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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Shield of Roses by Mary Pershall

Genre: Historical Romance

Copyright: 1984

Pages: 499

Rating: 2.5/5 Crowns

Synopsis (from back of book): Lady Eve MacMurrough, fairest of Erin's fair flowers, her flashing emerald eyes held secrets no man could resist. Defiant daughter of one king and willful ward of another, she would bring the purity of true love to her marriage bed.

Sir Richard FiztGilbert deClare, sitting astride his great black war horse Taran, no English knight was bolder. To the tempestous Lady Eve he had pledged his troth, but he longed to posses in timeless ecstasy her wild, resisting heart.

Born in a fierce, feudal world as cruel as it was courtly, theirs was the rapturous love destined to change the face of the Irish nation forever.

Review: This 1980’s romance is based on the lives of two historical figures – an Irish Princess Eve (Aoife) MacMurrough and Richard de Clare the son of one of England’s most powerful nobles who would later be known as Strongbow. For those who are interested in “who’s who”, Eve and Richard are the parents of Isabel de Clare, William Marshall’s wife (from Elizabeth Chadwick’s The Greatest Knight and The Scarlet Lion. As the animosity intensifies between Eve’s father (the King of Leinster) and other clans, he sends his daughter to England where he believes she will be safe with the family of Gilbert de Clare (Richard’s uncle). Not long after she begins her journey, Eve runs into trouble and is saved by Richard – of course she has no idea who he is and is shocked when she finds out. From there, the story follows the general 1980’s romance formula – they are attracted to each other but don’t want to admit it and suffer through a series of rather contrived misunderstandings until they both finally see sense and admit they’ve been in love the whole time.

A Shield of Roses if full of the usual characters - the young ingĂ©nue with a fiery temper who talks too much and usually before she thinks and the handsome, chivalrous knight with the patience of saint who puts up with her. And even though they claim to hate each other, they have great sex - often. Eve has a tendency to find herself in places she shouldn’t be and has to be saved by Richard numerous times.

Despite the somewhat stereotypical characters, I did like reading about some of the “history”. The author admits that she condensed the events of about twenty years into a much shorter time frame for purposes of telling the story and that she has Richard and Eve meeting long before they actually did. Covering the end of the civil war between King Stephen and Matilda through the early years of Henry II’s reign, Eve and Richard have to contend with the politics of the day as they find themselves being used as pawns in England’s desire to conquer Ireland. May of the events in the book did actually take place although not in the time frame indicated. This really would have been a better book if Eve and Richard's lives not been quite so formulized and had Eve really not been so darn guilty of being TSTL.

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Misfit said...

Oh yes, Eve is definitely TSTL. I was dying when he rescued her from the inn and she realized she'd gone in the wrong direction :D

Daphne said...

I guess in her defense, from what I remember that was the standard personality of the romance heroine in the 1980's. It's probably why I quit reading them.

Anonymous said...

You are the second person to resurrect this book. The other did not review it, just linked it to another book as related material. Considering the publishing date, it is probably typical of many romances that came out around that time. There was a lot of TSTL going around back then.