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A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Kingdom of Dreams
Westmoreland #1

Judith McNaught
Medieval Romance
First published in 1989

H/h - Royce Westmoreland, the first Duke of Westmoreland/Lady Jennifer Merrick
Setting: England, 1497.

Read in April, 2011 (1st read, 2010)
My rating:

                                                                 [spoiler alert]

After my 2nd reading of the book...

So, this was my initial thought about 1st few chapters: 
I was so annoyed with Jennifer, she reminded me of some Julie Garwood TSTLs. Argh! Then of course, I had to think of the age it was set in and she had to do something to find some ways of escaping, which itself should be praiseworthy. Also, it might be the fact that I had a tough time wrenching myself away from Elizabeth Hoyt's Maiden Lane series.

Now, after 15 chapters, my thought is: 
This book is insane. Lolz I know, I'm weird! I know liked this book when I first read it. I fell in love with Royce, just like that. Well, he's an amazing, sexy hero but now, I find I don't like it when everytime the words of his past sexual liaisons or any hints to that comes up. grr! Jenny seems such a kid in comparison to him/his experiences in that regard. :/ I'm not very concerned about their age (the era of course), he being 29 and she 17 but what also annoys me is Jenny's acting all confused. I don't know how to put it. I mean in this instance she's doing something stupid and childish, the next she's quite matured. WTH? But, I remember her maturing quite a bit in the end. Let's see ...

Their relationship is such a complex mix of love/hate stuff and so many misunderstandings (my god, makes me wanna scream at the top of my lungs!). Even though I find the reading of this theme of many misunderstandings nerve wreaking at times, in the end, if the author is brilliant, it pays off (all the grovelling and sigh/swoon worthy scenes :p) and we all know JM is a master of that. Now, Royce can be such a thickheaded lout sometimes. Both are stubborn to the core. Questions about certain situations do arise in my mind, though at the moment, I won't dwell on those. Maybe after I'm finished with the book.

One of the interesting moment for me was (even as I re-read it), the scene when Royce's face was revealed to Jenny. The way she was trying to peek a look was hilarious. And, when he isn't being a surly warlord (read: lout), Royce's so adorable, gullable even and Jenny proved him that by duping him quite a few times. I didn't know if I should laugh or cry reading those scenes, lmao. Oh, poor dear! But of course, I did hate it when Jenny was lying to Royce unintensionally or otherwise, even though there were logics behind her situations. And, I also wanted to kick Royce when he acted all 'betrayed' finding Jenny never told him of her betrothal with some Lord odious ogre. Why Royce, weren't you almost the same with some Lady or the other? The arrangement was more than that, if I might mention! God, how I hate it. :/

Well, now that they've married, can't wait to read more of this debacle. :p

Hmm, sadly, though I like the book, I'm not into it like I was the first time. I don't know why is that, maybe as I've mentioned before, something to do with Jenny being too naive and some of her really childish actions. Sometimes, even when Royce is being a boor, I can't help but agree with him about Jenny. Then I think back, wait, isn't he supposed to be the enemy? How do one act with one's sworn enemy, after one fall in love with him of course ... I'm partly vascillating because of that. And also, Jenny's blind trust of her family... Tell me Jenny, if you think you love Royce, then why don't you trust him when he tells you your father made a plot of locking you up in an abby for the rest of your life? Royce had to say, "I was mistaken." to soothe you. *no idea how to react to this*

So, sometimes I find it confusing ... about what to think, about how to react ... And of course, most of the times, I have a hard time connecting with Jenny and her activities because I always have a problem with characters if I can't connect with them to some level. Just me! So, have to say, I'm not anymore into heroines who are in the "child-woman" phase. I appreciate more matured, older heroines nowadays.

But, that doesn't mean the book's bad. So, when I'm finished, I'm gonna talk about some aspects of the book I really enjoyed til the end. :)

Although, I wanted to slap Jenny for the better part of the book, I had to agree she possibly didn't have any other options. She didn't know that she was being used by her family, specially by her father and step-brother, who only cared about killing Royce and didn't care what happened to her. Made me quite angry. In the book, it's said that Jenny's father Lord Merrick's hatred for his enemy (Royce) was stronger than his love for her. Then again, the man didn't care for any women one way or the other. To him, they're just means to an end. And finally, Jenny's wise Aunt Eleanor explained to her that Brenna (her stepsister, another human being before Royce and Aunt E who actually cared for her) saw her father just as he was for she wasn't blinded by love like Jenny. Poor girl. And, then when she sweared her loyalty to Royce in a field full of thousands of spectators ... that was probably the best scene of the whole book. Here it is:
"Royce understood then why she had come: she had come to finish the task her relatives had begun; to do to him what he had done to her brother. Unmoving, he watched her, noting that tears were pouring down her beautiful face as she slowly bent down. But instead of reaching for his lance or her dagger, she took his hand between both of hers and pressed her lips to it. Through his daze of pain and confusion, Royce finally understood that she was kneeling to him, and a groan tore from his chest: "Darling," he said brokenly, tightening his hand, trying to make her stand, "don't do this…" But his wife wouldn't listen. In front of seven thousand onlookers, Jennifer Merrick Westmoreland, countess of Rockbourn, knelt before her husband in a public act of humble obeisance, her face pressed to his hand, her shoulders wrenched with violent sobs. By the time she finally arose, there could not have been many among the spectators who had not seen what she had done. Standing up, she stepped back, lifted her tear-streaked face to his, and squared her shoulders.
Pride exploded in Royce's battered being—because, somehow, she was managing to stand as proudly—as defiantly—as if she had just been knighted by a king."

Just before this scene, Royce's brother Stefan's words just cut through me. I should've hated Jenny because someone had to poke a finger in her eyes to show her the reality but I forgave her because in the end she did the right thing. Even Aunt E (whom I adored BTW) and somewhat insipid Brenna agreed with me. :p I will miss the main characters, as well as secondary characters such as: Sirs Godfrey, Lionel and Eustace, Royce's squire Gawin, of course Stefan and Brenna, Aunt E and last but not the least the blonde giant Arik, who was the butt of many jokes throughout the book. :p

So, last 4/5 chapters that started with Royce accidentally killing Jenny's only stepbrother who cared for her, William, were the best IMO. I was so sad for Royce and his heartbreaks, the misunderstandings were so awful ... Then as Jenny decided to seat with the Merricks, support them and Royce knew she won't show him her favor by knotting anything on his lance in the jousting field  and then, he almost died there honoring a vow he made to her ... I remained glued to the book til the epilogue. And, I remembered why I loved this book. I hated the conflicts/betrayals, I hated Jenny hurting Royce and misunderstanding him, I wanted to bash Royce's head for being a lout (time and again) ... Then I laughed and cried because in the end, it was all about love. Ah, feels good. Feels definitely good. 4.25 stars. :D

PS: Did I mention how HOT I find Royce explaining his battle strategies? (there's a particular scene with Jenny, while taking a tour of his castle) Made me wanna ... ermm ... kiss him really hard. lolz :p


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