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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Love’s Elixir by Tessa McKay

Love’s Elixir by Tessa McKay
Publisher: Devine Destinies Books an imprint of eXtasy Books
Genre: Time travel, Contemporary, Historical
Length: Full Length (259 pgs)
Heat Level: sweet
Rating: 3.5 books
Reviewed by Lavender

Kyra Morgan always wanted to live in the past, and now she’s found a way to do just that. Whether she likes it or not. Wrapping herself in black velvet under the sweltering Southern sun, Kyra spends her summers working at the Tudor Rose Renaissance Festival, a Lady in an imaginary royal court. She hasn’t had much luck with men either and has little interest in handing her heart over again, so she immerses herself in her scholarship and the local faire where she can escape into the past and ignore the problems of the present day.

Rafe Harrison is hard to ignore, however. Handsome, confident and boorish, he is beloved by most everyone at the faire, particularly the women. Even Kyra’s best friend is quick to champion him, much to Kyra’s dismay. Kyra knows little about Rafe, but wisely despises his bravado, his appeal and his slipshod reenactment methods. And when Rafe is implicated in her best friend’s riding accident, she cannot forgive him for his neglect or herself for the unwelcomed sensations he stirs within her.

After tampering with a gypsy potion, Kyra suddenly finds herself and Rafe transported back to sixteenth-century England, and it is nothing like the 1500s back home. It is a dangerous time of court intrigue, French wars and Scottish insurrection. Kyra soon finds that she must learn to trust the courage and heart of the man she reviles if they are to survive. And more importantly, she must learn to trust her own heart as she fights for both her own and Rafe’s survival upon one of the bloodiest battlefields in England: Flodden.

Love’s Elixir by Tessa McKay is a fun story, rich with great historical details.

The heroine, Kyra Morgan, is a college professor of History. Part time, she works at a Renaissance faire, playing a lady’s maid to King Henry VIII’s first wife.

The unlikely hero, Rafe Harrison, works at the faire as well, a real ladies’ man, handsome, and talented with a sword. Kyra strongly dislikes him. This makes for an interesting start. When Kyra’s friend, “the queen” of the faire gets hurt on a horse that Rafe trained her on, Kyra blames Rafe. Looking at him angers her.

She comes across a strange purple liquid from a mysterious merchant who warned her not to touch it. Well, of course she does, leading to real trouble and the promise of adventure to come. Rafe gets his hands on it and spills it on her. They find themselves transported back in time to the early sixteenth century, when Henry VIII was still young and fit, and married to his first queen.

Now, this is a fascinating era, and I kept reading, expecting to be immersed in history, as the author has shown such attention to historical detail. I was not disappointed. Her research comes across expertly, and I lost myself in the past, while also seeing through the eyes of the contemporary time travelers.

Kyra’s reaction to the era she so loves is authentic. I’d have acted the same way.

Parts of the book are humorous. Rafe pretends he’s a Highlander. He attempts the accent and doesn’t quite pull it off. Other’s reactions to it made me smile.

Kyra grows as a character. She learns to be more trusting of Rafe, but she’s still a somewhat uptight character. I liked Rafe a lot better. He was charming and down-to-earth, and valiant.

There were interesting scenes such as Kyra’s meeting with the famous Mary Boleyn, sister of Henry’s second queen, Anne, and others. It was fun to meet them. I loved the descriptions of sixteenth century clothing and Kyra’s reaction to it.

This was a story written with expertise, and I really enjoyed it. The cliffhanger at the end, though, was a real bummer. It’s not a stand-alone book. It cuts off in the middle of the action, and I found that disapointing. But, I’ll have to look for the next to discover what happens to these interesting characters, and I look forward to seeing the conclusion for these great characters.