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REVIEW: Lord of Midnight by Jo Beverley

Dear Mrs. Beverley,

book review Oh why don’t you write medievals anymore? Is the market not there? Are the only periods that will sell Georgians and Regencies? Not that I don’t like the books you set in those eras but your medievals were so good. I’ll pause a moment to blink back a tear. Sniff. Okay that’s finished.

Yet another “what does this title have to do with the book?” book. Unless
it’s referring to Renald’s black Damascus steel sword. But he’s never called this
in the book so…well, anyway on to the book. Since this is such a close sequel to “Dark Champion” I’m doing it next.

I won’t recap the plot as there is a wonderful DIK review at AAR that actually inspired me to read the book. LOM isn’t a DIK book for me but it was interesting and I’m sorry that when I finished it, I knew I’d read your last medieval. The hero is the friend in “Dark Champion” but I like that I didn’t need to read that one first. In fact, readers might like LOM better if they don’t
read DC first as we see a totally different side of Renald’s character in his own book. I was somewhat disappointed in that but friends had mentioned it so I was expecting it and I had waited a year and a half to read LOM so the change wasn’t as jarring.

Once again you do a good job setting the stage in the medieval world and
the religion and politics of the times aren’t just wallpaper but woven into the plot. The dirt and filth of the age are slightly toned down but I still get a strong feeling for the period. For how little power women had, how powerful the king was, how you’d really want a strong man to guard you and yours and how openly bawdy the time was.

One of the best characters for me was Claire’s grandmother who had been a young Saxon woman at the time of the Norman invasion and who had faced a fate similar to Claire’s. I would love to read her story or at least a novella about her and how she and her Norman husband worked out their marriage. She’s down to earth and extremely blunt when urging Claire to marry Renald. “It’s you who’s got what men like. Curves and big titties. Your hair’s
gold…, your skin good, but it’s the curves and titties that count. You can use those to rule a man.” There were a few nice scenes which showed how the women passed on the knowledge of how to control men and get their way in life.

Now for Claire and Renald. Claire has a few feisty moments but she doesn’t ever get herself into stupid situations so that Renald can save her. She struggles as well as she can to get what she wants but she “acts period.” You do a good job showing her changing feelings toward Renald and how Claire does come to understand why he did what he did and accept it.

My main problems are with Renald. We see very little of his POV. At first it worked, as Claire needed to find out his true feelings and thoughts but I felt after a while, we really needed to see more of what was going on in his head. We are told halfway through the book that he’s madly in love with her but I didn’t see it happen. There is really no hint that he feels anything but healthy lust and determination to do his duty by marrying one of the Somerbourne women. After we know he’s in love, he shows it a lot but I needed to see it happening. And there is the fact that he’s very different as a hero than as a hero’s friend.

There’s a bit of a mystery in the middle part of the book that is resolved at the end. However, I felt that it was kind of useless and could really have been taken out of the story with no loss to the plot. Plus, it slows down the action. At the end of the story, we get to see some of the hero and heroine from “Dark Champion” but it’s mainly to show how smugly happy they are. No loss if they hadn’t been included.

Winding up, there was a lot I liked about Lord of Midnight but parts that didn’t work so well for me. Overall, I’d give it a qualified B. It’s not as good as some of your other medievals but it is well worth the effort to track down.

~Jayne

This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or Powells. No ebook format.

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

16 Comments

  1. orannia
    Jul 17, 2008 @ 18:13:08

    Jayne – thank you so much for the review. I’m a huge medieval fan and lament its seeming decline. Lord of Midnight rings a bell but I can’t remember reading it, and since the number of books I’ve read so far this month totals one (it has been a bad month) a change from paranormals might be just the ticket :)

    Out of interest, have you read Knight’s Move by Jennifer Landsbert? It has to be my favourite medieval ever. Unfortunately, I don’t think Jennifer Landsbert has written any further books :(

    orannia

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  2. willaful
    Jul 17, 2008 @ 18:19:56

    I so agree… this is probably my least favorite of her four medievals, but even Beverley’s least good medieval is better than most.

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  3. Jayne
    Jul 17, 2008 @ 18:27:25

    orannia, I’m glad to see medievals making something of a comeback. Most of the new medievals I’m reading are ones published by Harlequin. I had thought I’d done more medieval reviews here at DA but clicking on the ‘medieval’ tag only lists a few. I’m obviously delusional.

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  4. orannia
    Jul 17, 2008 @ 20:07:58

    You’re not delusional Jayne…or at least not as delusional as me. I know my Lord of Midnight sounds familar…I bought it from Amazon last year! It’s no doubt sitting in a box (unfortunately all my books are currently packed away) laughing at me. I will be getting it out tonight!

