Jo Beverley – "The Shattered Rose"

19 Dec

GENRE: Romance / Medieval
PUBLISHED: Zebra Books, 1996

The back blurb:
“Jehanne has never stopped loving her husband, Galeran of Heywood. And now he’s returned from war – leaner, tougher, callused in body and soul, longing for his wife and the child he has never seen. In other circumstances, it would be all Jehanne could ever hope for, but time and fate have wrought changes that neither of them could have expected when they kissed goodbye three years ago.
For now Galeran has a rival, Raymond of Lowick, an ambitious nobleman who wants everything Galeran had – his lands, his castle, and his wife. He’ll use any means and any deceit to gain control over Jehanne. But Galeran is not a man to give up, no matter what powerful allies Raymond may have. Now, as the glittering court assembles, two men will vie for the same woman, and a battle-weary warrior will mount one last campaign for Jehanne’s safety, and her heart …”

Jo Beverley’s The Shattered Rose is really Galeran’s story. It opens with his POV when he returns from war. He had gone on crusade to beg God for a child. Now Galeran is back and is confronted with his wife’s bastard child (That’s no spoiler. It’s something that is learned in one of the first chapters and for some readers it might be important to know that the heroine is an adulteress). Jehanne’s first POV comes much later in the story. But despite of this “drawback”, I came to admire Jehanne a great deal – I think of her as one of the best and strongest romance heroines I ever read about.

The Shattered Rose is an inversion of the standard way of writing romance where the heroine’s POVs is dominate. For me it was a welcome departure from the usual and, I think, really appropriate for the story. This way, the reader gets to learn Jehanne’s reasons for her actions along with Galeran. There are no explanations from Jehanne’s POV and the story is much stronger for it, IMO. One could even say that there is a second inversion in this novel, the inversion of the often seen conflict in romance: the heroine is “wronged” by the hero; whereas in The Shattered Rose the hero is “wronged” by the heroine. Jo Beverley takes no easy way out to solve this conflict. The characters are believable, the writing is good and on top of that the legal ramifications of Jehanne’s adultery are interesting to read about.

So what more do you want?

A secondary romance?

It’s there. Beverley introduces a second couple to counter the conflict-ridden and dark story of Galeran and Jehanne. It’s the story of Galeran’s war-time friend Raoul and Jehanne’s cousin Aline. This is a “standard” romance: Raoul is a man interested in all women and no woman and Aline wants to become a nun. And we all know how this one will turn out … This romance is light and fun to read and, really, the word secondary could be put in commas, because Aline and Raoul are given enough pages to develop their story in a believable way, yet at the same time their story doesn’t take away from the pages given to Galeran’s and Jehanne’s story. So this novel offers nearly two equally realised stories – one of a couple falling in love and one of a married couple dealing with problems, although very difficult problems.

My copy of The Shattered Rose is a reissue (it was first published in 1996) and I couldn’t help but ask myself if this novel could be published as it is for the first time now (e.g., the adultery theme, the length of the secondary romance). Jo Beverley offers with The Shattered Rose a not-often-seen premise – the hero “wronged” by the heroine – and a not-often-seen way to carry it out. She makes it work perfectly. I’m glad is was reissued.

Added bonus: the title is really fitting for the story.

Would I recommend this novel? Yes.

Would I read this novel again? Yes.

Grade: 5- / 5


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