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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Vow of Deception by Angela Johnson

Vow of Deception by Angela Johnson
Publisher: Zebra – Kensington Publishing Corp.
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (377 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 books
Reviewed by Camellia

Your first allegiance is to your heart…

As a knight, Sir Rand Montague’s allegiance is to King Edward I. But when the king orders Rand to escort Rosalyn Harcourt to court in order to wed her off to Sir Golan—a crass knight Rand abhors—he’s torn between duty and desire. For Rand has never forgotten the woman he spent one incredible night of passion with…

After suffering abuse at the hands of her deceased husband, Rose wishes to never wed again. But when Rand rescues her after Sir Golan attempts to compromise her, she agrees to marry Rand in name only. However, sharing such close quarters with Rand brings back memories of their torrid rendezvous—and tempts Rose to give in to an all-consuming desire…

Secrets, feelings of guilt, and traumatic experiences keep Rosalyn Harcourt, Lady Ayleston and Sir Rand Montague from acknowledging their feelings for each other, until….

Rose, once bubbling with a zest for life, hides her beauty in drab widow’s attire. Her heart is cold and hard from her deceased husband, Bertram’s abuse. She despises a man’s touch. The humiliation, degradation, physical and emotional abuse drove her to docile obedience in order to survive and to protect her little son Jason. After Bertram’s death, she gains full custody of Jason and for two years manages and improves Castle Ayleston and its holdings. Once again, she can openly function as a healer and study her treasured books that give her insight, wisdom, and guidance. Rose’s strength in the face of colossal challenges makes her a memorable heroine. How far she goes to protect her little Jason shows a mother’s love that has no bounds.

Edward I, in his greed for more riches (which Sir Golan offers) plus his wanting stronger control of his position near the Welsh Marches, prompts him to grant Sir Golan the wardship of Ayleston Castle and all its holdings plus Rose for a wife—of course, he does all of this under the guise of protection from the rebellious Welsh.

Sir Rand Montague, who has a past history with Rose and her family, goes to bring Rose to court so she can be informed of her new situation. Loyal to Edward I and believing Sir Golan will be suitable for Rose, Rand follows the king’s orders to not tell Rose anything. However, as the drama unfolds at court, Rand sees the dark, cruel, bullying side of Golan and recognizes Edward for the arrogant despot he can be at times. Rand identifies with the powerlessness Rose feels. He remembers how powerless he had been in the past when he so desperately wanted to rectify things. He denies that he loves Rose, but vows to do every thing possible to save her from another abusive husband. Even though flawed, he is a hero to the core.

The secondary characters have important roles in the unfolding of the plot. The three-year-old Jason plays a unique part in events. Lydia, once Bertram’s mistress, and Sir Golan create terrifying conflicts that set off pulse-pounding actions. Driven by their own inner-demons, they prove to be powerful and conniving antagonists. Other, less visible, foes threaten to defeat Rose and Rand as they work to outmaneuver Edward and Golan.

The horrors of her marriage to Bertram make Rose terrified of having another husband, even her long-time friend Rand. She is drawn to him but cannot seem to get passed the emotional pain and trauma she has suffered. On the other hand, Rand feels if he admits to loving her, something bad will happen to her as it has to all others that have been dear to him. These intangible foes hamper their finding what they both long for in their marriage, but abiding love, strong and true, wiggles its way in slowly but surely with ever-growing strength. The good fortune and misfortune that beset Rose and Rand makes Vow of Deception a mesmerizing vicarious adventure for the reader.

Using subtle and often ominous undercurrents that threaten to swamp the hero and heroine, Angela Johnson enchants with an incredible love story while weaving in events of history that add a realness to the spellbinding Vow of Deception.