Scotland in the 1490s is a land rife with treachery, from the greed of England’s Tudor king to the danger of unknown traitors hiding in plain sight amid the court of a young King James IV. At the edge of Scotland’s wild border country rests the hamlet of Blythemuir, governed by the elderly Lord Blythe. But Lord Blythe has been driven away by madness, his son and heir is a convicted outlaw, and Blythe Hall has been left to rest in the hands of its noble steward; now it is up to the laird’s daughter, Isabeau Blythe, to return to the fortress of her youth and carry out the duty of her family. Isabeau’s plight is one that will require strong determination to see her father’s land and name restored, for the whole of Scotland knows that Lord Blythe went solidly mad with the belief that his deceased wife had returned as an angel on earth – and Isabeau has a secret that goads her to believe her father’s story might be true. On the day of her return to the secretive and alluring Blythe Hall Isabeau is met with two men who each have a strong grip on her heart: the dashing, sinister Sir George Douglas, who is determined to win her affections, and her traitorous outlaw brother, the unaccountably handsome Julius Blythe, who has returned to wreak havoc on Scotland and exact revenge from the ones who triggered his exile. To save herself, her family, her land, and maybe even the king of Scotland himself, Isabeau must call on otherworldly beings she may not even believe in the existence of. Legend says that Blythe Hall is protected by guardian angels, and as Isabeau alights on a path to discover if the legend is true she may just find the man who has appeared to her in dreams, the man she knows will be the savior of hers and many other lives.
In The Angel of Blythe Hall author Darci Hannah entwines vividly accurate Scottish history with smartly crafted fiction and a touch of mystic intrigue to create a gripping new world born of the familiar, and here she delights her reader with an adventurous, enchanting and astoundingly romantic tale. The novel fully ensconces its reader in a tightly-wound mystery and an unrelenting magic that demands to be savored. It’s a book that contains within its pages substance on every level, from the passion and emotions of its characters – both fictional and historically-based – to the ominous and starkly bold lands of its setting. I found in Isabeau a woman who I could relate to, who could easily garner praise for her boldness and determination while evoking compassion and sympathy for her losses in life. Likewise, the villain of the story (who I won’t reveal, because it’s really a fantastically good surprise) conjures from the reader’s imagination all the darkness and dastardly ideas of all-encompassing villainy. Gabriel, who, as it turns out, is one of several heroes of the story (though perhaps the grandest), is such an achievement that the reader can almost feel the goodness of him radiating off the book’s pages.
I was guided along easily by The Angel of Blythe Hall, and I followed its story with a warmth and dedication that only the truly magical books manage to bring out of their readers. Every time I opened the book – and it was often, because I found that I couldn’t be kept away from the characters for very long – I felt like I was returning to a familiar world, one of myth and legend, a world that makes the reader feel as if they have stepped into history while presenting new excitements and untold dangers through the veil of the mystic. For me, this was genuine escapist literature, and I was enchanted with the experience. The way in which Isabeau’s kind-hearted narrative mixed with the author’s third-person depictions of Julius’s side of the story present a unique view of the novel, and one that offers the reader a very full, very satisfying adventure. By its end I wanted to begin The Angel of Blythe Hall again from the first page just for the chance to visit with these characters again and to get lost once more in this magical, historical, dramatic, and romantic world.
Title: The Angel of Blythe Hall
Author: Darci Hannah
Genre: History, Romance, Paranormal
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release date: July 26, 2011
Provided by: Darci Hannah (C/O)
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