Sunday, February 12, 2012

Margaret Mallory -- Knight of Pleasure

Rated: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ .   {4.85}
Action: ♠♠♠♠. / Emotion: ♣♣♣♣ / Romance: ♥♥♥♥ / Sensuous: ♦♦ / Suspense: ♠♠♠♠
Action: 4.5 / Emotion: 4 / Romance: 4 / Sensuous: 2 / Suspense: 4 // Medieval Flavor: 4.5 / Laughter: 0 / Teary: 3

  2010 RITA® Finalist
  The Beacon -- 2010 -- Best Historical -- First Place {Tie}
  The Maggie -- 2010 -- Best Historical -- Winner
  Booksellers' Best Award -- 2010 -- Finalist
  Judge A Book By Its Cover Contest - 2010 Historical Grand Prize Winner

Wow!   Margaret Mallory sure wrote a winner with Knight of Pleasure, her second book in All The King's Men Trilogy.   Mallory wrote an interesting, attention grabbing, adventurous, historically revealing story about a carefree, mischievous knight and a careworn, honorably obedient lady during King Henry V's reign.

There was nothing sweet, nor romantic about the prologue of Knight of Pleasure.   There is no way to image the horror that Isobel felt when her beloved father, Sir Edward Dobson, not only stole her childhood, but introduced her to the agony of betrayal in one mind-numbing move.   Isobel's father, basically, sold his thirteen-year-old daughter to a fat, disgusting, lecher old enough to be her grandfather.   (Is this going to be a recurring theme -- this is Mallory's second book -- it is also the second heroine who must suffer through years of being married off to Mr. Wrong before getting her happily-ever-after with Mr. Right.)   Incidentally, found it clever that Mallory vividly and realistically described Lord Hume through the eyes of thirteen-year-old Isobel.

It is no surprise that after suffering eight years under the grunting, slobbering old man who was her husband, Isobel rejoiced (in her mind only -- no need to tell the whole world) at the arrival of widowhood.   Isobel's joy at being free to rule her own castle and estate was quickly squashed by the bully on the neighboring estate, Bartholomew Graham, who had convinced gullible Lord Hume to will his estates and his wife to him, his supposedly illegitimate son.

Unable to believe she had suffered eight years only to be betrayed again, Isobel presented her case to Bishop Beaufort, the king's uncle and the wiliest of all the Lancasters.   The Bishop gave Isobel another option rather than the two staring her in the face . . . {1} being married to a bully; {2} returning to her father's home (to be sold again).   Thus, Isobel found herself leaving Northumberland to arrive in Caen (newly fallen under King Henry's rule) to become a wife to a man the King would chose for her.

Mallory gave readers a wonderful surprise.   The fascinating troubadour featured in book one, Knight of Desire, showed up in book two, not only as a point of view character, but -- surprise, surprise, -- is revealed to be the natural father of Isobel.   Sir Robert [no last name] arrives at Caen to reclaim the lands of his uncle who had sent him fleeing into obscurity years earlier to evade death threats.   The philandering still 'too handsome for his own good' Sir Robert continues to spy for King Henry and becomes chaperon to Isobel before she is to be wed to Lord Philippe de Roche, a powerful man in Rouen -- a man the King hopes will prove loyal by introducing a French-English marriage.

If had not fallen in love with twelve-year-old Stephen Neville Carleton in book one, would certainly do so when he is introduced in this book as the fun, charming, mischievous knight who loves women, flirting and can still manage to ferret out all kinds of secrets.   And what a wonderful picture Mallory painted when Isobel first saw the four handsome, tall, formidable, well-built men walking towards her through the bailey of Caen Castle.   Isobel thought she had been transported back in time to see King Arthur's Roundtable knights.

Stephen has been avoiding marriage (and his mother and Catherine who are trying to betroth him) because he wants to find the perfect woman like Lady Catherine FitzAlan, his half-brother's wife -- a women he fell in love with at the tender age of twelve.   Taught how to wield a sword and fight by William, his half-brother and now a great commander of the King's army, Stephen roams the halls of Caen Castle fending off woman who are attracted to his larger-than-life personality and want to spend time in his bed.   Unbeknownst to all but a select few, Stephen is walking in Sir Robert's footsteps and using his charm and charisma to spy for the king.

