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Book Review: The Loyal Heart by Merry Farmer (@MerryFarmer20) Free!

This week is Merry Farmer‘s Birth-week. And in celebration, she is offering her first Historical Romance in the Loyal Series up for free. You can read my review below. And since this is one of my first encounters with a WELL WRITTEN self-published book, I wanted to promote it for her.

You can get her book here:

The Loyal Heart (The Noble Hearts, #1)

The Loyal Heart by Merry Farmer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Overall story: This is definitely not your average Robin Hood tale. Although it has similar characters and circumstances: a bandit stealing money from a noble on the road in the middle of the woods, Prince John, the sheriff, I think that’s the extent of similarities.

The story revolves around loyalty, while the title is only scratching the surface. It has several layers intricately woven throughout the whole book. Loyalty to the crown, loyalty to the master, loyalty to the family, loyalty to the childhood sweetheart, and loyalty to your true heart. It will keep you guessing, plotting, and wanting.

I love a deep, psychological, in your head type of book. Books that make you think. Go deeper than the surface. The story and characters all have many layers and Merry Farmer gives it a good show.

Grammar/Editing: I would have LOVED to have been able to do a line-by-line critique/edit of this while it was still in beta. I truly enjoy helping writers become better writers, while they do the same for me. There are a few grammatical errors and POV confusions throughout the book. (“Glancing” is definitely an overused word that left me groaning by the end.) While tripping me up every now and again, they are still easy to overlook because of the story as a whole.

When you are the author and so close to the story, it’s easy to miss errors. Even having a single copy-editor, I could understand some slip through. Heck, even traditional published books still have their own grammatical/spelling errors. But if the author has a couple of really good people, betas, critique partners, that are willing to go over it line-by-line, fewer errors will ever get through. The more eyes the better, right?

Characters: Merry Farmer makes me become, fall in love, despise, loathe, cringe, want, and fall in love all over again. Her characters are not just three-dimensional, they are real–each having a distinct personality all their own. Whether you want to love them, hate them, or both, you will find that you will question, you will want to reach through and strangle them, slap them, or shake them until they wake up. No person is perfect, and nor are her characters. Some even have redeeming qualities, while others are pure evil.

  • Lady Aubrey: Very strong and independent. A main character you can really get into the head of, feel what she feels, and plot, hope and love right along with her. She’s calculating. She’s head-strong. She’s smart. All of which, make her clash with any and all men she meets. And in this era, a woman like that should be put in her place. She will have none of it, from anyone. Well, maybe just one…
  • Sir Ethan: A very noble man. Fights for what he believes in. Defender of the crown and country. Fights for his country, his land, his right, and his love. At every turn, Aubrey clashes with his wishes, his plans, his attempts to get back what is rightfully his. But he always puts his priorities in the wrong basket, which ends up getting him into a lot of trouble.
  • Sir Crispin: You are supposed to despise him. He is the epitome of authority. Secrets. Lies. And a “love” for Aubrey that looks to be a strategic move, only superficial. She refused him once before. She refuses to be controlled, told what to do. Infuriating Ethan. But through her decisions, her actions, she begins to see the truth, and so does the reader.
  • Lord Buxton: I loathe this man! Not just hate him. I LOATHE him. He’s disgusting. He’s brutal. He wants what he wants and doesn’t care who he hurts in the process to get it. As long as he gets it and it makes him look good doing it! I wanted to see him dead. Well, if not dead, then stripped of everything and made to beg on the streets—a fate worse than hell for him. People like him do not deserve greatness. But it’s people like him that always seem to get wealth and power, even today.
  • Jack: I adore this character, even though he says “Oy!” way too much. 😉 His basic, rough, very matter-of-fact character is someone you just can’t help but love. He is true to himself, and everyone around him. There is no hiding who he is. He is definitely not blinded by power, nor loyalty to anyone but himself and his heart. He makes his own way in life, does what he feels is right, regardless who does or doesn’t follow. He is a very strong supporting character who’s loyalty changes when he sees the truth with his own eyes.
  • Geoffrey/Toby/Tom/other minor characters: I’m not sure that we need to have a point of view for any of the minor characters. There aren’t too many to distract the reader, but I don’t feel the need to get into their head at any given time. We could easily see their POV through their actions and through the eyes of the others, I think.

I am not a very fast reader due to my real life situation. I read when I can. I also write when I can. So when the voices in my head tell me to write, I write. When I’m stuck, I read. This book was really engaging, riveting at points. I didn’t want to put it down, even when life made me. I am pleasantly surprised that I found a self-published book, worthy to stand the ground against a traditional published one.

I still fear, though, the self-published world is inundated with bad books. Since everyone can publish, everyone thinks they can write. I hope to find more quality, self-published books out there, like Merry Farmer. This is the first self-published book I actually enjoyed and while I don’t normally read romance, I’d still recommend this book. If you like historical romance, a strong female main character, a bit of sword play, chess, settings in the medieval era, Robin Hood, and lord/peasant society, secrets, spies and plots, you will enjoy this book. However, be warned, there are a couple of very detailed, intimate scenes that are rather necessary for plot progression. This is not something you want your teenager reading.

View all my reviews


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