>> Thursday, February 12, 2015
...Agnes Moor knows her place in the court of King James IV—as one of the “exotics” in his employ. When the king makes a kiss from Agnes the prize of a tourney, a mysterious knight plows through his opponents to claim it. But it isn’t chance. The Wild Knight has come for her, and her champion is after after the most elusive prize of all: her heart...
The premise of this story sold me on it immediately, without even looking at reviews (especially at 77p!). It’s an interracial romance set in medieval Scotland, in the court of James IV. Agnes is a black woman who has been taken in by James and his wife, Margaret, and is an important part of the court. As the book starts a tourney is taking place called the Tourney of the Black Lady (based on a real event, according to the author’s notes), where the winner’s prize will be a kiss from Agnes. And it’s becoming very clear that a particular, mysterious knight is determined to win. He’s basically cutting through opponents like he’s on a mission, and Agnes can’t help hoping he’s a certain highland laird, even though she knows it’s impossible he should be.
Unfortunately, I’m afraid I liked the idea and the setting more than the actual story I got. There are good points. For instance, the writing is vivid and the story has a good sense of place. And there were elements of the story I liked… for instance, that Agnes was valued for her diplomacy skills, not just for being a novelty who can act as an ice-breaker and conversation starter. In fact, she doesn’t like the latter, but she accepts that it’s got its uses for her diplomatic role.
The problem is that this was much too short. It’s a short story, rather than a novella, but that’s not necessarily a problem. I’ve read plenty of short stories that felt satisfying. This one didn’t. It feels undeveloped as a romance. I did more or less get a sense of who Agnes was, although I would really have liked to have known more about her background… how she came to the court, that sort of thing (there are hints that it’s quite an interesting story). However, I had no idea who the hero was, really. He’s a highland laird who fell for her pretty much on sight and is determined to have her. That’s all. There are some conversations, but mainly the few pages available are used on them having sex. And not even sex where the characters are developed, just plain generic sex. Any proper courting happens off-stage, and we're just told it happened.
MY GRADE: A C.