Dark Steel

Le Veque

Oblate (pre-vows nun) Grier de Lara, knight Dane Stoneley de Russe, and warlord Davies ap Madoc form an unrequited love triangle with elements spun from Shakespearean tragedy, a fairytale improvement of circumstances, and poetic influences from “Dream Deferred” by Langston Hughes mixed with dynamic battle scenes set in the Welsh Marches in the 1500s. An untimely death sets a chain of events in motion that makes Grier and Dane unlikely partners due to the machinations of their fathers. Their cautious initial rapport is portrayed with charming sensitivity. Grier’s position as a woman without personal agency who maintains her integrity of self despite being presented with a series of daunting circumstances is particularly interesting.

The nuanced authenticity of Grier and Dane’s developing relationship anchors this entertaining tale about grief, envy, ambition, and betrayal. Strong writing mechanics, vivid descriptions, and rich characterizations combined with an avoidance of using popular tropes in predictable ways – except for one very obviously foreshadowed setup – create a satisfying trip to bygone times for readers of medieval historical romance. In her author’s note Ms. Le Veque states that her books are written as stand-alones. Interrelated characters and story lines in “Dark Steel” were easy to follow without having read any of her other works.  

There are no love scenes until around the halfway point, but Grier and Dane’s chemistry builds to an encounter that’s physically and emotionally layered, an appealing and recurring trait in “Dark Steel”.  

Cardyn Brooks