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Monday, September 20, 2010

The Princeling by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

The Princeling (The Morland Dynasty series - Bk. 3) by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
Publisher: Sourcebooks, Inc.
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (454 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 books
Reviewed by Camellia

The Morlands' rise to power, as tenuous as it was unexpected, now faces its greatest threat. Elizabeth I is on the throne and Protestantism is sweeping the land, threatening the position of the Catholic Morlands and forcing them to seek new spheres of influence. John, the heir, rides north to the untamed Borderlands to wed the daughter of a Northumberland cattle lord. But he finds he must first prove himself and win her heart through blood and battle. John's gentle sister Lettice is given in marriage to a ruthless Scottish baron, and in the treacherous court of Mary, Queen of Scots, she learns the fierce lessons of survival. Through birth and death, love and hatred, triumph and heartbreak, the Morlands fight to hold on to their place among England's aristocracy.

Generations, wars, kings, and seasons come and go; but Morland Place survives, sparkling and vibrant in prosperous times, dull and enduring in droughty and oppressive times. Politics and religion influence but never totally control life at this grand old estate or the people connected with it. Many of the new generation roam far and wide but Morland Place is their touchstone.

The senior John Morland sends his eldest son, John to woo the daughter of Black Will Percy in an effort to gain an alliance with the mighty Lord Percy of Northumberland. He will do whatever it takes to insure Morland Place’s future in the English aristocracy. Young John and his entourage are met by the Princeling’s pack of dogs and forbidding-looking men. Mary Percy is truly a princeling in her father’s eyes since she is his only heir. She’s been reared to rule. Unbending, aloof, and beautiful, she enchants John and she, in spite of all her posturing, is in love with John, but only after she realizes he will never expect her to give up her honor, pride, and control does she agree to marry. They ride and rule their wild Scottish estate as one. Theirs is a love unique to that time in history. From their union, only Thomas survives. His role in at Morland Place is unusual.

Lettice, young John’s sister, also ends up in Scotland married to a barbaric laird. Her story grabs the attention. She treads a perilous path as her husband works to put Mary, queen of Scots, on the throne of England. The brutality, debauchery, and underhanded dealing keep her life in breathtaking circumstances much of the time.

The other Morland children do not abide by the old ways, much to their father’s despair. The changing social mores, religion upheaval, and volatile political activities influence many of their choices. Nanette, the elder John’s kinswoman, helps him maneuver through the minefields of politics, religion, and social changes that seem to overwhelm him. Her years at court and her innate intelligence serve Morland Place well. Her adopted son’s wife proves to be a challenge in relation to Morland Place, which makes for prime reading.

Cynthia Harrod-Eagles’ impeccable historical setting and her incredible descriptions make The Princeling seem so real. Her weaving together so many diverse characters and subplots creates an exquisite, compelling novel about a time in history when change had people forever scrambling to maintain their balance in a world that seemed to tilt at times.

The Princeling, book three of the Morland Dynasty series throbs with life. Courage and love resonant all through the novel just as they do in book one The Foundling and book two The Dark Rose of this series.