by C.J. Colburn
Review of Romance author Jennifer Blakes' Master at Arms Series, Guarded Heart, Book 4
|GUARDED HEART: (Master at Arms Series, Book #4)
By Jennifer Blake
Publisher: MIRA Books
Release Date: Copyright c 2008 Patricia Maxwell
Genre: Historical Romance
List Price: $6.99 U.S. $8.50 CAN.
Reviewed: C.J. Colburn
“I require your expertise in order to kill a man.” To say the least, Gavin Blackford is stunned, and yet intrigued all the same by the statuesque beauty before him. He better be careful or more than his glass of Madeira will be spilt. He never expected his courtesy New Year’s Day calls of imbibing would bring him to this. Bored and a little out of sorts he agrees to school the young French widow, Ariadne Faucher in the art of swordplay. What better way to keep an eye on the incorrigible and headstrong beauty, and learn all her secrets at the same time.
Ariadne Faucher has had many years to plan her revenge of the master swordsmen who murdered her beloved foster brother in cold blood. She arrives in New Orleans hot on the trail of her enemy. At a Revillion, the celebration of New Year’s Day, she spots the sword master across the room and sets her plan in motion. How brilliant, to have one of the Brotherhood teach her how to murder one of their own under the guise of being a devoted student. She will learn ever thrust and parry, every twist and turn, anything that will enable her to conquer her foe, all with the help of the arrogant maitre d’armes, Gavin Blackford. Their secret midnight lessons set the wheel of mystery and intrigue in motion; pitting one against the other. With every clandestine rendezvous, the lady courts scandal and the loss of her reputation by being seen with such a rake of Gavin Blackford’ order. Slowly, foe turns into reluctant friend and neither will admit that they need the other. Neither Gavin nor Ariadne is able to control their desire and finally give in. But is that enough to break down the walls they’ve guarded for so long?
I set out reading this story intrigued with the premise of a woman taking up the sword to exact vengeance for a love one. I’ve had my fair share of swash-buckling pirates, highlander and rakes taking up the sword and fighting the damsel in distresses battles. Ms. Blake did a complete one eighty and gave her female character some kick –ass gumption. No longer was Ariadne Faucher going to sit and wait for prince charming to come and avenge her. She got up, left France and headed to New Orleans to face her foes and her past. On the way, she met her match in maitre d’armes, Gavin Blackford the debunked spare apparent grandson of an earl. Both characters are hiding from a world of hurts and have erected a solid wall to guard themselves from ever being left alone and hurt again.. These two are a perfect pair in an imperfect and unfair situation. I came to appreciate their struggle to finally let down their guard and believe in some one even when the outcome could be pain.
Keeping us captivated and waiting with baited breath is Ms. Blake’s fifth installment in the Masters at Arms series, GALLANT MATCH has a release date of January 2009, where she continues the swordplay with American Kerr Wallace and New Orleans native Sonia Bonneval.