The Eagle and the Dove probably isn’t the greatest name for this fifteenth-century romance set in Moorish Granada. Eagles are predators and doves are prey but the romantic duo in this richly woven tale are anything but stock characters. Sarita is a Christian gypsy and Abdul is the caliph of the Alhambra but who is predator and who prey I couldn’t tell you by the end of the story. Jane Feather (another odd name) has written a decent adventure tale, disguised as a romance, with plenty of sex, an overlay of history, nicely detailed descriptions of life in the seraglio and the rough justice of the caravans and towns.
Sarita is a slight but extremely feisty redhead who steals away from her camp to meet with her forbidden lover. When the camp leader declares he will marry her, disaster follows and Sarita escapes her fate, brokenhearted and perilously unaccompanied on the dirt road to the border. Not for long. The mounted caliph, who spied her slipping back into her camp after a clandestine meeting earlier in the day, sends his men out to discover what they can of the intrepid girl–they find the girl herself and she is taken to the Alhambra at the caliph’s pleasure. Willing suspension of disbelief time–he is so taken with this strange bird he has captured that his natural chivalry asserts itself and he determines to win her over, however long that might take.
Lots of passionate teasing, fabulous silks, sensual baths and platters of figs and cheese follow. Sarita refuses to be consoled at landing in the lap of luxury, pretty much literally, and the battles begin. It’s very entertaining and the sex and romance are offset by the evil plotting of the head wife who is a total bitch and recognizes a threat when she sees one. Saying much more would just involve a whole list of spoilers. But Feather’s novel is a good read. The dialog tends to be both British and modern–not so credible for an Arabic-speaking Moorish noble and a Spanish-speaking itinerant Christian. The two of them could have met at Oxford but we’ll overlook that. Very steamy, moves fast, classic romance form hidden under the lacy arches, an end that screams Happily Ever After–too bad Feather couldn’t resist that big pink bow. But The Eagle and the Dove is a romance and it doesn’t stray from the genre, spicy history overlay or not. If you are lusting after a romance with a bit of substance and some hot chapters, this one will do.
Eagle and the Dove Jane Feather | Avon 1991