Lion's Bride
Iris Johansen
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Lion's Bride
Iris Johansen
480 pages
July 2008
rated 3 of 5 possible stars

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Lion's Bride was reissued in 2008 to prepare for the release of its new sequel, The Treasure, toward the end of 2008. The original Lion's Bride was released in 1996, and though not feeling particularly dated, this reviewer still found it to be an uneven book.

The setting itself is very enjoyable events take place during the Crusades in places such as Constantinople, Acre, and even Scotland. The heroine, Thea, is a slave with an amazing skill for embroidery. When she escapes her slavery and ends up in a caravan which is subsequently attacked, she is rescued rather unwillingly by Lord Ware, former Knight Templar and rather gloomy man. In order to protect Thea, Lord Ware takes her to his castle where they spar verbally and she eventually persuades Ware to rescue her slave sister, Selene, from Constantinople. Ware sends his friend Kadar to rescue Selene Kadar is a fascinating character and the focus of the forthcoming book.

As usual, propinquity creates love and Thea finds herself attracted to Ware. However, events in Ware's past mean that people who are close to him are in serious danger, and for Thea's own safety he has her moved to a different location. Thea unfortunately doesn't take kindly to finding herself in another kind of enslavement. How can Thea and Ware ever be safe together? How can they escape the combined threat from Knights Templar, Saladin, and an individual assassin who has been stalking Ware for years? Can they be happy?

Parts of Lion's Bride are excellent (I found the last quarter of the book much more enjoyable than most of the rest), but some parts are quite boring and the characterization of Ware and Thea is never particularly convincing, although that of Kadar and Selene is much better. I was continually irritated by the author's constant use of 'couple' and 'coupling' for sex - I wish her editor had given her a thesaurus to read so that she could have varied the terminology more. I really liked the setting and the historical period, which are unusual the violence and awful situation for women makes the story seem very exotic. Overall, though, there are too many disappointments to make this book one that I could recommend, although from events in the story it seems that the follow up might well be more enjoyable.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Helen Hancox, 2008

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