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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Review: Silent Knight

Silent Knight
by Tori Phillips

Sir Guy had the face of an archangel... Yet his vow of silence and monkish cowl hid thoughts that would make the devil blush! For the innocent beauty of Celeste de Montcalm was a temptation that he could scarcely resist. But was his urge to protect her from the evil lord to whom she was promised an honorable one, or just an excuse to claim the lady as his own?

I was absolutely captivated by this third installment in the “Cavendish Chronicles” series, so much so that I didn’t want the story to end! The book opens with Celeste de Montcalm making a difficult journey from France to northern England. As the fifth of five daughters, she has been promised in marriage by her unfeeling, ungenerous father, to Walter Ormond.

Accompanying her on the journey are her aunt, Gaston her protector, and a few other guards and horsemen. However, as they befall one misadventure after another, the group dwindles to just a few. Finally, they reach a small monastery, and there Father Jocelyn directs Brother Guy, a native Englishman, to take them the rest of the way. Brother Guy is a novice monk; he has not yet taken his vows, and in fact, he is a Cavendish son, a talented knight with the face of an archangel. He has entered the monastery to try and turn his back on his previous life of wine, women, and jousting.

Because Father Jocelyn knows Brother Guy might be tempted by the beautiful, “violet-eyed” Celeste, he orders a vow of silence on the novice. This, of course, just adds to the frustration and attraction between hero and heroine. Because as the journey progresses, Guy falls for the charming Celeste, though she teases him mercilessly and beats him at card games, and she in turn finds herself falling for the golden-haired knight, dressed in a plain robe and ragged sandals – even though she believes he is promised to God.

Conflicts abound in the story: the philandering Walter Ormond develops the pox; his father Roger tries to transfer Celeste’s engagement to himself instead of to his son; several illnesses and accidents befall the travelers; and, of course, Guy’s true identity as a gallant Cavendish knight remains unknown for most of the story. All of these conflicts work together wonderfully to heighten Celeste’s plight. This book is definitely a page-turner, to the very end, when a dramatic joust claims lives and reveals more than one secret.

The attraction and ensuing romance between Guy and Celeste is just charming. All the moments they spend together on their journey, all the times he protects her from thieves and vagabonds, all the ways she playfully tries to make him smile and speak – they add up to a slow-burning, growing love that cannot be denied by story’s end.

As usual, Ms. Phillips does a wonderful job setting the story in late-sixteenth century England, during the bleak winter months. Her descriptions of castles, alehouses, and medieval feasts are perfectly detailed. Readers, take note: you do not need to have read the other stories in “Cavendish Chronicles” series, because although some characters are familiar, Silent Knight can stand alone as a tale of true love. I loved this book!

Review by Dandelion

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