A Kingdom of Dreams

A Kingdom of Dreams - Judith McNaught Yes, I admit, this is definitely a romance novel... The Hero, Royce, is dark and foreboding - a fierce English warrior with an unrivaled reputation for brutality, which has won him the favor of his King and gained him a title and riches. The Heroine, Jennifer (Jenny), is a Scottish lady - feisty, brave, and unaware of her beauty and sex appeal. Of course Jenny and Royce meet under the worst of circumstances -- she's been kidnapped by Royce's brother as part of a bargaining chip against Jenny's father, the laird of one of the mightiest clans in Scotland -- and the laird that's battled Royce's army several times. Of course, Jenny and Royce manage to fall in lust and love... he because she sees him as a man and not just a fierce warrior; she because he treats her like a desirable and intelligent woman, amused at her boldness. Of course, there's a Big Misunderstanding (or 2 or 3) that occurs between them, causing the lovers to virtually tear one another apart, heart and soul. And of course, in the end, they find True Love.While there are parts of the book I could do without (him forcing her to his will through sex and a good spanking or two), in its way, the story does portray the sensibilities of the time. Women might have lands and titles, but only to appeal to powerful men as wives; once married, the property (including the woman) was completely in the power of the man. Yes, men were allowed to beat their wives -- in fact, it's just in the mid-to-late 20th century when that sort of behavior became illegal. Yes, forcing a woman to have sex with you against her will (regardless of how "tender" the lover), is rape; no means no. But again, in this time period, it was "acceptable" for a man (especially a warrior) and unacceptable for the woman.So yes, this book contains the typical romance elements. But I found myself thoroughly enjoying the story! I wanted to read more about Jenny and Royce and how they would or wouldn't come together. I was angry at one or both of them time and again, for being so in-tune, yet so blind, to the others' actions and motives. I just about thrashed Jenny when she makes a critical mistake near the end of the book. But I could see how and why, based on her pride and her heritage... and the way her father constantly tried to manipulate her.I also enjoyed Arik, Jenny's Aunt, Jenny's step-brother William, and several of Royce's knights. This was my first Judith McNaught book, but it made me want to investigate other books that she's written. Romance novels might have a formula, but this author knows how to both follow the formula and weave something unique into the tale that made me want to continue reading.