Saturday, 7 February 2009

Shields of Pride by Elizabeth Chadwick

The year is 1173. King Henry's efforts to crush his rebellious sons ignite bloody border skirmishes throughout the land. Yet it is a time of triumph for mercenary Josceline de Gael, bastard son of the king's most trusted ally. Victorious on the battlefield, de Gael suffers sweet defeat when his heart is conquered by the lovely Linnet de Montsorrel. But their love will find its greatest challenge as the torments of jealousy, suspicion, pride - and an enemy from beyond the grave - threaten all they hold dear.

Josceline de Gael is the bastard son of William de Rocher, the Ironheart. His father's wife and half-brothers never forgave him the circunstances of his birth and he finally leaves home for several years.While returning to his father's house, he meets the unpleasant and jealous Gilles Montsorrel and his wife Linnet. After the accidental death of Gilles, Joscelin is chosen to protect his wife and son. But even if Linnet and Gilles start slowly trusting each other and eventually marry, some hidden secrets could change their relationship forever…

I have to confess that my favorite character is Joscelin. He is truly a wonderful, honest and strong man. There's some shades of gray here and there which makes him even more charismatic and the way he treats Linnet and her son is truly heartwarming.

Linnet is more difficult to like but her flaws only make her more human. A battered wife, used and abused at her husband's hands, she doesn't trust men. Her secret creates some difficult moments with Joscelin but it's impossible to blame her for her past actions. I couldn't help feeling frustrated by her situation as a rich widow and mother of an heir. Just free from a monster and immediately forced to marry, unable to choose her husband or even take any decision for her future.

Shields of Pride is one of the earliest works of Elizabeth Chadwick and even if not her best, it's still a magnificent weaved story. I've read some of the author's other books like Shadows and Strongholds, The Love Knot or The Champion and every one of them is a delight, even the Hunt trilogy (it's what I call The Wild Hunt, The Running Vixen and The Leopard Unleashed) which is slightly different from her more recent works (they tend more towards the historical romance). For those who are really into this historical period, do not miss Elizabeth Chadwick's books!

Grade: 4/5

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