Friday, March 2, 2012

Suzanne Robinson -- Lady Gallant

Rated: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ .   {4.50}
Action: ♠♠♠. / Emotion: ♣♣♣♣. / Romance: ♥♥♥♥ / Sensuous: ♦. / Suspense: ♠♠♠
Action: 3.5 / Emotion: 4.75 / Romance: 4 / Sensuous: 1.5 / Suspense: 3 // Historical Flavor: 5 / Laughter: 3 / Tears: 6

  1992-93 RT Reviewers' Choice -- Historical K.I.S.S. Hero
  All About Romance -- Desert Isle Keeper
  1998: The Romance Reader : Number 4 -- Mary's Top Ten List (Favorite Romances)
  1998: The Romance Reader : Number 9 -- Kathy's Top Ten List (Favorite Romances)
  2009: Dear Author : Number 55.u. -- Top 100 Romances
  2011: The House on Black Lake : No. 3 -- Top 25 Worst Acts of Betrayal in Romance Novels

Read Lady Gallant by Suzanne Robinson because wanted to know more about Christian Richard Villard de Rivers, Viscount Montfort and how he came to be the leader of a band of thieves that the hero of Lady Valiant (book three of The Queen's Spies Series) inherited.   Was hoping that Robinson would develop the personalities of several of the band of thieves and reveal how they came to be under the care (if you will) of a nobleman.

Disappointment reigned!   Robinson again left the members of Christian's band of thieves in the background, introducing them by name, listing their specific skills but never detailing the action Christian apparently performed on their behalf to prompt their loyalty and willingness to serve Christian.   Christian's band of spies included: {1} Inigo Culpepper, a cutpurse and highwayman; {2} Anthony Now Now, whose large frame made him Christian's "bouncer" (for lack of a better term); {3}Three Tooth Poll, a wandering peddler, thief and whore; and {4} Simon Spry, an older man who was a horse thief and swindler.

There was no question whatsoever what role Marvelous Mag, Annie Turnstile, and Holly Cushion played in Christian's life.   Holly and Annie were two of Mag's women, working in her alehouse, the Bald Pelican, which not only sheltered a band of thieves and swindlers, but ran a training school for pickpockets and cutpurses.   Marvelous Mag trained Christian in the world of carnality when he was twelve and had been enjoying his sensuality ever since -- even feeling a bit possessive towards "Kit" (as he was known to his acquaintances in the stews of London).

The aristocratic Christian came to his deep understanding and camaraderie with the dregs of society when the evil-natured, aristocratic-hating highwayman Jack Midnight attacked Christian's father, Sebastian de Rivers, Earl of Vasterne, left him for dead and took his eight-year-old son and brutally forced him into a life of crime.   Christian managed to escape the clutches of Jack Midnight four years later and ended up living with the thieves under Mag's protection.

Robinson spent the rest of the book giving readers a view of the abiding fear deep within Christian that he presented to the rest of the world as either {1} a calm, pleasant icy veneer, or {2} an anger so ferocious that everyone around him stood out of striking range.   It was obvious that Robinson was trying to peel back the layers of Christian's horror-ridden childhood to solicit the sympathy of the reader when Christian turned his anger against the woman he loved.

Christian's capacity for love was portrayed by the deep feelings he had for his calm, intelligent, understanding father, Sebastian.   Sebastian was a wonderful character and wished there had been more room in the book to feature him, but, alas, this was not his story.   He was the picture of unconditional love to a son that had been grievously wounded in soul and body.   Christian was an entirely different man when he was in the presence of his beloved father.

Robinson proved that Christian was still capable of caring for others when he learned that Jack Midnight was in the area and set out to kill the man who stole his childhood (a life-long obsessive goal).   When Christian attacked Jack, who was attacking the party escorting Eleanora "Nora" Becket back to London, he met his successor, another young man Jack had stolen and trained to villainy.   Not only did Christian rescue Nora, but he also took Jack's protégé, Blade.

