Sunday, September 2, 2012

BY ROYAL COMMAND by Laura Navarre

Publisher: Carina Press

Date published: July 2nd, 2012

ISBN: 978-14268-9400-8

Historical Romance


Reviewed by Helen


Obtained via publisher

Katrin of Courtenay was married at fourteen to a cold northern baron whose favor her uncle needed to rule the land. Now her husband is dead, and not mourned by Katrin, but the land is attacked on all sides by Danes, Vikings and wolves. Ethelred sends his sword-theyn to collect Katrin so she can be married in another useful alliance. Katrin distrusts the king, who is more likely to be pursuing his own ends than caring for her needs, but the warrior is sworn to deliver her to the king and does so, despite the passion building between them.

Ethelred sends her to her new husband and intrigue intensifies, as he is an unusual man, and other men want Katrin for their own ends as well.

It’s very difficult to give an overview of such a long book (101,000 words) without incurring some spoilers. The book takes around a year to happen, and includes a huge number of major and secondary characters, all of whom have an active role to play in the story. All the characters are well drawn, from those who appear and disappear in a chapter, to those who play a much larger part. Ms. Navarre has a deft touch with characterization, giving each one their own personality and idiosyncrasies, as they play their part in the ongoing story of Katrin’s life.

Obviously much of our knowledge of this time period (very early eleventh century Britain) is hearsay and poet’s retellings, but nonetheless, Ms. Navarre has done an excellent job of adding life and vitality within accurate historical boundaries.

It seems strange to us today that a boy less than thirteen years old could be king. Even stranger that as a man he’d marry a girl and their third child was born when she was fifteen. But those facts are indeed true. Katrin was not young in those days to be married a second time at age eighteen.

The author paints a vivid picture of life at court in the early eleventh century, and the attitudes and actions of the wealthy in this book. She also shows the other side of the story too, and what was happening across the land. Life was harsh and brief, but could also be rewarding and pleasurable. Ms. Navarre’s portrayal of the lifestyle and diseases of the day is every bit as accurate as her historical characters.

The sex scenes are well written and part of the plot, hot enough to please but not overly explicit.

An excellent read, fulfilling on every level—plot, characters, action, adventure, and historical setting.

The cover is beautiful, the colors blending perfectly into the historical theme. But the model’s hair color is a disappointment to anyone who has read the book.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

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