When Stephen is introduced to Isobel, he is as fascinated by her as his fifteen-year-old nephew, Jamie Rayburn.   Stephen could see that the attraction was mutual.   As an honorable knight, Stephen, aware of the king's plans for Isobel, knowing that he could not have her, desperately fought his attraction to her.   Isobel, too, tried to fight her attraction to Stephen because there is no way she would {1} be a traitor to the king (like her father), thus, accepting her betrothal to Lord de Roche, and {2} put her heart at risk of being betrayed again (as with her father) because a man who had so many women clinging to his sleeves, would never be faithful to just one.

As Stephen and Isobel were thrown into close proximity at one event after another (sometimes with the aid of Sir Robert, who was having grave doubts about de Roche's loyalties), the mutual attraction grew into desire and love.   The emotional intensity of the attraction between Stephen and Isobel was intense and when they finally did make love (after a life-endangering encounter), the reader was entertained with a well-written, emotional, slightly graphic, heated love scene.

Mallory peppered Knight of Pleasure with several memorable secondary characters.   The first of note, was the exquisite, clever courtesan, Claudette de Champdivers, who worked closely with Sir Robert and Stephen as a fellow spy for King Henry.   (Naturally, all Isobel could see was that Stephen was womanizing again.)   Claudette was an engaging, interesting, not fully-developed character.   (Honestly, wished that Mallory had at least written a novella about Sir Robert and Claudette, who seemed to belong together, so could read more about their backgrounds.)

Two other secondary characters, that played a vital role during the plot line of the book, were almost identical, wily, exceptionally attractive twelve-year-old twins that Stephen rescued after the fall of Falaise -- Linnet and François [no last name].   Stephen took François under his wing as a page and introduced Linnet to Isobel to serve as ladies maid.   Stephen, Isobel and readers are left in the dark as to the twins heritage and what circumstances had left them alone, with no one coming forward to claim the obviously 'of noble blood' children.   (Also, this is a great marketing tool by Mallory to instill an even greater desire to read the third book of the trilogy because Linnet is the heroine of that novel.)

Thankfully, Mallory gave readers a glimpse into the ongoing love affair between William and Catherine (even though there is still no indication as to the number of children they have).   Always enjoy it when authors include characters from previous books of a series into the books that follow their story.   And even though he did not spend a large amount of time on the pages of Knight of Pleasure, it was great to see Jamie, at the cusp of manhood, fighting beside his father and uncle.

Would like to point out one passage (out of many featured in this book) that showcased Mallory's wonderful talent when it came to throwing in very interesting historical facts -- showing her depth of research of this time period.   As a student who absolutely hated history classes (boring recitation of historical names, facts, dates -- eewwwhhh!), it is a pleasure to learn history via a talented author.   The following passage came into play when Isobel saw her beloved brother, Geoffrey, entering the bailey of Caen and ran to meet him:

"she nearly tumbled down the stairs, which were built at uneven heights to trip attackers."   (page 75)
One other note.   After reading reviews of Knight of Desire, found it interesting that several readers took exception to Mallory's overuse of the phrase "for sooth."   Did not even notice the phrase when reading book one, but after this phrase was highlighted as irritating, noticed that it appeared in this book as well.   Found it interesting that only noticed the phrase because some other reader found it annoying.

To summarize: Knight of Pleasure, the second book in Margaret Mallory's All The King's Men Trilogy is a must read those who enjoy a good medieval romance.   It contains: {1} a hunky, exceptionally skilled honorable knight who is fun, charming, charismatic and a ladies man who finally falls for his soul mate; {2} a beautiful, intelligent, emotionally damaged but warm-hearted heroine, who struggles to find a way to deal with the obstacles placed in her path; {3} lots of action and adventure to keep the story moving at a quick, interesting pace; {4} well-written scenes that inspire an emotional connection to Stephen and Isobel as they seek happiness; {5} love scenes that feature a deep emotional joining, with a bit of heat and a tad of sizzle; {6} a sense of intrigue permeates the entire book because unfolding events make it seem impossible that Stephen and Isobel will ever get to be together; {7} a wonderful, short visit with characters that were featured in the first book of the series; {8} interesting, 'want to know more about them' secondary characters, who add depth and wonder to the story; {9} tidbits of historical information that showcase Mallory's knowledge base about the century in which she has chosen to place her story; {10} an exciting, 'hero must save the heroine' finale; and {11} an epilogue that draws a few tears and inspires forgiveness.

