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A Rose in the Storm by Brenda Joyce
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A Rose in the Storm

by Brenda Joyce

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Lady Margaret, has returned to her mothers home, at Castle Fyne, which is now part of her dowry. With Margaret betrothed to a Englishman, she knows she has little choice in the matter. She only hopes she will have a good match like her parents did. Right before she heads south to get married, she wants to visit her lands, remembering her childhood there. She and her brother arrive, and get a welcome she hoped they would receive. But shortly thereafter a army of hundreds come upon the Castle, and their leader Alexander MacDonald, "The Wolf" demanding she surrender herself in order to save her people which are few and don't stand much chance. However Margaret, knows her mother would defend it with her life, so Margaret knows she has no choice but to defend it herself. After battling and fighting, her people are injured and dying, so she raises the white flag and surrenders herself, her people and the Castle Fyne into the hands of Alexander MacDonald, knowing she doesn't have any choice. Her people are her top priority. When she meets Alexander face to face, a beautiful specimen of a man, she is intrigued by his manner toward her. He is hard, and unrelenting, but there is a certain desire that builds between them. Margaret feels herself slowly switching loyalties, when she begins to give her heart away to this warrior, who is fierce and protective, and wants only her.

A Rose in The Storm is the most recent release from Brenda Joyce, and is the first in her newest series, which is set in the medieval era in Scotland. I have enjoyed Brenda Joyce, and she has done fabulous work, and I do love it when she does historical's, especially with the Medieval sub genre. When I saw that this was finally available at my local library, I snatched it up. I have been reading quite a bit of regency's so its refreshing to read something different and from a different time frame. A Rose In The Storm is set in the early 1300's in Scotland, when amidst fighting the English, the different clans were having to decide where their loyalties lie. This story does involve Robert Bruce, whose goal was to take over the Scotland throne. In the beginning it starts with Bruce building up his army and followers, and Alexander is one of his top warriors. Alexander is well known for never having lost a battle, a fierce warrior and passionate lover. His goal is to capture the Lady Margaret but more importantly seize the Castle Fyne, due to its strategic location. He has no wish in harming Margaret, just the opposite. Even though in the beginning they are enemies, and Margaret will do anything to escape or try to find information that would be useful for her family. We see that Margaret starts to develop feelings for Alexander, and he returns them, both are a bit stubborn in being fully honest with each other, although Alexander is more upfront with Margaret. There is quite a bit of conflict that rises up in this story, and the more you progress in the story, the higher the intensity level.

The characters both the main and sub characters were vividly etched into the story, and written in such a way, that you can't help but feel enthralled by these in depth characteristics that captivate you. Alexander was a wonderful hero, tough, masculine, sensual yet very protective and passionate. He was great to get to know, War is life for him and he loves a good battle. It is a part of who he is and Joyce definitely writes him well into the story he comes to life in the readers eyes. Margaret I had no complaints about. I think I enjoyed her tenacity and strong willed personality from the first chapter. At first you see that she doesn't seem to be a fighter in any way, since she just accepts a match she doesn't want. But when she refuses to surrender to the "Wolf" and fights and works with her people to save her home, you can see that although she is stubborn and doesn't think things through, she will fight for those she loves at any cost. I really enjoyed how this story turned out in the end, even though there were a few sub characters I really fell in love with, and didn't like their ending, it does go with the history books. You can tell that Joyce has definitely done her homework, and I love how she brings this era of Scotland to life with the details and intensity of the time period. So if you are a history buff like myself, this type of book is one of the reasons I adore historical romances. You learn so much about the history and life of these people who had a passion for life and to fight for what they believed in, and there is much evidence of it in this story.

