Copyright: 2007 (Harlequin); pgs. 293
Series: Harlequin Historical #842
Violence: nothing worth mentioning
Where & When: Jerusalem, 1192
Who: Soraya al-Din and Marc de Valery
Summary: King Richard has chosen Marc de Valery to be his escort/protector on his return trip to England. Accompanying them is Soraya al-Din, disguised as the boy Soray. Marc killed her mentor, a man who was trying to deliver a message to the king. Soraya vows revenge and finds herself accompanying Marc with the hopes of fulfilling that vow. She expects to return to Jerusalem and finally deliver the message to the king, not knowing that the monk Marc travels with is Richard.
Comments: The book blurb is somewhat misleading, so I chose not to use it. It implies that Soraya holds a grudge against Marc throughout the book. Fairly early, Soraya comes to realize that she can’t bring herself to kill Marc when the opportunity arises. The knight is kind to Soray, even when “his” behavior as a servant would have evoked harsh treatment from a master. Marc is a honorable man, and she comes to refer to him in her mind as her knight.
For his part, Marc has grown fond of the mischievous “boy”. Soray’s antics make him laugh, in spite of himself, something that the war-weary knight hasn’t done in a long time. Soray’s slight build and seemingly innocent nature makes Marc protective of “him”, though Marc witnesses Soray standing up to a group of servants — and proves that “he” doesn’t need protecting.
Marc learns the truth and is doubly mad at Soray/Soraya. He feels his lost a friend. Soraya is a woman and it doesn’t occur to him that Soray’s personally was really Soraya, and not an act. The reveal was nicely done and not in the obvious way. They keep the truth from their traveling companions and Marc continues to behave honorably, hence the double sensuality rating. For most of the book, they are traveling as fast as they can to get to England, enduring hardships along the way. They fall in love, but do not act upon it until they are safely in England — which is almost the end of the book.
I really liked Marc and Soraya. Soraya knows, and understands, that she may never be Marc’s. She accepts that Marc must honor his betrothal and doesn’t carry on like a child. Her acceptance and understanding makes him love her all the more. Of course, Marc finds a resolution to their problem.
The author includes a note regarding what historical facts she tampered with, and which characters were fictional and which were real people.
Started: 10 January 2008
Finished: 18 January 2008