Friday, July 3, 2009

Book Review: "Loyalty's Web" by Joyce DiPastena

By Nichole Giles

Blurb from the back of Loyalty's Web by Joyce Dipastena:

In twelfth century France, King Henry II of England has just finished quashing a rebellion by his power-hungry sons and now seeks to tame the lawless barons who supported them in this corner of his "Angevin empire." To this end, the king has sent the Earl of Gunthar as his royal representative to ensure that Prince Richard and his former cohorts faithfully adhere to the terms of the peace treaty.

Far from being welcomed with open arms, Gunthar no sooner steps foot in the county of Poitou than he is greeted by a series of assassination attempts. All appear to be linked to the former rebellious prince through the agents of the family and friends of young Heléne de Laurant. A clever, intrepid young woman, she realizes that the only way to prove her loved ones’ innocence is by exposing the true assassin. Heléne races against time—and dark secrets of the past—to unmask the killer before the kingdom plunges back into war.

Fierce determination gives way to mutual attraction as Heléne and Gunthar spar over the identity of the traitor. But their blinding magnetism almost causes them to overlook an even deadlier threat from an entirely unexpected direction.

I have to be honest. I’ve been interested in reading this book since it was published. But for one reason or another, never got my hands on a copy. Then it was a Whitney Award finalist—and I wanted to read it worse. Still, it took me until this month to finally get a copy, and as soon as it came, I ripped open the package and started reading. (Even though I was in the middle of reading another book.)

Being a big fan of romance, and harboring a deep love of stories set in regency periods, I’ve read several books from this and similar time periods. However, it’s been a long time since I read one. Truth be told, I’ve never found one that didn’t make me blush at least twice, and cringe at least five times. Until now.

Loyalty’s Web is definitely as romantic as anything I’ve read—full of emotion and intrigue—and because the author chose to leave out those lurid scenes, I found the romance more invigorating and real. Definite thumbs up for that.

The plot twists led me in so many different directions, that even when I thought I knew who was behind the assassination attempts, I ended up being wrong (unusual for me). I did figure out one of the sub-plots near the beginning of the book, but found myself questioning the details behind it as I read.

In the end, I stayed up late for two nights in a row, and even made myself late to an appointment because I just had to see what happened next. This is definitely a book I’ll read over and over again.

I adore Joyce’s writing style—it’s clean, easy to read, and her voice draws you into the story in such a way that you are unable to put the thing down. Also, I loved learning more about the time period and the brutality and customs that were considered normal.

If I were to pick one thing that disappointed me—and here I have to be completely nitpicky, because there wasn’t really much—I’d say I wanted (because I’m selfish) another chapter, or at least another scene, to more firmly wrap up the conclusion. However, I was absolutely satisfied with the end, and am anxiously awaiting the next work by Joyce, Illuminations of the Heart, which I understand (and hope) is a sequel to Loyalty’s Web.

On a final note, there was one character in this story that I thoroughly despised—which, I believe, was intentional on the author’s part. Helen’s wicked, evil mother deserved to be hanged! Or worse. You want to know why? Sorry, you’ll have to read the book. Loyalty’s Web gets five out of five diamonds on my rating system.

To get your copy of Loyalty’s Web click here.

To pre-order your copy of Illuminations of the Heart click here.

To learn more about the works of the author, Joyce DiPastena, click here.


Danyelle Ferguson said...

Excellent review, Nichole. I absolutely LOVED this book!

L.T. Elliot said...

Great review, Nichole. I'll be sure to put it on my list ASAP!!

Bobcat said...

I never read this book. I bet if you like it I might read it!

Rachelle said...

I've been wondering about this book also and now I want to get my hands on it! I swear if I don't stop buying books, I'm going to have to open my own library. :)