Apr 10 2011 2:00pm

Medieval Times: Garwood and Elliott Bring Historical Hotness

By Design by Madeline HunterI 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 GarwoodThe 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.

The Warlord by Elizabeth ElliottWarlord 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

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Amelia James
1. Amelia James
I love Medieval romances. A couple of the lighter ones are Teresa Medeiros' Charming the Prince and Lynsay Sands Always. A heavier romance is Johanna Lindsey's Hearts Aflame. If you can get the book with Royce on the cover, do it. He's gorgeous. Of course, I'm all over anything Scottish, especially Kinley Macgregor.

Love those brawny men!
Donna Cummings
2. Donna Cummings
What perfect timing! I was looking through some of my keepers, and came across The Bride. It's been so long since I've read it, I set it aside for a re-read. In the more recent section of keepers, I have Kris Kennedy's books, The Conqueror, and The Irish Warrior, and I got a little distracted with both of those while looking for something else a minute ago. LOL They would be considered lighter, I guess, but I just love the banter between the characters, and they are sooooo sexy! (I have so much re-reading to do. LOL)
Amelia James
3. Terri Brisbin
Um...did you read my mind...? Or at least peek at my shelf of keepers? I love medieval romances and you mentioned some of my favorites! I love Madeline Hunter's LORD OF A THOUSAND NIGHTS and Penelope Williamson's KEEPER OF THE DREAM. HONOR'S SPLENDOUR is probably my favorite of Julie Garwood's medievals though THE PRIZE was my first of hers.... Oh -- quintessential medieval? Gail Link's WOLF'S EMBRACE....sigh....

Terri B
Kaye Dacus
4. Kaye Dacus
The first medieval I ever read was Jude Deveraux's Velvet Song when I was not quite twelve years old. I quickly devoured the other three books in the Velvet series, falling madly in love with those strapping Montgomery brothers. I'd have to say that Velvet Promise, the first in the series featuring Gavin and Judith, is my favorite of the four. They still hold a place of honor on my bookshelves more than twenty-five years later.

And as if it weren't enough that I absconded with those books from my mom's shelf at that age, I discovered Julie Garwood and Catherine Coulter. Those three authors continue to be my go-to faves whenever I need a medieval pick-me-up!
Amelia James
5. lady trudy
Amanda Quick has a couple of medievals that are so well written - the heroines are sharp and smart, the heroes so dark, hunky, hungry for love, etc.
Try Desire, where the heroine loses her virginity in a vat of pot pourri! So funny. The other is Mystique.
6. EvangelineHolland
I never knew I loved medievals until I read two books: Teresa Medeiros's Shadows and Lace & Iris Johansen's Lion's Bride. I also greatly enjoyed Laura Kinsale's For My Lady's Heart (talk about an ambitious historical romance), and always tear up when reading Judith McNaught's A Kingdom of Dreams--and let's not forget Roberta Gellis' incredibly rich and detailed medieval romances.
Amelia James
7. bungluna
To me, the original medieval romance will always be "The Wolf and The Dove" by Kathleen Woodewiss (sp). I thin y'all have mentioned all of my other favorites, plus a few I haven't read. I foresee a trip to the UBS.
Amelia James
8. DarleneMarshall
I agree with you about Shattered Rose. It's one of the few medievals still on my Keeper shelf. Part of what I enjoyed about it was how it broke so many romance "rules". I love it when an author shows us how it can be done with class and style.
Alie V
9. ophelial
I'm like you and read mostly Regency, but sometimes read medeivals. I love Garwood as well.
Amelia James
10. CRHenry
Perhaps you've confused 'honor's splendor' with 'the warlord'? If not, that's remarkable - in 'honor's splendor' the heroine also is feverish and imagines the hero as odysseus - and his brother at one point as cyclops!

All of Garwood's are rereads for me. Wish there were more medievals on the shelves.
Cheryl Sneed
11. CherylSneed
@Donna Cummings - There are far too few medievals being written now, but I've been enjoying Kris Kennedy's medievals as well.

@lady trudy - love Quick's two medievals, wish she'd written more. Just the name "Hugh the Relentless" makes me smile.

@CRHenry - horrors! You sent me back to Warlord to check myself and you're right. My apologies, Honour's Splendour is the Odysseus book. I do love that book, though all Garwood medievals are Keepers for me. Tess in Warlord also had a fever and delusions, but she thought Kenric to be an angel when she spilled all her secrets to him. How embarrassing, thanks for the correction!
Amelia James
12. Janet W
Here are two hawt ones, one even with a dash of that pleasure/pain equation. Oh yes, Betrice Small and The Innocent. The villain in that one is a sight more interesting than the hero, who I can't really remember too well. Another keeper is Knight Triumphant (well, at least it's not rampant) by Shannon Drake. I like the list of historical high points at the end of the book. Now, I suppose these aren't very light-hearted though.

I find a lot of dark, ironic humour in The Arrangement by Madeline Hunter -- a fantastic book and not entirely featuring life at court either, which is lovely. As for Jo Beverley, Lord of My Heart is the one I re-read most frequently. It features two extremely well-matched and well-connected people, intelligent, truly brought up to care for and lead their people. Love it!
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