Thursday, March 03, 2005

Review - The Hunter's Tale by Margaret Frazer

Thirteenth in Margaret Frazer's Dame Frevisse series, The Hunter's Tale is the best yet. As expected, the mystery is well-plotted with the requisite red herring or two, the setting brims with historical details and the story moves along at a gentle yet insistent pace. But it's also a brilliant study of human nature.
            The victim is Sir Ralph Woderove, who chases after his dog into the woods and turns up dead within the hour. The terms of his will set the stage for further foul deeds. As Dame Frevisse learns, he was a vicious man who loved his dogs more than his family, which includes his second wife Anneys, his sons Tom and Hugh, daughters Elyn, Lucy and Ursula and grandson Miles. His only friend was Elyn's husband, their neighbour Sir William Trensal. Little wonder Frevisse finds herself with so many suspects and a plethora of motives.
            Sir Ralph's physical and verbal abuse echo throughout the story, revealed through each of the main characters as it becomes clear they are protecting one of their own. In this manner, Ms Frazer reveals her genius, as she explores each member of the family and what drives them to act as they do. Highly recommended.

© Teresa Basinski Eckford
This review first appeared in the August 2004 issue of The Historical Novels Review

Review - Skylark by Jo Beverley

Fans of Jo Beverley's Company of Rogues will thoroughly enjoy this latest addition to the series featuring Sir Stephen Ball and his widowed childhood friend Laura Gardeyne. Six years before the story opens, Stephen had asked Laura to marry him, but a misunderstanding resulted in her rejecting him. Now her husband is dead, her son is in danger and Stephen is as much in love with her as ever. He offers to help her and together they search for a blackmailer threatening to expose a family secret. Laura soon learns Stephen is a man of principle, one who is more worthy of her love than the man she married.

As always, Ms. Beverley spins an exciting tale, effortlessly transporting her reader to Regency England. The mystery adds to the romance rather than dominating it, while Stephen and Laura are appealing protagonists whose rekindled relationship develops naturally. Peopled with a delightfully quirky cast of secondary characters, Skylark zips along at a good pace that kept me turning the pages.

If you are searching for a book in which history and romance blend seamlessly, look no further than this enjoyable and engrossing novel of love and redemption.

© Teresa Eckford, 2004

This review first appeared in the February 2005 issue of The Historical Novels Review