FicCentral received a free copy of this book from The Writer's Coffee Shop (via NetGalley).
Publisher: TWCS Publishing House on February 20, 2014
Genre(s): Historical Romance (Adult), Paranormal Romance (Adult)
Will Somers has always thought himself unlovable. When he encounters a creature of myth and magic, he seizes the chance to finally have a wife and family of his own.
Emma is a selkie—one of the immortal fae-folk of the sea—bound to Will by the magic of her kind, and eager to learn about life on land. She has to learn to adapt quickly to human customs, because Will is headed for the court of Henry VIII, to serve as the king’s fool.
It’s a glittering, dangerous world, where a careless word can lead to the scaffold and the smallest of gestures is loaded with political implications. Anne Boleyn is charmed by Emma’s naïveté and soothing selkie magic and wants Emma for her own fool. Can Will protect his newfound love from the dangers that lurk in every shadow?
Circa regna tonat: around the throne, the thunder rolls.
Will Somers knows he will never have what other men have — a wife, children, love. Disfigured with a curved spine, he’s lucky to have not been turned out by his family and even luckier to have found regular work with a comedy troupe. But when he finds a nude woman sleeping on a beach, he gets his greatest wish.
Emma is a selkie, a magical creature Will knows only through the tales from his grandmother. Emma’s life has been spent in the sea, where she enjoys a freedom that women in Will’s time could never have. But she can come ashore, shed her seal-like pelt, and assume the figure of a human woman, and if her pelt is stolen while she’s in human form, she’s bound to the land until it is willingly returned to her.
Will sees finding Emma as his only opportunity to marry and perhaps have the family he’s always thought was out of his reach, so he takes Emma’s pelt and introduces her as his wife, taking her with him to court when he’s summoned to become the king’s fool. But court is a dangerous place, especially for a woman incapable of lying and an odd man looked down upon for his physical abnormality. As King Henry VIII separates from Catholic Rome and begins manipulating both religion and law to suit his string of marriages, Will and Emma find themselves in the midst of a political war.
I know Lissa Bryan is one hell of a storyteller, but Under These Restless Skies blew right past my already high expectations and sucked me in with just the first few pages. It’s a spectacular journey into history filled with royal intrigue, adventure, heartwarming romance, and a dash of magic and lore. It’s so well-written, each character and plot point so fully and perfectly fleshed out that it’s not just a story; it’s a trip back to a time when magic and superstition were altogether real, when the biggest stories in history were playing out, and when the unlikely romance of a disfigured man and a being plucked from legends seems like the most natural and incredible thing in the world. I thought I knew what I was getting into with this book, having read the author’s earlier fanfiction story about a man who stole a selkie’s pelt, but I was completely surprised and more than a little blown away by what is definitely not a recycled bit of fanfic. But aside from the general setting and legend, everything else is wholly original and altogether engrossing.
Will is physically imperfect, but it’s not something he has to overcome or correct; it’s simply who he is, a rarity in love stories. And Emma’s selkie nature is completely different than that of the humans she finds herself among, a difference that makes for delightful moments of levity alongside the suspense of Henry VIII.’s court If you’re tired of formulaic historical romances or their predictable contemporary counterparts, you must check out this story. Under These Restless Skies ignores the overdone recipe for love stories and plays out a fantastic romance during an incredible time in history, complete with scandal, political intrigue, and abiding honesty and love.