Am anxious to read the last book of the trilogy, Knight of Passion.
--Vonda M. Reid   (Monday, January 16, 2012 : 5:06 p.m.)

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All The King's Men Trilogy
# Date Title Hero Heroine
01.07-2009Knight of DesireWilliam Neville FitzAlan, knightLady Mary Catherine Rayburn, Ross Castle
02.12-2009Knight of PleasureSir Stephen Neville Carleton, knightLady Isobel Hume, expert swordsman
03.06-2010Knight of PassionSir James "Jamie" Rayburn, knightLady Linnet

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Knight of Pleasure Quotations:
101"Since the day her childhood came to a crashing end, she'd done what she should and what she must.   She was sick to death of it."
150"She did not bother telling him that what a woman deserved had very little to do with what she got, at least in this life."
156"What she did to him!   He felt better about himself when he was around her.   More interesting.   More clever.   Certainly more virtuous!   He wanted to protect her, drive the sadness from her eyes."
211"wept for all that she wanted and could not have."

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Characters Found In "Knight of Pleasure"
Character / Location Description / Relationships
Sir Stephen Neville Carleton
Caen, Duchy of Normandy
Rouen, Normandy
[Hero] enjoyed women (talking, flirting, bedding) (25) 25-y-o (30) bold; easily amused; skilled knight (31) witty; charming; deceptive charm; much-lauded talent for learning secrets (32) tall; formidable; well-built; animated; handsome; rich, envy-inducing auburn shoulder-length hair; long, lithe frame; walked with easy catlike grace (42) every feature pleasing; black slash eyebrows; hard planes of cheek and jaw; strong, straight nose; wide, mobile mouth; eyes almost matched color of hair, but few shades darker, more brown than chestnut; melodic voice; even white teeth; mischievous; originally from Northumberland (44) drawn to trouble like bear to honey (46) curiosity his weakness (52) not afraid to play with fire (69) patient teacher (83) grace and beauty with sword, movements fluid and effortless (96) hard muscles of his chest; rough hair over sinewy muscle and warm skin (195) auburn hair a hundred shades of red and gold; straight dark brows; strong jaw and cheekbones; blade nose; glint of bristles from day's growth of beard; generous mouth (203)
Lady Isobel Hume
Northumberland, England
Caen, Duchy of Normandy
Rouen, Normandy
[Heroine] image of her lovely mother; spirited; lively (4) beauty (14) 22 years old (34) strong will; great beauty (35) Robert's daughter (37) dark-haired beauty; green eyes (45) braids wound in gold mesh attached to her headdress; pale skin; lovely delicate features; appeared fragile; not weak; elegant line to neck; slender, shapely form (45) full-throated, joyful laugh (56) honest; fair (58) Issie, Geoffrey's nickname (76) full, round breasts (140)
Bishop Beaufort
Northumberland, England
[Actual Historical Character / Secondary Character] Isobel and Edward went to him to petition to keep the Hume lands // king's uncle; wiliest of all the Lancasters; extremely wealthy (18) exuded power; luxurious vestments of his office (19) powerful; keen interest; sharp gaze (20) King Henry's tutor (63)
Guy de Bouteiller
Rouen, Normandy
[One Appearance] Rouen garrison commander; Stephen liked (302)
Kate Carleton
Northumberland, England
[One Appearance / Epilogue] Stephen and Isobel's daughter; red hair; mischievous smile like Stephen's (362)
Odette de Champdivers
[Actual Historical Character / No Appearance] mistress to king of France; Louis sent Odette to king in queen's stead for 20 years (69)
Claudette de Champdivers
Caen, Duchy of Normandy
[Secondary Character] Secretly working with Sir Robert and Stephen to spy for King Henry // Odette's cousin; quite beautiful, exquisite; fair hair (68) clever; saved her money; kept her independence (69) lovely courtesan (84) delicate eyebrows (130) crystal blue eyes (134) tinkling laugh that drew men's attention (135)
Sir Edward Dobson
Northumberland, England
[Secondary Character] Isobel's father (15) bullish frame; booming voice (16) self-interest (66) barrel-chested (123)
Geoffrey [Dodson]
Caen, Duchy of Normandy
[Secondary Character] Isobel's brother (1) day-dreamer (3) sweet, dreamy; no soldier (15) with Gloucester's army (36) ever the peacemaker (77) barrel-chested, like father (123)
Margaret [Dobson]
[No Appearance] Isobel's mother (35)
Father Dunne
Hume Castle, Northumberland
[One Appearance] Hume castle chaplain; needed bath (7) weasel (12)
Lady Catherine FitzAlan
Caen, Duchy of Normandy
[Minor Secondary Character] [Heroine of "Book One"] William's wife (29) beautiful; courageous; full of opinions and laughter (30) iron will (72) breathtakingly beautiful; fair (230) eyes as blue as Jamie's; light, feminine scent (231)
Lord William FitzAlan
Caen, Duchy of Normandy
[Major Secondary Character] [Hero of "Book One"] Stephen's half brother; great commander (26) tall; formidable; well-built; dark golden; commanding; grave; handsome (42) looked at through slew dragons for breakfast; kindness in eyes (43)
