It seems there are several kinds of books out there lately. Rose in the Mist falls into the category of one you enjoy, but if you have to put it down, you may not be drawn back to it.
Niall Riordan, one of three Riordan brothers in 1565 Ireland, has been sent to England along with his friend John Black to negotiate peace with Queen Elizabeth. Niall hopes to come to an understanding that will eliminate the fighting and allow the Irish to live in peace. His first day at court, he meets a lovely young lady in waiting, Catriona Sherwood. He is drawn to her beauty, but also by the intelligence he perceives in her eyes.
Lady Cat is really Catriona O’Malley, of the Valley of the Mor. Cat is at court as a ward of an English nobleman, Lord Wolverton. Many believe she is a lost relative of Wolverton’s, when in actuality, she is the daughter of an Irish lord who was killed when Wolverton’s men attacked their home. Cat is unaware of his duplicity. Wolverton brought her to London and has raised her as his ward, due to what Cat believes to be his kindness.
But as always in stories set in the English court, intrigue abounds. And Cat herself is an Irish spy. She hates England and longs for her Irish roots, which she has had to deny as a member of the Queens court. She is an informant for her childhood best friend, Bobby Brosnihan, who is a member of a band of rebels looking to defeat the English, not enter into peace with them. A band that is in opposition to Niall and the peace he holds dear.
Wolverton and his cronies are not what they appear. Wolverton killed Cat’s family in an effort to gain her lands, without the Queen’s blessing. He is keeping Cat close so that he can keep the money he is collecting from the tenants without her knowledge. The plot twist at the end surrounding Wolverton is one of the few surprises in the story.
Niall is a slight bit ignorant of the Court deceptions. When he is lulled by Catriona into a kiss so that she can plant a jewel in his pocket, only to accuse him of theft, he is both angry and shaken by her treachery. He is thrown into the Tower. An Irish attorney assists him in proving Cat’s treachery and she is thrown into the Tower as well.
Now Queen Elizabeth is confronted with an annoying “Irish Problem”, deceitfulness from a well-liked lady in waiting and demands for justice. What could she do but marry them to each other? And, of course, release them to return to Ireland, out of her hair!
Suffice it to say that Niall and Cat do fall in love and work through all the mysteries and intrigues that get in their way. Cat is a lively woman, who accepts that she loves Niall, and yet, she does do some stupid things that conveniently create conflict between them. Niall knows he loves Cat, but is too easily persuaded by his brothers when evidence points against her.
These “misunderstandings”, apparent lack of trust and lack of talking to each other drive me a little crazy. Most of their situations would have been resolved if they had cleared the air with some honest communication. Many of these conflicts follow readily used formulas. While I was reading the book, I enjoyed the interactions and love scenes. But I didn’t feel the urge to get back to the book whenever I could.
Other predictable plotlines and characterizations helped to supplement the feeling that I had read this before. The stubborn brothers were a little too hardheaded, the easily trusting and helpful sister-in-law was a little too familiar and Cat’s relationship with her childhood friend was almost demeaning. He just kept hanging on even after she told him she did not love him except as a friend…he was almost pitiful in his continued devotion.
Author Ana Seymour does bring the countryside alive and her romantic scenes of love and playfulness are fun to read. I enjoyed watching Cat and Niall fall in love; I just wish the rest of Rose in the Mist was less predictable.