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Reviewed by Lex Allen for Readers' Favorite
In Men of the Cross, author Charlene Newcomb opens the Battle Scars series with a resounding, epic novel of love and war. This historical romance novel, set primarily during the Third Crusade led by King Richard the Lionhearted of England in the 12th century, is told through the eyes of Sir Stephan l’Aigle and Sir Henry de Grey. The two knights become acquainted prior to shipping out with King Richard’s army and a close friendship develops. Later, Stephan, an avowed homosexual, falls in love with the inexperienced and religiously dedicated and indoctrinated Henry. With great skill, Ms. Newcomb produces a beautifully written story that adds another layer to this historical romance series. This level of intensity combines and displays all sides of the homosexual issues that began with the Church’s dogma prohibiting love or sex outside of a male/female married relationship, and includes the stigma of the LGBT community that continues to this day.
The love affair and the associated conflict that drives the story are handled exceedingly well; all the more phenomenal because the author is a woman, telling the tale of male to male love. The background is the Third Crusade and here Ms. Newcomb displays amazing skill in mixing historical facts, down to and including the names of people, animals and things that are no longer in our lexicon, with legendary characters. You’ll meet a knight by the name of Robin and two squires befriended by Stephan and Henry whose names are Allan and Little John among others. I was continually amazed at the dexterity with which Ms. Newcomb intertwined all of the facets of this story into a seamless, exceptionally well-written story. Not only do I highly recommend Men of the Cross to all readers of historical fiction and romance novels, I also recommend it to everyone who lives or open-mindedly supports the LGBT lifestyle. I loved this book, and I’m eagerly awaiting the next episode.