Though I rated it 4 out of 5 stars, I’d give it 4.8 stars if I could.
Though I do love all things related to the British Aristocracy and Medieval to Regency-type books, they’re not my normal go-to for casual reading. Most of them don’t stack up to my favorite authors like Judith McNaught, Elizabeth Hoyt or Stephanie Laurens. So I admit I dove into the book with pre-conceived notions. However, with Linda Barlow‘s “The Fires of Destiny,” I was more than just pleasantly surprised, I was enthralled. At first the length of the book caused me to take pause. But once I started reading and finally finished, it wasn’t long enough. I wanted more of the wonderfully rich, passionate, yet highly flawed characters of Alexandra Douglas and her rouge lover, Roger Trevor.
Set during the bloody reign of England’s Queen, Mary Tudor, the story is filled with religious persecution, murder, rape, conspiracy, rebellion, heresy, intrigue, treason, torture, and queenly executions. There are illegitimate children and doomed lovers. Everything a good mid 1500s English romance should have.
Spirited, red-headed Alexandra grew up in awe of the Trevor brothers, but was drawn to the middle son, Roger, who ran away from his father’s tyranny when he was only fourteen. Roger grew up on the sea and made the acquaintance of a man who would figures prominently in the book. Because I would be issuing a *SPOILER*, I won’t say in what capacity. What moves the story is the complicated relationship between Alix and Roger – when they first discover that love and passion hangs between then, followed by gross misunderstandings. Roger is haunted by the death of a mistress who wasn’t what she seemed and holds Alix off – mostly for her own protection. So their path to true love is rocky and dotted with secondary characters who appeared to be friends and yet turn out to be deliciously evil villains. The local witch forewarns Alix that she’ll have many lovers and that revelation disturbs her, because Roger’s loving is the only thing she craves.
Alix is drawn into one conspiracy after another usually mistakenly believing Roger is at the heart of each. The constant coming together and then being separated, added to my enjoyment of the consistent conflict making me thirsty to read on. I found Alix and Roger’s physical and spiritual bond explosively forged, fiery passionate, and sexually charged. Their crocked course to happily-ever-after was a roller coaster ride. When they finally do come together, it is after the horrific mistake of him believing she has betrayed his trust and got his friends massacred. It’s just brilliant the way Linda weaves the reader through Alix and Roger’s eventual coming together and loving each other. Just beautiful.
The only flaws that I could see are the usual regency-esk romances tropes, like those silly adjectives, and Linda’s confusion with the attributions, “said he” or “he said.” Other than that, I found story held me captive. I would recommend this book to anyone who is drawn into the dark, mysterious, and lusty world of the Medieval Romance. I will definitely read more of Linda’s books.
WARNING: There are explicit sexual situations that may offend some.