A scholar specializing in ancient manuscripts, Grace St. John never imagined that a cache of old documents she discovered was the missing link to a lost Celtic treasure. But as soon as she deciphers the legend of the Knights of the Templar - long fabled to hold the key to unlimited power - Grace becomes the target of a ruthless killer bent on abusing the coveted force.
Determined to stop him, Grace needs the help of a warrior bound by duty to uphold the Templar's secret for all eternity. But to find him - and to save herself - she must go back in time...to 14th-century Scotland...and to Black Niall, a fierce man of dark fury and raw, unbridled desire.
©1997 Linda Howard; (P)2009 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
Spoilers ahead, but not everything! ;-)
I think this is one of Linda Howard's best, perhaps because it is quite different from her other titles. The romance is usually the main plot in her novels; in this case the romance was really secondary to the suspense plot and the character development is much deeper than most of Howard's stories. Grace starts of as a plump scholar, fond sister, and loving wife in a comfortable marriage to her husband who is not only her lover but also her dearest friend. They are all involved with archaeology and study of history working for the Foundation. When Grace begins to study some recently discovered documents regarding the Templars, it triggers swift and terrible repercussions that force Grace to flee for her life.
The next section of the book involves Grace's character development as she deals with grief and her activities in learning how to hide from authority as she stays on the run. She goes from suburbia to life off the radar and has to develop new skills and a new way of thinking. Unable to eat due to emotional turmoil, she loses weight and becomes not only physically but mentally honed into a weapon against the Foundation. She is focused on uncovering the secrets that Foundation will kill to hide and avenging those she loved.
She makes friends along the way, each of whom helps her with some aspect of her growth and learning the skills she needs to survive. In the meantime, we begin to see snippets of Niall's life as they connect in dreams. Niall was a Templar who evaded the October 13th massacre. Just as Lucifer is a fallen angel, a "Son of the Morning", so Niall has been released by the Templars from all his vows except one. Eventually Grace's research leads her to Niall and together they take action, which I loved!
I really enjoyed this story. I could empathize with the things Grace went through when thrust into a hostile world she was ill equipped to handle. The book has been criticized for too much of Grace's internal musings, but she is on her own for much of the story so the chances for dialog are slim. I really enjoyed the research she did on the Knights Templar and I thought it was well integrated into the story. I enjoyed the various plot lines and how they converged. Others have also criticized the quick connection between Grace and Niall, but they had been bonded through dreams long before their meeting. I particularly loved the ending and the circular cause and effect of the time travel. There were enough plot twists and turns to keep me engaged until the very end.
My paperback copy of this novel is tattered from re-reading and the pages are starting to loosen. I was thrilled when this came out on audio and thoroughly enjoyed the listen! I know I will listen to this story again and again; Grace is one of my favorite Linda Howard characters.
Your mileage may vary
If you like women who become stronger when the chips are down, this is one of Linda Howard's finest books. After a brief time when you are really frustrated with her decisions, the arc of the main female character is riveting - I couldn't stop listening. It's got some steamy spots if that's not your thing.
The fast paced twists surrounding "who the bad guys are" in this book continued to surprise me until the end. Highly recommend if you like romantic suspense.
A trilogy. Say it in three. Done.
Fantastical and erotic. Charged with suspense and survivalism. This time-travel tale is set in USA 1996 and Scotland 1322, and told in 3rd person. Howard weaves a tall tale involving the Knights Templar, Nazi Germany, Napoleon Bonaparte, and the ominous Foundation, led by a present day fictional villain dubbed Parish.
Themes of Divine Will and Faithful Trust shine through fairly brightly when not overpowered by bloody murder and explicit erotic sex. This made for an odd pairing. Moreover, Howard inserted a great deal of reflection and rumination, frequently revealing the plans, thoughts, and fears (and erotic dreams) of the heroine, aptly named Grace St. John. So much internal dialogue slowed the pace, drastically.
