Thursday, July 22, 2010

Book Reviews: The Spanish Pearl and The Crown of Valencia by Catherine Friend

The Spanish Pearl. Catherine Friend. Bold Strokes Books, Inc. May 2007. First edition. 328 pages. ISBN 9781933110769.

The Crown of Valencia. Catherine Friend. Bold Strokes Books, Inc. November 2007. First edition. 283 pages. ISBN 1933110961.

Catherine Friend’s romantic duology is a fun, two-book romp through eleventh century Spain. The first book, The Spanish Pearl, heroine Kate Vincent falls through time, waking up almost a thousand years prior. She is rescued by a knight in shining armor. Any girl’s dream, right? Except Kate, in the present time, is a card-carrying lesbian. So she dislikes even more than most getting stuck in a Moorish harem.

Kate is desperate to get back to the present and the lover and child they were to adopt who she left behind. But the handsome Luis Navarra affects her deeply every time he looks at her, making Kate briefly doubt her orientation and her sanity. When circumstances force them to marry, the situation grows ever more complex with politics, war, and finding out that Luis is actually Elena.

Love sparks between these two characters, even across time. And the tables turn so it’s Kate in the end who must rescue Luis/Elena from the clutches of her enemy who threatens to expose her and violate her very being.

The Spanish Pearl is a great read and a fun way to explore history and the depths of the human heart.

The Crown of Valencia picks up where The Spanish Pearl left off, with Kate struggling to make it in 1085 A.D. with her lover, Elena, still disguised as a man and Kate’s husband. But things aren’t going well for Kate, with an average grade of D- for living in the early Middle Ages. Things go from bread baking disasters to worse when Anna, Kate’s ex-lover from the future arrives unexpectedly, the mistress of a major player in the battle of history. A history professor, Anna swears she’s merely there to observe. But worse, Anna has left Arturo, the child they were to have adopted, waiting for them in the orphanage. Riddled with guilt, Kate has no choice but to return and be a mother to this child who has won her over, even over her deep love for Elena.

Eight years later, Arturo is 14 and the future is coming apart. Books are changing, from 1096 onward, and Kate is the only one who knows what’s going on. She goes back in time, followed by her son Arturo, to set things right. But she finds the past just as complicated as the future. Her lover is against her and her ex-lover plans to use Arturo for her own machinations. Through a band of female archers, adolescent hormones, and deep jealousy, Kate must navigate the bloodied waters of history in order to make sure they all continue to exist.

Both books are easy summer reads, quick with wit, romance, adventure, and real treat whatever your orientation. Find Catherine Friend at


Honorio said...

Are you sure that girls prefers knight in armor? This can't be good for health, in a torrid day in Valencia.

Great blog! I have find it in a randomly search.

Honorio said...

Sorry for my bad English, I mean, I have found it.

Ax said...

Hi Honorio, thanks for stopping by! Not sure the sweating knight in armor thing is all that great in reality. Something that probably sounds better on paper. If I ever write historical fiction I'll be sure to note how damn hot that armor had to be! :)