Title: The Baron
Author: Juliana Garnett
Genre: Historical Romance
Rating: 5 Stars
Description/Synopsis: In Juliana Garnett’s enchanting romance of medieval England, a dashing nobleman and a seductive aristocrat on opposite sides of the law discover that the heart knows no boundaries.
Tré Devaux, Third Baron of Brayeton, has just been appointed Sheriff of Nottingham. His first task: to rid the land of the Saxon outlaws who undermine the Norman rule . . . or face the wrath of his vengeful king. Tré is determined to let no one stand in his way, not even the captivating Lady Jane Neville, a known sympathizer to the Saxon cause whose unbridled spirit evokes feelings in Tré he thought were long buried.
Although she seems to be the very definition of the perfect English lady, Jane Neville is much more than an elegant noblewoman. She is the niece of the infamous outlaw Robin Hood, and has inherited her uncle’s fierce courage. But even with her warrior’s blood, Jane cannot resist the broad-shouldered, strong-willed Tré, a man whose love comes with harsh consequences. By surrendering to passion, Jane and Tré put themselves in the middle of a civil war that may cost both their hearts—and their lives.
WARNING - SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT - REVIEW BELOW
It's exceedingly rare for me to find a book that's rife with political drama, language I don't altogether understand, and takes upwards of a week for me to read that I enjoy - but lo and behold, it has happened.
The Baron is a historical romance set in a time shortly after the exploits of Robin Hood and his band of merry men. Some years have passed, the old gang has grown up and moved on, and that is where this story begins - with Robin Hood's niece, Jane. I am hesitant to call this novel a bodice ripper (though at least one bodice was ripped!) because the writing of this novel was so supremely elegant and rich. This isn't a quick read you pick up on a Walmart shelf.
The Baron was full of romance, passion, loyalty, political miss-conduct, brazen outlaws, and thrilling plots against the crown. Though admittedly the language wasn't wholly accurate for the purpose of keeping it easy to read, I still found it accurate in an edited fantasy sort of way. It seemed every few pages I was checking my Kindle dictionary for a word that had just popped up and then proceeded to wonder at the fact that the author had even found out it existed. Who knew there was a special title for a horse belonging to a jousting knight? I sure didn't! Little details like this where the language of the age was seamlessly knitted into the fabric of this story made this a delight to read and really served to pull me into the story.
I also found the characters and locations full of depth and believable as real people and places. There wasn't a single scene where I didn't feel like I was right there on the jousting field or in a dim torch-lit assembly hall right alongside the characters. The descriptions were detailed but faded into the narrative with so little effort that I never felt like they were just being thrown at me (as they are in some books).
It really struck me that the author put so much time and effort into making this story feel real and believable. Her writing was clear and wonderfully well-written, and it's clear she really did her research into the history and facts of this story. This was an excellent read. I'd recommend this story to anyone who enjoys historical romance, robin hood, or is maybe looking for a bodice ripper that goes above and beyond. This book shames "bodice rippers" as a genre and sets a whole new level for them to strive towards. I almost want to hold it up and say "behold!" and stare pointedly at the historical romance section of the bookstore. "This is what you should be doing. Aim higher."