Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Suzanne Robinson -- Lord of Enchantment

Rated: ♥ ♥ .   {2.85}
Action: ♠♠♠. / Emotion: ♣♣. / Romance: ♥♥♥ / Sensuous: ♦ / Suspense: ♠♠♠
Action: 3.5 / Emotion: 2.5 / Romance: 3 / Sensuous: 1 / Suspense: 3 // Historical Flavor: 3.5 / Laughter: 1 / Tears: 0

Was bound and determined to read Lord of Enchantment, Suzanne Robinson's fourth and last book of The Queen's Spies Quartet because wanted to figure out how these books were tied together since Fantastic Fiction and FictionDB disagreed about the way Suzanne Robinson's books are tied together.   Another reason wanted to read Lord of Enchantment, the second book in the sub-series The St. John Family Duet, was to see if the St. John brothers were able to overcome the hatred sewn between them by their evil-hearted father and cultivate a relationship.   (Sadly, Robinson dedicated no page time to the restoration of the brothers' relationship.)

There are several broad, personal reasons that prevented the total reading enjoyment of Lord of Enchantment.   First, have never been a fan of the "amnesia" story line.   Second, instead of laughing and enjoying the antics of the buffoons that inhabited Highcliffe Castle, found them tiresome.   Third, a diminishing lack of interest in the story happened right around Chapter 11, when the beginning of the misunderstanding was introduced.   The lack of interest grew to dissatisfaction around Chapter 17, when Morgan decided he could not love a woman whose betrayal was so great.

Also, instead of seamlessly weaving in the historical characters and political maneuverings of England's Queen Elizabeth, Spain's King Philip, France's Cardinal of Lorraine, and Scotland's Queen Mary, the entries about these activities felt forced.   As with the other heros in the series, Morgan St. John, was a spy for Queen Elizabeth and was in pursuit of the Cardinal's henchman, the priest Jean-Paul (introduced in book three, Lady Valiant).   When a sudden storm resulted in Morgan being tossed from his carrack (a three- or four-masted sailing ship), landing in the sea and being washed onto the rocks of the Isle of Penance, the story line took a marked turn away from the previous suspenseful story lines in this series.

Penelope "Pen" Grace Fairfax is introduced standing on the battlements of Highcliffe Castle with her old nurse, Nany Boggs, and using her gift of knowing to foretell of the great storm approaching.   Pen also had the sense of a great danger arriving as well.   Robinson failed to instill the emotional connection and angst that Pen surely felt at being exiled by her parents to their estate located on an island.   The parents justified their actions as protecting a daughter from being burned at the stake as a heretic or witch because of her ability to touch a sword or dagger and feel the emotions and see the actions of the person who wielded such instrument.   (Robinson included no detailed background interactions between Penelope and her parents to establish an emotional tie with the heroine.)

The morning after the storm Pen finds Morgan's body on the rocks and readers are introduced to the lack-wits that surround Pen and inhabit her castle.   Pen took in the homeless creatures, Dibbler and Sniggs, who are never in close proximity without arguing and fighting.   Found this constant bickering irritating rather than enduring.   The next unremarkable Highcliffer was the swineherder girl, Wheedle, followed closely by the introduction of the lack-witted youth Erbut and Sniggs's son, Turnip.   The final misfit to be introduced and featured as the cook who constantly wanted to poison Morgan was Twistle.   Found Robinson's choice of oddball names for this cast of characters very appropriate.   These lack-wits are featured throughout the remainder of the story, as they support Pen in her adventures as she rushes into one mishap after another.   (Curiously, Robinson introduced not one of the villagers outside the walls of Highcliffe Castle who farmed the lands and fed the bumbling bunglers of the castle.)

Pen cares for the gorgeous, sensual amnesiac that she calls Tristan.   Robinson builds the sexual tension between Tristan and Pen, who eventually fall into bed to make love with the romantic I Love You's rather than spice and heat.   Even through Tristan and Pen spend the next nine days constantly involved in one tryst after another, they always do so out of the eyes of readers.   This is the only time Robinson features a love scene in the book.

Now that the protagonists are in love, Robinson throws in the way over-used 'heroine betrays hero' plot sequence.   Pen has been engaged in pig-stealing antics with the one other land owner on the Isle of Penance, fat old Ponder Cutwell.   Ponder has somehow (through his service to old King Harry's minister, Thomas Cromwell) managed to become host to Jean-Paul, who wants access to Morgan at Highcliffe Castle.   (Robinson tried to insert a bit of suspense by never identifying the guest, but even Dibbler and Sniggs could have figured out this one.)

