When we first meet the Black Maiden Yolande in 1350, she is crouching behind a tub armed with bow and arrow, pretending to bathe in place of a novice who had been beleaguered by an apparition. A formidable exorcist, she apprehends a lecher mislabeled as an evil spirit. Who but Geraint, an easy-going Welshman juggler, could be a better romantic match for Yolande on her quest of tracking down and ridding evil spirits in plague-stricken England? In between facing demons, displaced souls, and an incubus, Geraint lustily woos the Black Maiden. The courtship is complicated by an abbot’s instructions that Yolande preserve her maidenhead, a barrier to a demon trying to possess her, for a time of seven, until she fulfills her duty. Not sure if the time is in days, weeks, or years, Geraint is nonetheless determined to win Yolande’s hand as they roam town from town, each of which holds dark secrets of people who live there.
Lindsay Townsend has created a masterfully written romance intermixed with the horrors of the plague and the superstitions that arise out of its chaos. The voice is heavily sprinkled with humor, making this a thoroughly entertaining story. I was hooked from the first page and could not put the book down. The dialogue is witty, the characters are well-developed, and the stories of the people whom the couple meet are heartfelt. The rituals of exorcising demons and helping displaced souls find their spiritual home base is well-researched and fascinating. Most of all, the love scenes are sensual but tastefully written.
Dark Maiden is a must-read for readers who love historical romance with unique characters and a dash of paranormal elements. Highly recommended.
Correction, 11/2/17: this review has been updated to correct errors in the heroine’s name and the plot description in the first sentence.