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Monday, September 27, 2010

Lady of Hay by Barbara Erskine

Lady of Hay by Barbara Erskine
Publisher: Sourcebooks, Inc.
Genre: Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (565 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 books
Reviewed by Camellia

With a mesmerizing, wrenching story set both in the present day and the 12th century, Lady of Hay explores how Joanna, a journalist investigating hypnotic regression, plunges into the life of Matilda, Lady of Hay-who lived 800 years earlier. As she learns of Matilda-s unhappy marriage, her love for Richard de Clare, and the brutal treatment she receives from King John, it seems that Jo-s past and present are hopelessly entwined and that, centuries later, a story of secret passion and unspeakable treachery is about to begin again-and she has no choice but to brave both lives if she wants to shake the iron grip of history.

Absorbing and hypnotic, Lady of Hay seethes and sizzles with emotions that often erupt out of control. Whether in twentieth century or twelfth century, the volatile personalities love, hate, connive, and preserve with intensity as they work out theirs destinies.

The feeling “I’ve-been-here-before” takes on a whole new meaning when Joanna starts researching regression by hypnosis. Skeptical and expecting to uncover information well suited for her often-vitriolic style of writing, she agrees to be hypnotized to see if she regresses to an earlier time in history.

Wow! What a past emerges—an 800-year-old past. While in a trance, Joanna seems to become Matilda, the lady of Hay in twelfth-century Wales. She takes the reader on a journey full of treachery and passion that mesmerizes.

Both Joanna and Matilda are strong women who strive for control of their own lives while navigating through a maze of ambitious, egocentric men whose jealousies and territorial attitudes play havoc with lives.

Matilda’s husband William, ambitious and a user; King John, the cruel royal who feels entitled in every way; and Richard de Clare, who loves and understands Matilda make life a minefield ready to explode with a single misstep on her part.

Joanna is not married but the men in her life begin to take on different personalities from time to time. Nick, Sam, Tim, and Pete make Joanna’s twentieth-century life a tangled mess of emotions and danger. Knowing who the bad guys are and who the good guys are is indeed a guessing game.

Barbara Erskine’s writing style with layers of plots, strong characters, exquisite imagery, and graphic descriptions, plops the reader down right in the middle of events happening 800 years apart. The supernatural, historical, and the modern day (replete with promiscuity) blend to make LADY OF HAY captivating. The tale gives one pause for thought. Do people work out their own destinies or does some unknown force propel people along?