Read with: iBooks for iPad
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Pocket Books
Series: Westmoreland Dynasty, Book 1
Hero: Royce Westmoreland
Heroine: Jennifer Merrick
Date of Publication: March 1989
Started On: August 8, 2011
Finished On: August 10, 2011
Judith McNaught’s historical romances are timeless. Timeless I say because no matter how many times one re-reads her stories, it never gets old and there is always something new about the story that captures your attention and holds it until you have turned the very last page. I think this is my 3rd or 4th time re-reading A Kingdom of Dreams and yet again Royce Westmoreland didn’t fail to invoke numerous sighing sessions as I read along and made me want a fierce warrior like him who loves just as passionately when at last he finally does fall for the woman who claims his heart, body and soul.
29 year old Royce Westmoreland aka The Black Wolf is Scotland’s most hated, and most feared enemy. Military life is all Royce has ever known and Royce’s latest command received from the King Henry himself has him gearing up to face the Merrick’s clan of Scotland, the name itself making vengeance boil deep inside of him.
17 year old Jennifer Merrick is the daughter of Lord Merrick, the head of the Merrick clan. From a tender age, impulsiveness and recklessness combined with a desperate yearning to make her father love her, as he loved his stepsons, were responsible for a lot of grievances in her life. Though as the eldest daughter the leadership of her clan should rightfully pass onto her, Lord Merrick thinks naught of women and their capabilities beyond that of rearing children – a fact that hurts Jennifer more deeply than she ever lets on.
When Jennifer and Brenna are captured by the Black Wolf’s army, Jennifer’s sole focus lies in identifying ways through which she and Brenna can make her escape. Royce doesn’t expect that two women could create so much trouble in his camp and in his life when the fiesty Jennifer and her meek sister are brought along which Royce is hoping would end the battle they are all gearing for without bloodshed.
Jennifer valiantly tries and manages to escape captivity only to be caught yet again and though Jennifer knows that true to Merrick’s nature, the only thing she should feel for Royce with his unusual silver eyes is contempt and loathing at best, she is no match for the yearnings that stir into life in the arms of Royce, her enemy. Neither Jennifer nor Royce is prepared for the desire that each feels for the other and for the headiness of a passion so fierce to obliterate everything else from their minds.
Royce convinces himself that lust is the only thing that he feels for a woman who infuriates him and humbles him at the same time. And when his need to possess Jennifer makes him claim her virginity, even then Royce is more than happy to label it away as a mere case of lust for his beautiful and defiant captive.
Jennifer’s heart bleeds for the fact that in Royce’s embrace she feels no shame even though she knows that consorting with the enemy would only earn more hatred from her clansmen. When once again Jennifer escapes Royce’s clutches making him the laughingstock of both England and Scotland, Royce is livid with rage and that is the only thing that drives him to accept orders by his king to tie himself to Jennifer in holy matrimony.
Thus begins a battle of wills that dies a slow death as the passion that exists between Royce and Jennifer burns hotter than ever, cementing a connection between two souls who are so meant for each other. But love and a happily ever after is not an easy one for either of them to achieve as treachery and deceit from Jennifer’s family nearly drives them apart for good until Jennifer comes to realize that her destiny lies entwined with that of Royce and that there is no turning back from the love of a man who makes her feel treasured and safe at the same time.
A Kingdom of Dreams is a romance that provokes the reader into indulging in a dream or two of her own as Royce completely sweeps you off your feet and shows you the reason why romance heroes are worth swooning over. Royce is a fierce man, a battle hardened warrior who has seen so much death and destruction throughout his career that he longs for normalcy and a life that he can call his own. His tenderness when it comes to Jennifer and the way he feels stirrings of righteous indignation on Jennifer’s behalf upon hearing how she has been treated by her own clansmen and family made me fall that much harder in love with him. A true romantic would not be able to read this without falling for Royce, a fact that I am reassured of as I manage to fall for him over and over again every single time I read this book.
