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Monday, February 20, 2012

The Needle in the Blood by Sarah Bower

The Needle in the Blood by Sarah Bower
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre: historical
Length: Full Length (522 pages)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

His lust for power gave him everything. But it might cost him the love of his life.

The Bishop hired her for a simple job: embroider a tapestry. It is an enormous work, a cloth trophy of the conquest of England. But her skill with a needle and thread is legendary. It would be uncomplicated.

She plans to kill him as soon as she gets the chance. He and his brother, William the Conqueror, murdered her King and destroyed her world. Revenge, pure and clean. It would be simple.

But neither planned to fall desperately in love. As the two become hopelessly entangled, friends become enemies, enemies become lovers, and nothing in life—or the tapestry—is what it seems. An unlikely love story born of passion and intensity, crafted by critically acclaimed historical novelist Sarah Bower,The Needle in the Blood is a "story of love, war, and the tangled truth of England's birth."

The Needle in the Blood is a medieval adventure rife with danger, romance, and rich, historical detail. Reading this book brought the world of mid-eleventh century, Britain to life. The nitty-gritty, down-to-earth particulars of this brutal era are engrossing and educational at the same time.

It was a fascinating time, the end of Anglo-Saxon England, when William the Conqueror took control of the English throne. William had a half-brother, a bishop named Odo. Odo makes a great hero in this story. He's charming and driven; a political man from the word go.

Gytha is Saxon and hates the Normans. She’s tough, and does what she must to survive in a world turned upside down. She is practical and not romantic. This story, among other things, is about character.

Gytha wants to kill Odo, as revenge for taking away her mistress. She gets the chance to meet the powerful but lonely Odo, who is plagued by nightmares. Something unexpected happens during this meeting. From then on, her contradicting feelings battle each other. She calls Odo her enemy but still lusts for him. He’s tender with her as no man has ever been. Odo grows to love her, but she pulls away at first, creating great tension. She wonders if she’ll fade into the mass of treasures he owns.

The Needle in the Blood is based off of true events in British history. The tapestry central to this story actually exists and depicts the events that lead to Norman control. One particular scene woven into the tapestry shows the Bishop Odo caressing the face of his mistress. Quite possibly this was the inspiration for this work of fiction.

The writing is intelligent and engaging. Be forewarned though, this is not a light read. It's obvious Ms. Bower spent time researching historical events and the time period for accuracy. Besides forbidden love, it’s also a tale of survival and politics of the era. One just doesn’t know what will happen next during the reading.

The Needle in the Blood is for fans of serious historical fiction who appreciate a good romance; it’s an enjoyable book.