II of England
(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.
chess, illustration from 1283, a period later than the action of
Book Reviews !
Things Medieval !
betrayal and the quest for a name and legacy!
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
Publisher: Harlequin Historical (April 2009)