Bartholomew Graham
Hume Castle, Northumberland
[Minor Secondary Character] cheat; bully (3) Hume's neighbor; fine gray eyes; overly familiar with Isobel; liar; good looks; easy charm (9) not merely shallow and selfish, but cunning and ruthless; handsome face and easy manner hid man of no honor (14) black heart (45)
Lady Graham[No Appearance] Bartholomew's mother; wealthy widow; notorious in this part of the Borders; kept her son's parentage secret (13)
Lord Hume
Hume Castle, Northumberland
[One Appearance] Isobel's husband for eight long years // old man; lumbering walk, like a pregnant cow; loose skin hanging from his neck (3) puffy bags under droopy eyes; jeweled belt around immense belly (4) didn't bathe (7) not a well-loved lord; miserly (8) peckish old man; whiner; constant demands; tedious conversation; food and drink dribbled down his chins (11)
[No Appearance] Hume tenant; wanted to marry miller's daughter
Henry Lancaster
[Actual Historical Character / No Appearance] past king
King Henry [Lancaster]
Caen, Duchy of Normandy
[Actual Historical Character / Major Secondary Character] Arranged Isobel's marriage to try to promote peace in Normandy // new young king (19) indulged in neither women, nor drink, intolerant of those who did (31) [history: legend at 30-y-o; led men into battle at 13; commanded armies at 16; crowned at 26; unified the nobles, brought an end to years of chaos and rebellion; created link with commoners by making English the language of his court (64)] strong (225) magnetic hazel eyes (250)
Thomás LeFevre
Rouen, Normandy
[Secondary Character] Isobel recognized he was the man who attacked William at L'Abbaye de Saint Michele // black hair (305) de Roche's cousin; dangerous man; his young half sister is de Roche's wife (308)
Stephen's horse (37)
Falaise and Caen, Normandy
[Secondary Character] [Heroine of "Book Three"] Stephen saved when William's army captured Falaise; took back to Caen with him to become Isobel's maid // nearly identical face to twin; fair hair; wily (124) spoke English; rascal (120) can read (127) twelve (128) exuberant (140)
Falaise and Caen, Normandy
[Secondary Character] Stephen saved when William's army captured Falaise; took back to Caen with him as servant // Linnet's twin nearly identical face to twin; fair hair; wily (124)
Marie de Lisieux
Caen, Duchy of Normandy
[Secondary Character] After Stephen ended liaison, she continued to seek his company // blond hair; lot of woman (24) married; insatiable (25) thrived on trouble (26) ample bosom (39) no scruples; practiced infelicity; trouble; perfume too strong (39)
Monsieur de Lisieux
Caen, Duchy of Normandy
[Minor Secondary Character] at party, tried to get Isobel into his bed // broken veins, blotchy color to face showed signs of excessive drink (85)
Louis d'Orléans
[Actual Historical Character / No Appearance] brother to King Charles; Odette was his mistress; had an affair with queen (69)
Sir John Popham
Caen, Duchy of Normandy
[Secondary Character] King Henry wants Stephen to be an administrator serving Popham // new bailli of Caen (31) pleasant round face; boring (71)
Jamie Rayburn
Caen, Duchy of Normandy
[Major Secondary Character] [Hero of "Book Three"] Stephen's nephew; 15-y-o (28) tall; formidable; well-built; dark hair; handsome (42) William's son (43) deep blue eyes; dark hair; too handsome for his own good (50) eyes as blue as Catherine's (231)
Sir Robert
Caen, Duchy of Normandy
[Major Secondary Character] joined King Henry in Caen; ready to reclaim his rightful place as Normandy nobleman // tall; elegantly dressed; distinctive white-blond hair (32) face showed few more laugh lines; women fell at his feet and into his bed with regularity; twenty years as traveling musician; Normandy nobleman; spy for King Henry (33) more angel-like beauty than handsome; kind (41) tall; formidable; well-built (42) sea-green eyes (84)
Lord Philippe de Roche
Caen, Duchy of Normandy
Rouen, Normandy
[Major Secondary Character] King Henry betroths him to Isobel // powerful man in Rouen (34) member of Burgundy faction; only true loyalty is to himself (35) rides with guard of 20 (65) self-interest (66) young; strongly built; well dressed; almost black hair pulled back in red ribbon (112) vision of masculine beauty; an Adonis; mustache and trim goatee to match his hair; deep, rumbling voice; cool gray eyes (113) confident; arrogant; unruffled (114) serious (121) respectful; attentive; serious; responsible; tedious; lack of humor (121) cocky; over-confident (128) snake; Marie's lover (129) vanity (135) slippery (146) seriousness of purpose; no honor (310)
Rouen, Normandy
[Brief Appearance] delivered message to Stephen from Claudette // stunning woman; smoky dark eyes; voice rich with unspoken promises; nicely rounded bottom; Claudette's friend (300) courtesan (301)
Georges de la Trémoille
[Actual Historical Character / No Appearance] de Roche's cousin; beady-eyed; pompous ass; wily (145)