Overall I fell in love with the drama and passion of the time setting, the lively character, the escalating intensity of the plot that seemed to carry you away back in time. There was so much packed in this story that it overwhelms your senses, guaranteed to require a tissue or two or three. It will enthrall you from the first page to the last. EXTRAORDINARY!!! ( )
  addictofromance | Nov 14, 2013 |
A Rose In the Storm
Brenda Joyce
June 25, 2013
3 ½ stars

I was ecstatic to see a new medieval period romance coming out. There are two few of them being released, so I pounced on the chance to review this. I started off sort of ambivalent as I felt, in my opinion, that the writing was a bit passive- heavier on the telling than showing side of things. Luckily the characters and story itself was intriguing enough to maintain my interest.
Margaret Comyn is enroute to her legacy, the dowry provided by her mother, in the form of Castle Fyne. It is a strategically placed keep and she is heading there to prepare the castle for her marriage to Sir Guy, who is English. Both Margaret and her brother are uncertain in regards to a highland lass marrying an English knight, but her uncle feels it is a good match. Upon arrival, Castle Fyne is under siege from the Wolf of Lochabar, Alexander MacDonald. Having too few knights and warriors, the castle put up a fight, under Margaret’s untried guidance, but ultimately fell. Margaret fights her attraction to Alexander, as he is a MacDonald, a blood enemy of the Comyns and he also fights for Robert Bruce in his attempt to take the crown.
Alexander finds himself attracted to Lady Margaret and treats her with respect and kindness regardless of what plots she stirs against him. He spends his time trying to woo her to his side and loyalty, knowing that Sir Guy would not treat her well. Alexander knows she is desirous of him but in denial.
Once I reached the climax of the story, with the battles between King Edward’s armies and Robert Bruce’s, as well as the ultimate showdown between Alexander and Guy, I couldn’t put the book down and stayed up late into the night, engrossed in the world Ms. Joyce had created.

I received this ARC from Netgalley for review. ( )
  Cindy.Warner | Sep 8, 2013 |
This review and more can be found on my blog: The Muses Circle

It's been ages since I've read a historical romance novel and I am almost ashamed to admit it since I owe my love of history, romance, and even reading to this genre. I was recently searching for the perfect book to jump back into my first love when I came across A Rose in the Storm. When I learned that Brenda Joyce, one of my favorite authors back in the 90's, was the one who wrote this historical romance (set in Scotland during the Wars of Scottish Independence against England led by Robert the Bruce) I just couldn't resist. What better way to get back into the genre then to start off with her new novel.

The historical accuracy and writing of the story was beautifully executed. You can tell that Brenda Joyce took the time to do her research and was quite dedicated to intricately weaving history and romance. She also nailed the accents which I am a huge stickler on. Who wants to read a historical romance with the characters sounding like they are from modern times? So I give her major credit for that, especially the Scottish brogue. It definitely gave the story that extra authenticity. All of these things combined made the novel almost feet like a sequel to the Academy Award winning movie BRAVEHEART. After all, the book does take place after the death of William Wallace...

Let me say this now that A Rose in the Storm is a little less conventional than some of your older historical romances. I figured this out when the hero's name was mentioned but he himself didn't actually enter the story until 45 pages in. Usually if the hero hasn't made an appearance within the first 10-15 pages, I get impatient. But somehow Joyce made it work. Actually, I think this was a genius idea because she used this time for character development. The first 45 pages was for her to paint us a very clear picture of our heroine, Lady Margaret. We learn all about her arranged marriage to Sir Guy, an Englishman, her loyalty to her beloved late parents, especially her mother and the Comyn name. Even though she is a Scottish lady, her uncle arranged her marriage to an Englishman to keep the peace and to take her rightful place at Castle Fyne, which meant so much to her mother. She is barely within Castle Fyne's gates when she is alerted that Alexander MacDonald, also know as the Wolf of Lochaber, and hundreds of his men are outside the castle walls. The Wolf wants her to surrender. She refuses. The battle of wills and passion begins. This was all great build up to the scene where Margaret finally lays eyes on Alexander MacDonald and it is quite explosive. I kept thinking to myself, if Brenda Joyce is this good at building the suspense up to their first meeting, I could only imagine how amazing the sexual tension would be between the two.

While the story is written in third person, it is solely in Margaret's point-of-view which also doesn't quite fit the traditional historical romance formula. I'm not going to lie, I was a little bummed at first because I've always been the kind of reader that likes to see things through the eyes of both the heroine and hero. But again, Brenda Joyce made it work and here's why. The Wolf of Lochaber is dark, dangerous, and mysterious and not being able to see things in his perspective actually added to his allure. Seeing him only through Margaret's eyes added a sense of excitement and anxiety, emotions she herself probably felt, wondering when she would see him again, what he would say, and what his next move may be.

