I am a Regency Romance Gal; it's my preferred historical time period and my default comfort-zone reading.
But sometimes I just have to have me some medieval brawn: A big ol' hunk o' meat kuh-nig-git riding his destrier around his demesne, drawing his broadsword from his scabbard and slicing off the head of some dastardly border raider or rogue outlaw who is threatening his woman. I'm not proud of it, but there it is.
There are some fabulous medievals out there, rich in history and detail (Madeline Hunter's By Design springs to mind here), or full of angst and emotion (Jo Beverley's Shattered Rose about shattered me). I have these books on my Keeper Shelf, but they aren’t the ones I tend to turn to when I'm in a Medieval Mood. I have two medievals I reread all the time, and they are ones that definitely have some lightness to them in the midst of a dark time.
The Bride by Julie Garwood is, perhaps, the Medieval I reread the most. Well, I reread several of Garwood's medievals, but Alec and Jamie are special. Jamie is the quintessential Garwood heroine: slightly ditzy, outspoken, determined to find a way around her husband's sometimes stupid dictates, but there's a sweetness that underlies all her actions, even when they result in starting several clan wars. You just want to hug her. She drives Alec crazy, which is good for him; he's too used to getting his own way. Sometimes his wife's actions leave him so flummoxed that he's frozen into place. It's cute as can be. I love the image of this giant warrior being completely gobsmacked into immobility. The fact that he's wearing a kilt is just icing on the cake.
Warlord by Elizabeth Elliott is pure, cheesy medieval fun. There are clichés aplenty—a massive warrior (I mentally subtitled this book “The Medieval Chest,” and the cover is suitably appalling), an innocent petite flower, a forced marriage, lots of shouting, too much falling-in-love-makes-a-warrior-weak crap, battle cries, an imprisoned wife, slicing off of limbs—oh, the list goes on and on, but I love Kenric and Tess. They just befuddle each other with their attraction and trying to figure out what to do about it. My favorite scenes are when Tess is delirious from fever and thinks Kenric is Odysseus (her childhood hero), there to protect her. It's funny and touching as she tells him all her secrets and all her feelings for her husband, leaving Kenric feeling alternately smug and vulnerable. Fun.
Are you a Medieval fan? Do you prefer the lovely, deeply-layered true-to-the-history romances or the light, anachronistic ones? Which are your favorite books of each sort?
Cheryl Sneed reviews for Rakehell.com