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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

By His Majesty's Grace by Jennifer Blake

By His Majesty's Grace by Jennifer Blake
Publisher: Mira
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (378 pages)
Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 books
Reviewed by Camellia

The Three Graces of Graydon are well–born sisters bearing an ominous curse: any man betrothed to them without love is doomed to die.
Much to her chagrin, Lady Isabel Milton has been given to Earl Rand Braesford—a reward from the Tudor king for his loyalty to the throne. The lusty nobleman quickly claims his husbandly rights, an experience Isabel scarcely hoped to enjoy so much. But youth and strength may not save Braesford from his bride's infamous curse…

Accused of a heinous crime with implications that reach all the way to King Henry himself, Braesford is imprisoned in the Tower, and Isabel is offered her salvation—but for a price. She has the power to seal his fate, have him sent to the executioner and be freed from her marriage bonds. Yet the more Isabel learns of Rand, the less convinced she is of his guilt, and she commits to discover the truth about the enigmatic husband she never expected to love.

In fifteenth century England, Isabel Milton’s patience and God-given wits had been her only weapons to keep her two younger sisters and herself safe after the death of their father. Her fabrication of The Curse of the Three Graces of Graydon had served them well for a long time, especially after Leon, the court entertainer, had romanticized it in song. However, as a ward of the king, Isabel’s curse seems to have finally failed.

By decree of the king, she is wed to Sir Randall Braesford, a longtime friend and defender of the king. Even though Randall (Rand) is the illegitimate son of the deceased and disgraced Braesford, the king gives all Braesford’s holdings to Rand as a reward for his service as a fierce warrior and a friend. The legitimate son of Braesford William McConnell feels these holdings are rightfully his even though his father was a traitor to the king and stripped of his holdings.

Rand is beset on all sides. Not only must he deal with the treachery of the king’s advisors, he must deal with his vindictive half-brother and with Isabel’s devious step-brother the Earl of Graydon and his less-than-honorable friend Henley who wants Isabel and her wealth for himself. In spite of all his good deeds and his loyalty to the king, Rand ends up in prison. He has no illusions about how things will most likely end, but it is doubly hard since he has reveled in the passion he aroused in the lovely Isabel. With his expert foreplay and gentleness, her defenses slipped away and her uninhibited and oh-so-eager desire to share love with him had transported both of them to ecstasy again and again until he was ordered from his bed.

Taken to the Tower by none other than his half-brother and Isabel’s step-brother, Rand is almost fatalistic in his submission to the will of God and the king, but Isabel feels a deadly fury about the injustice and is even more furious about those who have pushed the king into taking such action.

Something that is hers has been taken and she wants it back. Using her aforementioned wits and every connection she has with those who have the king’s ear, Isabel, with the help of Rand’s squire David, sets about to outsmart and outmaneuver those who would have Rand hanged and destroy her chance at a life of happiness.

While her husband rages that she is just like the lady spider he watches in his prison cell that weaves her webs in obedience to her own caprice in defiance of her mate, Isobel, free to make her own decisions for the first time in her life, sets out on a mission full of intrigue and secrets that makes for adrenaline-pumping reading. She is a heroine after my own heart—one smart lady!

By His Majesty's Grace is brimming full of mind-shattering love scenes, clandestine chicanery, court intrigues, and undercurrents of women’s ways and means of swaying the outcome of events that men set in motion in their never-ending struggle for power.

Jennifer Blake’s masterful character development, her ability to weave history into the characters’ lives and her fantastic plotting and love scenes make By His Majesty's Grace memorable—a tale sizzling with strong emotions. The outcome Ms. Blake brings about is “tinglingly” good.