Source: Review copy from publisher
Back Cover Description:
The auburn-haired O'Connor women share a bond far deeper than their striking physical appearance. These courageous, high-spirited women all push against societal limits.
Anika of Prague is one of these women. After the death of her parents at the hands of church men and corrupt nobles, Anika vows vengeance. Seeking safety from her enemies, Anika dons the most unlikely disguise imaginable for a young woman of the fifteenth century: a coat of armor. At the castle of Lord John of Chlum, she joins the knights who are protecting John Hus and advancing religious reformation among the churches of Bohemia. But though she now has the skill to kill, will she have her chance for vengeance? And will she take it, despite the cost?
This Christian historical romance novel is a good, light read. At times, I felt that the story was more about John Hus than Anika since Anika played a very minor role during those sections. Since Hus was a preacher and Anika avidly listens to his sermons and acts as a scribe to help spread his teachings, the story is almost by definition "preachy." Hus' views on the problems with the Catholic church and on the corruption present in the church at that time might turn off Catholic readers.
While, to my knowledge, the information about Hus was accurate, there were a myriad of little details wrong with the "knightly" aspects of the story. I had trouble getting into the story because of these problems. I also couldn't understand why Anika has a burning desire to kill one man responsible for her father's death and yet she's horrified by the idea of killing the other man responsible (who also wants to rape her). Also, Anika is described as so beautiful and girlish (based on comments by friends to her father and by the lustful noble's son) and yet the moment she needs to fit in as a squire, she's described as boyish in figure and no male questions her disguise. But I'm guessing these things won't bother most readers.
The characters were likable, the heroine spirited, and the plot enjoyable, especially if you're interested in the reformation. There was no sex or cussing. Overall, it was "good, clean fun."
If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.
Excerpt: Chapter One
"Mama?" Anika was six again, small and helpless, alone in the upstairs room of an inn outside Prague. Father had gone out to the stable to meet with a man who had promised to find them a horse. Anika moved through the musty chamber. It felt like pushing aside curtains of black velvet, perfumed with the odors of unwashed bodies and the scent of sour hay. In the silence of the darkened chamber she felt her mouth go dry as fear rushed in. "Mama?"
"Hush, love, I'm here." The straw mattress rustled in the dark, then Mother's warm hand found its way to Anika's elbow and pulled her down onto the mattress beside her. Anika curled against her mother and hugged her knees, blinking as her night eyes adjusted to the dim light. Two other women slept on the far side of the room, the heavy sounds of their breathing blending with the snores of the innkeeper's dogs. The two huge mastiffs slept near the door, alert to any newcomer.