Robinson revealed a bit of the unworthiness that Christian must have felt and the reason it was so difficult to return to his father, by featuring bits and pieces of Christian's interactions with Blade throughout the rest of the story (in the typically male method of slinging curses at each other).   Christian was determined to find Blade's real name and return him to the home from which he was stolen.

Absolutely, positively fell in love with Nora, the mouse, as her innocent, caring, unworthy nature was revealed in bold, vivid, realistic detail.   Nora was not the typical 'I am woman, hear me roar,' strong-willed, overcoming all obstacles heroine usually featured in romance books.   Identified with the young woman who had no sense of self-worth because she was raised by a horrible father, who not only emphasized how plain and unworthy she was, but even went so far as to call her illegitimate because her hair color didn't match his.   Nora's father, William Becket was the antithesis of Sebastian.

Christian's carnal nature had him seeking out the lush, mousy woman who was one of Queen Mary's ladies.   Robinson placed Christian and Nora's love story in the midst of a very tumultuous time in England -- 1558.   An introduction to the book explained about the political maneuvering going on between the current queen, Mary Tudor (also known as Bloody Mary) and her half sister, Elizabeth Tudor (eventually, Queen Elizabeth I).   Christian was playing a dangerous game, serving as one of Princess Elizabeth's best intelligencers, by posing as a Catholic in Queen Mary's court.

Christian was not the only one endangering his life to spy on Queen Mary.   The meek, animal-loving, compassionate Nora could not stand the atrocities that the Queen and her henchman, Edmund Bonner (Bloody Bonner), the Bishop of London inflicted on poor, illiterate Englishmen, women and children.   Nora had approached William Cecil to spy for Princess Elizabeth and began sending him ciphers about Queen Mary's actions.   Christian's love story went to pieces on the day of his wedding when he found one of Nora's ciphers and believed she was responsible for the attack by Bloody Bonner that nearly caused his father's death.

After enjoying a book that inspired deep interest and a reluctance to put down, now just wanted to get past the pages upon pages of turmoil that featured Christian as he tried to find a way back into the heart of Nora.   Robinson's well-written scene featuring Christian's brutal words that tore the heart and hope from Nora's world and crushed any sympathy the reader may have felt towards Christian was the end of richly developed scenes as Christian struggled to find the answer that would cause Nora to love and desire him again.

Christian took Nora off to his home in Falaise to further torture and torment her and to remove himself from the unknown danger in London that had sent Bloody Bonner after him.   The pace of the book became markedly slower while Robinson detailed the actions Christian took to try and rekindle the love that Nora had once felt for him.   Time just seemed to slide away as Christian failed to figure out how to get through to Nora's now closed-off heart.

Robinson featured several other characters that added additional flavor to the book.   First, Edward Hext, Christian's protector since he was a youth, seemed to pop up in the background with regularity, but no picture was painted of his personality.   Second, Luiz de Ateca, the Spanish King Philip's henchman / ambassador, had a yen for Christian and went to great lengths to try and gain control of him.   And finally, the precocious nine-year-old, Arthur, that Nora had rescued (along with her other various strays) was a wonderful, vibrant, endearing addition to the book.

All-in-all, Lady Gallant by Suzanne Robinson was a wonderful, engaging, interesting read.   It featured: {1} a gorgeous, hunky, 'all the women wanted to bed' hero, that inspired a broad spectrum of feelings from love to sympathy to hate.   {2} A unique, courageous, yet, meek, mild-mannered, heroine who embraced her feelings of unworthiness through half the book.   {3} For the most part, plenty of action to move the story along at a quick, exciting pace.   {4} An emotional connection to both Christian and Nora that inspired moments of laughter and tears.   {5} Love scenes that were indicative of the 1992 publication date -- more details about the emotions than the physical actions that took place, resulting in no sizzle or zing.   {6} A great deal of information regarding historical events of the times were interwoven into the lives of the characters revealing Robinson's depth of research.   {7} Several well-developed, intriguing supporting characters that added a rich, wonderful flavor to the story.   {8} An interesting step away from the typical aristocratically-born hero and heroine story line (hero lead band of thieves; heroine was a 'mouse').   {9} A strong undercurrent of suspense regarding {a} Nora and Christian's future; {b} Christian, Sebastian and Nora's traitorous activities; {c} Christian's search for Jack Midnight.   And finally, {10} the requisite exciting, happily-ever-after ending.