Ponder takes Jean-Paul to Highcliffe with papers saying that as the queen's man (calling himself Morgan St. John), he desires to take into custody the man Pen is harboring, Jean-Paul, a French priest in service to the Cardinal of Lorraine.   (Must say that Robinson did an exceptional job of keeping each character straight in the mind of the reader even during the times when they were using false identities.)   In a surprising move, rather than turn the priest over St. John, Pen decides to jail her beloved Tristan (or was he faking it all this time), and take him to the queen herself.

Action and adventure pepper the book as Tristan tries to escape, Pen tries to retain custody, Jean-Paul tries to question his nemesis, etc.   And while all this activity is taking place, Tristan and Pen moan and groan about the betrayal of their love.   Robinson failed to elicit the emotional connection that is necessary to inspire sympathetic feelings of anguish that Morgan and Pen are supposed to be experiencing.

Morgan regained his memory and realized that he was a womanizer because the people he loved always betrayed him.   Thus, he must not have loved Pen.   Meanwhile, Pen joins the false queen's man to chase Morgan across England as he takes up his work as Queen Elizabeth's intelligencer to save William Cecil and Christian de Rivers from Jean-Paul's assassin.   Pen is chasing Morgan because she loves him too much to let him murder the queen's man.   (Can you say, "this doesn't make a bit of sense."   Pen is constantly telling Morgan she hates him, while chasing him across England to prevent his death.)

Rather than being enthralled and sitting on the edge of the seat waiting to see what happens next, just wanted to bop Robinson over the head for making Pen and Morgan act like idiots who would not acknowledge their love for the other.   Lord of Enchantment was a finish-able read, but there is no way it will ever became a must-read.   The only reason would recommend this book is: {1} to finish The Queen's Spies Quartet; {2} a desire to read Morgan's story; {3} to see if the St. John brothers reconciled; and {4} to find out how Robinson tied the loose ends left dangling in the first book of The St. John Family Duet -- like how Morgan came to be part of Derry's team.

Summing up, Lord of Enchantment, Suzanne Robinson's fourth book of The Queen's Spies Quartet, contains: {1} a hunky, sensual, stubborn, determined amnesiac hero; {2} a compassionate, sometimes intelligent (reading between the lines), strong-willed heroine; {3} silly, lack-witted supporting characters; {4} an evil-hearted villain; {5} a sparse visit with previous protagonists featured in the series; {6} a strong sensual connection between Morgan and Pen, followed by one emotional, romantic, sizzle-less love scene; {7} moments of action and adventure; {8} a smattering of suspense; {9} inserted pieces of historical data relevant to the time period; and {10} the requisite happily-ever-after.   Even though Lord of Enchantment contains the requisite attributes, would not recommend this book unless one just wants to read the last book of the series.   (In an aside: someone who enjoys 'The Three Stooges' antics might like this book.)

Note:   Must apologize for focusing on what did not like about this book -- paying no attention to the fact that Robinson did not seem to change her writing style, nor fail to write a story that may appeal to someone else.   Will always admire Robinson for putting pen to paper and writing an enjoyable book.   It was just not my cup of tea.

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 (Thursday, March 1, 2012 : 5:53 p.m.)     [218]

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Lord of Enchantment Quotations:
41"you think being a man gives you the privilege of judging me and requiring me to answer to you."
297"Could it be that he no longer bled, but ached from old scars?"
302"She wouldn't be misused." ". . . she'd learned something about herself -- something inside her refused to endure maltreatment anymore."

