Synopsis: England in 1321 is a confusing place. Edward II has been forced by his barons to exile his favourite, Hugh Despenser. The barons, led by the powerful Thomas of Lancaster, Roger Mortimer and Humphrey de Bohun, have reasons to believe they have finally tamed the king. But Edward is not about to take things lying down, and fate is a fickle mistress, favouring first one, then the other.
Adam fears his lord has over-reached, but at present Adam has other matters to concern him, first and foremost his new wife, Katherine de Monmouth. His bride comes surrounded by rumours concerning her and the baron, and he hates it when his brother snickers and whispers of used goods.
Kit de Courcy has the misfortune of being a perfect double of Katherine de Monmouth – which is why she finds herself coerced into wedding a man under a false name. What will Adam do when he finds out he has been duped?
Domestic matters become irrelevant when the king sets out to punish his rebellious barons. The Welsh Marches explode into war, and soon Sir Roger and his men are fighting for their very lives. When hope splutters and dies, when death seems inevitable, it falls to Kit to save her man – if she can.
In the Shadow of the Storm is the first in Anna Belfrage’s new series, The King’s Greatest Enemy, the story of a man torn apart by his loyalties to his baron, his king, and his wife.
My Thoughts: It's no secret that I love Anna Belfrage's books but I was still surprised by how much I enjoyed In the Shadow of the Storm. Ms. Belfrage took an incredibly tumultuous period in history, mixed in a passionate romance and the result was an incredible story.
Characters: Kit is awesome! I wasn't so sure of her at the very beginning but once she got her wits about her, she was a force to be reckoned with. She was not afraid to say what was on her mind nor was she afraid to fight hard for what she wanted. Her husband, Adam, was so tough but also so vulnerable. He had so many layers and it is interesting to get to know him more throughout the course of the story. I also really loved Mabel; I know she is kind of a secondary character but her 'no nonsense' attitude and good sense endeared her to me.
For the most part, I loved all the characters with a few exceptions. I don't know how she does it but Ms. Belfrage writes some nasty villains. Hugh Despenser is the epitome of evil and just completely awful. Throughout the story, I just kept wondering what horrible thing he was going to do next. Adam's brother, Guy, was also pretty despicable and there was no love lost between the two brothers. And though I wouldn't characterize him as a villain per say, I do have to mention Pembroke. There were things to dislike about him but he seemed to be a good man at heart and I felt like there was a lot more to him than meets the eye. I wouldn't mind seeing him again in future books.
Romance: The romance between Adam and Kit is wonderful. They were the perfect match for each other and and I just loved them together. Theirs was a love story for the ages (as cheesy as that sounds). Despite its unique beginning, they really built a solid marriage based on a passionate love for each other.
Story: I found the historical aspects to be fascinating. I have read books set in this period before and have enjoyed them but In the Shadow of the Storm really piqued my interest and made me want to learn more about this era. While there is a pretty strong romance aspect to the story, there is also a very detailed look at a very tumultuous time in England's history and I think Ms. Belfrage did an excellent job of melding the two together.
Overall, In the Shadow of the Storm is a story will suck you in from the very first page and refuse to let go. I can't even think of one bad thing to say about it! I look forward to seeing what the rest of the series will be like. 4 stars.
I received a copy of this book from the author/HFBVT in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author:
When Anna fell in love with her future husband, she got Scotland as an extra, not because her husband is Scottish or has a predilection for kilts, but because his family fled Scotland due to religious persecution in the 17th century – and were related to the Stuarts. For a history buff like Anna, these little details made Future Husband all the more desirable, and sparked a permanent interest in the Scottish Covenanters, which is how Matthew Graham, protagonist of the acclaimed The Graham Saga, began to take shape.
Set in 17th century Scotland and Virginia/Maryland, the series tells the story of Matthew and Alex, two people who should never have met – not when she was born three hundred years after him. With this heady blend of romance, adventure, high drama and historical accuracy, Anna hopes to entertain and captivate, and is more than thrilled when readers tell her just how much they love her books and her characters.
Presently, Anna is hard at work with her next project, a series set in the 1320s featuring Adam de Guirande, his wife Kit, and their adventures and misfortunes in connection with Roger Mortimer’s rise to power. The King’s Greatest Enemy is a series where passion and drama play out against a complex political situation, where today’s traitor may be tomorrow’s hero, and the Wheel of Life never stops rolling.
The first installment in the Adam and Kit story, In the Shadow of the Storm, will be published in the autumn of 2015.
Other than on her website, www.annabelfrage.com, Anna can mostly be found on her blog, http://annabelfrage.wordpress.