Lord Of The Keep
by Ann Lawrence, historical (1999)
LoveSpell (Perfect Heroes), $5.99, ISBN 0-505-52351-5


When Emma first meet Lord Gilles d'Argent, she is dragged by her guardian/uncle to Gilles' manorial court. Seems that Emma has surrendered her virginity to a knight whom she refuses to name, and her uncle demands restitution as she is now unmarriageable. Gilles rules in favor of Emma, and he is struck by her will and strength. And Emma, she is attracted to Gilles' awesome masculinity (that's what the book says, so don't look at me that way).

Two years later, Gilles finds her unconscious in the woods with a baby. Seems that Emma is now supporting herself and the baby by weaving. To repay Gilles for rescuing her, she weaves Gilles a special tribute. Gilles takes pity on her as well as feels strongly attracted to her, hence he takes her in among the manor weavers and demands that she weaves only for him.

Lots of complications ensue. He's 40, she's... somewhere in her late teens or early twenties, I guess, and while Emma insists that no, his age's not a problem and yes, old coots can do it as well as randy youngsters, Gilles does feel the age and generation gap between them. When the bad, treacherous knight of his keep is revealed as the sad son of a cow who left Emma preggers, things start to get really ugly as jealousy reigns its ugly head.

Now, I'm quite torn about Lord Of The Keep. On one hand, Emma's preoccupation with the Madonna/Whore complex can get irritating, as she keeps thinking of herself as spoiled goods because she enjoys her orgasms. This is probably a realistic depiction of a woman of her time, but really, too much is annoying. Emma is the weakest link in this story as much of what she says or does isn't too smart or wise. And this only drives home how young she is and how immature.

But Gilles... now that's a fine romantic hero indeed. He appeals to my always ongoing fantasy about a hunk who is always reliable, always dependable, and always a man one can count on. I always think there's nothing more appealing than a solid man one can count on as a best friend as well as lover, and Gilles more than delivers on that account. I adore Gilles, who is a noble and complex man torn between his attraction for Emma and his ingrained notions of class/nobility/rank.

It's the well-done, romantic, and sometimes spine-tingling way the author depicts the relationship between these two people that sway me into view LOTK as a great book. The romance is well done, simply convincing, and I have no trouble envisioning a really happy ending for these two. And there's no evident sagging middle unlike the author's debut Virtual Heaven. Hence, LOTK, while not great, is nonetheless a very good read.

Rating: 80


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