SETTING: Historical - Tudor England/France - 1585
TYPE: Historical Fiction - Romance
SERIES: 4th book in the Daughters of the Earth (Faire Isle) Series
REASON FOR READING: I greatly enjoyed the first three books in the series, The Dark Queen (B+), The Courtesan (A-), and The Silver Rose (B-).
In a time of intrigue and betrayal, the huntress is on a quest that could jeopardize two empires and two great queens: Catherine de Medici and Elizabeth I.
The year is 1585–and prophecy has foretold the coming of a daughter of the Earth whose powers are so extraordinary they could usurp the very rule of the Dark Queen herself, Catherine de Medici. Dispatched from Brittany to London, Catriona O’Hanlon, known as the Huntress, must find this mysterious young girl and shield her from those who will exploit her mystic abilities, which have the potential to change the course of history.
Catriona’s skill with weaponry is all she has to protect herself and her young charge from spies who snake through the courts of Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen–including the girl’s own father, whose loyalties are stretched to the breaking point. But Catriona will soon face menacing forces and sinister plots unlike any she has ever encountered.
THOUGHTS / OPINION:
I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that this series was not actually a trilogy since the third book left a lot of unanswered questions. The previous books in the series told the stories of the three Cheney sisters. It is now a couple years later in 1585 and this fourth book tells the story of Catriona O'Hanlon, one of Ariane Cheney's most trusted friends. Ariane is the leader of the Daughters of the Earth, a group of healers (some call them witches) who reside on Faire Isle in France.
Cat is called the Huntress for her fierce warrior-like qualities and her feisty personality. Ariane has assigned her the task of locating a sorceress's daughter, Megaera, and bringing her back to the Faire Isle where she will be safe from the evil machinations of Catherine de Medici, known as the Dark Queen. Martin le Loup has fled France with his daughter, eleven year old Meg, to England certain he can keep her safer with him. He is living disguised as an Englishman in London and is trying to mold Meg into a proper English lady.
Cat is just the type of heroine I adore. She's a real spitfire with her red hair and Irish temper. She can wield a sword or shoot a bow and arrow and she takes her role as a warrior seriously. And she's not afraid to speak her mind. But she also has a vulnerable side and has her insecurities. I love heroines with a tough outer shell and a mushy center. When she locates Martin and Meg she tries to convince Martin to take Meg to Faire Isle, but he refuses.
But Martin has become embroiled in some political intrigue and an intricate assassination plot to kill Queen Elizabeth I. Martin and Cat have some entertaining verbal battles over who can protect Meg and I thoroughly enjoyed their conflicts when he and his servants try to get rid of her. They have great chemistry together. But Cat is a tough cookie and she won't be dislodged from her appointed task of keeping Meg safe from a sinister coven that practices the dark arts. They want Meg for her mystical powers which she inherited from her mother. In addition the evil Dark Queen wants the Book of Shadows that Meg is hiding.
It all sounds a little complicated but don't worry, it was easy to follow. In fact, I thought the middle sagged a bit when not enough was happening. But the last third was fast paced with some spicy love scenes. This is not a story about witches and magic, it only provided a little backdrop to the plot. Queen Elizabeth makes a short appearance near the last too. Carroll skillfully weaves together fact and fiction and I found it fascinating. If not for the sagging middle this one would have been a keeper. However, it was still as enjoyable as the rest of the books in the series. If you enjoyed the others, I'm sure you'll like this one.
MISCELLANEOUS: After visiting her website, I found out that she is planning a 5th book in the series. Oh, happy, happy, joy, joy!