Short Book Reviews: The Light In The Darkness, Lady Of Hay & The Maiden’s Hand

Hello everyone,

today I’m reviewing three old historical romance novels, one of which actually happens to be very good. If you like the genre, read on:

The Light In The Darkness by Ellen Fisher
The Light In The Darkness follows the cliché story of a rich man marrying a poor maid who quickly becomes a confident and refined woman, but with a bit of mystery in the form of a murder thrown in. The book is set in Virginia in 1762. Edward Greyson is what some would call a tortured hero, but to me he’s only selfish, cruel and weak. After his beloved first wife Diana was murdered, Edward finds refuge in the bottle and becomes an alcoholic. Despite this, and the rumours that claim it was him who killed Diana, he’s still considered a good marriage prospect. He has no intention of getting married again until he enters a tavern where a girl in trouble asks him to help her. She’s poor, she’s illiterate and dirty and he decides to marry her to play a joke on his sister, who’ll have to stop nagging him to find a wife. And so, Jennifer transformation from poor maid to a refined society woman starts, but despite all her efforts, Edwards keep treating her cruelly (although he comes around in the end) and she doesn’t seem to mind, which makes her look like a doormat. I did enjoy, though, how the book portrays the contrast between how the rich and the poor lived and, even though the story is not really that original, it is well-written. Overall, the Light In The Darkness has all the hallmarks of a Disney movie so if that’s your sort of thing, you will enjoy this book.
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Rating: 3/5

Lady Of Hay by Barbara Erskine
Joanna is a successful freelance journalist who agrees to be hypnotized so that she can write a vitriolic article about hypnotic regression and how that’s just a scam. But while in trance, Joanna remembers pieces of her past life. She had already lived in the twelfth century as Matilda de Braose, the Lady of Hay, an unfortunate woman whom King John I had imprisoned, together with her son. Overtime, the influence of the Lady of Hay becomes so strong that it interferes with her life and Joanna realises she can’t stop her hypnotic sessions until she finds out how the story ends. Joanna and Matilda have lots in common. They are both strong and independent women who are striving to take control of their lives. And to complicate things further, the three men that have loved Matilda in the past have also reincarnated themselves and play an important part in Joanna’s life, even putting her in serious danger. I love how well the author managed to realistically and vividly bring the twelfth century to life. I have also found Matilda De Braose, a historical character that really existed, very fascinating and, by the time I finished the book, I was really curious to know more about her, even though information on her life is very scant. And although the idea of regression is very interesting, I wish Joanna’s life in the present had a smaller part in the book. In fact, I would have preferred it if the book had been entirely on Matilda, simply because I find her story a lot more interesting than Joanna’s. Still, this is a very nice read, full of twists and drama, that lovers of supernatural historical romance novels will really enjoy.
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Rating: 4/5

The Maiden’s Hand by Susan Wiggs
The Maiden’s Hand, also published under the title Vows Made In Wine, at times seems more a fantasy than a historical novel to me. Oliver is a rake, a lost boy who’s spent his life gambling, drinking, whoring and just doing whatever he wants until he’s jailed and condemned to death. Lark is the opposite, serious, pious, religious and dedicated to save from execution those condemned to die by Queen Mary I. She’s the one that saves Oliver and takes him to her guardian and husband Spencer Merrifield. He’s dying and wants to ask Oliver to save both Lark and his properties from his evil son and heir. Although the prologue really makes you curious to read more, the story is very disappointing. The characters aren’t developed and their personalities are so extreme that I just couldn’t relate to them. And history accuracy is really lacking here. In fact, I doubt that most of the things narrated in this book could ever happen in any period. The way Oliver is saved from execution, for instance, is very far-fetched. A lot of episodes in this book are very far-fetched and totally unrealistic actually but I don’t want to get into them in case some of you are interested in reading it. Had it been a fairytale or a children’s book, I may not have minded much, but I like my historical novels to be as historically accurate as possible. I understand that authors need to take artistic licence, but still the events and situations need to be realistic and here they aren’t. I would recommend this book solely to lovers of historical romance who couldn’t care less about historical accuracy.
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Rating: 2/5

Have you read these books? What do you think of them?

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