Monday, March 5, 2012

Suzanne Robinson -- Lady Valiant

Rated: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ .   {4.15}
Action: ♠♠♠♠ / Emotion: ♣♣♣ / Romance: ♥♥♥ / Sensuous: ♦ / Suspense: ♠♠♠
Action: 4 / Emotion: 3 / Romance: 3 / Sensuous: 1 / Suspense: 3 // Historical Flavor: 4.5 / Laughter: 2 / Tears: 0

Lady Valiant by Suzanne Robinson was set in 1565, the time period immediately preceding (as taken from Wikipedia) "the Rising of the North of 1569, also called the Revolt of the Northern Earls or Northern Rebellion, . . . an unsuccessful attempt by Catholic nobles from Northern England to depose Queen Elizabeth I of England and replace her with Mary, Queen of Scots."   Have always found it puzzling that so many wars have been fought in the name of religion, simply because one faction does not like the way another worships God.   But then, the instigators of these wars were not really concerned about how one worships God, but about the power granted to the leaders of that worship.

Robinson highlighted the fact that certain people strive to achieve great wealth and power by introducing readers to the heroine's hated grandmother, Lady Grace Hunt, in her efforts to {1} marry off   Dorothea "Thea" Philadelphia Hunt to a man who would increase her wealth and standing with Queen Elizabeth, and {2} help transmit messages for the English Catholic building a network of alliances among powerful northern barons in the kingdom, known only as The Wyvern.

It is obvious that the necessary finale to this tale (and they lived happily-ever-after) is going to be fraught with difficulties because not only does Thea hate all men, but Robin St. John, Lord Derry has a well-won distrust of women ever since his now-dead wife, Alice, betrayed him to the mad bishop, Bloody Bonner, when he was seventeen and he ended up in the torture chamber of The Tower.   (Wished Robinson had written a clever explanation about how Derry had escaped the torture chamber scarred, but alive.)

Lady Hunt convinced her granddaughter to visit her old childhood friend, Mary Stuart -- to talk her out of marrying the drunken fool, Lord Darnley so that she could use an unsuspecting Thea to transport the Wyvern's encrypted messages.   William Cecil, the Queen's chief secretary of state, calls the Queen's spy, Derry, to Hugo Unthank's jeweler shop to interrogate Lady Hunt because Unthank recognized the gold buttons a previous Wyvern courier, Leslie Richmond, had in his possession when killed.   Lady Hunt has no compunction about pointing an accusing finger at her granddaughter, thus, branding her a traitor.

Because did not realize Lady Valiant was part of The Queen's Spies Quartet, read it in the wrong order.   Absolutely hate that!   Now don't have the background information about how Derry came to be the infamous highwayman, Robin Savage, who had a price on his head and inherited his band of thieves from his mentor Christian de Rivers (book one, Lady Gallant).   Robinson did an excellent job of entertaining readers with antics from the sparsely-developed, but interesting war band of disreputable spies serving Robin.   They included: {1} cutpurse Inigo Culpepper, who spent more time in the story than, {2} Oakshot, {3} Anthony Now-Now, and {4} Simon Spry.   Reading the previous books of the series might also explain the background of another of Derry's men, Stubb, who was often present in the story.   (Note: have now read those books -- Robinson never revealed these details.)

Derry rushes after Thea to stop her from entering Scotland with the Wyvern's messages and cipher key.   Thea is confused when she is abducted by the infamous highwayman and thrown into a black pit to gain answers to questions about treason and a cipher key.   It was a disappointment, but expected, that this 1993-written book necessitated that when Thea succumbs to the charming rogue, Robin, and spends a night in his bed, the sensuality was hidden in descriptions of how Thea was feeling instead of a spicy, heated love scene.

Another intriguing thread woven into Derry and Thea's story (as they battle to overcome past betrayals), is the presence of Derry's younger brother, Morgan St. John (book two of The St. John Family Duet, Lord of Enchantment).   The animosity between the brothers leaps off the pages as they fight over Thea (and any other thing handy).   When circumstances force Morgan to take an injured Derry to their father's home, Moorefield Garde, the hatred Viscount Mooreland holds for his second son, Derry, over the death of his beloved first son, John St. John (what kind of name is that) is shockingly clear.   What is not so clear is why Morgan, who obviously hates his brother, is a member of his band and why he was part of the rescue operation after Derry was captured by Father Jean-Paul, Sieur de la Rochefort, henchman of the Cardinal of Lorraine, Mary Scot's uncle.   Am now anxious to read Morgan's story to see if the brothers make peace.

