By Possession
by Madeline Hunter, historical (2000)
Bantam, $4.99, ISBN 0-553-58221-6


Unlike By Arrangement which is devoid of humor and has a hero whom I'm not even sure is heterosexual (closet rabid misanthropy case alert), By Possession, Madeline Hunter's sophomore effort, has a genuinely likable hero and a heroine whose affections for him is better fleshed out.

Addis de Valence is the medieval hero in question. After a period of enslavement and spooky sex in the Baltics region (Crusade adventure went haywire), he is now back in England and in Moira Falkner's life. Moira is a serf to Addis - while she is given her freedom by Addis' father, Addis refuses to acknowledge that and insists that she remains by his side. His reason is slowly peeled until later in the story he admits to himself, it's because Moira is the one true thing in his life that makes him feel that he is truly at home.

Moira has been taking care of Addis' son all this time while nurturing a secret crush on Addis. I'm prepared to thoroughly dislike Moira, who has all the makings of a dumb-dumb martyr wimp. Fortunately, Moira is intelligent enough to realize that her second-time-around infatuation with Addis is because she prefers the man to the vain, selfish boy she had a crush on years back. Moira is a heroine that holds her own, and her reckless attempts to win her freedom even as she fights her attraction to Addis hence don't ring dumb-dumb.

Political intrigue further complicates things. By Possession is steeped in history and atmosphere - I can almost see the vivid settings the author has created in her book. At the same time, the history never overwhelms the heart of the story - a tale of two lonely people finding solace and comfort in each other. It's a moving story, although Addis is the true anchor of emotional catharsis here. Moira is a more typical romance heroine, although she is a fine one. Still, they do make a right and wonderful couple.

Well, there's always room for my keeper shelf for a good book, and I think I'll add this author to my auto-buy list too. At this rate, I can't wait for the next book.

Rating: 88


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