I bought this used over 2 years ago because I saw several references to it by readers who considered it one of their favorite Anne Stuart books. It has been sitting in the TBR pile all this time and I was glad for the excuse to finally get it out and read it. I was not disappointed.
Lord of Danger is a medieval-set historical, the story of Alys of Summersedge and Simon of Navarre. Alys is half-sister to Richard de Lancie. Simon is a magician who works for Richard. Because of his dark looks, crippled hand, and mastery of the dark arts, everyone is afraid of Simon except for Richard. Alys and her younger sister Claire were raised in a convent and have been brought home to Summersedge so Richard can marry one of them to Simon. This will tie Simon to Richard so that Richard can continue to make use of Simon's talents. Simon, who manages to quietly manipulate Richard, has his own reasons for agreeing to the match. He views his association with Richard as temporary and will move on again when the time is right.
Claire is the more beautiful of the two sisters. But Alys, who may appear meek and timid, is smart and bold because of her fierce determination to protect Claire from an unwanted marriage. When Simon meets the two sisters he is immediately attracted to Alys and decides that she will do just as well and he tells Richard that he will marry Alys. While Alys had already made up her mind that she would marry Simon (to save her sister), she finds herself not as reluctant to do so as she had anticipated.
Simon had been on one of the Crusades. And it's that experience that has left him scarred emotionally and physically. Yet in the aftermath of the Crusade he had an opportunity to learn the healing arts from Arabs who he lived with for a time. Alys considers herself a healer, but she is largely ignorant and relies more on folk remedies than science. This interest gives them something in common and here is where we see Alys' practical, compasionate nature, and Simon's softer side (which he works hard to hide). I like the way these characters come together naturally so nothing feels contrived or forced.
What follows is a largely character-driven romance as Alys and Simon get to know each other and find ways to avoid Richard's malicious scheming. This book has many of Anne Stuart's trademarks all neatly wrapped together: the dark, tortured hero who has seen and done horrendous things in the past; a sweet, yet determined heroine; and a nasty villian who must be defeated. In addition, there's a secondary romance involving Claire and one of Richard's knights. It also has the typical Anne Stuart abrupt ending where Alys and Simon come together in just a few sentences. These elements are done very well and I was reminded again that I sure do enjoy the way Anne Stuart writes.
All in all this was a very satisfying read. In many ways the structure reminded me of the various books in the "Ice" series. Since there is an assassination plot at hand, you could almost consider this a medieval romantic suspense. But the suspense aspect doesn't drive the whole of the book the way it does in the "Ice" books. Still, it adds a nifty layer to the story. Highly recommended.
Remember, today is TBR day. You can find a complete list of participants here. Be sure to check them all out. Together we'll probably increase the size of our piles, not shorten them!