October 14, 2015

Behold the Dawn~K. M. Weiland

I received this book as a birthday gift from some very dear friends of mine, Heidi and Eowyn. I had heard of the book from Heidi's review and was intrigued. I was so excited to start it when it came in the mail!

I finished the book in less than a week and was thinking of it ecstatically and happily for weeks after.

This book. Is so. Good.
Here's the synopsis, because it does a better job of explaining that I would:

Marcus Annan, a knight famed for his prowess in the deadly tourney competitions, thought he could keep the bloody secrets of his past buried forever. But when a mysterious crippled monk demands Annan help him wreak vengeance on a corrupt bishop, Annan is forced to leave the tourneys and join the Third Crusade in the Holy Land.

Wounded in battle and hunted on every side, he agrees to marry—in name only—the traumatized widow of an old friend, in order to protect her from the obsessive pursuit of a mutual enemy. Together, they escape an infidel prison camp and flee the Holy Land. But, try as he might, he cannot elude the past—or his growing feelings for the Lady Mairead. Amidst the pain and grief of a war he doesn’t even believe in, he is forced at last to face long-hidden secrets and sins and to bare his soul to the mercy of a God he thought he had abandoned years ago.


First off, the hero. Wow.  HE IS SUCH A GREAT HERO. Marcus Annan is not your chivalrous Prince Charming. He has a Rather Awful past stained by past mistakes. He is chasing redemption-even if he won't admit it-but can't find it in the tourneyor battles he participates in. He's a great warrior, one of the very best. But he still feels empty and guilt-ridden for what he's done.

Lady Mairead was such a lovely heroine. I loved that she was a gentle woman who despite her strength and bravery, is hurt and scarred from her own past-and her present fear. She isn't a "I can do everything myself" kind of heroine. Which is a refreshing change from *most* heroines (not that I don't like those kind of heroines either, if they're done well.).

*Spoilers*
The romance between him and Mairead was unbelievably adorable!!! Well, adorable isn't quite the right word. It was just sooo good. I admit half of my fangirling over this book was due to their relationship.

How many romances center around a couple who are already married? And not just a marriage-but a "necessity marriage." (Okay, so Loves Comes Softly. Give me another example.) They did not marry for love and never intended to marry for love. Annan only agreed to it as a favor to a friend. It was just a way to protect Mairead until they reached the convent that would shelter her.

But. This blood-stained tourneyor with a broken past finds he doesn't want to go on alone anymore. He finds himself slowly and irrevocably falling in love with the Lady Mairead. He can't ever expect her to love him or share a life with him. What life could he possibly give her?

I love it when he protects her---ahh. So many feels!! Guys, he's so gentle and caring with her and kind--this huge, powerful man Mairead is scared to death of because she isn't sure what "kind" of man he is.  "Lady Mairead...you're afraid of me."

And, to anyone who has read the book, remember this quote: "All that matters is that you are my wife." Squeee.....such a sweet and tearful scene!!!!!! I was quite pleased that it didn't take till the end of the book for Annan and Mairead to admit their love for each other.

*Spoilers*


Marek was a perfect sidekick. My favorite part about him was that he wasn't just a sidekick.  He had his own character arc!!! Let me say that again. THE HUMOROUS SIDEKICK HAS A CHARACTER ARC. How many stories have that?? He was sweet and adorable and had so many good lines and aww I just love him so much!
And he shall be my squishy.


I really liked the villain because he was VERY well written, in my opinion. He was dark and ruthless and evil, without being over the top or humorous in a Disney villain sort of way. He felt real. Like a twisted and corrupted Bishop would be back then.

And then there's the other villain, Lord Hugh, a vicious man who, in creepy stalker fashion, ruthlessly hunts poor Mairead (which is where Annan's protection comes in awwwwwwwwwww).

Okay, so I'm going to share a funny story with you all. One night, I was reading this book in bed with a flashlight (ahem) and I suddenly saw a dart of movement on my left. I jump out of bed and turn to find a larger-than-I-was-comfortable-with sized spider on my bed. ON MY BED. This guy was big enough that I was immediately uneasy and unsure of how to kill it. Treading softly to the bathroom I tore off a long piece of tissue and and returned to my room. The spider was inching his way rather quickly over my sheets so I shook them a little to get him in a spot where he wouldn't have a chance of escape. Thankfully I killed him with one try. It would have been horrendous if I missed him and he somehow got away. IN MY ROOM.

-shudders to think of it-

Soooo, after that incident it took me awhile to settle back into bed (after checking under, over, on the sides of the bed for any of his friends) and I decided to read a few more moments to calm down.


*BIG SPOILERS*

Weeelll, wouldn't you know it I was just at the part where Mairead dies. What. 



I was so stressed out from my spider incident that I was fed up. Nope, no, I am not going to bed thinking she died. I knew my love for this book would plummet if she died. I looked ahead in the book (no judging). She survives. I sighed in relief and turned out the light.

