I love the romance in Summers at Castle Auburn. People talk of love triangles, but Sharon Shinn creates an infinitely more complex love square here, all accomplished with tingly romantic tension and no graphic love scenes. As a big fan of Jane Austen and similar works, I find this pleasantly drawn-out style of love story much more to my taste than the lets-hop-into-bed-two-minutes-after-meeting type of story so common today.
After all, Summers at Castle Auburn isn't just a romance. It's a fantasy with themes of slavery and independence, and lots of interesting but not overly-complicated, hard-to-follow court intrigue.
I like the main character a lot: a somewhat tomboyish girl, raised to be a witch (herbalist), but thrust into the world of nobility and royalty when she discovers her dead father was a nobleman. She makes friends just as easily with the rich nobles and the rough guards and the captive servants.
Also intriguing is the attraction between the main character's uncle, a renowned hunter of the alluring, fairy-like creatures used as servants in rich houses, and the queen of these ethereal creatures. Hunter and hunted united in a strange dance of hate and love, desire and fear.
The writing is good, and a whole lot more happens than in The Safe-Keeper's Secret, another of Sharon Shinn's works. See my less enthusiastic review for that book here. I'm not sure, however, that men would enjoy the tale as much as women.
My rating: 4+
My rating: 4+