Gaelen Foley: LORD OF FIRE

Lord of Fire by Gaelen Foley
Knight Miscellany #2
Piatkus 2001
363 pages
4/5 stars

In order to have some structure in my reading life as well to meet my reading goals this year, I decided to start finishing series I have started. First up in Gaelen Foley’s Knight Miscellany, of which I have previous read The Duke (#1), Lady of Desire (#4) and One Night of Sin (#6). The rest I read in order.

Once again Foley does not disappoint, and I’m very fond of this one in particular.

First, no one does dark, dangerous and delicious like Foley. She has the knack for description, and although her heroes and settings always sound ridiculously cool and collected and imposing and dark, she always makes it sound plausible. She has it, as far as I’m concerned, and it’s not only surface but runs deeper. Her London and its high society are rounded in their threat and viciousness, and never superficial. This makes for wonderful settings and heroes that count among my favourites without a doubt.

Second, this is the first romance novel I have encountered that has on orgy in it. This one starts with an orgy. Talk about shock tactic! And yet it’s not really sexualised, not even made particularly interesting, and, on further reflections, neither is it very shocking. I put this down to the hero’s attitude: Lucien Knight, still working for the crown as an intelligence agent, arranges these lush parties and orgies in order to weasel information out of people, and for blackmail, and is himself pretty impervious to the carnality that goes on; he is on the job.

There is something in Lucien that made me like him, quite against my expectations. As a seasoned spy and diplomat, he is very in control of himself, very intelligent, and very attractive in the way he commands people and space. But as a younger twin to a decorated war hero, his brother Damien, he is insecure and in need of a hug. In short, Lucien has a tough exterior that is neigh impenetrable, but in the sections from his point of view there is such heartbreaking emotion that I was in tears on a few occasions.

The heroine, on the other hand, really is rather tough and determined, and has been repressed by life. Although very innocent and kind, she also has a sassy side and what I would joie de vivre; she’s mischievous and not afraid of confrontation, and she has a very strong sense of what is right. Alice is my kind of heroine: she has many sides to her, but her essential character and integrity are never under question, and not is her love for those closest to her.

Apart from the characters, there are a couple of other things I enjoy. One of them is the way the political intrigue side plot is executed – it complements the courtship plot rather than dominates it, and there are few things that annoy me like the supposedly secondary plot overtaking the romance plot. (I am big on my reader expectations being fulfilled.) I also enjoy the fights between the main characters: they don’t squabble over stupid things, but when they fight you get the feeling that they are both angry and speaking out of that emotion, sometimes out of a genuine reason and sometimes just because they are upset. I find this so convincing that it makes me happy – I have rarely read such good fights between lovers.

The one star I’ve reduced is for the slight overdramatic quality of some of the plot points and because some of the essential elements of a romance appear in an order that is hard to pull off without affecting the emotional drive of the novel. Foley manages the latter creditably, but it did affect my eagerness to read the last quarter of the novel. However, although at this point One Night of Sin remains my favourite book in the series, Lord of Fire comes in as a close second!

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