Caveat: Would recommend that the four books of The Queen's Spies Series be read in order.   It is much easier to understand the connections between the characters and to follow the historical progression.
--Vonda M. Reid (Tuesday; February 28, 2012 : 9:54 a.m.)     [216]

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The Queen's Spies Quartet
# Date Title Hero Heroine
01.01-1992Lady GallantChristian Richard Villard de Rivers, Viscount Montfort Eleanora "Nora" Becket
02.08-1992Lady DefiantNicholas "Blade" Edward Fitzstephen, Sieur de Racine Oriel Richmond
03.07-1993Lady ValiantRobin St. John, Lord Derry, Viscount MoorefieldDorothea "Thea" Philadelphia Hunt
04.01-1995Lord of EnchantmentMorgan St. JohnPenelope "Pen" Grace Fairfax

The St. John Family Duet (Sub-Series)
# Date Title Hero Heroine
01.07-1993Lady ValiantRobin St. John, Lord Derry, Viscount MoorefieldDorothea "Thea" Philadelphia Hunt
02.01-1995Lord of EnchantmentMorgan St. JohnPenelope "Pen" Grace Fairfax

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Characters Found In "Lady Gallant"
Character / Location Description / Relationships Found In
Christian Richard Villard de Rivers, Lord Montfort
[Hero] son of Earl of Vasterne (2) Elizabeth's best intelligencer (3) member of Queen Mary's court; posing as Catholic (3) luxuriant hair, color of eagle's feathers (4) "Kit"; eyes looked as if someone poured ice shards into purple ink (5) Gypsy fortune reader about secrets (7) apprentice to England's finest highwayman (8) reputation worse than a highwayman's (15) ornament of Court; presided over raucous, quarrelsome, dangerous aristocratic youths (17) "Chris"; wide-set eyes; clarion voice (18) violent; cavalier (19) seraph's smile (23) women wanted him for his beauty (29) not a comfortable or virtuous man (52) 26-y-o (92) too beautiful; witty; graceful; more charm than a siren; changeable; mysterious; dangerous (100) ruby glittering in ear (109) all long, straight lines of flesh broken by tight curves of muscle; intimidating strength; deceptively smooth skin (150) knew when to bid his time (175) Viscount (305)1. Lady Gallant
2. Lady Defiant (m)
3. Lady Valiant
4. Lord of Enchantment
Eleanora "Nora" Becket[Heroine] "mouse"; one of Mary's women (9) small; long, dark curls; delicate bones; overly large brown eyes (13) never been able to stomach cruelty (16) modesty; quietness; old-fashioned appearance; wardrobe fashioned 20-y-o; bastard; banished to backwater country estate as child (21) skin like milk and strawberries (24) luminous brown eyes; humility; shy ways (37) velvety black hair (40) blush of a Dutch tulip in her lips and cheeks; forehead was a gentle curve that sank into the bridge of her nose; gentle; lush (41) at 10-y-o, cast out of father's heart; lost mother (54) timid; secret strength; milk skin; blush-rose cheeks (92) honeysuckle (212) great of heart (255) courageous for anyone but herself; quick of wit; elegant of mind; full of secret sensuality (256)1. Lady Gallant
2. Lady Defiant (m)
4. Lord of Enchantment
. . . . . . . . .
Anne Boleyn[Actual Historical Figure] Henry VIII wrecked Catholic Church in England to have; Princess Elizabeth's mother (21)1. Lady Gallant (m)
2. Lady Defiant (m)
Edmund Bonner[Actual Historical Figure] "Bloody Bonner"; Bishop of London; burner of heretics; so fat, skin looked like it was in danger of splitting; sweat dripped from beneath his cap, down bulging cheeks (30) protruding stomach; foul breath (113) flabby neck; weasel's eyes (114)1. Lady Gallant
3. Lady Valiant (m)
Catherine of Aragon[Actual Historical Figure] persecuted first wife of Henry VIII; set aside for Anne Boleyn (21)1. Lady Gallant (m)
Sir William Cecil[Actual Historical Figure] served Princess Elizabeth // brilliant; devious as princess (27) thinning hair; heavy-lidded sensual eyes (253)1. Lady Gallant (m)
2. Lady Defiant (m)
3. Lady Valiant
4. Lord of Enchantment (m)
Archibald Dymoke[Actual Historical Figure] writer of scurrilous ballads, pamphlets that lampooned the Queen (28)1. Lady Gallant
Philip, King of Spain