Robinson did an wonderful job of grabbing and keeping the reader's interest as Thea and Derry tried to figure out who the Wyvern was and how to stop him from killing them.   Several minimally-developed supporting characters were introduced in the first chapter (at Lady Hunt's ball) who could all possibly be the mysterious Wyvern.   {1} Jonathan Taine, Earl of Lynford, described with sad soft brown eyes (because lost father to Henry VIII's rule).   {2} Timothy Eyre, an obvious nitwit who was used as a courier between the Wyvern and Lady Hunt.   {3} Lord Lawrence Gracechurch, whose claim to fame was his girth and greed.   {4} Catherine Taine, dowager Countess of Lynford, the Earl's step-mother who trolled for young gallants.   (Had a big problem with this character because early in the book Robinson claimed Catherine was Jonathan's step-mother, but later in the book, she claimed Jonathan as her son.   Which was it?)   Several other men of Lady Hunt's acquaintance were thrown into the suspect pool as well as her companion, the dour disapproving Ellen Dowgate.

Robinson entertained readers by using a suspense-building tool usually utilized in Romantic Suspense books by giving the Wyvern a point of view voice while keeping him hidden.   Anybody who is good at ferreting out who the bad guy is in such novels will probably have no trouble guessing who the Wyvern is, but Robinson did manage to throw in a couple of intriguing twists to the story during the search and discovery of the Wyvern, while leaving a thread hanging so that there is a desire to read the next books in the series.

One other supporting character that stayed in the background, but elicited great interest was Thea's father, who reminded one of 'the absent-minded professor.'   While Thea knew her sweet, loving father, Lord Edward Hunt, loved her, his lack of parental care and affection for her was all invested in roses and draft horses.

All in all, Lady Valiant, unfurls all the characteristics that make for a fun, entertaining, interesting read.   {1} A multi-layered angst-filled hero, who is alpha, hunky, charismatic and determined to win the day.   {2} An independent, stubborn, broken-hearted heroine who is determined to chart her own path, not to be used by any man.   {3} Plenty of exciting action that moves the story along with speed and interest.   {4} Although not intense, nor tear-inducing, an emotional connection ties the reader to the characters of the book.   {5} An aura of suspense pervades the story as the protagonists deal with their rocky relationship as they hunt for the bad guy.   {6} The romantic attraction between Derry and Thea does not take top billing, nor does the tame lovemaking heat up the pages of the book, but their romance is still a pertinent part of the story.   {7} Robinson inspired a desire to read the other books in the series by creating interesting supporting characters.

Lady Valiant may not be a must-read, nor a favorite, it is still not a book to be ignored.   It inspired interest from the beginning to the end.   An easy read for those who love the old Historical Romances.

Caveat: Would recommend that the four books of The Queen's Spies Quartet be read in order.   It is much easier to understand the connections between the characters and to follow the historical progression.
--Vonda M. Reid (Saturday; February 11, 2012 : 3:42 p.m.)     [212]

