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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bronze Lightning by Lindsay Townsend

Bronze Lightning by Lindsay Townsend
Publisher: BookStrand Publishing
Genre: Historical Romance
Length: Full (356 Pages)
Heat: Sensual
Rating: 3.5 Books
Reviewed by Heather

Ancient Krete, 1562 BC.

Sarmatia is a trainer for the Bull Rite, the dangerous, glamorous ceremony of bull-leaping that gave a young Kretan entry into adulthood. Fearn is healer from the distant northern Isle of Stones summoned for his skills to the sick-bed of Minos, the Kretan king. They meet on the dusty flagstones of the palace courtyard and both save a life.

A year passes. They are betrothed, but Fearn has returned home and is chosen king of his small northern country. As king, master of storms, he cannot return to Krete. Fearn writes to Sarmatia releasing her from her vows - but is this what they really want?

Sarmatia leaves Krete to search for Fearn. Many months and life-and-death adventures later, she is reunited with him. She and Fearn are still deeply in love but there is an unknown enemy working against them, one who will stop at nothing, even murder.
Books set in early historical periods, Dark Ages and earlier, are rare treats to be savored. Bronze Lightning gives us a fascinating glimpse into a little known period of ancient history, when bull dancing reigned supreme. Part religion, part initiation. The color, the pageantry, the inherent danger, made this reader shiver. Ms. Townsend loves and respects her history as much as this reader does, and her descriptions were wonderful – you could feel the sun beating down on you, taste the wine, and hear the rain drumming on the rooftops. She captured the art of transporting you to another time and place.

This is a story of two star-crossed lovers, separated by Fate, who don’t let anything stand in the way of their reuniting. Sarmatia is the strong-willed heroine who leaves behind all she knows for the man she loves. The journey is long and fraught with danger, betrayal and heartbreak. Her fears and insecurities as she faces the unknown, we can all relate to. Fearn is but a visitor, a guest of Sarmatia’s king. But the handsome healer has a greater destiny than he ever dreamed. When he is called home, he returns with the greatest reluctance. He never forgets the woman he is forced to leave behind. His dilemma, having to put duty before his own desires, is one we’ve all struggled with and made this reader really want to cheer for him.

This is not your typical romance. The lovers separate early and are not reunited until halfway through the story. Each POV is a separate journey, and though each was a fascinating look at their separate cultures and the people they meet, I found myself at times just wishing she would get there. The journey felt a bit long, but I loved the secondary character she meets: Bride, a woman who happens to be a master blacksmith. Two women ahead of their time. The POV shifts are fluid, but not always delineated, and at times there was a shift backwards in time, which was disconcerting for this reader. It gives a “meanwhile, back at the ranch” sort of feel at times. I would have liked fewer POVs, and gotten deeper into the heart and soul of the hero and heroine. There is a mysterious villain plotting against the couple, and Ms. Townsend does an amazing job with the surprise twists at the end. You can’t assume anything with this story, and sorting out friend from foe will keep readers guessing right through the last page.

I really wanted to cheer for Sarmatia and Fearn. They’re a couple who weren’t going to be satisfied with what might have been. Sarmatia’s single-minded quest had moments that were utterly hypnotic; moments when she faltered that make you cry. Fearn’s struggles to make the best out of a situation he never wanted, his secret yearnings for and dreams of the woman he left behind were very moving. You just wanted to say “Hold on, don’t give up! She’s almost there!” Bronze Lightning is a saga you don’t want to miss!