[Actual Historical Figure] Mary Tudor's husband (viii)1. Lord Gallant (m)
4. Lord of Enchantment (m)
Elizabeth Tudor[Actual Historical Figure] daughter of King Henry VIII and Ann Boleyn (vii) Protestant; educated; intelligent; wily (vii) red-gold hair; long tapered fingers (1) tolerant; brilliant (27) could speak French, Latin, Greek, Italian; stood up to privy councillors; flayed them with her tongue; survived plots; emerged from the tower; brave; beautiful; sophisticated; daring (53)1. Lady Gallant
2. Lady Defiant (m)
3. Lady Valiant (m)
4. Lord of Enchantment (m)
Mary Tudor[Actual Historical Figure] England's throne 1553; daughter of King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon; Catholic (vii) middle-aged, fanatically religious woman (17) small, soap-scrubbed, plain face; deep, almost man's voice; rings on each stubby finger (22) Bloody Mary (28)1. Lady Gallant
. . . . . . . . .
Arthur[Major Secondary Character] Nora's page (21) small; blond locks; sweet, lively boy orphaned; met at father's home 2-y-a (25) bailiff accused him of stealing bread; parents dead from sweat; only 7-y-o (26) a cherub in Becket livery (35) indomitable of will; stubborn; contentious (231)1. Lady Gallant
Luiz de Ateca[Secondary Character] envoy of King Philip (2) Philip's enemy (2) moonlight-silver hair curled over his ears; lean build; prowling wolf eyes; conveyed imperial power and splendor in his dress and demeanor (30) Spanish nobleman; King Philip's chief henchman (102) well-dressed lizard; face shaped like wedge of an orange; body thin and supple; blond hair as straight as his legs; light blue eyes; pale skin; opulent dress (102)1. Lady Gallant
Sir William Becket[Secondary Character] Nora's father // rich man; would pay handsome dowry to get rid of daughter (21) quick, loud tread; bulky thick frame; golden hair; massive frame; the reserve and isolation of an abbot; temper (54)1. Lady Gallant
Tom Birch[One Appearance] lack-wit who served Sebastian de Rivers (89(1. Lady Gallant
Nicholas Edward Fitzstephen
[Major Secondary Character] [Hero: Book 2] Christian rescued from Jack's band of highwaymen // Jack's apprentice; dark brown hair nearly the color of Kit's; face of innocent savagery; young face with unlined skin; jawline that angled high (9) straight, dark brows; hawk-like features (10) home on Scottish border; father old when he was taken by Jack (329) 18-y-o (339) 1. Lady Gallant
2. Lady Defiant
CatullusNora's puppy (310) puppy Christian used to help him with his love potion1. Lady Gallant
Mistress Clarencieux[Rare Appearances] in charge of Mary's ladies in waiting1. Lady Gallant
Inigo Culpepper[Secondary Character] member of Christian's band of thieves // thin stalk of a body; cutpurse; highwayman; staves for legs; hollow shoulders; movements of a frantic weasel (4)1. Lady Gallant
2. Lady Defiant
3. Lady Valiant
4. Lord of Enchantment
Holly Cushion[Rare Appearances] Mag's girl (174)1. Lady Gallant
Hobard Dogdyke[One Appearance] called in when Sebastian and Christian injured; Nora would not let him bleed patients // physician; a spider with a beard that reached to his knees (147)1. Lady Gallant
Lady Jane Dormer[Rare Appearance] Mary's lady-in-waiting (3) had taunted Nora, resulting in her appearance at bear baiting (38)1. Lady Gallant
Sir Percivale Flegge[Secondary Character] Nora's father arranged betrothal // son of Sir Badulf; the pox is eating his face and his wits (56) small, straight nose; long of leg; hose covered knots of muscle built in hours of fencing and riding (76) pleasing appearance; disgusted Nora; mind dwelled in the gutter; that awful laugh (77) laughs like a demented peacock; soul is three parts cesspool, one part jade (82)1. Lady Gallant
Gertrude[Rare Appearances] one of Mag's girls (122)1. Lady Gallant
Edward Hext[Secondary Character] dressed as gentleman; Christian's protector since he was a youth (5)1. Lady Gallant
Homermastiff puppy that Nora gave to Christian as a thank you for rescuing her (37)1. Lady Gallant
Ned Howard[One Appearance] Mortimer's current amour (37)1. Lady Gallant
