Chalice of Roses
Jo Beverley, Barbara Samuel, Mary Jo Putney, . . Signet Eclipse, $15 (400pp) ISBN 978-0-451-22902-1
Four engaging novellas bring romance to the legend of the Holy Grail. In Beverley's “The Raven and the Rose,” set in 1153, cloistered novitiate Gledys must find the literal man of her dreams so they can summon the Grail and ensure peace for the country. Putney's WWII-themed “The White Rose of Scotland” sets a Canadian RAF pilot and a British intelligence officer to track a Nazi spy who steals the chalice. In Harbaugh's “Miss Templar and the Holy Grail,” Regency society's expectations lead to a comedic misunderstanding of the protagonists' roles in the quest. Samuel's atmospheric but uneven “Eternal Rose” finds a modern woman seeking to free her lover from the fairy queen. The authors tie the Grail to pagan roots as well as Christian myth and deftly highlight romance rather than religion, making all four stories broadly accessible.
Reviewed on: 11/30/2009