Judith James is one of the first romance authors that I'd discovered when I'd started my blog. I was fortunate to have received a review copy of her first novel, Broken Wing, through Bostick Communications. (Here's the link to my review of Broken Wing.) The following year, I joined the blog tour and reviewed James's second novel, Highland Rebel. (Here's the link to my review of Highland Rebel.) Judith James's third novel, Libertine's Kiss came out in 2010, but it has taken me a while to maneuver through NetGalley with my Kindle. So, I apologize for the delay - here's the rundown on Libertine's Kiss. Judith James's fourth book, The King's Courtesan, comes out in August 2011.
Libertine's Kiss by Judith James
Abandoned by his cavalier father at a young age, William de Veres grew up knowing precious little happiness. But William has put the past firmly behind him and as a military hero and noted rake, he rises fast in the ranks of the hedonistic Restoration court. Though not before he is forced to seek shelter from a charming young Puritan woman…
The civil wars have cost the once-high-spirited Elizabeth Walters her best friend and her father, leaving her unprotected and alone. She flees an unwanted marriage, seeking safe haven, but what she finds is something she never expected. When her kindness and her beauty bring her to the attention of William, and then the king, she will have a choice to make. After all, can a notorious libertine really be capable of love?
Set in England during turbulent times - from Cromwell's bloody reign through the return of King Charles II - Libertine's Kiss captures the political uncertainty and violence of the period and places each romantic lead firmly in different camps.
The story begins with William de Veres, a loyal subject of Charles Stuart, who has entered England to raise funds for the Stuart's return. With the royal funds practically depleted, de Veres has to resort to highway robbery and other dangerous methods. As things go awry, de Veres is injured and in his escape comes across an isolated cottage and pleads for help. He doesn't recognize his old friend, Elizabeth Walters, who takes him in, cares for him, and aids his journey. He isn't aware of the extreme danger that he puts her in.
In contrast, Elizabeth is a solid Republican, the daughter of a general who lost his life supporting Cromwell. Elizabeth and William de Veres had been neighbors and best friends as children even as their parents were on opposite sides politically. While de Veres fails to recognize her, Elizabeth immediately knows her best friend. She keeps their old friendship a secret and when he leaves, Elizabeth Walters is caught and punished for aiding an enemy. She loses her property and nearly loses her life. The punishment drastically changes Elizabeth's situation and it's with some desperation that she decides to go to court to seek redress upon King Charles II's return to England. Though a stroke of luck, de Veres sees his old friend as she reaches court. Elizabeth's presence recalls a gentler, nobler side to de Veres and he tries to protect her from the court, King Charles II, and himself. It's here that the love story really begins.
Judith James succeeds in creating a historical romance of the best sort. Historical events are critical to the plot and somehow it seems that the main characters meet and befriend the important figures of the time. While both de Veres and Elizabeth Walters are shaped by the events around them, they've modern temperaments and are clearly characters that we care about, sympathize with. Even their worst acts make them more likable. Once again, Judith James has delivered an engrossing and wonderful read!
ISBN-10: 0373775059 -Mass Market Paperback $7.99
Publisher: HQN Books (August 1, 2010), 384pages.
Review copy courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher.
About the Author:
Judith James has worked as a legal assistant, trail guide, and counselor. Living in Nova Scotia, her personal journey has taken her to the Arctic and the West Coast. Her writing combines her love of history and adventure with her keen interest in the complexities of human nature and the heart's capacity to heal. To learn more, visit her website at www.judithjamesauthor.com You can follower her on twitter as well judith_james