by Patricia Veryan
Shadow’s Bliss was the first Patricia Veryan that I read and the one that got me hooked. In re-reading it, I can see why I was so enthralled, even though I came in in the middle of a series. To be honest, looking back, I was kind of mystified as to why I was so captivated when I did not understand the half of what was going on! But I get it now. I was not used to such heart pounding adventure and suspense. Such evil villains and such noble good heroes who suffered so terribly and were so redeemed. It was a revelation. It took me back to the days of my youth with The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Count of Monte Cristo. Of course now, I appreciate the book on a different level. Veryan always puts her heroes through the mill to atone for past sins or, it must be said, sometimes just for the drama. In the reread, which I am finally doing in chronological order, I now appreciate the slow building development of character and relationship of Gwen, August and Jamie and the rest of the crew. When I first read this, I was intrigued by their characters and couldn’t wait to read more, but from the beginning. Parts of the plot entailing the conspiracy which must have mystified me back then, now are adding up to a much anticipated solution and climax.
I also was enthralled with the sheer romance. Oh My Goodness. The tortured, unworthy, and misunderstood hero utterly worshiping the angelic lady of the manor. Her passionate response to his devotion despite the disparity of their stations in life. Such Love and romance. Yes, sometimes it was a bit over the top, But I enjoyed the ride. And the Villains! Could anyone be more evil and contemptible than Hibbard Green(first encountered in Love Alters Not)? Unless it is the good Jennifer’s craven and selfish father? He and her brother are partially redeemed at a the end, but are you kidding me? Could any hero be more strong, noble and heroic than “the village idiot,” our Jack? As I read more Veryans the answer turned out to be yes. As noble but not more noble.
Now that I read this with the whole story in perspective I can only wonder at Patricia Veryan’s command of all of the threads in her extended story from the Golden Chronicles to the Jeweled Man and even on to the Sanguinet series. She must have been a genius at outlining and organization. That’s all there is to it.
I wish I could end it at that, but to be frank, one aspect that really did jar me was how Jack did not remember his own twin sons until the last bit. He was all about his father, and had glimpses of memory of the shipwreck, but did not even remember that he was a father until the last of the fog had finally cleared? In my opinion, especially considering the large part the boys played in Ask Me No Questions, Veryan should have had some memories peek through of his boys. **5 out of 5 stars**
September 27, 2018