About the Book
Book: The Sword and the Secrets
Author: Jan Davis Warren
Genre: Christian Historical Romance
Release date: April 20, 2021
When Julianna’s final mission proves more deadly than she imagined, help comes from the most unlikely of places.
Raised in a castle on the remote border of England and Scotland, Lord John Stanton is the last male heir of his royal lineage. He has the responsibility to marry and carry on the family name, but a secret vow to God, after a near-fatal battle wound, could change his future from royal heir to humble servant of the church. His journey to the monastery to become a monk is interrupted when he meets a dangerous, but beautiful, woman who has plans and secrets of her own.
Abandoned by her father and raised in an institution as property of the Crown, Julianna Westerfield longs to be free to pursue love and have a family of her own. Trained to be a spy and assassin, she has a chance to earn her freedom by completing this last and most dangerous assignment. Her mission to uncover a murderous plot and the identities of the Black Guard has already cost several agents their lives, and now the assassins are after her. To survive she must depend on a handsome monk and his cantankerous donkey.
Was it divine intervention that caused John and Julianna’s paths to cross? Can they put aside their differences and join forces to deliver stolen papers containing vital information to the king in time to save countless lives?
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My Review: ⭐⭐
This book has a good concept, and it was kind of a good story (female spies/agents and a "spy school") but it should not have been Medieval Fiction. I mean it. If it was Fantasy, I could forgive most of what is to come, but it was marketed as Historical Fiction. As such, the bar is set higher.
The mistakes and inaccuracies are so frequent and egregious as to be painful. This novel is meant to be set around the early 13th century (1200s) in the reign of King John.
Yet the characters eat potatoes (from the Americas and not introduced to Europe until the mid 1500s.
Smoke tobacco pipes (ditto)
and drink tea from teapots - even later, tea wasn't introduced to Britain until the 17th century (1600s)
they also drink brandy in decanters, have tea trays, girls go to
school, learn in mixed classrooms, and study "science". Castles have
studies and Dining rooms etc.
One of the worst errors was how a character was described as a "Protestant". I mean, I've come to expect Medieval fiction to have a version of Christianity that is more akin to modern American Evangelical Christianity than anything which existed in the Middle Ages, but to actually use the term "Protestant" is something else.
The term did not exist until at least the late 1500s, and it would have been as meaningless to a person in the 13th century as the term American.
I think that what makes the above so unacceptable for me is that these aren't just things only historians or specialist scholars would know. 5 minutes research on Google is enough to find out that there were no potatoes, tobacco or tea in Medieval Europe.
Seriously, there was nothing remotely "Medieval" about this novel, except the characters using swords. Why? I mean no disrespect here, but why set a novel in the Medieval period at all if you're not even going to get the basic details right? Because they get to have cool swords?
It would have worked as a Regency. It set in the Regency or Victorian Era it would have been great, although one of the leading female characters is a rather hideous Mary Sue. Or Victorian Steampunk fantasy or something. The possibilities are endless. Just not as Medieval historical fiction.
Thanks to Celebrate Lit for accepting me on the Blog Tour for this title. I was in no way influenced by them, nor was I required to write a positive one and all opinions expressed herein are my own
About the Author
Jan Davis Warren is a mother, grandmother, and a young-at-heart great-grandmother. Her wonderful husband passed away the same year she won the ACFW Genesis Award for Romantic Suspense. That win and many others are encouraging reminders that God wants her to continue writing even in the tough times. Learn more at www.janwarrenbooks.com.
More from Jan
The Sword and the Secrets is a Historical Romantic Suspense. It is written as a Medieval Christian fiction story set in England around 1209. I chose to keep the historical details to a minimum because of the inconsistency I found in researching this particular time and place. I humbly apologize to you lovers of more in-depth historical facts. I would’ve loved to have traveled to England for more hands-on research but the pandemic made that impossible.
I live in a once-rural area in Oklahoma. Urban development is fast encroaching transforming peaceful pastures into busy neighborhoods. I know it’s called “progress”, but I miss knowing all of my neighbors by name. In the good-old-days, my husband and I loved raising our children here on the farm. As a family, we had all kinds of poultry and livestock, so I can’t resist including a variety of animals in my stories from time to time.
Rosita and her daughter, Daisy, were two of our favorite donkeys on the farm. I’ll never forget when Daisy was born. I think her ears were almost long as her legs. Speaking of donkeys, did you ever hear the story about how the donkey got its cross? I included it in the book.
Precious is the name of the donkey in The Sword and the Secrets. Her mother was killed when she was but a few days old, and she was raised by an old woman who took her into her home and treated with the care and affection of the child she never had. Needless to say, Precious is smart and creative when it comes to getting her way. When her elderly master is about to die, the woman is directed by God to entrust Precious into Lord John Stanton’s care.
For the war-weary hero of this story, Lord John Stanton’s secret battlefield vow to serve God and the Church became more complicated when he was charged with the responsibility of caring for the contrary donkey. His intent to walk to London to join a monastery was supposed to be peaceful and most of all, solitary. It wasn’t until after John accepted the animal that he found out that the donkey’s elderly master had taught Precious not to budge unless first called by name. It was to keep her from being stolen, which served her well. But the name sticks in the hero’s throat every time he must submit to calling her Precious to make her move.
John’s plans also never included protecting a beautiful spy with secrets of her own.
The heroine, Julianna Westerfield was a fun surprise to me. As the story took shape in my mind, I thought the hero would meet the heroine by coming to her aid against brigands. Perhaps she was a princess fleeing her wicked guardian, etc. That however was not the way the story unfolded. As I came to Julianna’s part, I realized she had a colorful past of her own.
I love it when the story develops into something I never expected.
The beautiful heroine of The Sword and the Secrets, Julianna Westerfield is not the princess I first envisioned but an indentured servant. She was abandoned as a child at the Grandfork Institute for Higher Learning. It is an institution run jointly by the Crown and the Church for the sole purpose of training spies and assassins to do their bidding.
I hope you’ll join John and Julianna (and Precious) on their quests and perchance uncover their deepest secrets.
May God bless and keep you and draw you ever closer to Him.
Jan Davis Warren
Debbie's Dusty Deliberations, April 20
Connect in Fiction, April 20
Texas Book-aholic, April 21
Inklings and notions, April 22
For Him and My Family, April 23
deb's Book Review, April 24
Locks, Hooks and Books, April 25
Happily Managing a Household of Boys, April 26
Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, April 26
Connie's History Classroom, April 27
A Modern Day Fairy Tale, April 28
Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, April 29
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, April 30
Romances of the Cross, April 30
CarpeDiem, May 1
Mary Hake, May 2
Blogging With Carol, May 3
To celebrate her tour, Jan is giving away the grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.