Posted in 5 Stars, Blog Tour, Book Review

Review: Under These Restless Skies by Lissa Bryan

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Genre: Historical Fiction, Paranormal Romance
Publisher: The Writer’s Coffee Shop
Publication Date: February 19, 2014
Formats availablePaperback, Kindle

Summary: 

Journey back in time to Tudor England with a tale of romance, intrigue, and the Celtic legends of the selkies.                          
Will Somers has spent his life alone, thinking himself unlovable. Emma is a selkie; a creature of myth and magic, one of the immortal fae-folk of the sea. When Will finds her sleeping on a beach, he recalls the tales his grandmother told him of selkie maidens taken for wives. He seizes this unexpected chance to have a wife and family of his own and steals her pelt, binding her to him. Only when it is willingly returned will she be free. 

Emma has never experienced life on land and can barely contain her excitement and curiosity. She has to learn to adapt quickly to human customs, for Will is headed to the glittering, dangerous court of Henry VIII to serve as the king’s fool. It’s a world where careless words can lead to the scaffold and the smallest gesture is loaded with political implications. 

Anne Boleyn is charmed by Emma’s naïveté and soothing selkie magic and wants Emma for her own fool. Anne is soon to become a wife herself, and the Queen of England. But wearing the crown does not ensure her own safety, and at Anne’s side, Emma becomes entangled in the dark intrigues of the court, trying to stay afloat in the turbulent seas swept by the storms of the mercurial king. 

Can Will protect the woman he loves from the dangers that lurk in every shadow? Emma uses her selkie magic to soothe the king’s temper, and Will uses his humor, but Henry’s moods become increasingly erratic. Theirs is a vocation that provides them some protection, but in Henry VIII’s court, no one is safe. Circa regna tonal: Around the throne, the thunder rolls.

MY RATING: 📚 📚 📚 📚 📚

When I signed up for the TWCS Summer Romance Review Blog Tour, I did something I’ve always been afraid to do: I picked Under These Restless Skies from a very long list of books without knowing anything more about the book other than it was a romance published by The Writer’s Coffee Shop. I live a pretty boring life, so I must admit this was rather thrilling. Would I like the book? Would I hate it? WHO KNEW?

As it happens, history is my first love. Just so you’ll understand how much of a geek I am, I read an entire textbook cover to cover at the age of eight while on a roadtrip. For fun. While most of my interest lies in American history, there is one deviation, one fascinated obsession that since childhood has bordered on the rabid that still lies near and dear to my heart: the Tudor family. I read everything I could get my hands on about this strange, sad family I had the names of the six wives of Henry VIII memorized before I was twelve. I longed for my own Anne Boleyn necklace (and let’s face it, still do).

I also got burned out on the fictional takes on the story of Anne Boleyn. Was she a witch or a truly pious woman? Was she conniving or kind? Was she an incestuous adulteress or a faithful wife? Each and every rendition seemed to play tug of war with my heart. So when, during the first chapter of Under These Restless Skies, I picked up on the words “Will,” “fool,” and “king’s court,” I was anxious. But within a few hours of reading, all my fears were assuaged.

By telling the story through a wellknown member of Henry’s court who is not often in the spotlight in fictional accounts and integrating the mythological selkie, Ms. Bryan manages to spin a tale that seems fresh and new within the existing historical framework. The Anne Boleyn she depicts is realistic: virtuous, yet flawed. The love that blossoms between Emma and Will as the story progresses is truly beautiful. Their marriage, which is pure and based on sacrifical love, serves as a lovely juxtaposition to both of Henry’s. Toward the end of the story, even though I already knew the fate of Anne Boleyn in intimate detail, I found myself completely gripped by the book. I couldn’t put it down. I just had to know what came next…even though I already did. That is the mark of a true artist.

Even though I was graciously provided with a free review copy of this book, halfway through the reading I purchased my own copy. It’s that good! I absolutely recommend to anyone who enjoys paranormal, fantasy, romance, and historical fiction. There are adult themes present, but the few intimate scenes are not at all graphic and there is little cursing, so it’s very appropriate for teenage readers as well.

About the Author:

Lissa Bryan is an astronaut, renowned Kabuki actress, Olympic pole vault gold medalist, Iron Chef champion, and scientist who recently discovered the cure for athlete’s foot…. though only in her head.

Real life isn’t so interesting, which is why she spends most of her time writing.

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Author:

Olivia Ard is the author of women's fiction trilogy The Bennett Series and Readers' Favorite 5-Star recipient 'Tis the Season. She is pursuing a second degree in sociology. She and her husband JD live in Central Alabama, where they await their miracle baby's arrival this November with joyful expectation.

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