Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Revisiting the Keeper Shelf: Lady of Conquest by Teresa Medeiros

Recently, I signed up with GoodRead's author program and I wanted to fill out my “book shelves.” So I decided to add a new shelf to the list: the keeper shelf.  

Now my personal keeper shelf at home consists of some five hundred books, and yes, I've read them all. Some I read only once, and loved them so much I knew I had to keep them. Some I've read multiple times and every time it's a joy to read.

Such is the case with Lady of Conquest by Teresa Medeiros. It was my introduction to Ms. Medeiros extraordinary writing and I instantly fell in love with the book. I decided to add it to the keeper shelf on GoodReads (along with a plethora of Teresa's other books). As I was writing a vague review on the book, I realized I hadn't read it in quite a few years and decided to read it again.  

Conn of the Hundred Battles was the first king of Ireland, known then as the Isle of Erin, who united all the smaller kingdoms under one High-King---himself. But all is not well in Conn's kingdom. A giant is killing the Fianna, his elite warriors, and now it is up to Conn himself to destroy the beast. But what Conn finds instead is an orphaned girl with the deadly skills of a warrior. A girl injured by Conn's own sword—when Conn has sworn gentleness to all women. But there is nothing gentle about the lovely waif, even though she is dying from the wound.

Gelina O Monaghan wanted only one thing, vengeance! Vengeance against the man who had her mother and father killed. Vengeance against the one who destroyed her life. That is why she and her brother, Rodney, created the “giant” to kill Conn's men. Why Gelina spent years honing her skills until she was as good as any of the Fianna. But when the moment comes to kill Conn, he turns out to the better warrior. And when he discovers who she is, she is sure he means to kill her, if not use her cruelly as Rodney has warned her. But instead, Conn treats her with kindness, he returns her ackward kisses and tries to heal her wounds. In fact, once Gelina swears featly to him, he protects her by claiming to his people that he killed the Giant and rescued Gelina from it's clutches.

Conn doesn't know what to make of Gelina. He is pained by the fact he indirectly caused her family's death, but then, her father did lie and betray him. It was justice, such as Gelina and her brother had been seeking. But with her brother gone, and with no one else for her to turn to, Conn decides to make her his foster daughter. Needing to keep her close and protect her. But what Conn refuses to acknowledge is the growing feelings he has for her.

Despite everything Rodney told her about Conn, Gelina begins to realize that beneath the battle scared king, is a good and kind man who stirs her heart and fills her days with joy. And though Conn seeks to give her the childhood she lost, what he does not seem to realize, is that Gelina is no longer a child, but growing into a woman, with the wants and desire as such. And much to her dismay, realizes she has deep feelings for Conn.

Betrayed by one of his own men, Conn is sold into slavery to the Romans and returns to Erin a year later to discover his waif has grown into a beautiful young woman. And stirs inside of him a gut deep longing for her. But a part him refuses to see her as the woman she has become, and cannot forget the fact Gelina is his foster daughter.

Faced with more betrayals and dark secrets, Conn and Gelina will be faced with love and hate, passion and destruction...but only love will heal them both...

Even after all of these years, Lady of Conquest is still an emotional and exhilerating ride. From the moment he realizes who Gelina is, Conn struggles not only with his gut wrenching desire for her, but the deep emotions filling his heart. How can he reconcile the murderous waif with the beautiful young woman she has become? And when Gelina herself betrays him, it is the ultimate test to his love and honor. Gelina herself struggles not only with her love for Conn, but for that of her brother, Rodney. Did Rodney truly lie to her about Conn? Who is she to believe? (And I thought I tortured my characters!!!) Despite the fact I absolutely love Conn and Gelina and their struggle to find love and happiness together, my favorite character has always been Nimbus, the jester. He is funny, wise and sweet, and his ultimate fate is heart breaking. It is no wonder this book has a special place on my keeper shelf...

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