The historical basis:
On October 13, 1307, King Philip of France — coffers nearly empty — ordered the immediate mass arrest of all Knights Templar within French domains in Europe, including the Grand Master. He had them tortured severely until they confessed to heinous blasphemy, sodomy, etc., so he could declare their order heretical and confiscate their vast treasury. Several Knights were burned at the stake. Pope Clement V — living in France at the time, not in Rome — was "persuaded" to support the French king, so in 1312, Catholicism officially abolished the Templar Order. However, King Philip never got his hands on their treasury. Where did it all go?
Natalie Ross is a gifted narrator, but she needs better material, and her Scottish accent grew a little tiresome at times.
This is a very well researched and written book with such a great story that you will get lost in time. The narrator did as good a job as anyone else could have with all of the languages involved. I hope the next book from that I select from this author is as well received.
Frankly, this was just a so-so book. It wasn't a good romance and it wasn't a particularly interesting murder mystery either. If you're looking for time travel or historical fiction, there are better choices. (Try Moning's Highlander series, for example.) There is a looong stretch of boring repetition and detail for several hours in the middle -- if it had been a book with pages I would have skipped them by the handful. The heroine and hero don't even meet until 3/4 through. An abridged version would be a better listening choice.
The whole set up upon which the rest of the story is built is less than logical and you spend a lot of time frustrated with why characters are not making logical choices. The author makes random observations about some of the characters that don't really have any bearing on the story and you spend time wondering what "that" was all about. They never really further the plot although at the time you think that they must.
The book would have been much more interesting if more time would have been spent with the hero's story, he could have been a very fascinating character. As it was, I still don't know the point of the title.
The author did have a unique way of time travel that I haven't read before, so that was appreciated, but so little time is spent in the past it's moot.
If you just can't find a time travel that you can listen to or you've read every other romance and historical fiction out there, then spend the credit, otherwise you may be disappointed.
By Angie(Jamestown, TN)
Hmm, how do I describe this book?
Well, it wasn't horrible, but it's a far cry from Moning's Highlander series, which I found a lot of similarities. And it can't hold a candle to the Outlander series, which also includes a highlander & time travel.
Spoilers may be ahead, but I'll try to keep them low key:
At times, I found myself very bored with the story & it was extremely predictable. Much to my dismay, the actual time traveling doesn't occur until around hour 12. (I may be off on my hour a little) But the highlander doesn't play a big role in the book until later into the second half. Up until then, it's just Grace's life & experiences, which got boring after a while. And oh my gosh, I rolled my eyes so many times. Like when Parish is in her house, who in the world would react like Grace? And Niall(pronounced as Neal) & Grace's first meeting..........come on! Even the sex scenes came up a little short for me.
Ugggg, & I sware....why do all of the women in romances have to be petite, dainty, no more than 100lb, short, frail, fragile, translucent skin(rolling my eyes), protruding bones, thick wavy hair, big blue eyes, etc.? You get the point! In the beginning of the book, during one scene, Grace was described as 5'10 & 180 pounds, & I actually whooped out loud! "Yah! About time they made a REAL woman!" But I was left disappointed, because it was a false description given to the police.
OK, to sum it up, the book was just ok for me. It was predictable and boring at times. I guess it's worth a credit, if you've run out of other books, but I'd like to have my credit back. It's not worth paying $15 for. I guess some people will love it, but I'm critical when it comes to my paranormal romance, having listened to over 40 in the past 6 months. And this one falls far behind in comparison to Gabaldon,Moning,Ward,etc
I read this book and it was better because I loved it. The person reading it can't get a Scots accent correct and she does't make the characters seem real enough. I think my imagination was better. It seem to take to long to get to the point of the story in this long listening version. If I hadn't already read it I would hate it.
This book has mystery, suspense, time travel, a gorgeous highlander and a smart protagonist. A wonderful book!
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