Book Review: Royal Enchantment by Sharon Ashwood
Once upon a fairy tale, Merlin put King Arthur and his knights into an enchanted sleep, to await a future time when they would be needed. I think the line I recall was 'to defend Britannia in her darkest hour'.
However, what would happen if some wealthy entrepeneur happened to buy up the church where the knights lay in their enchanted sleep and relocated the whole thing lock, stock and barrel to the United States? Camelot is now on American soil, and as the knights begin to wake in the modern world, they have to adapt to many things they never expected.
The last thing Arthur expected, after months of working hard to fit into the mortal world, is for his wife to reappear.
Merlin, you see, neglected to mention that he put Guinevere into an enchanted sleep as well.
Married at seventeen to seal a treaty, Guinevere respected the warrior king who was her husband, but the truth was that she barely knew him, and he certainly didn't know her. Left behind again and again as he took his knights off to war, she grew tired of being a queen in name only, an ornament for the king's court. So when Merlin told her that he'd had no choice but to put Arthur in an enchanted sleep, to await some nameless peril in the distant future, Gwen was of no mind to be left behind again.
Waking up in the twenty-first century, she's still pissed with Arthur, who I felt a bit sorry for even while fully understanding Gwen's point of view. Married to a beautiful young girl who he saw as a beacon of brightness and hope in a world full of war and death, Arthur was desperate to keep her safe, untarnished by the darkness he spent his life fighting against. Finding out that he almost lost her to an illness she contracted nursing sick soldiers the one time he allowed her to come to battle, I completely understood his desire to protect her.
Arthur's journey to acceptance of Gwen's free will isn't an easy one, and when he has to contend with dragons and other mythical beasts a rogue fae seems hellbent on loosing on the world, it's very tempting for him to act like an autocrat, especially considering the status of women in the time he was born to.
In the end, however, he accepts Gwen's need to be queen in more than just name. They find their way to a true partnership, and the love both of them always wanted in their marriage besides.
While this is apparently the third in the Camelot Reborn series, it is quite readable as a standalone. I confess to a massive weakness for Arthurian legends, starting with T.H. White's classic Sword In The Stone when I was about eight years old, and I'm just as happy with modern versions as medieval ones.
This is a really great story. I loved Guinevere and Arthur together, but I was a little disappointed at Merlin's 'magical cheating' which enabled her to 'just know' lots of things about the modern world. Making discoveries about the modern world could have had lots of comedic potential; perhaps that's my own tendencies to look for the laughs when writing showing. Maybe one day I'll write my own tales of King Arthur and his knights waking up and having to contend with massive culture shock.
Until then, I highly recommend you give Royal Enchantment and the other books in the Camelot Reborn series a try. They're well worth a read. Five stars.
Disclaimer: I received this book for review from NetGalley.