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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 Valiant"
Character / Location Description / Relationships Found In
Robin St. John, Lord Derry[Hero] Queen Elizabeth's spy (10) merciless, artistic swordsman (11) golden hair (20) aka: Robin Savage (20) gentian blue eyes; wide, muscled shoulders; tall; angelic coloring (35) lush, well-formed body (36) walked with strength and rhythm of dancer (55) passion for art (131) 28-y-o; penchant for learning, rather than swordplay (134) lodestar of the court (174) hair like wheat covered with dew; eyes like a New World sea; will and autocracy of a Roman god (194) quick-witted; master of seduction (195)2. Lady Defiant
3. Lady Valiant
4. Lord of Enchantment
Dorothea "Thea" Philadelphia Hunt[Heroine] shared a childhood in French court with Queen of Scots; feather-soft heart (8) steady in character; honest to the point of awkwardness; staid, sensible demeanor; 23-y-o (24) thick, straight black hair (25) golden eyes; jet black hair (35) courage (39) intelligent; clever; logical (48) heart-shaped face (104) passion for art (131)3. Lady Valiant
. . . . . . . . .
Bishop Bonner[Actual Historical Figure] Bloody Bonner; mad bishop (45)1. Lady Gallant
3. Lady Valiant (m)
William Cecil[Actual Historical Figure] [Secondary Character] queen's chief secretary of state (12) slight stature; balding (13)1. Lady Gallant (m)
2. Lady Defiant (m)
3. Lady Valiant
4. Lord of Enchantment (m)
Henry, Lord Darnley[Actual Historical Figure] fool; drunkard; pretty (7) married Mary Stuart3. Lady Valiant (m)
Robert Dudley[Actual Historical Figure] queen's favorite (111)
3. Lady Valiant (m)
Cardinal of Lorraine[Actual Historical Figure] Frenchman; Mary Scot's uncle (167)2. Lady Defiant
3. Lady Valiant (m)
4. Lord of Enchantment (m)
Mary Stewart,
Queen of Scotland
[Actual Historical Figure] enamored of Lord Darnley (7) French mother's family, the de Guises (17) clever; beautiful; soft-hearted (23)2. Lady Defiant (m)
3. Lady Valiant (m)
4. Lord of Enchantment (m)
Elizabeth Tudor[Actual Historical Figure] Protestant Queen (9)1. Lady Gallant
2. Lady Defiant (m)
3. Lady Valiant (m)
4. Lord of Enchantment (m)
. . . . . .. . .
Lady Beatrice[One Appearance] had been in French court (250) was to be Derry's partner for the mask following banquet (250)3. Lady Valiant
Marquess of Bridewell[No Appearance] Thea's grandmother's acquaintance (111)3. Lady Valiant
Andrew Byrd[No Appearance] goldsmith who made the buttons in which ciphers were hidden (14)3. Lady Valiant
Sir Anthony Clark [No Appearance] Thea's grandmother's acquaintance (111) in Tower for treason (269)3. Lady Valiant
Inigo Culpepper[Secondary Character] inherited thief from Christian; Derry's disreputable league of spies and personal war band (12) cutpurse (13) tall; scrawny (55)1. Lady Gallant
2. Lady Defiant
3. Lady Valiant
4. Lord of Enchantment
Ellen Dowgate[Secondary Character] grandmother's companion (111) dour; disapproving; spent much of her time at mass praying for sinful, which included almost everyone (190) avarice (204)3. Lady Valiant
Timothy Eyre[Secondary Character] one of Thea's grandmother's acquaintances; rarely noticed anyone, unless wealthy enough to enhance his position among Queen's courtiers (4) sparse black hair (7) son of nobleman and the daughter of the powerful Italian banking family of Tasso (9) efforts to reason accompanied by contortions of facial muscles (64)3. Lady Valiant
Blade Fitzstephen[Book 2 Hero] reckless; abducted by Cardinal of Lorraine1. Lady Gallant
2. Lady Defiant
3. Lady Valiant (m)
Foxe[One Appearance] actor playing princess (229)3. Lady Valiant
Lord Lawrence Gracechurch[Secondary Character] one of Thea's grandmother's acquaintances; during Bloody Mary's reign, accused innocent yeomen of heresy in order to get their land (5) melon-like girth; flapping cheeks (214) layers of chins (266)3. Lady Valiant
Hadow[Secondary Character] one of Derry's men // he and Oakshot took Hobby to Fitzstephen (66)3. Lady Valiant
Henri[One Appearance] guest at Lady Grace Hunt's lavish house party // Frenchman; dark hair; slight build; arrogant; nobleman; no honor (1)3. Lady Valiant
Nan Hobby[Secondary Character] Thea's ladies maid (1)3. Lady Valiant
Lord Edward Hunt[Secondary Character] Thea's father (3) ofttimes acted as if he had wits of a midge (4) Edward (9) sweet; loving; absentminded (51) all senses invested in roses and draft horses (109)3. Lady Valiant
Lady Grace Hunt[Secondary Character] Thea's grandmother; loved the rich and powerful (3) Grace (5) had enjoyed high favor with old queen, Mary Tudor; Queen Elizabeth didn't like (6) wispy white hair; joints of fingers were reddened and swollen; purple veins through slack skin on backs of her hands (15)3. Lady Valiant
Jenny[Secondary Character] hanging around with Derry's men // fulsome (67) red-gold hair; rounded wide hips (87)3. Lady Valiant
JoveDerry's stallion3. Lady Valiant
