I fell in love with Madeline Hunter after reading ‘By Arrangement’. This poignant historical romance is set in 14th century England, during the reign of a young King Edward III. It tells the story of one of her most swoon worthy heroes, David de Abyndon, a seemingly ordinary merchant with extraordinary charisma, poise and honour, and how he won the love and heart of his lady, Christiana Fitzwaryn, a baron’s daughter who was married to him by the decree of their ambitious king.
The story has all the ingredients of an utterly engrossing historical romance. There’s historical intrigue (David is also a spy for King Edward), powerful emotions aplenty and compelling main and secondary characters. Hunter was very effective in painting a vivid picture of the historical setting, a trait that she kept up for all her historical novels. I was so moved by David and Christiana that I went on to read about other related characters in ‘The Protector’, ‘Lord of a Thousand Nights’ and ‘Stealing Heaven’, which brings the reader back to when David was slightly younger. I was totally seduced by David the character. He is everything a hero should be: honourable, kind, passionate and intelligent.
When Madeline Hunter launched her series on the members of the Hampstead Duelling Society, I patiently waited until the 4th book was published, then bought the whole set so I could read them in succession without the agony of suffering the suspense between instalments. ‘The Seducer’, ‘The Saint’, ‘The Charmer’ and ‘The Sinner’ all sport the same lushness in details, deep characterisation and snappy pace as her books above.
However, I grew a little weary of descriptive steamy scenes by the time I picked up ‘The Romantic’ that I skipped some of those on my first reading. So when it came to ‘Lord of Sin’, her latest, I tried to rectify that, but fear that I’ve already been afflicted by what I call ‘author fatigue’. It comes when I’ve read too many books by the same author. So, to be fair to Madeline, whom I’m still absolutely mad about, I decided to give her a break while I read something else.
Despite that, ‘Lord’ is a very enjoyable read, and she’s created yet another unforgettable character, besides David. As this book is set during the same time period as the five books on the Duelling Society members, you’ll find familiar characters making cameo appearances here. The author is very detailed when it comes to describing the world of lithographers and engravers, and that’s what makes her stories so memorable. She also manages to transport you to the setting of the story, so that you become totally immersed in it, and lived, for a time, as one of the contemporaries of that era. I think this is what makes her stories so successful.
I’ve read an excerpt of her next book, and it looks very promising. I’m looking very much forward to it as it’ll tell the story of one of the women I like, Charlotte, Lady Mardenford, whose gutsy defence of her sister and sharp wit in ‘The Romantic’ left a deep impression. This is definitely one author I’m keeping on my shelf, and rereading when I tire of others. I’ve reread ‘By Arrangement’ a dozen times and ‘The Seducer’ twice already, so you can tell how mad I am about Madeline Hunter!
Let men tremble to win the hand of woman, unless they win along with it the utmost passion of her heart! Else it may be their miserable fortune, when some mightier touch than their own may have awakened all her sensibilities, to be reproached even for the calm content, the marble image of happiness, which they will have imposed upon her as the warm reality.
~Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter
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