Desert Isle Keeper
White Lion's Lady
Tina St. John’s latest release, White Lion’s Lady, has everything I look for in a good medieval romance: a strong hero, an intelligent and caring heroine, a really unpleasant villain, and plenty of atmosphere. It also has a few unexpected twists and turns, which complement an excellent plot. I have to admit to being in complete agreement with the characters: their situation seemed hopeless. There was none of that “duh” factor, as in “duh, obviously this is going to work out, and here’s how”. The plot was airtight, and the romance was pure gold.
Isabel de Lamere is on her way to her wedding with a man she’s never met when her coach is stopped by brigands intent on kidnapping her. The leader of these brigands is a man named Griffin of Droghollow, who just happens to be the grown version of the brave boy who had saved young Isabel’s life many years before. She has thought of him as a hero since, but upon learning that Griffin is delivering her to his foster brother, the conniving Lord Dominic, her golden image of heroism is shattered.
Griffin, raised as a son to Dominic’s father, is a born leader and a man among men. Dominic has always hated his foster brother for stealing their father’s affections from him. He has treated his brother cruelly, and torn Griffin’s beloved honor away, bit by bit, in the many years since their father’s death. Now Griffin is a man who has no honor left, and hates himself for it. When he realizes that his brother will not pay him for capturing Isabel, he steals her away, not out of honor, but out of a desire for enough reward money from her intended groom to break free of his brother’s cruel grasp forever. Dominic seizes the opportunity to declare his brother an outlaw, and lays a bounty upon Griffin and Isabel’s heads, setting them on the run, without allies.
It is as fugitives that Griffin and Isabel come to know each other again, and it is in that hopeless state that they fall in love. Griffin finally confesses his sins to Isabel, in the hope of saving her from loving a man who has no honor, and in her forgiveness, he is reborn as the gentle knight who saved her so long ago. But King Richard has decreed that she must wed Lord Montford, and by kidnapping her, Griffin is already guilty of treason. They cannot possibly be together for more than a brief while, but they mean to make that while last forever.
As a hero, Griffin is far from perfect. He has secrets that no one could forgive unless it was out of love. But somehow, he is lovable, both before and after he regains his honor. He is so very human that he can’t fail to touch the reader, or the heroine. Meanwhile Isabel is a good and caring heroine without being the overly-virtuous sort that makes you want to be sick. She is not stupid, and she’s neither overly spunky nor overly passive. She has a big heart, and secrets of her own. She understands shame, and mates Griffin’s perfectly.
The romance in this book is sweet and tender, but passionate as well. It blends perfectly with the plot, and draws the reader in quickly and deeply. Although the relationship between Griffin and Isabel isn’t consummated until late in the novel, the reader knows and feels their longings – both emotional and physical – throughout the tale. And the seeming hopelessness is exacted with a light touch, making it undeniable without hitting the reader over the head with it.
All in all, this novel is an excellent and well-balanced read, and surely one the reader will enjoy again and again. I highly recommend it.