Wednesday, June 17, 2009

TBR Challenge: Hidden Honor, Anne Stuart

One of my all time favorite keepers is an old book by Anne Stuart, Lord of Danger. Click title above to go to challenge webpage. Click here to go to author's webpage. So when this month's TBR Challenge rolled around & I looked up the theme I was thrilled. After all, Anne Stuart's heroes are often unique and push the boundaries of what an acceptable hero is. And I just happen to have four of Ms. Stuart's historicals in my TBR. Lucky me! So I chose this one. For those who wonder about cover accuracy: the cover accurately portrays Elizabeth's hair and dress! It's a nice touch, I think.

So, Hidden Honor is a 2004 Mira release set in early thirteenth century England (near as I can tell). For romance readers familiar with the terms, this is a combination road & in disguise romance. Young Elizabeth (17) is being sent to a convent by her widower father as she's too skinny, too ugly and too stupid to get a husband (dad's words, not mine). It just so happens that the bastard son of King John, one William Fitzroy, is traveling to the Shrine of St. Anne to confess and do penance for (accidentally) murdering a well born young woman. Fearful of an ambush on his life, an elaborate role switch takes place among William's retinue. William is disguised as a monk named Br. Matthew, a monk named Br. Peter takes William's place & yet another young nobleman named Adrian is also along pretending to be a monk, albeit using his own name.

You can see where this is going right? Peter, pretending to be William, falls in lust with Elizabeth. Elizabeth is kept in the dark as to who is whom, and her father sends her on her merry way with this group since she is to join the convent at the Shrine. Understandably squicked out by the attention the murderous William pays to her, Elizabeth is confused by her intuition, which tells her that William (in truth, Peter) means her no harm. Along the way they pick up a cookie cutter 'wise whore with a heart of gold' named Joanne so that she can impart some words of wisdom to young Elizabeth along the way.

Really, this could've been an excellent read. I mean, Ms. Stuart's rep is for truly out there heroes. Peter's past history with William is only slowly revealed & late into the book- but plays a crucial role in what unfolds. I think Peter could've been, should've been, edgier. He is portrayed as remorseful, penitent, guilty over what passed between himself and William, but he never seems to question his judgement. And what transpired between them should've raised quite a few questions regarding his own judgement and morality and responsibility. Aside from wishing Peter was edgier & sharper, I really enjoyed the secondary romance between Joanne and Adrian. Elizabeth annoyed me, to be truthful. I had to constantly remind myself that she's only seventeen & what can you expect from a teenager after all?! I would've been happier if Elizabeth was older, more experienced, to match Peter's issues better. I mean, really, a seventeen year old?

So, yeah, kinda disappointed here. Not quite up to par, IMO. Good but not quite there. :( Aw well, we can't always be at the top of out game, can we?


Monkey Bear Reviews said...

Anne Stuart is a bit hit-or-miss for me. I was looking forward to reading this one when it first came out but I was put off by all the bad reviews.

Bookwormom said...

Hi Monkey Bear~ Yes, Anne Stuart is hit and miss with me too, unfortunately. The first two novels of hers I read are keepers, but since then it's been *meh*. I'll work through the one in my tbr & after that we'll see. :(


Renee said...

I've only read one Anne Stuart, Black Ice, and it was good.

I was interested when I saw that she had written a historical, but idk, a 17 year old year old heroine, and it's not even a Young Adult novel?

I guess I'll keep my eyes out for her other historicals at the ubs! :-)

Bookwormom said...

Hi Renee~ Yes, I liked Black Ice too. Stuart has written other historicals. Others I've read have had adults as heroines (YAY), so you might find one you like. The UBS is a good place to look.

Happy Reading~


CindyS said...

This is one AS I haven't read. I heard that hero spoke in prose for the whole book and I was so not into that. So my question is does he speak normally?


Bookwormom said...

I hope I would've noticed if the hero spoke oddly, but in truth- I didn't. Can't say for sure that his character wasn't written that way, only that I didn't notice. It's a good story, though, especially if you're an Anne Stuart fan. Genuinely a hero who has a lot to regret.