by Madeleine Brent
They called her Jani, but she once had another name-- and a past she never knew.
From far-off Tibet to England's rich countryside, this marvelously enchanting novel unfolds the incredible saga of a lovely young half-caste whose strange destiny pulls her into a world of love and terror-- all while a mysterious power moves slowly toward her, threatening her sanity... and her life.
This was another very good read from Madeleine Brent. The protagonist, Jani, is an appealing, capable girl (and later, woman) who demonstrates admirable loyalty and strength of character. She may be a little too good to be true, but she remains likeable throughout the book.
Though it is billed as a romance-- and though Jani's romance is certainly a big part of the story-- I found that aspect less satisfying than in Moonraker's Bride (by the same author). I'm not sure what was lacking... Maybe it just needed more scenes of the two interacting before the "declaration"... So, the love story could've been improved upon, but in general, Jani's relationships are well-drawn and strong-- particularly her touching bond with Sembur.
The book has its minor flaws, but for the most part, I enjoyed the experience and look forward to reading more from the author (and I'm still completely impressed that he, as a man, was capable of writing female voices so convincingly). However, I do think I'll try to wait a while before reading another Madeleine Brent novel, because they do seem to follow a definite pattern. The author struck on a formula that works-- hits most of the right notes for me, at least-- but if read back-to-back, one might feel a little too similar to the next.
--The featured cover on Goodreads is misleading. If you read Merlin's Keep on the basis of a steamy cover, you'll be disappointed. While there is romance, pretty much everything happens behind closed doors. The bigger misfortune would be if potential readers are put off by the suggestion that it's a bodice-ripper, because this book is not a "trashy romance", by any stretch.
--Coincidences? Oh yes, they're here in droves, as in Moonraker's Bride. Though actually, maybe it's less coincidence in Merlin's Keep than "fate" and mysticism.
--I could have gone through my whole life not knowing that sometimes when a cow gives birth, her uterus comes out, too, and must be pushed back inside-- but thanks to this book, I am now cursed with that nightmarish image. Thank you so very, very much, book. Ah, what a wonderful world!