Saturday 5 January 2019

#BookReview — In the Shadow of the Storm: The King's Greatest Enemy #1, by Anna Belfrage #HistoricalFiction #Medieval @abelfrageauthor

In the Shadow of the Storm
The King's Greatest Enemy #1
By Anna Belfrage

Adam de Guirande owes his lord, Roger Mortimer, much more than loyalty. He owes Lord Roger for his life and all his worldly goods, he owes him for his beautiful wife – even if Kit is not quite the woman Lord Roger thinks she is. So when Lord Roger rises in rebellion against the king, Adam has no choice but to ride with him – no matter what the ultimate cost may be.

England in 1321 is a confusing place. Edward II has been forced by his barons to exile his favourite, Hugh Despenser. The barons, led by the powerful Thomas of Lancaster, Roger Mortimer and Humphrey de Bohun, have reasons to believe they have finally tamed the king. But Edward is not about to take things lying down...

Adam fears his lord has over-reached, but Adam has other matters to concern him, first and foremost his new wife, Katherine de Monmouth. His bride comes surrounded by rumours concerning her and Lord Roger, and he hates it when his brother snickers and whispers of used goods.

Kit has the misfortune of being a perfect double of Katherine de Monmouth – which is why she finds herself coerced into wedding a man under a false name. 

Domestic matters become irrelevant when the king sets out to punish his rebellious barons. The Welsh Marches explode into war, and soon Lord Roger and his men are fighting for their very lives. When hope splutters and dies, when death seems inevitable, it falls to Kit to save her man – if she can. 

In the Shadow of the Storm is the first in Anna Belfrage’s new series, The King’s Greatest Enemy, the story of a man torn apart by his loyalties to his lord, his king, and his wife.

There is no greater crime than to overthrow a King.
But what if that King were corrupt? What if he threatened the very security of the kingdom he ruled?

Abducted and imprisoned against her will, Kit has no one to turn to for help. Lady Cecily de Monmouth, a stranger, has announced that Kit is to take the place of her half-sister — a sister Kit knew nothing about — and marry Adam de Guirande. If Kit refuses, not only will she be labelled a bastard, but the tenants of Kit’s beloved childhood home of Tresaints will also be made destitute. She has no choice.

Adam de Guirande has heard many rumours about the daughter of Thomas de Monmouth — she is a wayward woman of loose morals. However, his wife is not like this at all. Katherine is no shrew. No wanton. In fact, Katherine is the complete opposite of what he had been expecting. It was as if she were a different person altogether. Much to his surprise, Adam finds himself falling in love with his bride. 

While Adam puzzles over his wife’s true identity, war is rumbling on the horizon. It is the utmost betrayal to bear arms against the sovereign King. Those who do, never die well. However, Adam’s Lord, the powerful Roger Mortimer, demands such a sacrifice. Edward II is a weak man and an appalling ruler. The time has come to free England of this pathetic weakling. But they all know that Edward will not surrender his throne willingly. Adam’s greatest fear is that Edward will not submit at all. If that is the case, then may God have mercy on their souls…

From the marital bed to the Tower of London, In the Shadow of the Storm: The King’s Greatest Enemy #1 by Anna Belfrage is one of the most compelling Medieval Historical Romances that I have ever read.

From the gripping opening line, I was hooked. Belfrage has penned an utterly enthralling account of a very turbulent time in British history.

Belfrage has the unique ability to make people who have been dead for almost 700 years breathe again. With a keen eye for historical detail, Belfrage brings not only a sensitivity to her narrative, but she writes as if she were a custodian of the history. The time, this place, these people, are safe in Belfrage’s capable hands.

Belfrages ability to combine a great story with a wonderful historically accurate backdrop — with all the dangers of rebellion and the threat of death and torture, as well as the lighter moments of first love, marriage and a growing family — makes In The Shadow Of A Storm a vastly entertaining tale which is incredibly difficult to put down. There are enough twists in this book to keep the reader on their toes, and wanting — no, begging — for more.

Adam and Kit make the perfect protagonists for this incredibly emotional tale of love, war, betrayal and death. Belfrage paints a dazzling portrait, filled with adventure, romance and intimacy. They are unforgettable characters embroidered into the backdrop of a dangerous and unpredictable time in which their tale is set. I adored both of them. The trials and tribulations that Adam suffers made me care for him as a character even more than I thought I would. He isn’t a perfect man, and he doesn’t pretend to be, but he does try to do what is right, and he is willing to learn from his mistakes. Adam has no easy time of it — he experiences the most horrific things. But not once does he let it break him, which is what made him so appealing, and so very likeable. Like Adam, Kit is a brave and determined protagonist. She is resolute that her husband will come home. Kits courage matches his. She is a woman in a man’s world, and yet, she will do anything to secure Adams life. Kit is the epitome of what a protagonist should be.

Adam and Kits goodness, their sense of fairness, is sorely tested when they are put up against the corrupt and evil, Hugh Despenser. Despenser was a character that I despised with every fibre of my being. He considers himself untouchable because of his favoured position with the King, and therefore his arrogance knows no bounds. He is a malicious and cruel man. His actions are utterly deplorable. Despenser is the kind of character that makes you want to throw the book across the room in outrage, only to instantly pick it up again, so you can find out what he is going to do next! As a historical character, Despenser was fabulously portrayed. And although we may never know the depth of his crimes — for it is the winner who gets to write history — I thought his characterisation was in keeping with the stories and the records about him from that time.

I cannot praise this book enough. I loved every word, every syllable, and every sentence. When historical romance is written this way, there is no such thing as too many pages. This is a must read if ever there was one.

I Highly Recommend.

Review by Mary Anne Yarde.
The Coffee Pot Book Club.

Anna Belfrage

Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with two absorbing interests: history and writing. Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England.  She has recently released the first in a new series, The Wanderer. This time, she steps out of her normal historical context and A Torch in His Heart is with a fast-paced contemporary romantic suspense with paranormal and time-slip ingredients.

Find out more about Anna by visiting her website, or herAmazon page.


  1. Wow...I am rarely struck mute, but a review like this one, well... Wow. Thank you, Mary Anne!


See you on your next coffee break!
Take Care,
Mary Anne xxx