*SPOILERS END*


I still didn't sleep well that night. Every time I woke up (which was often) I checked my bed for spiders who dare to show their face in my room.

Now for the few (minor) things I didn't quite love. The beginning was a bit...slow. Even though it was technically "fast paced" since it began with a battle and a chase scene. I think it helped show who Annan's character and history but....this was at the point where I didn't really know the characters yet. I'm much more likely to be interested in the outcome of a battle with characters I love in it-not characters I just met.

I was also a bit confused by the plot at some points. I can't really say why because of spoilers (spoilers I don't want to give away). But, once all the secrets were revealed it all made much more sense. The secrets driving the plot were VERY good. I didn't figure it out until the split second before it was revealed, and even then I was blown away by how well it had been done. I never suspected a thing. VERY well done, Emma. (ha)

Another point of confusion at times was Gethin.

"Wait so Gethin and the Baptist are the same guy?"
"Oh he's not..."
"Oh, he is."
"Is he good or bad?"
"Bad."
"But he's your friend!"
"He sure doesn't act like a friend."
"Frenemies, haha"
"Oh you USED to be friends, now I get it..."
"Wait, what??"
"Why did that happen?"
"I'm so confused I'm not even trying to understand anymore."

(my thoughts while reading)


So, either I was just stupid or the plot was a leetle hard to follow at points.

The other thing that kind of "let me down" was the ending-don't get me wrong, though! I loved how it ended. I can't think of a way I would change it. It just didn't....well it didn't send me into vales of tears. (I actually didn't cry at all at the end. Which was disappointing.)

On the content side, this book is completely clean but I would recommend it for more mature readers because of some of the incidents in the story. Battle violence, for one (it's not gory, though) and the subplot of Lord Hugh's advances to Lady Mairead whom he had previously taken advantage of, resulting in a child born out of wedlock. (it's all handled very well without unnecessary description.)

If you like medieval times read this book. If you like the Crusades read this book.  If you like God-honoring romance read this book. If you like action and adventure read this book. If you like redemption stories read this book. Basically, just read the book.


Aaaannnd, wow, that just became about the longest book review I ever wrote!

ps. I was recently featured on Heidi's blog for her monthly "Three Things I Love in a Good Story" (that you could join in on too!)  series. Pop in and check it out if you like!

19 comments:

  1. Ohhhhh, Natalie....... you did it. I was grinning while reading this and literally. crying. :D *wipes eyes and catches breath* Natalie, you actually made me cry. :)

    Perfectly long and lovely and satisfying! And those first two gif's are absolutely priceless.

    The few caveats/down items: yes, I'd agree + a couple other points and her use of a few modernisms (though I know why she chose to go with them), BUT eeesh.... the overarching wonderfulness of it!!!!!!!!!! The power of it. And the sweetness!!! "All that matters is that you are my wife...." *promptly faints* And the scene the next morning??? And... and.... and.... oh, words fail me. ;D

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    1. You were crying??? Aww, Heidi!! That makes me so happy!!! -hands you a tissue-

      Heehee, yes, the tea gif is quite a favorite of mine. ;)

      Which modernisms do you mean? I'm just curious because I don't recall noticing anything too modern in the dialogue. Then again, I haven't read enough literature set in medieval times, so that many be why it slipped by me. ;)

      YES, oh my, those two adjoining scenes were some of the most lovely, romantic scenes I've ever read-without being "mushy" or over the top....they're so wonderful!! :D

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  2. Good review, Natalie! The love story does sound awfully sweet. (I read all the spoilers...just because.)

    Haha! Your spider story! Oh! That's so awful to have a spider climbing around on your bed. And a large one, too! I don't wonder you had trouble sleeping! Spiders do not belong in the bedroom, and certainly NOT on the bed! I'm glad you managed to kill it. :/

    Thanks for a lovely post!

    ~Miss March

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    1. MISS MARCH. You read the spoilers??? My goodness. You are incorrigible. I'm glad I didn't talk about some other spoilers then since my readers don't even heed the spoiler warnings. haha

      Yes, I know, right?? If they're outside that's fine but they have no call to be inside my house. Much less my bedroom. Much less my bed. Ugh.

      Thank you! :)

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    2. Oh dear. I wasn't supposed to read the spoilers? And here I thought you had written "spoiler" so that I would know to pay extra close attention to those parts since they're the most interesting. (Heehee. Just kidding.) No, but I have to admit, I always read the spoilers. It's a very bad habit, to be sure, but I can usually enjoy a story even if I know some of what happens.

