19 Jul 2014

To Grace Surrendered - Deanna Julie Dodson

The Chastelayne Trilogy- 3
Kindle Edition Published 2011, Paperback 1998
300 Pages
He has learned to love her with all his heart. Now he must learn to let her go.

There is peace in the kingdom at last, and King Philip wants nothing more than to spend his days watching his children grow and enjoying the company of his beloved Rosalynde. Reghed, Lynaleigh's neighbor to the north, suffers greatly under the heavy hand of its king, the evil and demented tyrant Sarto. But Philip resists God's urging to bring aid to Reghed's people until the night Rosalynde is torn from his arms and carried into Sarto's dark realm.
Despite the serious injuries he sustained trying to protect her from her captors, Philip insists on following after her and finds himself face to face with the suffering he has till now turned away from. Sarto eventually captures Philip, too, determined to kill him in order to fulfill his sinister plans. Can Philip free himself, Rosalynde and the people of Reghed? Or has his disobedience lost him the love and protection of God?

I very much liked the previous two titles in this trilogy, and wanted to `save' this one, but in some ways it was disappointing. This is not to say I didn't like it, I did, but it seemed weaker than the last two. For instance, very little seemed to really happen until about halfway through, and all the leading couples Phillip and Rosalynde, or Tom and Elizabeth just seemed to be pre-occupied with kissing or sex.
Not that there were any graphic sexual scenes (despite one or two references to exposed flesh), but every time adult married characters got alone, that seemed to be all they wanted to do. To me, such content cheapens stories, making the characters seem shallow and the plot silly and cliched.

Secondly, I noticed quite a few Americanisms in the characters speech, something which tends to ruin things for me, as, although fantasy the trilogy is meant to be set in a country that is based on 15th century England. These and the reference to potatoes and a crocodile, neither of which is indigenous to Europe annoyed me.
Perhaps I did not notice such things in the previous books, but to me there seemed to be more here, whereas the prequels seemed more faithful the setting. When the story finally did `get off the ground' it was exciting and compelling enough, though some scenes did not seem wholly plausible. Two people throwing themselves off the top of castles, and surviving largely unscathed?

As with the previous stories the Christian theme was generally good, well delivered and relevant, it was just the emphasis on romance could be distracting. Putting that aside, the messages about keeping the faith even when bad things happened and challenging circumstances arose was a useful one. The characters' struggle to forgive both others and themselves also provided a realistic edge.
The title was indeed very fitting. Altogether, to Grace Surrendered ended up as a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy and the characters stories, but could have been better. I would recommend, but with reservations.

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