Jennifer is a heroine who is worthy of someone like Royce. Loyal, loving, kind and generous, Jennifer’s soul yearns for the day that all of whom she loves would love her back, a day that she would be accepted for who she is, impulsiveness and all. Though at times it feels as if Jennifer is being a trifle bit too hard on Royce, she makes up for it so beautifully towards the end that I fell for the sheer charm she brings into the story.
Filled with a lively and riveting bunch of side characters of which Aunt Elinor definitely deserves a mention, A Kingdom of Dreams is a must read if you are a true fan of romance.
Royce flung her arm aside, and Jenny stayed where she stood, paralyzed with remorse and anguish as she gazed at the beautiful animal she’d inadvertently killed. As if in a dream, she watched England’s fiercest warrior kneel on one knee beside his dead horse, slowly stroking the animal’s glossy black coat, and speaking words she could not quite hear in a voice that was raw.
Her head lifted, and Royce froze in surprise and reluctant admiration for the amazing sight he beheld. Standing there like a wild enraged gypsy, her hair tumbling all about her like golden flames and her huge blue eyes alive with hatred and unshed tears, she slowly raised her hand… a hand which was holding a dagger which she’d obviously managed to snatch from his boot as he spanked her.
And in that unlikely moment, as she held his dagger poised high, ready to strike, Royce Westmoreland thought she was the most magnificent creature he’d ever beheld; a wild, beautiful, enraged angel of retribution, her chest rising and falling with fury as she courageously confronted an enemy who towered over her. He’d hurt her and humiliated her, Royce realized, but he hadn’t broken that indomitable spirit of hers.
His wry tone made Jenny burst out laughing, and Royce found himself captivated by the infectious joy, the beauty, of it. He’d never heard the music of her laughter before, nor seen it glowing in her magnificent eyes. Seated on a pile of lush furs, laughing up at him, Jennifer Merrick was unforgettable. He realized it as clearly as he realized that if he walked over and sat down beside her, there was every chance he was going to find her irresistible as well.
As he spoke, his hand curved round her head, pressing inexorably downward, inch by slow inch, until his warm breath was mingling with hers, and then his gaze lifted, locking with hers. Insistent, knowing gray eyes captured frightened, beguiling blue ones, imprisoning them as he brought her lips down against his. A jolt slammed through Jenny’s entire nervous system, her eyes closed, and his lips began to move on hers, thoroughly and possessively exploring each tender curve and trembling contour.
Perched upon that log, Royce thought she looked incredibly desirable—a charming wood nymph with long curly hair, clad in a boy’s tunic and hose. A wood nymph? Next she would have him composing sonnets to her beauty—and wouldn’t that delight her sire, not to mention enliven the gossip at court in two countries! “Was that question too difficult for you?” he said, his voice sharp with self-annoyance. “Shall I try to frame an easier one?”
Jennifer’s eyes lit with fondness. “Brenna will always find something good to say about me, no matter how shocking my mistakes or outrageous my conduct. She said I ‘sparkled like the sun and moon and stars.’ ” A bubble of laughter escaped Jenny and she regarded Royce with eyes aglow with merriment. “Which of course I did—sparkle, I mean.”
His voice harsh with feelings he could neither understand nor contain, Royce looked at her and said tightly, “Some women need no jewels to make them sparkle. You are one of them.”
Failing to catch sight of the giant, Tom quickly turned his gaze back for a longer study of the entire, famous man, and this time he took in the entire picture before him—a picture that made his mouth drop open in shock and disbelief: The Black Wolf, the most fierce warrior in all England—in the world—was sitting atop his mighty warhorse, with a girl cradled in his arms—holding her as tenderly as a babe!
Lifting his head, Royce stared down into her slumberous blue eyes, and Jenny saw the look of pure satisfaction mingled with puzzlement on his face—”Why is it when you yield, I feel like the one who has been conquered?”
“Why is it,” Royce murmured, gazing into her intoxicating eyes, “that every time you surrender willingly, like this, you make me feel like a king who has conquered. Yet when I conquer you against your will, you make me feel like a defeated beggar?”