The Chosen Man Hardcover – 7 Jun 2012
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About the Author
J. G. Harlond (Jane) grew up in the South West of England and studied in Britain and the USA, obtaining BA (Hons) in Cultural Studies and an MA in Social and Political Thought, she also has teaching qualifications and worked as an English teacher for many years in European international schools. Jane now lives in southern Spain, where she writes school text book material and historical fiction.
Jane's fascination with historical fiction began while still at school, when she would read anything by Jean Plaidy instead of doing her homework. Her writing is also influenced by Dorothy Dunnett and Mary Wesley: two very different authors whose well-chosen prose wove intrigue and sharp descriptive detail into compelling stories. What still interests her about the genre, she says, is the way that - as with real history – it’s the universal emotions and motivations of love, hate, greed, jealousy and desire that influence or determine both an individual’s life-choices and international politics: in different epochs different social mores may prevail, but people are generally governed by self-interest. Jane's novels also examine aspects of genetic inheritance, how family character traits and physical appearance can follow through or skip and re-emerge in different generations.
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Harlond is also ambitious in the theme of romance. Never mind a love-triangle, this was a love quartet. Alina's dilemma kept us on our toes right until the last page. Which one of those three distinctive male characters will the independent Alina choose? Her gentle, aristocratic, yet sickly husband? Marco, the attractive, self-made fellow Spaniard who has always loved her? Or Ludo? Ludo the Italian pirate; Ludo the con man. The bad-boy who lives by his wits, manipulates the Dutch and turns the European balance of power on its head, while side-stepping assassination attempts like we would dodge traffic.
A satisfying ending which demands a sequel.
This book is both generous and traditional, in a good way - that is, the author wants to pull you in and entertain you. And succeeds, in this reader's case, triumphantly.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed there will be more
Ludovico da Portovenere – Ludo – is the man chosen by the conspirators to engineer the disaster. He is recruited by a modest priest who only wants to return to England. Ludo is an Italian merchant: resourceful, not averse to some dodgy dealings, charming and expendable. Accompanied by a Spanish lad, Marcos, who wishes to better himself and a beautiful Spanish woman, Alina, of diminished status whom he rescues from slavers.
Whilst depositing the priest to his home, Ludo arranged for Alina to marry a weak chinned son of an English nobleman. Needless to say, money changes hands but Ludo intends, one day, to return for her.
Here the book splits in two: Alina's trials in a strange country are inter-weaved with Ludo's successes in Holland. Add in a perverted steward and a cook who may or may not be a witch and we have some grand characters who all contribute to a tumultuous finale.
I had one or two minor niggles, but nothing that spoiled my enjoyment of this, recommended read. The cover proclaims this to be part of a trilogy, though there are no indications within the pages or the back cover blurb as to any further volumes.
Reviewed for Discovering Diamonds Blogspot
At the heart of the story is a lively duo formed by the appealing reprobate, Ludovico da Portovenere and the ever-glamorous Spanish heroine, Alina, a woman we breathlessly follow from one astonishing adventure to the next. Harlond is one of those authors who has a gift for drawing her readers in with exceptional storytelling and witty dialogue. It’s hard not to care for her characters, especially when Ludo negotiates a deal that latterly separates him from Alina and places her in proximity to a dangerous predator by the name of McNab. But in all of this, Alina must make a choice. A sickly aristocrat, a Spaniard or an Italian pirate? An interesting three-point dilemma.
Rich and exquisite, meticulously researched, and powerfully evocative, The Chosen Man is a sumptuous read that will keep you guessing until the end. I’m very much looking forward to the next book in the trilogy.