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Characters Found In "Lord of Enchantment"
Character / Location Description / Relationships Found In
Morgan St. John[Hero] long legs; bulk of muscles (13) perfect features; lips those of an ascetic, a bit thin, yet somehow in complete proportion to his now and brow; black hair; black stubble (14) startling black eyes (15) spoke English, French, Italian (21) body vibrant with unleashed power (50) exuded sexual menace (194) movement contained sureness and swiftness of man accustomed to command (195) [23-y-o (figured from Lady Valiant)]3. Lady Valiant
4. Lord of Enchantment
Penelope "Pen" Grace Fairfax[Heroine] took in homeless creatures (8) light brown hair streaked with gold; golden eyes; angular delicacy (19) chime-like, magically soothing voice (20) fragile angularity of face and body (20) English, French, Italian (21) temperament more changeable than a monarch (22) 14 + 7 = 21 years old (32) gift of knowing (47) possessed a golden benevolence; a lightness of spirit beyond measure, a nature suffused with compassion (105)4. Lord of Enchantment
. . . . . . . . .
Archduke Charles of Austria[Actual Historical Figure] King Philip negotiating for marriage to Queen Elizabeth4. Lord of Enchantment (m)
Queen Elizabeth[Actual Historical Figure] led King Philip to believe she might consider marrying Archduke Charles of Austria (293)1. Lady Gallant
2. Lady Defiant (m)
3. Lady Valiant (m)
4. Lord of Enchantment (m)
King Philip[Actual Historical Figure] king of Spain1. Lady Gallant (m)
4. Lord of Enchantment (m)
William Cecil[Actual Historical Figure] the queen's secretary (135)1. Lady Gallant (m)
2. Lady Defiant (m)
3. Lady Valiant
4. Lord of Enchantment (m)
Thomas Cromwell[Actual Historical Figure] King Harry's minister; ruined the abbeys and monasteries of England (50)4. Lord of Enchantment (m)
Cardinal of Lorraine[Actual Historical Figure] uncle of Queen of Scots; member of the rapacious de Guise family (142)2. Lady Defiant (m)
3. Lady Valiant
4. Lord of Enchantment (m)
Mary, Queen of Scots[Actual Historical Figure] lusted after English throne (142)2. Lady Defiant (m)
3. Lady Valiant (m)
4. Lord of Enchantment (m)
Moray[Actual Historical Figure] Mary Scot's half-brother; rebelled now that Mary married Darnley (179)4. Lord of Enchantment (m)
. . . . . . . . .
Lady Ann[No Appearance] one of Morgan's mistresses // in London (231)4. Lord of Enchantment (m)
Nany Boggs[Secondary Character] generous chest; bulk; silver hair (1) Pen's old nurse; did not let logic impede her way (2) vermilion nose; smelled of ale; such bulk that she had a goose's waddle to her walk (27)4. Lord of Enchantment
Inigo Culpepper[Secondary Character] served Christian // looking for Morgan (185) scrawny figure; thief (186)1. Lady Gallant
2. Lady Defiant
3. Lady Valiant
4. Lord of Enchantment
Sir Ponder Cutwell[Secondary Character] Pen's disagreeable neighbor; asked Pen to marry him (10) spindly legs; expanse of belle; knee joints cracked as he moved; chewed cloves to combat his foul breath (43) owns half of Penance Isle; hates Pen for owning the other half (49) served old King Harry (50) smuggler (51) three chins (90) grew long side locks, pomaded and combed over his bare dome (121)4. Lord of Enchantment
Danseur[Secondary Character] Jean-Paul hired to assassinate William Cecil and Christian de Rivers; added Morgan St. John to the list // the dancer; assassin (191) golden brows; pink nails; golden appearance; reptilian quality to gaze (192)4. Lord of Enchantment
Dibbler[Secondary Character] member of Pen's Highcliffe Castle lack-wit team // homeless creature; possessed odd yet well-meaning nature (8) tattered appearance; paunch; ring of graying hair around his bald spot; assortment of once-grand caps; sausage-thick fingers (9)4. Lord of Enchantment
Erbut[Secondary Character] member of Pen's Highcliffe Castle lack-wit team // youth (13) lack-wit (27)4. Lord of Enchantment
Blade Fitzstephen[Book 2 Hero] member of Queen's intelligencers // mentioned on page 2541. Lady Gallant
2. Lady Defiant
3. Lady Valiant (m)
4. Lord of Enchantment (m)
Father Humphrey[Rare Appearances] served the Isle of Penance // thin man (117) loved to ferret out sin; his hair, eyes, skin and robe were brown (118)4. Lord of Enchantment
