As I've stated, any book talk on this site is long over-due, most especially though, is book talk on this book. You see, I had planned to talk about his book a few days before I officially left d&D, but that just didn't work out as planned, and then I planned on writing it up over here, and well, I went brain dead with work. So, I thought it only fitting that this be the first book I discussed. As a quick reminder before hand though, don't forget I've got a contest going on right now, just click here for the details.
Loyalty's Web by Joyce DiPastena
In twelfth century France, King Henry II of England has just finished quashing a rebellion by his power-hungry sons and now seeks to tame the lawless barons who supported them in this corner of this "Angevin empire." To this end, the king has sent the Earl of Gunthar as his royal representative to ensure that Prince Richard and his former cohorts faithfully adhere to the terms of the peace treaty.
Far from being welcomed with open arms. Gunthar no sooner steps foot in the county of Poitou than he is greeted by a series of assassination attempts. All appear to be linked to the former rebellious prince through the agents of the family and friends of young Helene de Laurant. A clever, intrepid young woman, she realizes that the only way to prove her loved ones' innocence is by exposing the true assassin. Helene races against time - and dark secrets of the past - to unmask the killer before the kingdom plunges back into war.
Fierce determination gives way to mutual attraction as Helene and Gunthar spar over the identity of the traitor. But their blinding magnetism almost causes them to overlook an even deadlier threat from an entirely unexpected direction.
I have to say, that for the most part this BCC does a great job. There is actually a bit more Romance within the pages than the BCC leads a person to think, and while that's not a big leave-out, it may just miss a few sales because that aspect is not targeted.
Since the BCC does such a stellar job of letting you know about the main conflict in the book, let me talk a bit about the Romance. Gunthar comes to Helene's family estate on the King's orders to see that all of his post-war demands are being met. Also, the King figures a marriage between Gunthar and Helene's older sister, Clothilde, will be just the thing to keep this part of the country in line. However, it is Helene herself that catches Gunthar's eye. But duty before love is Gunthar's motto, and his plan is to carry out his King's wishes and marry Clothilde. But it seems Clothilde is about as interested in Gunthar as he is her. With a fierce mother that will stop at nothing (and has proven exactly that) to see her families good name restored, Helene and Gunthar have more than just an assassin to worry about. Suddenly their hearts are every bit as on the lines as their lives.
Let me tell ya a little something I'm not too proud of - I almost didn't read this book. I had liked the way the author described it when sending it to me and was really looking forward to reading it, and then I got the book and saw that it was self-published. I'll admit, hearing self-pubbed had always given me an immediate negative feeling. I'm ashamed of this, especially when I started the book and COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN. I was hooked!
The pacing of this book is wonderful. The mixing of genres expertly done. I was amazed that such a book was self published. With only a few parts giving me pause (and in all honesty, I have read many a big house book that falls way short of the quality of this one), I have to say that Loyalty's Web has given me a new appreciation for the self-published and has added one mighty good author to my Watch List.
Apparently, I'm not the only person that saw the wonderfulness of this book, because DiPastena has signed with a publisher and LW will be re-released with a new cover. Congrats, Joyce! What a true Cinderella of publishing story!
To learn more about Joyce and enter fun contests, visit her web site and head on over to Author Island for more great contests!