      Hey, anyway! You looked ahead in the book, yourself! That was very naughty! Haha! :D (Oh, oops. You said no judging. Sorry.) And that's right, you were stressed out about the spider. I suppose allowances must be made for circumstance like that. Though you don't know. I might have been stressed out about your spider, too, and that's why I HAD to read the spoilers. (Okay. You're right, that was not the case. It was pure curiosity and nothing more.) ;)

      ~Miss March

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    3. Hey - I don't want to intrude in a private conversation or anything (sorry!) - but I thought I'd tell you, Miss March, that *I*, personally, ALSO always read the spoilers. You're not alone . . . Sorry, Natalie :) but I always do. It's a thing with me - I don't know if I would call it a Bad Habit exactly though :D

      Natalie, this was a good review! I've never read the book but I saw Heidi's post about it, I think :)

      Mmmm - I can't bring myself to kill bugs myself, but I totally understand you getting rattled. Of course it excuses you looking ahead in the book :P I am always Really Scared myself by the kind of waterbeetle we get here which is anywhere up two two inches long. With whiskers. Rather unnerving to run across one of those fellas. So yeah. You could count yourself lucky it was only a spider, if you want :)

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    4. Miss March and Rosie~ My goodness. I never knew so many people read the spoilers! I personally like to go into a story with knowing as little as possible, so I guess I'm just a little appalled at you two and your spoiler-reading habits. ;) heehee
      But it's okay. If that's how you like to read books, that's fine with me! :)
      (oh, and thank you for chiming in, Rosie! I don't mind at all)

      Miss March,
      Well, yes, I do admit to purposely looking for spoilers at that point...I did it once before too, while watching a tv show..it was sort of similar circumstances. A character dying, I mean, not the spider. ha!

      Rosie~ Aw, I understand. Usually I try to take any intruding bugs outside, but when they're rather large spiders.....
      Oh my....I just googled water beetles, and yes, they are very disturbing! I'm sorry you have to deal with them from time to time. :(
      Thank you so much!

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    5. Haha! :) Yeah, I guess I've always considered spoilers as warnings to those who don't like to know anything...and as I don't mind knowing things ahead of time I just go ahead and read the entire post anyway.

      You don't consider reading spoilers a bad habit, Rosie? Oh, good. ;) Then I shall continue to do it with a good conscience. Heehee. (Thanks for joining the conversation, by the way. You weren't intruding at all.)

      Sorry our behavior has appalled you, Natalie. ;) I totally understand why you like to know as little as possible about a story...because I think it's fun to be totally surprised, too. It's just that most times I'm too impatient to wait, so if I can find something out sooner rather than later, I'll do it.

      ~Miss March

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    6. Natalie - I'm glad you don't mind :) Yeah, those beetles are REALLY SCARY. We actually just had one today. They sure are heart-stoppers :P

      Miss March - No, I don't think it's a bad habit. I just like to know what happens especially if I really like the characters or whatever. And of course if it's a movie I'm about to watch or whatever, THEN I don't read them :)

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    7. Miss March~ Well, I'll definitely keep that in mind for future reviews. I'll just have to leave out anything that I think you should wait for until you read the book....muhahaha. ;)

      Rosie~ Oh dear, I am sorry!! They sound disgusting and..and...ugh. Some bugs are just terrible. :P I hope you don't come across any more for a long while!

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    8. (Oh, what a distressing thought.) You really needn't bother, Natalie, because, actually, I've reformed. I no longer read spoilers! You can include as many in your reviews as you want to. Really. I'm a good girl now. (Sometimes a lie is one's only option.) Haha! :D

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    9. Thanks a lot, Natalie :) I hope we don't see any either!

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    10. My my, Miss March. Now you're lying too? tsk tsk. Shameful girl. -shakes head-

      Haha, your welcome, Rosie!

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  3. I actually hadn't heard of this book before, but your review has me wanting to read it now!

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    1. Thank you! I hope you can get a chance to read it! :)

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  4. I WANT TO READ THIS BOOK SO MUUUUUUCH.

    Between yours and Heidi's review, I really really want to read it.

    Haha, I know how you feel about the spider thing. A similar thing happened to me when I was at a camp once (of course, we were in a bunkhouse way out in the woods, so I guess I should have been expecting it). I was about to lie down on my sleeping bag, and I saw this weird glinting, and upon further investigation, it turned out to be the eye of a rather large spider. ITS EYE. Was glinting at me. And it was where I was about to lie down and sleep. *shivers*

    Oh, heehee, I read the spoilers too. And hence I kind of underwent a bit of panic myself, which was forthwith calmed. So thank you;)

    Thanks for a marvelous review!!!

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    1. I'm so glad, Olivia!! I think you would like it a lot!
      (Not to mention, it's set in the Crusades, and you know, a certain favorite tv show of ours deals with that a bit. -cough-)

      Oh my. I'm sorry for your own spider experience! Yes, aren't spider eyes so creepy??

      My goodnes, you too??? I'm just not going to put spoilers in my reviews anymore....-shakes head- ;)

      Thank you!

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  5. Hey, Natalie! I 'pecked' you for a tag over at my blog, if you're interested! :) http://marchramblings.blogspot.com/2015/10/memory-nest.html

    ~Miss March

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    1. Thank you muchly, Miss March! I'll be commenting on your post shortly! :)

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