust Ian was I able to warm up to Reyna at all.
Ian is easier to like. He has a well-earned reputation as a rake (hence the book’s title), but once he meets Reyna she gets under his skin and no other woman will do. As soon as she is forced to get past her knee-jerk reactions to Ian’s presence, Reyna gets to know the lonely soul hidden behind a quick wit and even quicker hands. Ian is jealous of the saintly father figure who was Reyna’s first husband. Knowing he can never live up to that ideal, Ian fears that Reyna will leave him when she finds out the dark secret that keeps him separate from everyone.
Ian was first introduced in The Protector as a young rogue who misused Anna to make Morvan jealous. It’s interesting to see how he’s become Morvan’s right-hand-man, but still is not quite trusted. This book finally allows for a conclusion to the battle for Harclow, as well as giving readers a chance to visit with David and Christiana (now the Comte and Comtesse de Senlis) of By Arrangement in addition to Morvan and Anna.
Lord of a Thousand Nights is a moving and romantic tale about learning to trust and see past first appearances. With a fast-paced story to match, it would’ve been perfect had Reyna’s early behavior only made more sense.