Do you long for a spoonful of sugar when studying the bitter medicine of history? If you do, then Elena Maria Vidal's new novel, The Night's Dark Shade, will supply it.
While learning about the Albigensian Crusades in 13th-century France, thrill to the descriptions of 17-year-old Lady Raphaelle's romantic encounters with a handsome Hospitaller Knight of the Order of St. John, Martin de Revel-Saissac, with breath like "spiced wine" and garments that emanate the "mingled scents of clove and calamus from Jerusalem".
Raphaelle's amorous feelings for Martin do not change when she agrees, out of a sense of duty to her people, to marry the nobleman Sir Jacques. By then she has already escaped from the castle of her uncle where she had journeyed to marry her cousin! The castle turned out to be a stronghold of the Cathars, who believe that sex and marriage are an abomination. Will she marry Bachelor #1, Bachelor #2, or Bachelor #3? Or go to the convent?!
Amidst all the turmoil, the story examines the role of romantic love in finding a suitable mate. Yes, romance is a wondrous thing, but what are the beloved's intentions? Is he "dallying" with your affection? This book is a fabulous stepping stone for mother-daughter, heart-to-heart discussions. At the same time you learn all about the Albigensian heresy and will recognize parts of it in today's culture.
I highly recommend it for mature teens and all people who don't mind staying up til midnight to finish a rousing good, solidly Catholic story.
In this interview by Catherine Delors, Elena Maria Vidal gives the background of the story.