Jayne[One Appearance] member of Court // one of ladies who laid with Christian (77)1. Lady Gallant
Lady Johanna[Rare Appearance] Mary's lady-in-waiting (3)1. Lady Gallant
Bogo Littlefoot[One Appearance] playing sheriff of Nottingham on stage of Golden Unicorn1. Lady Gallant
Lady Marjorie[One Appearance] at Sebastian's ball; she searching Christian's body for coins he palmed1. Lady Gallant
Marvelous Mag[Major Secondary Character] almost 6'; ran alehouse (37) sheltered activities of band of thieves and swindlers; ran training school for pickpockets (nips) and cutpurses (foists); Christian ran to Mag when escaped Jack at 12-y-o (38) proprietress of Bald Pelican; blond curls (121) older than Christian; blond; beautiful; lithe figure; taut skin; confident sensuality (216)1. Lady Gallant
2. Lady Defiant
3. Lady Valiant (m)
Jack Midnight[Major Secondary Character] hates aristocrats; abducted Christian when he was eight // highwayman; sword skill of an Italian mercenary; depravity of a witch's familiar; "undercut by his past to point where Inigo wasn't sure the younger man could contain his rage (7) shining black hair painted with silver (8)1. Lady Gallant
2. Lady Defiant
Roger Mortimer[Secondary Character] friend of Christian's at Mary's court1. Lady Gallant
Anthony Now Now[Secondary Character] member of Christian's band of thieves // bulk of a castle drum tower (4)1. Lady Gallant
3. Lady Valiant
Hugo Paderborn[One Appearance] Christian questioned regarding cipher Nora sent to him // printer's shop (223) corpulent; 30s (251)1. Lady Gallant
Sebastian de Rivers,
Earl of Vasterne:
[Major Secondary Character] Christian's father (2) looked exactly like son; wide-set eyes; clarion voice (18) gentle; gracious (19)1. Lady Gallant
2. Lady Defiant (m)
Simon Spry[Secondary Character] member of Christian's band of thieves // older man (210) horse thief; swindler (212)1. Lady Gallant
3. Lady Valiant
John St. Vincent[One Appearance] at masque, battling Robin Cutpurse for his betrothed (83)1. Lady Gallant
Frances, Duchess of Suffolk[Rare Appearance] Mary's ladies-in-waiting (73) bean-size, piggy eyes (76) fat hand (76)1. Lady Gallant
Lady Sybil[One Appearance] member of Court // laid with Christian (78)1. Lady Gallant
Sybille[Rare Appearances] arrived at Falaise looking for Christian // painted, bleary-eyed face; bawd; curly hair; drunk; smelled of ale (244) wildly curling hair; generous figure (246)1. Lady Gallant
Thimbleby[One Appearance] called in when Sebastian and Christian injured; Nora would not let him bleed patients // Dogdyke's colleague (147)1. Lady Gallant
Thomas[Rare Appearance] toddler; Poll's son (6)1. Lady Gallant
Thomas[One Appearance] delivered message to Christian at Falaise1. Lady Gallant
Three Tooth Poll[Secondary Character] member of Christian's band of thieves // wandering peddler; thief; whore (5)1. Lady Gallant
Master Nicholas Tideman[Secondary Character] Christian's Falaise steward; known Christian since child; older man (236) globular belly (237)1. Lady Gallant
Annie Turnstile[Minor Secondary Character] Mag's woman1. Lady Gallant
Odo Twitch[One Appearance] attended dinner at Falaise mansion // false beggar; pimp (212)1. Lady Gallant
Hugo Unthank[Secondary Character] shop owner; collector of rarities; spent youth traveling in Europe and Middle East; no one knew how he obtained the fabulous and exotic pieces that graced his shop (44)1. Lady Gallant
3. Lady Valiant
Virgil mastiff puppy that Nora gave to Christian as a thank you for rescuing her (37)1. Lady Gallant
Pigsey Watt[One Appearance] Nora chased after him when saw he had sack full of kittens // horse thief; know to every ruffler, whipjack and cutpurse in London; unerring nose for swaybacked and diseased horseflesh; dullard; awareness of his shortcomings made him mean; burly (47)1. Lady Gallant
Barbara White [One Appearance] Christian's date to bear-baiting (37)1. Lady Gallant
Marquess of Winchester[One Appearance] Christian winning a fortune in card game (30)1. Lady Gallant
Winnie[No Appearance] village cunning woman (316) Christian went to her for love potion1. Lady Gallant
(m) = mentioned  

