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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Review: Midsummer's Knight

Midsummer’s Knight
by Tori Phillips

Playing at disguises with her betrothed, Lady Katherine Fitzhugh knew not which role she had embraced, for pretending to be her cousin in order to discover the true nature of the stranger she was bound to by royal decree was proving to be much more complicated than she had planned!

Only a fool entered marriage blindly, and Sir Brandon Cavendish was no one’s fool. Yet disguised as his own best friend, he was now faced with a ticklish dilemma. For it was fast becoming clear that the woman he truly desired was not his simpering intended, but her strong-willed and passionate cousin!

This sequel to Silent Knight, of the Cavendish Chronicles, tells the story of Brandon Cavendish and the woman he is forced to marry, Katherine Fitzhugh. Both the King and Brandon’s father think it’s high time that the popular but promiscuous knight settle down, so they choose Katherine, a twice-widowed beauty of thirty who wants nothing more than to live the rest of her life alone and in peace.

When she discovers that she’s been promised to a young of rogue of the court, she and her cousin, Miranda, decide to trade places, to do a little spying on Sir Brandon. Meanwhile, Brandon and his good friend Jack have decided to do exactly the same thing, to discover who the real Katherine is. Of course, the men and women both fall for the “wrong” person, who in fact is the “right” person, though no one realizes it until it’s almost too late.

I was glad the “mistaken identity” ploy didn’t last longer than half the novel, as it was a bit trying to follow who was playing whom, and to believe that some character, at some point in the story, wasn’t going to find out the truth. Brandon and Katherine both do, soon enough, but then the story takes a turn for the worse when her evil, money-hungry nephew plans to do anything in his power to prevent their wedding, including murder.

As usual, Ms. Phillips’ characters are richly drawn: the knights are stunningly handsome, devilish, and lusty, while the women are beautiful, smart and strong. The minor characters in this story provide nice accents to the hero and heroine: Katherine’s quiet, innocent cousin Miranda and Brandon’s showy best friend Jack are the perfect secondary couple; while the plotting nephew Fenton Fitzhugh and his poor servant Tod Wormsley are richly developed as well.

I’m always interested in reading about the social customs of this historic period, and Midsummer’s Knight doesn’t disappoint. This novel gives insight to the typical bedroom escapades of knights, including the fact that it wasn’t unheard of for them to father more than one child out of wedlock. I also liked reading about the ways in which courtship unfolded during the Elizabethan age. Fans of William Shakespeare will also recognize certain elements of this plot, which run parallel to his play "A Midsummer Night’s Dream". Overall, I enjoyed this novel, though parts of the story weren’t as engaging as other books in this series. Still, the characters are fun and the love story is well written.

Review by Dandelion

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This book is part of our April "Book-a-Day Giveaway"!

Edited to add: Congratulations to MelJPrincess -- today's winner of the Book-a-Day Giveaway!