Eighteen-year-old Lady Sharilyn Dawson yearns to sample the sophistication of the royal court. She recognizes an opportunity to leave her country home when she meets Lord Jonathan Redley, a widower who needs help caring for his young son. Life at the castle, however, is more perilous than she ever imagined.As lords vie for the throne and an assassin stalks the night, Sharilyn must learn to navigate the treacherous waters of politics before they claim her life.
This book started off somewhat promising for me. I don't want to not like a book. I hate giving bad reviews. At first I could tell that it wasn't historically accurate, but it seemed to be leading to a good castle fantasy nonetheless. It began, as many novels do, with a light setup to pull the reader in. Unfortunately, it never got any deeper than that.
I tried to keep an open mind about the writing. I considered that maybe it was geared more toward tweens. That would excuse most of the shortcomings in this book. So I carried on. But then there were a couple brief sex scenes and I realized that it really was meant for young adult readers.
The biggest issue I had was that it was a modern story set in a medieval castle. The language was modern. The characters used modern phrases. They had modern attitudes and modern ideas. Lord Redley didn't care that his new bride did whatever she wanted and ran around with one of the castle guards (who just happened to be a woman). And when Sharilyn stormed into the king's chamber and gave him a piece of her mind he just shrugged it off and then praised her for being a strong, willful woman.
Like I said, Sharilyn is a willful woman with a feminist attitude. That's fine for a character. But in this particular setting it doesn't make sense that it's tolerated. Also, at the beginning of the book she's just turned eighteen and admits that she rarely gets away from the countryside where she's lived all her life with her family. But somehow she has the wisdom and maturity of an older, experienced woman. Through the whole story she's giving political and personal advice to her new, much older husband and he's constantly conceding to her ideas. How these two weak-minded men came to rule anything is the true secret of the throne.
And another thing, I cannot read another book with faultless characters. All of the good guys were so good and felt heavy remorse at the slightest misstep. In fact, Sharilyn and Jonathan spent so much time complementing and reassuring each other that I thought my eyes would roll completely out of my head.
So, there's the romance between the Lord and his new bride who have to get to know each other because they just met. That's a good story. I feel like the writer should have just focused on that. But there's also chapter after chapter of "There's an assassin coming. Who is it? I don't know. Forget it, let's go to a party." And there were wizards that were mentioned so infrequently that I wondered why they were part of the story at all.
Basically, I didn't like this book. Had it been intended for a younger audience I would have a different point of view. But, as a young adult novel, the only thing that would have saved it for me would have been a romantic twist involving Lady Sharilyn and Cora the female guard. I found myself rooting for it to go that way. You know what I mean? Wink.