Hillwalker Publishing (2015)
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (06/16)
“The House of Baric Part One: Shields Down” by Jillian Bald is a historical fiction novel set in the mid-1600s in the Venetian Empire’s colony of Croatia. A time when marriages were arranged by families for the benefit of increased wealth and standing in society. Such was the arrangement between Mauro Baric, the last of his line, and Resi Kokkinos, betrothed to Mauro from the time she was a child, to repay her father’s debt to the Barics. When Mauro finds himself the new Lord Baric after the sudden death of his father, he calls for his betrothed to seal their arrangement and begin the new era of the Baric Empire. Full of misunderstandings based on miscommunication and supposition, the new bride and groom must overcome numerous challenges such as war, smuggling, betrayal, and other family members as they learn to live and love together.
There is a large cast of characters in this story, but readers should not feel intimidated by this, as each character is essential to the plot and with the author’s detailed depth of each character, I found myself quickly immersed in the personalities. To help set the reader at ease, at the back of the book there is a wonderful glossary of the characters and some delightful drawings of the style of dress of the different societal classes and colonies.
The book is clearly a labor of love. The author personalizes the book, reaching out directly to readers in her A Note from the Author, describing the book in a more intimate summary that the summary on the back of the book. Another nice touch I also enjoyed and found most helpful, is the inclusion of A Very Brief History Lesson, a couple of pages describing the thirty-year war in middle Europe, the religious intolerance between the rulers, and informative descriptions of the various empires of the time period.
Overall I highly recommend “The House of Baric Part One: Shields Down” by Jillian Bald. The book has something for everyone: romance, drama, history, action and adventure, and the brilliant engaging storytelling ability of the author will have you soon craving the next installment in the series. Excellent read.