Gem of Gravane, #1 in The Northern Knights Series, by Amber Dane

15741229[1]Love and Passion amidst Treachery and Betrayal

Sensual Medieval Romance

I have been planning to read an Amber Dane novel for some time now and sincerely wish that I had not waited quite so long! I adore historical romances, especially those set in the medieval period and I am pleased to say that I have now found another great author to fulfil my fantasies of alpha knights in shining (or even tarnished) armour and sensual tales of how they find their heart’s desire in the midst of such violent and turbulent times. This book is the first in her Northern Knights series, of which book 2, Conquering the Dark Axe and book 3, The Beast of Renald, have already been published as well as other works.

In Gem of Gravane, Knight Aric Claydon  is honoured by William the Conqueror, his King and lord, who gifts him, amongst other demesnes, Gravane and the hand in marriage of its lady Danielle, a conquered Saxon. However, this fierce and battle hardened warrior, whose heart pays homage to no woman, delays claiming this particular prize and its lady for a year.

Lady Danielle welcomes her new lord and husband to her home with mixed feelings. Held in contempt by the men in her life – first her father and then her odious cousin Thomas, her guardian, she lacks confidence and is highly conscious of a slight affliction she has. She is disappointed when Aric’s initial reaction to her is less than enthusiastic, confirming her fears that he has avoided the union as he has been made aware of her lack of worth.  She still harbours a secret hope however, that although Aric is not happy to take her as his bride, his overlordship of Gravane will put many wrongs to right that have been inflicted on her people.

Aric is far from immediately enamoured with Danielle, but will do his duty and will endeavour to beget an heir. He knows that something is badly wrong at Gravane and is determined to bring the perpetrators to justice. As soon as the marriage takes place, Aric finds that he is more and more drawn to Danielle, attracted to her soft curves, her kindness to others and even her quirks and he seeks to protect her from any perceived dangers. It also becomes clear that his bride is stronger than he thinks and that she harbours secrets. The more he finds out about her, the more he realises that there is more to her than he first thought. Unused to and uncomfortable with such feelings Aric strives to keep his distance, except in the bedroom, where he is gentle and attentive.

The presence of Thomas and his sister Rose and the appearance of characters from Aric’s past do little to alleviate Danielle’s fears and she despairs that Alric will ever return her growing love for him. At the same time danger threatens both Aric and his lady. As we find out if Danielle will succeed in persuading this powerful warrior to take a chance on love, the unfolding tale is laid out like a sumptuous medieval feast. It is brimming with treachery and violence, as well as humour, passion and numerous sensual scenes. I found it a compulsive read!

I loved the character of Aric, a proud and powerful warrior. He is protective of Danielle from the off and against his better judgement he cannot keep his emotional distance from her. I also revelled in how Danielle grew in confidence and stature as she was able to assume her rightful role as lady under Aric’s protection, even as she struggled with what she believes is unrequited love.

The author’s portrayal of supporting characters were a delight to behold. Aric’s second-in-command Balwain and Danielle’s maid Edie deserve special mention as do the not so savoury characters of Thomas and Rose. We are also introduced to the knight Rourke, the Dark Axe, the hero of the next novel in the series, Conquering the Dark Axe.

I recommend Gem of Gravane to readers of historical romance, especially medieval romance, who enjoy a romantic and sensual tale, with engaging characters, which does not shy away from depicting the violence and the treachery that was commonplace at the time.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Cover art: LDF Design

Author Amber Dane’s Blog

Gem of Gravane on Goodreads

Heart of the Diamond, by Carrie Brock

18043348[1]A Revenge so Sweet! An Entertaining Regency Romance

Heart of the Diamond is a sweet Regency Romance, with a yummy alpha hero and an unorthodox heroine who meet each other in bizarre circumstances engineered purely for revenge, but which lead to an endearing and intriguing fast paced romance.

In Carrie Brock’s romantic tale the heroine, Lady Nicole Langley, has managed to avoid matrimony – a state she has no desire to enter into. However, she finds that her father and stepmother have arranged a match with a man very much her senior. In a desperate attempt to seek help, she sets out in the middle of the night to meet her childhood sweetheart and neighbour, Teddy Bartholomew, who has sent her a note to say that he has returned home from America. However, instead she finds that she has been tricked and compromised by Blake Dylan, the new owner of Teddy’s home, Rosewood Manor. Nicole’s father, the Duke of Billington, is reluctantly compelled to accept Blake’s offer of marriage for his daughter to safeguard her honour.

Blake Dylan, who is now the Duke of Diamond, on his father’s death, has recently returned from America where he spent the last six years after being banished there. He is seeking revenge on those responsible for his banishment, namely the Duke of Billington and Teddy Bartholemew. He has already sabotaged the Duke’s business interests and he has won Teddy’s ancestral home from him in a card game. His final act of revenge will be to trick Billington’s daughter into marriage, which will have the added benefit of depriving Teddy of the woman he intends to make his own.

Nicole is a first unaware of the hatred that exists between her father and Teddy and Blake. Whilst she is furious at the situation, she begins to find herself becoming attracted to Blake, for despite his cool and calculating exterior, he can at times be quite charming. She suspects that he has been badly let down in the past and wants to be the woman that heals him. However, once Nicole discovers Blake’s role in her father’s financial ruin, Nicole begins to question Blake’s integrity and fears for her future with such a cold hearted vindictive man, who professes to shun love. When her childhood love Teddy returns from America more truths emerge and Nicole is forced to make choices relating to her future happiness. She fears that Blake will not be appeased until he manages to completely destroy her father, which she cannot let happen. Already enamoured with Blake Nicole strives to melt his icy heart.

Nicole is not your typical simpering Regency miss. Instead she is unorthodox, outspoken and headstrong. Having witnessed her own mother’s unhappiness before her death and her father’s remarriage to his former mistress, she is wary of entering a loveless marriage. She is devoted to her family, although her relationship with her stepmother is strained. Blake is taken aback be Nicole’s natural beauty and lack of artifice. He does not hold Nicole responsible for his misfortune and only intends to use her as an instrument for his revenge, not wishing to inflict any undue hardship on her. He does not believe in love but he begins to find Nikki’s behaviour more and more endearing as he gets to know her. She begins to thaw his icy heart and he is forced to examine his feelings when Teddy reappears and competes for her attention despite the couple’s coming nuptials.

Despite Blake’s Machiavellian actions in tricking Nikki into marriage for revenge, I did find him a sympathetic character. From their first scene together it was evident that there was a great deal of sexual tension between them. However, there are many twists and turns in the plot along the way which make for an entertaining tale. Some of the scenes, particularly those which portray Blake and Teddy vying for Nicole’s attention are highly amusing! We are introduced to a wider cast of characters as the plot progresses and these are well drawn and help the plot progress to its conclusion.

I found Heart of the Diamond to be a sweet Regency Romance with engaging characters and an intriguing plot. I recommend this novel to lovers of Regency Romance with an unorthodox, likeable heroine, a yummy alpha hero, who attempts to be a blackguard to exact his revenge, but really is quite honourable and a cast of entertaining characters.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

A copy of this book was made available to me by the publisher Blue Star Books for the purpose of providing a fair and honest review.

Cover design by Bri Bruce