2015 Book 318: NAMED OF THE DRAGON by Susanna Kearsley

Named of the Dragon by Susanna Kearsley
ISBN: 9781402258640 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781402258657 (ebook)
ASIN: B00VGY4RA8 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: October 6, 2015 (Originally published in 1997)
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark


SOMEWHERE IN THE HEART OF LEGEND LIES THE KEY TO HER TERRIFYING DREAMS

The invitation to spend Christmas in Angle, on the Pembrokeshire coast, is one that Lyn Ravenshaw is only too happy to accept. To escape London and the pressures of her literary agency is temptation enough, but the prospect of meeting Booker Prize nominee James Swift – conveniently in search of an agent – is the deciding factor. On holiday she encounters the disturbing Elen Vaughan, recently widowed and with an eight-month-old son whose paternity is a subject for local gossip. Elen’s baby arouses painful memories of Lyn’s own dead child/ and strange, haunting dreams, in which a young woman in blue repeatedly tries to hand over her child to Lyn for safekeeping.

Who is the father of Elen’s baby? What is the eerie, monstrous creature of Elen’s dreams that tries to ensnare her son, and what makes her so sure that Lyn has been sent to protect him?  As she begins to untangle the truth behind the stories, the secret she discovers leads Lyn to an encounter with the past that will change her life forever.


Lynette Ravenshaw is a widowed literary agent in London, presumed to still be grieving the loss of her son during childbirth. At the request of one of the authors she represents, Bridget Cooper, she decides to head to Wales for the Christmas holidays. They will be staying with an award-nominated author looking for a new agent. What she doesn’t know is that Bridget is looking to seduce a local playwright and only wants Lyn to accompany her for the express purposes of keeping company with their host in Named of the Dragon by Susanna Kearsley.

Bridget Cooper is a popular author with a reputation of being difficult. Lynette, or Lyn, has been Bridget’s agent for four years, and although she finds Bridget taxing at times she actually likes her. It is primarily for this reason that she decides to forego her family’s Christmas in Canada and travels to Wales for the holiday with Bridget. Unbeknownst to either of them, the next door neighbor to their host is also widowed and with an infant son. Elen Vaughan might be considered flighty or taken with flights of fancy, but she thinks she’s heard the voice of Merlin and dreams that the “white dragon” from the local tower is after her son. Being exposed to an infant is difficult enough for Lyn, but her dreams seem to be mirrors of Elen’s dreams. Is this the reason that Elen has latched onto Lyn as the one meant to save her son? 

Named of the Dragon is a reprint of an older title by Ms. Kearsley and I’m glad it’s back in print. This particular story takes elements of Arthurian legend and Merlin’s prophecies, mixed with the history of the Tudor family, specifically Henry VII, into a modern story of a fatherless son, a whimsical mother sworn to protect her child, and the mystery surrounding his paternity. Added into the mix is the friendship between Lyn and the local playwright, Bridget’s quest to seduce the local playwright, and the author hosting their holiday visit plans to romance Bridget. Yes, it does sound deliciously twisted, but Ms. Kearsley takes these twists and provides a delightful story that borders on being gothic. I found this to be a fast-paced read and was only slowed down by several severe migraine headaches. (I hated putting Named of the Dragon aside, but since it was difficult to hold my head upright I allowed the migraine to override my reading preference.) I enjoyed the history, folklore, and legends provided in the story, as well as the romance and intrigue. If you’ve never read anything by Ms. Kearsley then Named of the Dragon is a good place to start. If you’ve read any of her current works, then you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of Named of the Dragon. I’ve said it before and it bears repeating, I look forward to reading more from Ms. Kearsley in the future. 


Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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Book Review: THE SPLENDOUR FALLS



The Splendour Falls by Susanna Kearsley
ISBN:  9781402258619 (paperback)
ISBN:  9781402258626 (ebook)
ASIN:  B00F8HUAFA (Kindle edition)
Publication date: January 1, 2014 
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Emily Braden has stopped believing in fairy tales and happy endings. When her fascinating but unreliable cousin Harry invites her on a holiday to explore the legendary own of Chinon, and promptly disappears—well, that’s Harry for you.

As Emily makes the acquaintance of Chinon and its people, she begins to uncover dark secrets beneath the charm. Legend has it that during a thirteenth-century siege of the castle that looms over the city, Queen Isabelle, child bride of King John, hid a “treasure of great price.” And in the last days of the German occupation during World War II, another Isabelle living in Chinon, a girl whose love for an enemy soldier went tragically awry.

As the dangers of the past become disastrously real, Emily is drawn ever more deeply into a labyrinth of mystery as twisted as the streets and tunnels of the ancient town itself.


