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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

to touch the sun york

Historical Romance Review: To Touch the Sun by Barbara Leigh


Beloved Captive…To be a knight, chivalrous in deed and courageous in battle, was all that Drue had ever wished for. Dubbed Sir Drue, she had sworn to serve her king and seek revenge against her enemy, Connaught. She had vowed to slay the treacherous knight, yet one look into the depths of his fire-blue eyes and she knew she could never kill him… Though she had captured him fairly on the field of battle, it was Drue who was completely in his power, and she shuddered to think what the proud Connaught would do when he discovered that the ‘lad’ who had defeated him was nothing more than a woman.



The Book – To Touch the Sun

To Touch the Sun is an older Harlequin Historical by Barbara Leigh. This is a unique tale about a woman in Medieval England who is raised alongside her brother as a boy and eventually becomes a knight. Not just any knight, but one of the most virtuous, valiant, and admired knights in the kingdom.

The Plot

Druanna takes on the persona of Dru to such a great extent that even her brother almost forgets her true identity.

Although she dominates in the masculine arts of war, Dru’s heart is that of a woman who loves men. Unfortunately for Druanna, she falls for her enemy, Connaught.

Connaught is married when they meet and has no idea she is a female. He is confused and tormented by his attraction for this brave knight. Lucky for him, when Druanna is injured in combat, Connaught tends to her wounds and finds her boobies—itty-bitty as they may be–but a woman’s breasts nonetheless. Whew, so at least he’s only a lustingin-his-heart adulterer, not a homosexual!

 photo blackadder_bells_396x222.jpg to touch the sun
“So before we go at it, just what exactly is the penis situation?”

There are a few twists and turns along the way. Connaught is a married man, after all, with children. Then there is a shocking accusation made at Sir Dru, who is considered one of the most eligible and handsome of knights. I imagine Dru looked like a young Tilda Swinton or Annie Lennox, a lean, tall, and blond ambisexual beauty.

And of course, there are the major problems Connaught and Druanna face when their relationship becomes known.

An Unusual HEA

The book is unique in that they have their Happily Ever After, but an unconventional one. They live their lives happily fighting alongside one another as two knights, and no one, except the hero and the heroine’s brother, knows she is really a woman!

4 Stars