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Margaret Mallory

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Knight of Pleasure Reviews:
RatedPostedSiteNotes, Comments, Etc.
5.0002-...-2010A Romance Review 
5.0012-08-2010All About {n}also on: Good Reads
C- / warm12-29-2009All About Romance 
4.71 average{17 reviews}Amazonas of: February 12, 2012
4.58 average{12 reviews}Barnes and Nobleas of: January 17, 2012
--11-26-2009Book JunkieGiveaway and Interview
--11-30-2009Broken Teepee[book release blog tour] [qv]
4.0007-19-2011Coffee Time Romance and More 
C // 3.0010-10-2009Dear Authorshort post on Good Reads
3.0012-08-2009Find The Time To Readalso on: Good Reads
--11-21-2009Fresh Fiction{positive inflection} [Plain Jane]
3.94 average{53 reviews}Good Readsas of: February 12, 2012
----Hachette Book GroupAll The King's Men Extras
3.00 / C01-09-2010Jandy's Reading Room 
3.25 average{6 reviews}Library Thingas of: January 17, 2012
3.5002-10-2010Loves Romances And MoreDidn't Read Book. Review Too Pat.
--12-...-2009My Shelf{positive inflection}
3.5008-06-2010Outlandish Dreamingalso on; Good Reads
4.125{4 reviews}Paperback Swapas of: January 17, 2012
5.0012-04-2009Readaholicalso on: Good Reads // Didn't Read Book.
5.00{2 reviews}Reader Storeas of: January 17, 2012 (10 Good Reads reviews)
5.00--Reader's Favorite 
--11-29-2009Romance Reader At Heart 
4.00 / hot12-...-2009RT (Romantic Times) Book Review"Pat" review! Didn't Read Book.
guest blog11-23-2009Running With QuillsLoved! Humanized M.M. (and other authors)
5.00 average{3 reviews}Shelfarias of: February 12, 2012
C // 3.5011-16-2009Smexy Books Romance Reviewsalso on: Good Reads
4.0012-09-2009Starting Freshalso on: Good Reads
5.0008-28-2010The Bibliophilic Book Blogalso on: Good Reads
4.0001-12-2010The Romance Dishnotice at: We Read
5.0010-19-2009The Romance Revieweralso on: Amazon
4.50--The Romance Readers Connection 
4.00{1 review}We Readsee: The Romance Dish
5.0001-10-2010Yankee Romance Reviewersalso on: Amazon, Good Reads
4.8502-12-2012Wolf Bear Does Booksshorter post on Amazon, Good Reads, Shelfari

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♥  Disclaimer:   I Purchased This Book
♥  Very Subjective Rating
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♣  Will add your Knight of Pleasure review link to table, just ask

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, and I'm thrilled you enjoyed Knight of Pleasure so much! I love all my heroes, but Stephen is probably my favorite of this first series. :)