Since we are on the topic of our mysterious hero, I really love how the author realistically portrays him. On the one hand he is quite noble. Alexander accepted Margaret for who she was and found her to be courageous for standing her ground and not surrendering to him. Unlike most men of that time period, he liked that she spoke her mind. He also believed her intended husband, Sir Guy, was unworthy of her and feared if she went through with the marriage he would eventually crush her spirit. On the other hand, Alexander is just as fierce as his name suggests. He does kill people. And he does sleep with 2 of Margaret's handmaidens (not necessarily while they were together). The latter did bother me at first but I had to face the facts: Alexander is a warrior and it was quite common in those times.

Although it was sometimes hard for me to stomach, I commend Brenda Joyce for painting such vivid images of women's roles during that time period. It was truly a man's world, where a woman's worth depended solely on her dowry, and was expected to bear children and obey her husband. Margaret was a brave woman that risked many things in order to stay loyal to her family name. She tried to obey her uncle and not question her upcoming marriage to Sir Guy. I can only imagine how hard it must have been for her to be Scottish yet accept an English King and marry an Englishman when deep in her bones she couldn't help but admire Robert the Bruce. But for anyone that allied themselves with Robert the Bruce and got caught ended with devastating consequences. What truly gave me chills was when Margaret learns of King Edward's royal proclamation: all women who sided with Bruce were considered traitors, therefore any man may rob, rape, and murder them. Absolutely terrifying!

So here is what kept me from giving A Rose in the Storm a perfect 5 star rating. Let me start with the minor problem which is more of an uncharacteristic response then an issue. It's during the scene where Margaret is about to meet Sir Guy for the first time. Her intended husband and Alexander are speaking heatedly within earshot. When Sir Guy starts coming towards her, she suddenly, "...dropped her hood and released her braid, finger combing her hair into a mane..." What?? Is she primping??? Right in front her intended and Alexander??? This was not only an uncharacteristic response (I could maybe see someone from modern times do this) but it just didn't work for the scene at all.

Now to my major issue. As I predicted, Brenda Joyce builds amazing sexual tension between Margaret and Alexander, just like she did in the beginning when they first meet. But when they finally decide to give into their desires, the scene is a PARAGRAPH! He picks her up, puts her against the wall, thrusts into her, and then...Margaret wakes up the next morning in his bed. WTF!!!! All the love scenes were like this! They were not the hot, steamy scenes I remember Brenda Joyce writing years ago. Maybe she didn't want to get completely explicit which I can respect, but there are ways she could have done that and still given us fulfilling love scenes. Maybe it would have helped if this novel had been written by an author I was unfamiliar with. But since I've read Joyce's novels in the past, I had certain expectations.

Despite being disgruntled over the diluted love scenes, A Rose in the Storm was well written and came together on so many other levels that I still give this book a 4 star rating.

Mia @ The Muses Circle
http://themusescircle.blogspot.com/ ( )
  themusescircle | Jun 26, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0373777701, Mass Market Paperback)


Join New York Times bestselling author Brenda Joyce for an epic story of undying love and forbidden desire in the Highlands…

When Rivalry Becomes Passion


With warfare blazing through Scotland, the fate of the Comyn-MacDougall legacy depends on one woman. Recently orphaned, young Margaret Comyn must secure her clan's safety through an arranged marriage. But when an enemy invasion puts her at the mercy of the notorious Wolf of Lochaber, her every loyalty—and secret want—will be challenged.

And a Kingdom Is at Stake

Legendary warrior Alexander "the Wolf" MacDonald rides with Robert Bruce to seize the throne of Scotland. But when he takes the fiery Lady Margaret prisoner, she quickly becomes far more than a valuable hostage. For the passion between them threatens to betray their families, their country…and their hearts.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:21 -0400)

With warfare blazing through Scotland, the fate of the Comyn-MacDougall legacy depends on one woman. Recently orphaned, young Margaret Comyn must secure her clan's safety through an arranged marriage. But when an enemy invasion puts her at the mercy of the notorious Wolf of Lochaber, her every loyalty -- and secret want -- will be challenged.… (more)

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