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Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Dragon And The Rose by Gini Rifkin

The Dragon And The Rose by Gini Rifkin
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full (406 pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 Books
Reviewed by Camellia

He was the Dragon of Normandy. She was the Rose of Flanders. They met in the North of England and together they changed the course of hearts and history. Sir Branoc Valtaigne, ordered to Northumbria by King William II, fights to keep peace along the Scottish border. He is a formidable battle-tested warrior, but as he honors his vows to God, king, and country--a young woman’s smile proves to be his undoing. Martanzia Verheire, tricked into standing as good faith hostage for Flanders, seeks freedom from castle Bamburgh and love from Sir Branoc. As she clings to the Celtic dragon statue given to her by her mother, she leads them all to the brink of an era where true magic will be gone forever but where dreams can still come true.

“You shall battle for the very spirit of England”, Morcar, the wizard, tells Mantanzia. “You will set in motion what long has been awaited, if you have the courage.”

Mantazia, good faith hostage, sent to Castle Bamburgh in Northumbria by her greedy, treacherous uncle, arrives filthy and trail-worn but not broken-spirited as the new lord of Bamburgh soon learns.

Barnoc Voltaigne, the Dragon of Normandy, now Lord of Bamburgh, feels duty bound to protect King William II’s good faith hostage; but before long, he finds he also needs to protect himself from what he feels for this beautiful, intelligent little spitfire that struggles to hide her unease.

Both Barnoc and Mantanzia learned early in life not to trust friends or family too readily and strangers rarely. Consequently, their co-existence at Castle Bamburgh is rocky. However, the deadly enemies from outside, force them into a working relationship where a fledgling love, that both have denied, grows to maturity while every thing seems to point toward their total destruction. THEN, one little dragon statue, the stone monolith standing in the cold, roiling sea, and Mantanzia’s indomitable courage set events in motion that bring about one super-good magical moment not to be missed.

The secondary characters add multiple layers to THE DRAGON AND THE ROSE. They magnify the unrest in politics of eleventh centuryEngland and France, the powerlessness of the common people, and the tenuous nature of humankind’s control of the universe. In spite of all the troubles; humor, joy, courage, loyalty, and unshaken love makes this a memorable and magical story.

Gini Rifkin does a masterful job of plot, character development and building an environment that is fierce at times, magical at other times and always a mysteriously nurturing setting for the enduring love of Branco and Mantazia to put down deep roots, allowing both of them to realize their destiny. This is an ENCHANTING story!