The town of Chinon, France is mired in legend and mystery. The mystery surrounds the disappearance of a treasure hidden by Queen Isabelle in 1205. There’s also a local legend centering on another Isabelle from World War II. Emily Braden isn’t really hung up on legend or mystery, but she looks forward to the opportunity to spend some time in Chinon with her cousin Henry—her unreliable, but completely lovable cousin. Heedless to any nay-sayers, Emily sets off for a well-deserved break from her tedious and boring life. Of course, Henry is nowhere to be found upon Emily’s arrival in France, and thus begins Emily’s step into intrigue that goes back more than seven centuries.

The Splendour Falls is actually a reprint and was originally published in the mid-1990s. Unlike some of Ms. Kearsley’s later this books, The Splendour Falls is a more straightforward contemporary romantic suspense story with bits of history interspersed throughout the story. Emily comes across as rather staid in the first part of the story, but she quickly becomes less-restrained as she interacts with characters in Chinon, including other guests at the hotel, hotel employees, and town residents. The interactions between Emily, the flirtatious and outgoing Lazarus brothers, the mysterious and reserved violinist Neil Grantham, and the fun-loving Lucie and her father, Monsieur Armand Valcourt adds interesting layers to the story. As Emily becomes more settled in Chinon and with her new acquaintances, she also becomes more mired in the current intrigues happening in the shadows. Can Emily unravel the mysteries of Chinon and find her cousin before it’s too late?

I actually read The Splendour Falls in late December 2013. It was one of the last books I read during that year. I found The Splendour Falls to be a fast-paced read that had moments of humor, as well as intrigue mixed in with the history, suspense, and romance. I enjoyed the characters, historical aspects of the story, and the action. If you enjoy romantic suspense that blends history with contemporary action and a hit of the gothic, then you’ll definitely want to put The Splendour Falls on your reading list. Have you already read it? Please let us know what you thought about it.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Book 160: THE FIREBIRD Review

The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley
ISBN:  9781402276637 (paperback)
ISBN:  9781451673845 (ebook)
ASIN:  B009RXJONA (Kindle edition)
Publication date: June 4, 2013 
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark


Nicola Marter was born with a gift. When she touches an object, she sometimes glimpses those who have owned it before. When a woman arrives with a small wooden carving at the gallery Nicola works at, she can see the object’s history and knows that it was named after the Firebird—the mythical creature from an old Russian fable.

Compelled to know more, Nicola follows a young girl named Anna into the past who leads her on a quest through the glittering backdrops of the Jacobites and Russian courts, unearthing a tale of love, courage, and redemption.



Nicola Marter doesn’t consider her talent at psychometry a gift. This is partially due to her grandfather’s constant warnings about revealing her gift to others. However, as a student, she did make an attempt to learn more about controlling her talent before giving up. When an older woman arrives at the gallery where Nicola works, she tells the story of a small wooden carving, a family heirloom, reportedly given to an ancestor by Tsarina Catherine of Russia. Regrettably she doesn’t have documentation to support the family legend. After handling the object Nicola is assured of the woman’s story but isn’t sure how the gallery can help without proper paper documentation. This woman, her story and the information Nicola learns from touching the object peaks Nicola’s interest in learning more and wanting to help. Is it possible she can found some documentation to support the woman’s claim?

The Firebird is a fascinating blend of contemporary and historical fiction with paranormal elements. Once Nicola decides to try and help the gallery’s potential client, she realizes she needs help and seeks the assistance of Rob McMorran, an outstanding psychic she knew from her college days. With Rob’s assistance, Nicola is able to trace the history of the original recipient of the Firebird, Anna. Nicola and Rob are able to track Anna from Scotland to Belgium and finally to Russia. Anna was born into the Moray family, but due to her family’s Jacobite leanings, she is trusted to friends of the family to raise as a foster daughter. She lives in Scotland for almost seven years before she is forced to flee to a convent in Ypres, Belgium in the company of Colonel Graeme and Captain Jamieson. She resides in the convent for one year before being forced to flee once again and this time winds up in Russia as Anna Jamieson, the ward of Admiral Thomas Gordon. Ms. Kearsley provides the reader with details of the Jacobite cause and its supporters in Scotland, as well as expatriates in Belgium and Russia. Anna’s life is revealed in vignettes as Rob and Nicola search for places she lived and visited. Anna’s life is one filled with love and courage but no true family.  As Nicola and Rob work to piece together the puzzle of Anna’s life, Nicola realizes that she actually has more control over her talents than she initially thought. The Firebird is a well-crafted story that incorporates tales of love, courage, and self-confidence in both Nicola and Anna’s lives. If you’re looking for something a little different to read, then you may want to add The Firebird to your reading list.



Read an excerpt here




I read The Firebird as the July selection for the She Reads online book club. For more information on She Reads, please visit: www.shereads.org. The book was from my personal digital book collection.
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