Thursday, July 12, 2007
The Leopard Unleashed - Elizabeth Chadwick
I have long been fascinated by Elizabeth Chadwick’s stories. I take my time reading them because I want to savour every word. Besides her current books in print she has 3 books – the first ones she wrote, The Wild Hunt, The Running Vixen, The Leopard Unleashed– that are OOP and are very HTF. I’m lucky enough to have all 3 and recently I finished the third one.
They are known as the welsh trilogy and feature several members of the same family.
Renard of Ravenstow comes back from the crusades after receiving word his father is seriously ill. Although he is betrothed and is expected to marry as soon as he arrives on welsh soil he brings with him his mistress, a half welsh dancing girl he found in Antioch.
Expecting a marriage of convenience only, he soon finds himself drawn to his new wife, Nell, and angry with his mistress’s demands. As England is torn apart between Stephen and Matilda’s supporters Renard has to face his responsibilities as Earl of Ravenstow and is forced to choose between the two women and what they represent.
As usual Chadwick gives a true feel of the period and all the political and social details really make these stories stand out but I think the main thing is how well she builds her characters, they have true personalities with good things and bad things and we are made to understand what drives their actions.
Although Nell is a more tame heroine than Judith or Heulwen she soon becomes an important part of Renard’s life. In fact if I had to mention a recurring theme in these 3 books it would be how strong the women are and how they fight (in different ways) for their love.
I recently discovered that a fourth book was planned, problems with the publisher however ended that project and The Love Knot was born instead. Highly recommended to all Chadwick fans this trilogy is a bit lighter and more romantic than her later works which makes them very enjoyable reads.