The House of Four Winds by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory
Published by Macmillan, Tor Books on 2014-08-05
Mercedes Lackey is the New York Times bestselling author of the Valdemar series and romantic fantasies like Beauty and the Werewolf and The Fairy Godmother. JAMES MALLORY and Lackey have collaborated on six novels. Now. these New York Times and USA Today bestselling collaborators bring romance to the fore with The House of Four Winds.The rulers of tiny, impoverished Swansgaard have twelve daughters and one son. While the prince’s future is assured, his twelve sisters must find their own fortunes.Disguising herself as Clarence, a sailor, Princess Clarice intends to work her way to the New World. When the crew rebels, Clarice/Clarence, an expert with rapier and dagger, sides with the handsome navigator, Dominick, and kills the cruel captain.Dominick leads the now-outlawed crew in search of treasure in the secret pirate haven known as The House of Four Winds. They encounter the sorceress Shamal, who claims Dominick for her own—but Clarice has fallen hard for Dominick and won’t give him up without a fight. Full of swashbuckling adventure, buoyant magic, and irrepressible charm, The House of the Four Winds is a lighthearted fantasy romp by a pair of bestselling writers.
The House of Four Winds has the air of a fairy tale. A fairy tale that features pirates, nonetheless. It’s an interesting setup; the royal family of a struggling land has a dozen daughters. They are each tasked with learning a trade seeing as how their family can’t support them all. The eldest daughter, Clarice, takes up the sword as her trade and on her eighteenth birthday sets out to gain experience, and more importantly sets out in search of adventure!
Clarice’s goal is to travel far and wide, earning a name for herself with duels so she might come back and teach others the sword as a renowned swordmaster. To best achieve this and have the greatest opportunity of success, she decides it would she should travel as a man. So, she sets out as “Clarence” and eventually finds herself aboard a ship, with high hopes and an excited anticipation of adventures to come.
For whatever reason, I love stories where a female character is living under the guise of a man for one reason or another. I also love the prospect of them being skilled in an area such the sword. So, I thought this one might be a good fit. And for a while it was. I enjoyed Clarice’s character and how she interacted with her shipmates. I even enjoyed her relationship with Dominick, that is also her love interest. At least up until a point.
Now, I want to make a disclaimer. I don’t often read books that are tagged romance. This one was. But every once in a while, I like to read something a bit different. Sometimes I look for something more fun, less dark, so I’ll request a book out of my normal reading range. This was one of those.
The problem for me was that it had what I could consider to be a Disney style romance. It’s that quite sudden, consuming love that leads characters to say and do things that just make me roll my eyes. Actually, I shouldn’t say ‘consuming’, because unlike some books, the focus was not lost because of romance. So I applaud it for that. I also knew going into this it was a romance, so I can’t decide how to judge it. This is not my normal sub-genre and I know I am quite finicky about romance in my books. So, just because I had a negative reaction to this part, may very well have no bearing on what other readers will think of it. And to be completely fair here, I said early this has the feeling of a fairy tale story, and the ending and the romance were both very true to that form. I think for the type of story it was, it did quite well.
I enjoyed the story, but the resolution came rather sudden and easy for me, personally. Much like the romance aspect of it. It is a lighter read, perhaps that should not be a big deal, as the book was written to be a swashbuckling fun adventure. And it was, but I think I would have enjoyed it more if that part of it was either a slower build, or if the romance were left out completely. But hey, it’s a fairy tale romance, it’s meant to be a fairy tale romance, so you probably shouldn’t take that criticism from me to mean much. I can’t fault a book for being something it is supposed to be. The rest of the story I really did enjoy. So, if you are one that enjoys books with fairy tale romances like this, than it is definitely worth checking out.