    And I didn’t know about the tags (I’m a newbie :) so I’m off to see what else has been reviewed. Thank you!

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  5. Jill Myles
    Jul 17, 2008 @ 20:33:08

    I LOVE Jo Bev’s medievals. I think this one was the weakest one for me too (I loved loved Dark Champion) but even as a ‘weaker’ read, it was still one of the best medievals I’ve read in a long time. I twittered so happily about this book that I brought my mom a copy to read and she loved it too.

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  6. Cindy
    Jul 17, 2008 @ 21:46:13

    I love medievals too…but they are getting harder to find in newer titles. Alas, the same fate as seemingly the futuristics. I content myself with the highlander books.

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  7. Jayne
    Jul 18, 2008 @ 07:45:21

    orannia, I don’t think a lot of people know about the tags here but you can click on them from a particular post or from the tags section at the bottom right of the home page.

    I went back and realized that lots of my posts were tagged either “medieval historical” or just “historical” and I’ve tried to add plain “medieval” to some of those.

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  8. Corrine
    Jul 18, 2008 @ 08:07:17

    Okay, I’m just starting to read Jo Beverly (I know, where have I been?) and I would absolutely love a list of the best of the best of her Medievals. I have the whole Malloren series coming in the mail. Are there any others that I must read?

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  9. Jayne
    Jul 18, 2008 @ 10:46:56

    Corrine there are so many authors I’ve not tried yet that it’s almost embarrassing. Here’s a link to Jo Beverley’s website book list arranged by era. “The Shattered Rose” is actually probably my favorite of her medievals but it’s been such a long time since I read it, I’d have to do a reread before trying a review. “Lord of My Heart” is her fourth medieval book. Unfortunately, she’s only done 4 in that era.

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  10. Corrine
    Jul 18, 2008 @ 11:21:32

    Thanks, Jayne!

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  11. SarahT
    Jul 18, 2008 @ 14:18:17

    Orannia: I LOVED Jennifer Landsbert’s ‘Knight’s Move’! It’s also on my keeper shelf. My copy is a 2000 release from Mills & Boon Historicals. I don’t think Landsbert wrote another book, unfortunately.

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  12. Michelle
    Jul 18, 2008 @ 21:24:14

    This review inspired me to dig out the one Jo Bev medieval I have a copy of – and it turned out to be The Shattered Rose. What an interesting, unique story. I’ve never read any of JB’s other medievals, so I can’t say if it’s better than her other 3 – but I was very entertained. It had a strong story with interesting characters with what felt like a truly unique situation that I’ve never encountered before in a story. I’m not trying to be cryptic – I just don’t want to ruin the big surprises in the first few chapters.

    On the whole, I prefer 19th century historicals to medievals, but even this lover of regency romances really misses the variety of settings and time period choices that the historical romance market seemed to have 10 – 15 years ago. Really, if it weren’t for harlequin historicals, I think my desire to read stories in other time periods would never be met. I’m glad that they are still willing to publish regularly American historicals and other non-traditional stories. I just read the Edwardian story by Nicola Cornick (The last rake in england – yay, I know – not an original title), and it was refreshingly different.

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  13. Jayne
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 07:07:40

    I noticed at Jo Beverley’s site that “The Shattered Rose” is the only medieval that hasn’t been rereleased yet. I hope that will change as I think it’s the most emotional of the medievals she’s written. I loved the secondary romance as well as the main one.

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  14. Michelle
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 09:48:06

    The secondary romance was amazing. I’m not a big fan of secondary romances because I usually feel they’re too short-changed or event stereotypical as a subplot, but I don’t think The Shattered Rose would have been as strong without the secondary romance. The comparison between the primary and secondary romance strengthened the exploration of how one makes a (medieval) marriage work, how you make sure one side of the union doesn’t lose too much, how do you put a relationship (back) together, what’s forgiveable – and quite frankly, the lighter tone of the secondary romance was most welcome at times too.

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  15. orannia
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 21:52:12

    Sarah, it is so nice to meet someone else who has read Knight’s Move! I bought my copy from Amazon Marketplace as I was petrified that the library would delete their copy. It’s such a pity Jennifer Landsbert hasn’t written any more books…..

    orannia

    PS I just loved the bees :)

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  16. MB
    Jul 21, 2008 @ 13:48:52

    For those of you who like medieval romances, have you read Betina Krahn’s “Test” series. I love those books! They are my favorites of her novels. There are 3 (I think), and they revolve around women who have been brought up in a nunnery.

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