Defiant
by Kris Kennedy
(Pocket, $7.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-14391-9590-1
***
Here is a medieval story that generally feels like a medieval story. The time is when King John and King Richard are warring and there is a sense of unrest amongst the nobles. No one knows who to trust and intrigue is common in the world of the noblemen who have power, want power or are trying to get power.

The story opens as two people are trying to find the same priest, Father Peter. This priest has just come from France and many say he has evidence that will be damaging to King John. But others are looking for him too, as he also knows secrets about who is a man meant to inherit and what a young girl keeps secret. One searcher is Jamie Lost, a man who has sworn fealty to King John, despite his personal feelings. Jamie is a renowned warrior and has done many things in service to John, including killing. He is feared and he is envied. The other is a young girl, who has barely reached her majority. She is a friend of the priest as he has been her protector for many years. She and her brother Roger have followed him and she hopes to find him and get him back to France where he and they will be safe. Eva is her name.

Jamie is intrigued by the wench who is stalking his prey. They actually meet up and form a wary bond when the priest is dragged through the streets by yet another group of men. Now there seem to be even more seeking the priestís secrets. Their bond is not strong and many things happen that make them question themselves and others. In fact for a long time, it is hard to tell who is playing who against who.

As they start to realize they have feelings, they slowly begin to trust more and finally succumb to their lust and possible love. But the world is involved in war and betrayals are fluent. They are threatened and separated and once again in the unreal place where they are not sure of their loyalties.

This book is filled with a syntax that I finally got used to, but was not really enamored of. It is hard to describe, but the flow of words, the context of conversations felt like I was reading a medieval story. This was detracting at times, of the story. Jamie was both a man and what appeared to be a puppet of the king, until later when his secrets are revealed and the reader knows that he is a true hero.

Eva seemed beyond her time. I could never embrace her intelligence and her valor given her circumstances and how she was raised. I liked her character, but she just didnít fit in for me.

The history is a large part of the story and the author has done a good amount of research. For true fans of a story steeped in history, you may enjoy this more than I. There were times when I just wasnít engaged in the why and wherefores, which made it hard to care about the characters and the secrets they were trying to both hide and use to their advantage.

One saving grace was the relationships between Eva and Jamie, her brother and several of Jamieís men. The interplay was fun, at times, with humor and camaraderie. The ending was satisfying and that too added to the tale.

Overall, this is a long book, filling almost 400 pages with small printing. While it was interesting at times and entertaining at others, it was a book I felt I had to plod through at times, too. Defiant is historical but the story of the romance is a mixed bag.

--Shirley Lyons


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