Medieval Connections

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Henry II of England
Henry II of England
1154 - 1189

Diarmait MacMurrough (Dermot Mac Murrough)
Diarmait MacMurrough (Dermot Mac Murrough), 1126-1171.
King of Leinster, the man who invited the Normans to Ireland.  It is believed that this is true representation of Dermot, taken from life.

Medieval chess
Medieval chess,  illustration from 1283, a period later than the action of this romance

Medieval Book Reviews !
All Things Medieval !


The Knight's Return
The Knight's Return by Joanne Rock 
by Joanne Rock

Divided loyalties, betrayal and the quest for a name and legacy!

Awakening in a cloud of unknowing, a man remembers only his name --- Hugh.  A vague memory perhaps of Ireland is the only clue available to him.  On a quest to discover his identity and his legacy, he travels from north of London to Ireland in hopes of discovering the truth of his past.  He might find the answers he seeks but then again, the journey might only lead him into greater danger.  Without knowing his identity, how can he distinguish between alliances or threats?  In Ireland he comes across a woman alone.  In a world where women are often under the protection of someone, her boldness attracts him, but is she a danger to him?  What terrible deed made her an outcast?  Exiled by her father, Scorcha ingen Con Connacht senses the presence of a stranger.  The resemblance of this trespasser to her son's father unnerves Scorcha.  Knowing she must protect her child first, a wariness overcomes her.  He seems more polite than the average Norman or mercenary but could he have been sent by her father and for what purpose?  Having been duped by a man once before, she now trusts no man.  When Hugh returns to Scorcha, this time at the king's request to protect her, Hugh finds himself in the tenuous position of doing the bidding of man who exiled her.  The more time he spends with this exiled princess, the more he feels captivated by her independence and passion.  A sudden turn of events puts her in even more danger.  In order to protect her, the race to discover his identity takes on a new urgency.  Can he gain her trust while working through the intricate layer of alliances and enemies to both himself and Scorcha before it is too late?

Joanne Rock's 12th century Irish medieval romance THE KNIGHT'S RETURN combines a refreshingly unique cast of characters with a fast-paced suspenseful plot that keeps the reader guessing until the final piece of the puzzle falls into place.  As an exile and a fallen woman, Scorcha makes for an intriguing romance heroine.  Bold and independent to the point of being headstrong at times, she has become more at home in the wilderness than the court.  She will protect her child at all costs.  Despite not knowing his true name, Hugh is a man of mental prowess.  With the danger of unexpected alliances and motivations threatening at every corner, he must maneuver a fine line between enemies and friends as he seeks to discover the truth. Like a chess player, he must plan several moves ahead, especially when he promises to protect Scorcha and her child.   Without a past, Hugh remains a mysterious character at times, but his true spirit shows in his interactions with others.  Without a name to define him, Scorcha and the reader see his character from within from the beginning.  As the external battle to discover the truth behind a web of lies that endanger Scorcha heats up, the physical attraction and feelings between Scorcha and Hugh draw them to one another.  Before Hugh can take her as his own, however, he must learn the truth of her past as well as his own.  As the two must both face the demons of their past within themselves, the external dangers mount.  Joanne Rock creates a wonderful balance between the internal and external pressures on the couple that heightens each as the romance moves to the final pages.  In THE KNIGHT'S RETURN, Joanne Rock not only creates a delightfully wicked villain but she also adds just the right measure of plot twists to make their journey riveting from start to finish.

In THE KNIGHT'S RETURN, the medieval world is an integral part of the romance, not just in terms of historical authenticity but also the spirit beyond the words.  Hugh's journey, including the boon he asks of Scorcha's father, are true to theme of the quest in medieval literature.  Those familiar with medieval quest stories will take a special delight in Joanne Rock's faithfulness to the genre while also relishing the manner in which she steps up the level of intrigue as different alliances and past secrets come to light throughout the quest.  THE KNIGHT'S RETURN is a wonderful mix of Jason Bourne's hunt and Sir Gawain's impossible task before the Green Knight.  In the process of the quest, Hugh must question himself and those around him to discover his true identity, not just a name but the sense of honor within himself.  To the themes of the classic medieval tale, Joanne Rock brings two refreshingly different characters and the vision of romance, not only in the passion that Hugh and Scorcha feel for one another but also in the family relationships that surround them.  To Medieval lovers, THE KNIGHT'S RETURN is a special treat, not only for the authenticity of her historical presentation, but the way she renews the period with the imagination she brings to the story.

Publisher: Harlequin  Historical (April 2009)
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