Review: Dreams of Lilacs by Lynn Kurland

Isabelle de Piaget is determined to elude her overprotective family by means of a hasty escape to France. But instead of making a surprise visit to her brother there, she winds up shipwrecked on the French coast with no memory of who she is or how she came to awaken in the dark and forbidding castle of an equally brooding lord.

Gervase de Seger rescues—very reluctantly—the bedraggled urchin he finds on the road and puts her to work where he can ignore her. Unfortunately, he soon realizes that her brother is an intimidating lord who is going to be absolutely furious when he learns that his beloved sister has been laboring as a scullery maid. Yet Isabelle may be the one who holds the key to solving Gervase’s most pressing problem: that someone has been trying to finish the task of separating him from his title and his lands.

Finding the truth propels Gervase and Isabelle from the buried secrets of half-ruined keeps to the glittering French court, and to the realization that love can blossom in the most perilous circumstances—and in the most unexpected places of the heart . . .


Isabelle is pretty much a homebody. Not that she doesn’t want to go anywhere, but it seems that she just never does. She feels like she’s almost on the shelf as she’s 22 and the only men that have wanted to court her were cast off who actually wanted Amanda but then find out she’s married. None are excited to actually marry Isabelle – she’s just “the one who’s left” and she’s female and a de Piaget. Most don’t even know her name. When Isabelle gets a letter stating that she needs to head to France or her whole family will be killed she doesn’t know what to do. Yes, she’s wanted adventure but this isn’t exactly how she thought it would come about. She decides that she’ll head to France dressed as a boy but tell no one. She does tell Miles she’s going to France but not about the letter.

Isabelle manages to get on a ship to France but then is shipwrecked. She’s also then robbed and roughed up. Gervace de Seger is out riding when he sees her, only he thinks she’s a he. He gets her to his healer but when she wakes up she can’t remember who she is or where she’s from. Thinking that she’s a peasant boy he puts her to work in his kitchens. He soon starts to rethink his decision (about her job as well as the fact that she’s not a lad) and after she’s almost accosted in the kitchen he puts her to work mending. Soon she is teaching his half-brothers their sums and Latin.

Isabelle starts to remember things but not why she’s in France. She isn’t sure if she can completely trust Gervase as he has a bad rep so keeps her identity to herself. Gervase is hurt from a murder attempt so is mostly in a foul mood daily. Isabelle, he finds, has the power to make him happy and he’s not sure what to do with that information. When he finds out who she is he returns her to her family but he doesn’t want to let her go. He also starts to believe that the person who is after her family and the person trying to kill him are one in the same.

This was a very sweet story. Gervase is a wounded hero and his crotchety disposition was almost humorous. Kurland did a great job of describing him and his moods so that I could see that underneath the scowls and glares that he was a good, good person. He loved his family but doubted his own capabilities to take care of them. Isabelle lightens his heart. She doesn’t put up with his crap and kind of walks all over him – in the best possible way. He soon finds himself in love with her but having to return her to his family just about broke his heart.

Isabelle was a fierce heroine. It’s not that she was kick-ass or anything but she loved her family and would do just about anything for them – I loved that about her. She also showed such care and kindness to Gervase’s siblings (I loved little Yves!) as well as Gervase himself. He was in constant pain from almost dying in a fire in his hall. His right hand had been crushed and his leg had been broken from an arrow being shot at him. Isabelle, after helping to take care of her sister-in-law, Anne, had knowledge of herbs that would help Gervase. This was her way of soothing the snarling beast and it worked. She was showing her love to him, whether she knew she loved him at the time or not, in helping him recover.

Again, I loved Gervase. Seriously, that man was wonderful. After having been a much lauded knight he was then brought to his knees, quite literally. In his recovery he realized what an arrogant man he had been at times and it humbled him. He was a better man for being injured and I loved that he realized that. He held his own with Isabelle’s brothers as well as her father and that endeared him to me as well. He also saw Isabelle for who she was and not just part of the de Piaget family or Amanda’s sister. He loved her for her and that warmed my heart.

Gervase and Isabelle were a perfect couple and I loved their story. It was sweet and romantic, funny and sometimes sad. It had a wonderful sense of family – both Gervase’s and Isabelle’s – and made me love the de Piaget’s more than I already did. This is a very good book and I definitely recommend it.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Lynn Kurland 

No comments: