Desert Isle Keeper
Wow! Not only is this the best book in Jill Barnett’s Medieval series, this is the best Barnett book I’ve read, period. To be fair, I’ve yet to read Bewitching, which is a favorite with many. Nevertheless, this book is a real stand-out. It has an epic quality which I loved, a very special heroine, and a stubborn hero who is fated to fall hard for her. Who could ask for anything more?
The book begins with an older Sofia looking back on her life and remembering the All Fool’s Day when she was fifteen, when she first really saw Tobin de Clare. She looked across the proverbial crowded room (although in this case it was a field) and saw him. For an eternity they stared at each other until the crowd moved and she lost sight of him. Later she found him again. They shared a kiss, but he broke her heart later that evening.
Two years later they meet again, and Sofia discovers that her guardian, King Edward, has betrothed her to Tobin. Although she is shocked and angry, it seems that there is nothing she can do about it. Even though he treated her cruelly before, she can’t help having feelings for him still. But when she asks him what his motives are for marrying her, his answer – which is a lie – sends her on a journey that will change both of their lives.
I hesitate to say much more, because Wicked is a book that is full of surprises. The best way to explain it is that it is a story about young love. Sofia is only eighteen when she marries Tobin, and he is just three years older. But their love story really spans nearly seven years. The hero and heroine are separated for nearly fifty pages at one point, which may bother some readers, but I felt that it really worked in this particular context. And if you like stories with an epic quality, like I do, then you will appreciate this one. Every once in a while it’s nice to read a story about a couple who can’t resolve all their differences in a month’s time.
What really makes this story stand out from the crowd is its special heroine. Readers are given rare insight into Sofia’s character and motives, perhaps because we see her at so many different ages. Her life is presented in such a way that all of her actions – even the more foolish ones – are completely believable. She loves Tobin, but he manages to disappoint her on more than one occasion. Her long awaited resolution with him is worthwhile because she really makes him work to earn her love.
Although this book is third in Barnett’s Medieval trilogy, you do not need to have read the other two books to understand this one. Tobin first appears in Wonderful, the first book in the trilogy. Merrick and Lady Clio and some other characters from Wonderful do appear throughout the book, but the hero and heroine of Wild are only mentioned now and then in passing. The single flaw here is that now and then there is an anachronistic mistake. All writers should note that ego is a term that originated with Freud. I found mistakes such as this minor and very easy to overlook, but some readers may be bothered by them.
Overall, Wicked is enjoyable and satisfying in every way. Usually the Medieval time period is not my favorite, but this book had everything: depth, humor, unforgettable characters, and terrific love scenes. Wicked definitely earns a permanent spot on my keeper shelf.