Jonathan Taine, Earl of Lynford[Secondary Character] one of Thea's grandmother's acquaintances; soft brown eyes; not scornful; sadness left his eyes; suffered at hands of Henry VIII and his son Edward VI; attractive; Catholic (4) appearance fit station in life; tall; well-proportioned; air of wistfulness and melancholy that intrigued and mystified (248) deep rich chestnut hair, curled in tight ringlets; dark looks; easy courtesy; lack of male hubris (248)3. Lady Valiant
Catherine Taine,
dowager Countess of Lynford
[Secondary Character] one of Thea's grandmother's acquaintances; Earl's step-mother (6) red-gold wig; trolled court waters for young gallants (248)3. Lady Valiant
Marvelous Mag[No Appearance] 1. Lady Gallant
2. Lady Defiant
3. Lady Valiant (m)
Viscount Moorefield[Secondary Character] Robin's father (15) a soldier who served in Henry VIII's wars (134) small, mean heart; cared for eldest son only (135) silver hair; walk of youth; gentian-blue eyes; held mouth in pinched distortion (177) habitually charged in rooms; scowling (185)2. Lady Defiant (m)
3. Lady Valiant
4. Lord of Enchantment (m)
Duke of Norfolk[No Appearance] Thea's grandmother's acquaintance (111)3. Lady Valiant
Anthony Now-Now[Secondary Character] inherited thief from Christian; inherited thief from mentor; Derry's disreputable league of spies and personal war band (12) mountain of a man (132)1. Lady Gallant
3. Lady Valiant
Oakshot[Secondary Character] inherited thief from Christian; inherited thief from mentor; Derry's disreputable league of spies and personal war band (12)3. Lady Valiant
Leslie Richmond[Secondary Character] one of Thea's grandmother's acquaintances; was a prospective suitor // felt God owed him wealth, pleasing entertainments, and women of easy virtue; grandmother's choice for Thea's beau; killed in brawl (3)2. Lady Defiant
3. Lady Valiant
Oriel Richmond[Book 2 Heroine] Derry helped her rescue Blade (12)2. Lady Defiant
3. Lady Valiant (m)
Christian de Rivers[Book 1 Hero] Derry's mentor (12)01. Lady Gallant
02. Lady Defiant (m)
03. Lady Valiant
04. Lord of Enchantment
Father Jean-Paul,
Sieur de la Rochefort:
[Secondary Character] villain // Frenchman (152) utterly black eyes; concealed his thoughts (159) served Cardinal of Lorraine, Mary Scot's uncle (167)3. Lady Valiant
4. Lord of Enchantment
Oofer Small[One Appearance] actor playing dragon (228)3. Lady Valiant
Inky Smythe[No Appearance] petty rogue; dealt in forged papers (262)3. Lady Valiant (m)
Simon Spry[Secondary Character] inherited thief from Christian; inherited thief from mentor; Derry's disreputable league of spies and personal war band (12)1. Lady Gallant
3. Lady Valiant
Alice [St. John][No Appearance] betrayed Derry to Bloody Bonner to save her own hide // Derry's wife; beautiful; married as children (67) red-gold hair; lush body; demanded everyone worship her (68)3. Lady Valiant
John St. John[No Appearance] Derry's oldest brother (134) two years older than Derry (135) for four years, Derry worked to learn swordplay, riding, jousting, hunting, skirmishing, spear throwing (135) John and Viscount goaded Derry; who finally (at 14-y-o) challenged his brother to a duel; description of the fight; how John died3. Lady Valiant (m)
Morgan St. John[Book 4 Hero] Derry's brother (72) lithe form (71) long legs; black hair; black eyes (72) younger than Derry by 5 years (81) wide shoulders (118) trained by Christian de Rivers (269)3. Lady Valiant
4. Lord of Enchantment
Stubb[Secondary Character] Derry's man3. Lady Valiant
Tugman[Secondary Character] brought message; Lady Hunt murdered 4 days ago; room searched; only key to Wyvern was Thea (88)3. Lady Valiant
Hugo Unthank[Secondary Character] jeweler near St. Paul's Cathedral; part of William Cecil's spy ring1. Lady Gallant
3. Lady Valiant
Sir Gideon Walbrook[No Appearance] in Tower for treason (269)3. Lady Valiant
Earl of Westmoreland[No Appearance] Thea's grandmother's acquaintance (111)3. Lady Valiant
Tom Wyatt[No Appearance] had visited Derry, who refused to join his rebel quest; reason Bloody Bonner questioned Derry as a traitor3. Lady Valiant
The Wyvern[Secondary Character] villain // no one knew who he was; English Catholic; building network of alliances among powerful northern barons in the kingdom3. Lady Valiant
(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 Valiant Reviews:
RatedPostedSiteNotes, Comments, Etc.
3.67 average{3 reviews}Amazonas of: March 4, 2012
3.50 out of 508-11-2010Aneca's Worldalso posted on Good Reads
--no reviewsBarnes and Nobleas of: March 4, 2012
6 / 6 / 606-09-2003Eye On Romance 
3.50 average{2 reviews}Good Readsas of: March 4, 2012
3.63 average{3 ratings}Library Thingas of: March 4, 2012
2.75 average{2 reviews}Paperback Swapas of: March 4, 2012
4.00 average{1 review}Shelfarias of: March 4, 2012
4.1503-05-2012Wolf Bear Does Booksshorter post on Amazon, Good Reads, Shelfari

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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 Valiant review link to table, just ask

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