For My Lady's Heart, by Laura Kinsale

>> Wednesday, June 23, 2004

For My Lady's Heart, by Laura Kinsale is a book I've long wanted to read, but I was a bit leery of Kinsale, as well as being a bit intimidated by the fact that the dialogues here are written in Middle English. After My Sweet Folly, however, I gathered my courage and took the plunge.

(Read what the author has to say about the book. Interesting!)

young knight will take up his sword for the honor of a beautiful and mysterious princess--and risk his life for the love that burns between them.
I can only say... WOW!!! I'm horrible at raving about books, but this deserves that I try. An A.

I've been waiting for years to read a heroine like Melanthe. I know many romance readers don't like her. I've seen many posts about it online, even one recently wondering if she changed later on, otherwise the poster felt she wouldn't be able to enjoy the book. Wow, I must be the complete opposite of these people! It was always obvious to me who and what Melanthe was and why she behaved the way she did, and it simply didn't strike me negatively. I admired her from the beginning, and loved her strength. If she's cruel, it's because she feels she has to. If she lies, it's because she feels she has to. The woman is in danger! I admired that she took her destiny in her own hands and did what she needed to do, instead of waiting around, waiting to be rescued.

And about lying, I can't believe how incredibly refreshing it is that she knows how to lie, and very well. I'm not overly fond of liars IRL, but I'm up to here with romance novel heroines who have to be so damned perfect that they can't tell a lie to save their lives. They start stuttering and blushing, even if it something like they're telling the villain they don't know where the McGuffin is. Not Melanthe, not by a long shot. Melanthe has been practically raised in the Monteverde court, and educated in the ways of court intrigue and deceit by a master, her late husband Prince Ligurio. She's excellent at it.

The problem is she simply can't stop doing this. She'll plot and plan even when she doesn't have to. Witness her behaviour and her fears at Ruck's holding. I found this heartrending, how she's so used to being always in the defensive, always figuring every angle, always afraid. No wonder she wants refuge, to be left alone by all these people who want either to use her or to destroy her, and to be safe.

Ruck is the perfect person to give her this refuge she needs. He's her complete opposite in this sense. Steadfast, faithful, kind and gentle, even if he's a trained warrior. A bit naive, contrasting with Melanthe's cynism, and sweet.

Their love scenes were wonderful, tender and sweet and actually funny, especially the way Ruck has educated himself about carnal manners by paying attention to the pointed questions asked by priests during confession. And there wasn't even one gratuitous line in them, it all served to tell us more about these people and their relationship.

The way Kinsale wrote the background for this love story was amazingly good. She's excellent at creating a setting that feels real, but what made it even more real to me was that these people were so definitely NOT 21st century people dressed in costume. Their whole mindsets were different to ours, and often felt foreign to me, and this was fascinating. Some things blew my mind, like Ruck's attitude towarts the Catholic church. He's been fucked over repeatedly by them, first with his holding and title, then with his first wife, Isabelle. He's seen its corruption and thirst for power first-hand and yet, he still heeds priests pronouncements about matters. He still feels they speak for God.

And all this about how real it all is brings me to the issue of the language. As I said, I was a bit apprehensive about the dialogues in Middle English, but these fears were proved to be unfounded. It was perfectly understandable. Even the words I didn't know were made clear by their context. Most important of all, it was beautiful. I can't imagine Ruck and Melanthe speakind differently to each other, now.

The plot was a good blend of external and internal conflict. I generally prefer internal conflict, and try to stay far a way from books too loaded with political machinations and court intrigue, but I did enjoy the plot of For My Lady's Heart even if it was very rich in all this.

Finally, Allegretto. Oh, wow! Lucky I bought Shadowheart when I had the chance. I'll have to rest a bit after reading this, but I'm definitely reading it as soon as I can.

Oh, and one last thing, not related to the content of the book itself. The cover. The stepback cover was one of the best I've seen. First of all, they are dressed ;-) And appropriately, too. They look exactly as I'd imagined. Their clothes are as described and beautiful, Ruck wearing chain mail and armour and Melanthe a green dress with embroidered dragonflies. And even the models fit my image of the protagonists. He's got that boyish but tough thing going on, while she looks very sophisticated. Perfect, and so is the background. I wish I could find an image of it to post here, but I haven't been able to find one online, and I've already returned the book to the friend who lent it to me (my very own copy's on its way!), so I can't even scan it :-(


Post a Comment

Blog template by

Back to TOP