Tamara Leigh is a fascinating writer. I was first introduced to her writing through her initial foray into the inspirational market. My favorites were in her Head Over Heels collection, a successful romp within the chick-lit genre – books that were spiritually and emotionally enlightening and also laughter-inspiring.
These novels, in classic chick-lit style, offer poignant messages through delightfully quirky characters and situations.
Tamara Leigh, however, is also a writer of deeply historical fiction. When publishers were little interested in the medieval time period, she struck out on her own into the world of self-publishing. So glad she did!
Leigh has a good number of medieval novels out, some falling in the inspirational category, some falling more within the more general market. While some of her themes may be more edgy than some corners of Christian fiction, she maintains in all of her current writing, the intention of “clean” writing by avoiding sex scenes and particularly gruesome accounts of historical violence.
Her latest offering, The Vexing, falls within her inspirational medieval series, Age of Faith, and is its sixth installment. It aligns a story of love with a story of faith and redemption.Continuing the tale of Sir Durand Marshal that was present in the series’ earlier five books, The Vexing, follows Sir Durand as he is charged with the safe transportation of Lady Beata to her family – no easy task when one considers Lady Beata’s outspoken and vexing ways.
** side note ** I recommend The Vexing if you have spent time reading the five previous novels. Sir Durand’s tale is one significantly rooted in the plot lines of the earlier series installments and while a reader could follow along without the backstory (it’s presented well in the novel), readers would be better off engaging in his full story as written throughout the series.
This book is a wonderful tale of the personal price of redemption – and the very human struggle of accepting a redemption offered. Durand’s character offers us a poignant look at the struggles of sin (lust in particular), and how sin can influence so many aspects of life. It also grapples with concepts of atonement, forgiveness, steadfastness, and humility once forgiveness is offered.
The story deals a little more with the raw reality of sin than some of Leigh’s other novels, but does not go too far. It makes lust and attraction real while also maintaining a focus on the battle between giving in and resisting temptation.
In addition to its deeper themes, it is also an exciting tale of adventure and slight mystery. Lady Beata is a likable and strong heroine – and, ultimately, a good match for Sir Durand. While the book is a romance and, thus, owns a predictable ending, I especially appreciated another theme interwoven throughout the tale. So many romance stories hinge upon the idea that there is one “right” person with whom to fall in love. In a typical romance novel, when a love is so deeply felt it’s inevitable that the relationship works in the end. Refreshingly, this novel highlights that deep love can be felt in the wrong situation – but that does not preclude a person from later feeling love in the right situation.
The Vexing story doesn’t minimize the feelings of love that come before “ever after” but, rather, successfully reminds us that while we all fail – our God is a God of grace who may offer a second (or third…) chance for redemption that knocks our socks off.
All in all, The Vexing is an entertaining read that is also rife with important themes on faith and love. I enjoyed this one.