Jean-Paul[Major Secondary Character] villain // spy priest (3) French spy; served Cardinal of Lorraine and The Queen of Scots (5) same dark coloring as Tristan; chin rounded; eyes less black, more brown; easy quick movement; freedom of motion that comes from physical activity; black hair; wore air of entitlement (121) eyes reflected cruelty (154)2. Lady Defiant (m)
3. Lady Valiant
4. Lord of Enchantment
Sieur de Mazarin[No Appearance] Jean-Paul wrote letter enclosing list of people he wanted killed // Danseur's half-brother and lover (253)4. Lord of Enchantment (m)
MargeryPonder Cutwell's prized pig (41)4. Lord of Enchantment
Maria[No Appearance] one of Morgan's mistresses // at Morgan's country home (231)4. Lord of Enchantment (m)
Lady Moorefield[No Appearance] Morgan's mother; great beauty; waterfall of ebony hair; quick, agitate movements; died too soon; no time for son (190)4. Lord of Enchantment (m)
Viscount Moorefield[No Appearance] Morgan's father; sent Morgan to foster with Christian2. Lady Defiant (m)
3. Lady Valiant
4. Lord of Enchantment (m)
Cousin Osbert[No Appearance] inherited Pen's father's title (47)4. Lord of Enchantment
Perditadescription of Highcliffe's imperfect pig (290)4. Lord of Enchantment
Christian de Rivers
Lord Montfort
[Book 1 Hero] Leader of group of Cecil and Elizabeth's intelligencers; looking for Morgan; fostered Morgan // too young; glimpse of fine lines about his eyes (79) Lord Montfort (79) sword master's body; violet eyes fringed with heavy lashes (222)01. Lady Gallant
02. Lady Defiant (m)
03. Lady Valiant
04. Lord of Enchantment
Elizabeth de Rivers[No Appearance] Nora and Christian's twin (185)4. Lord of Enchantment (m)
Jehan de Rivers[No Appearance] Nora and Christian's twin (185)4. Lord of Enchantment (m)
Nora de Rivers[Book 1 Heroine] joined Christian as he gazed out window of Falaise; hadn't heard from Morgan in three weeks (185)01. Lady Gallant
02. Lady Defiant (m)
04. Lord of Enchantment
Baron Rochefort[Secondary Character] Christian and Cecil were meeting at his home // silver hair (217)4. Lord of Enchantment
Derry St. John,
Viscount Moorefield
[Book 3 Hero] Came to Highcliffe Castle near end of book // Morgan's older brother (78) glorious blond hair (307)2. Lady Defiant
3. Lady Valiant
4. Lord of Enchantment
Thea St. John[Book 3 Heroine] Derry's wife // mentioned on page 3133. Lady Valiant
4. Lord of Enchantment (m)
Sniggs[Secondary Character] member of Pen's Highcliffe Castle lack-wit team // homeless creature; cast off land by greedy nobleman (8) tattered appearance (9)4. Lord of Enchantment
Turnip[Secondary Character] member of Pen's Highcliffe Castle lack-wit team // Sniggs's son (15)4. Lord of Enchantment
Mistress Twistle[Secondary Character] member of Pen's Highcliffe Castle lack-wit team // serving woman; small and round of body; red hair; looked like disgruntled apple (20) father and five brothers beat her (25) cook (27) thick muscled arms (109)4. Lord of Enchantment
Wheedle[Secondary Character] member of Pen's Highcliffe Castle lack-wit team // swineherder; girl (8) could mistake for a boy; wore heavy, cracked leather boots, hose, long smock; lanky hair shorn in ragged lengths; face permanently begrimed; blue eyes (62)4. Lord of Enchantment
Will[No Appearance] pretty young coxcomb from Pen's childhood (32)4. Lord of Enchantment (m)
(m) = mentioned  

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Lord of Enchantment Reviews:
RatedPostedSiteNotes, Comments, Etc.
4.00 average{3 reviews}Amazonas of: March 6, 2012
3.00 average{1 rating}Barnes and Nobleas of: March 6, 2012
3.00 average{1 review}Good Readsas of: March 6, 2012
3.50 average{2 ratings}Library Thingas of: March 5, 2012
3.75 average{2 reviews}Paperback Swapas of: March 6, 2012
----Publisher's Weeklyfound on Barnes & Noble site
3.00 average{1 review}Shelfarias of: March 6, 2012
----We Readas of: March 6, 2012 {no reviews}
2.8503-06-2011Wolf Bear Does Booksshorter post on Amazon, Good Reads, Shelfari

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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


  1. What a shame that none of the sequels were as good as Lady Gallant! I have never read anything else by the author and I am torn between trying to find another gem or give it up entirely.

  2. Thank you for your fantastic reviews. You made me read Lady Gallant and I will always be indebted. I enjoyed every page.

    1. You're welcome. Thank you for letting me know you visited my blog . . . and enjoyed the review.