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Suzanne Robinson
♠  Website
♣  pseudonym used by: Lynda S. Robinson
Suzanne Robinson Book List:
♠  Fantastic Fiction
♣  FictionDB
Lynda S. Robinson Book List:
♠  Fantastic Fiction
♣  FictionDB

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Lady Gallant Reviews:
RatedPostedSiteNotes, Comments, Etc.
A / hot06-06-1997All About RomanceDesert Isle Keeper
4.44 average{18 reviews}Amazonas of: March 2, 2012
A-04-14-2008Aneca's Worldalso on: Good Reads
4.00 average{3 ratings}Barnes and Nobleas of: March 2, 2012
4.13 average{16 reviews}Good Readsas of: March 2, 2012
3.79 average{17 ratings}Library Thingas of: March 2, 2012
4.00 average{5 reviews}Paperback Swapas of: March 2, 2012
4.25 average{9 reviews}Reader StoreNine Good Reads Reviews
A-11-08-2004Rosario's Reading Journal 
5.00 average{2 reviews}Shelfarias of: March 3, 2012
4.5003-02-2012Wolf Bear Does Booksshorter post on Amazon, Good Reads, Shelfari
Number 55u12-22-2009Dear AuthorTop 100 Romances
Number 310-22-2011The House on Black LakeTop 25 Worst Acts of Betrayal in Romance Novels
No. 4 / No. 905-27-1998The Romance ReaderTop Ten Lists (Mary / Kathy)

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♥  Disclaimer:   I Purchased This Book
♥  Very Subjective Rating
♥  Willing to share Cheat Sheet
    ♦  in whole or in part
    ♦  WordPerfect or PDF
♣  Will add your Lady Gallant review link to table, just ask

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