Historical Romance Review: Lovespell by Deana James

historical romance review
Lovespell by Deana James
Rating: four-half-stars
Published: 1984
Illustrator: Pino
Imprint or Line: Zebra Historical Romance
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Medieval Romance
Pages: 558
Format: Paperback
Buy on: Amazon
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader

Historical Romance Review: Lovespell by Deana James


The Book

Lovespell is yet another great romance by the eclectic Deana James, who wrote wonderful, complex novels like Captive Angel. This medieval romance is as epic as any of her westerns.

The Plot

Gillian is an English fletcher who poses as twins, the male Gil & female Gillian. A Norman knight named Brian is badly beaten and his armor has been stolen by an errant squire. He is rescued by Gil who cares for him and helps him heal. Brian is a man often too proud for his own good. His honor demands he must pay recompense to Gil for saving his life so he helps him/her make arrows. To satisfy his life debt, Brian must help Gillian bring the arrows to arm the English, the enemies of his people.

In due time Brian figures out Gil’s true identity. He falls for her, as she does for him. This is just the beginning of their love story.

There are many misadventures along the way, as a cast of multi-faceted secondary characters soon takes the stage, adding more drama, romance, and tragic elements to this story. The man who stole Brian’s knight returns, and he’s not quite the evil character Brian first thought he was. That character’s doomed love affair with a noblewoman is exquisitely portrayed, and its conclusion might bring you to tears, as it did for me.

Causing trouble for Gillian and Brian is a multi-faceted gay quasi-villain, Ranulf, who desires Gil, the boy. He beats Brian and captures Gil. In a tense scene, Ranulf attempts to rape her but is so excited he finishes prematurely. Then he is furious to discover he’s a girl!

Oddly enough, after that, Gil & Ranulf establish a friendship of sorts as they march through battle together. In the end, it’s strongly hinted Ranulf loves both versions of Gil/Gillian.

The Hero

Nevertheless, it’s Brian who is the very intense love of Gillian’s life.

Brian is a conflicted character, a knight in a time when the methods of war were changing. His position and that of others like him were being made redundant through stronger firepower. With the advancement of weaponry, men were fighting at more long-distance ranges. Thus the dependence on utilizing knights on horseback who engaged in sword-to-sword sword combat was lessened.

It was an age where the commoner began obtaining financial power. Men such as Brian, who made their fortunes via the sword, were seeing their time come to an end.

Brian must question who he is as the world around him transforms into something he doesn’t recognize, and he becomes disillusioned. In the end, the hero gives up his knighthood to stay with his beloved, a lower-class arrow-maker who will, on occasion, still pose as a man.

Final Analysis of Lovespell

Lovespell is a great medieval romance. It’s an unconventional and deeply passionate book. Filled with surprises, twists, and turns, it kept me up late at night to read just one more page. Good stuff.

Deana James has yet to disappoint me. I know she (Mona Sizer) has authored mostly nonfiction westerns under her real name in the latter years of her writing career. I only wish she had written more romances.

4.59 Stars


With a tunic draping her sensuous figure and a cap hiding her wheat-gold hair, no one guessed that the boy Gil was really the voluptuous Gillian. Only men could belong to craftsmen’s guilds, and as the best bowmaker in all of England, the beautiful girl never minded the disguise…until she saw Sir Brian. The handsome knight’s hazel eyes and masterful body smote her to her very core – and for the first time in her life, Gillian longed to risk her career for just a moment of passion’s sweet fury!

When Brian de Trenanay discovered the gorgeous maiden beneath the coarse, mannish garments, he knew he had to brand her as his own. Even though she was an enemy Englishwoman, she had pierced the French man of war to the heart. His senses enflamed, Brian decided there would be time enough for fighting on the morrow. Tonight he would surrender his strength to the power of ecstasy and submit to the irresistible force of her Lovespell


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