Spoilers and spoiler hints may follow. My first ever, official book review on Muse Sings goes to Merry Farmer, whose book just hit kindle and Smashwords recently. The Loyal Heart. You can find it at…
I bought mine as an e-book through Smashwords and decided to just read it at their website (you can download it in many formats). I most definitely wasn’t sorry! One small warning, it does contain a few adult, steamy scenes. So, if you’re too young, or just don’t like such scenes, you are forewarned. However, there are only a few of those scenes in detail and they are far from being the meat of the book. She also makes you wait, like a virgin ’til your wedding night.
I must confess, labeled historical romance, this story was out of my favoured genre. However, ever since I was a small girl, I adored swashbuckling adventure (always wanted to study fencing and loved the heck out of archery in high school P.E.). This is swashbuckling adventure as I always wanted in my childhood. The Three Musketeers and Robin Hood if they, not only let girls play, but made her the main character of the story and gave her a sword too (and a bow at one point)!
Merry tapped into childhood fantasies (minus the adult parts near the end >.>) and created a story of them, and a more historically accurate portrayal of the times surrounding Robin Hood as well. In that, I was glad I hadn’t read her website post about King Richard and Prince John first. It allowed me to experience the discovery thrill of what she was doing as I read. It made it far more interesting and made me think a little of what Wicked by Gregory Maguire did with the Wizard of Oz. I loved that story too, by the way. It’s always interesting to me when I read a point of view switch that turns the protagonist of a well-known story into an antagonist and vice-versa (not the same as good guy vs. villain).
However, Merry manages to write this without directly feeding you a rehashing of an old, familiar tale. Grounded in real places and research of the life and times surrounding Robin Hood, this tale delivers more than a rehash. I’m also quite pleased she made the focal character stand on her own. I have to fight not to roll my eyes when I see “Robin Hood’s daughter!” or some such crutch to Robin Hood (or any other famous male for that matter).
Aubrey (the main character) doesn’t need a crutch, and Merry makes sure to give the only crutch to her brother at the beginning. Aubrey stands on her own as a character, quite possibly a “real” maid Marian by the end, but not nearly so passive to the story. I’m left with the sense that these realistic people may, years later, inspire the first Robin Hood legend, while still holding their own.
Only one scene near the end threw me out of the story (seriously, couldn’t put this one down, read it all the same day I bought it). The scene itself was fine, but *shrug* after all the characters went through, the assumption-without-checking death struck me as odd, but it really was a minor thing. I only caught about ten typos (max) throughout and I easily read it with the intended words. All-in-all, it was only enough to make me waver between 5/5 stars and 4 and 3/4 out of 5 stars. I can’t wait for book two! By all appearances, it features my favourite two supporting cast characters from this one.
If you like realistic women who kick butt and swashbuckling tales of adventure, I highly recommend you check out this book!
Final note: I couldn’t help but picture Crispin as a more serious version of the Sheriff of Rrrrottingham (roll the r’s). “Over that boy hand!”
Worked out nicely for me since I thought he was more attractive than Cary Elwes…who ended up filling the role of Ethan as a result (but more buff and in different costume).
But don’t get me wrong, I giggled several times throughout The Loyal Heart, just wasn’t the stuff of parodies either. Which brings me to the main source of comic relief…Jack and MP. *Eyes Merry* Woman, I need book two! *Gets out the whip*