Collateral Damage: Hannah Howell’s CONQUEROR’S KISS

Conqueror’s Kiss


Conqueror's Kiss Audio Coverby Hannah Howell

Narrated by Allison Pike
Published by Tantor Media | Audio Publication date Oct 27, 2015 | Running time 12 hrs
Print: Originally published in Nov. 1991 by Harper Collins/Avon and published in 2006 by Zebra


Audiobook provided by publisher for review. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.

Jennet Graeme has witnessed terrible tragedy during the many years of strife between the Scots and the English. As Scottish invaders plunder her convent sanctuary, she defiantly resists the blond warrior who claims her as his prize. But his brute strength is overpowering, and Jennet is forced to ride with him through the lawless lands, tending to the wounded, protected and desired by a man she wants to hate but cannot.

Sir Hacon Gillard is moved by Jennet’s compassion and mercy. As a loyal knight, he’s pledged fealty to his king’s command even as he loses his heart to this remarkable woman. He is merciless in combat, but within him burns a spark for something far beyond the heat of battle . . .

Contains mature themes.


My Take Oblong


I don’t know how a person gets a role or job narrating a particular book, but in this case you might start with one question: Can you do a Scottish Accent? Pike’s accent often sounds more Irish than Scottish and she sounds quite sing-song in the non-dialogue narrative.
By the end of the book however, I had become accustomed to her style and it ceased to bother me. Another point about narration is that there are a lot of words I was unclear on, in particular one article of clothing I cannot figure out.

But, for me, the relationship between the love interest in this story was unbelievable from the start although the hero was nobler than your average laird. It gets somewhat more believable although I kept thinking that the captive women, at the time considered plunder, were falling prey to Stockholm Syndrome.  Some of the other characters are middle-ground noble in their behavior and others are downright nasty.

As far as I could see, at least one important factor, Howell seems to have done her research: There are no kilts; plaids are mentioned more as cloak, shawl, and blanket. The major characters seem to come through an awful lot of fights without injury – of course, this is a necessary convention of the genre.

The story is timeless; involving how war affects non-combatants, how it is often impartial in its collateral damage and personal in its motivation, how even the wisest ruler can fall sway to poor advice. In the midst of a battle, which side one os on can become immaterial, and men are less like humans and more like the beasts we claim to have evolved away from. Except for concept of plunder, and (sometimes) the rights of women, the story could be written about wars and battles today.

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