In the Shadow of the Storm
Kit is abducted in a mysterious and intriguing opening scene that leaves much room for speculation. It soon turns out, though, that she is the bastard child of Thomas de Monmouth, and she is being forced to replace her legitimate but runaway half-sister Katherine de Monmouth in an arranged marriage to Adam de Guirande. This union is suggested by Baron Mortimer and encouraged by him with a great dowry. Kit, posing as Katherine, and Adam find themselves sexually compatible in a series of explicit romantic scenes but they still have to overcome their other differences. The real Katherine had an affair with Baron Mortimer and keeping the switch hidden becomes more difficult as the novel progresses, while the political background for this early 14th century story is the uprising of Roger Mortimer against the king.
Belfrage does a great job at depicting the political chess moves, manipulations, blackmail, loyalties, alliances, the clans and ‘houses’ of those days. We also get to see the world through a woman’s eyes, the morals of marriage and ‘gender politics’.
The romance part is very competently written with excellent chemistry and intriguing main characters. The love story is original and the emotional developments come off as very believable and enjoyable. As for the historical value: At times I missed a sense of location and scene setting and found that the battles and fighting happened too far in the background. I would have liked to be more engaged in that side of things, since I knew nothing of the uprising before; I found the setting, however, very fascinating and gripping.