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Nicole Zoltack

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Woman of Honor
by Nicole Zoltack   

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Books by Nicole Zoltack
· Champion of Valor
· Knight of Glory
                >> View all



Publisher:  Desert Breeze Publishing ISBN-10:  1936000032 Type: 


Copyright:  April, 2009 ISBN-13:  9781936000036

Aislinn is willing to give everything for Arnhem: her childhood, her life, even her heart.

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Desert Breeze Publishing

Aislinn of Bairbhe dreams of becoming a lady knight to honor the death of her fallen brother. To her mother's horror, King Patrick grants Aislinn's wish and she begins her long years of training.

Despite the mockery of the other pages, and the disdain of Prince Caelan who also trains to be a knight, Aislinn commits herself to her dreams and embarks on a journey of self-discovery and bravery. Through the years, Aislinn and Caelan grow from sparring classmates to good friends. They both know that someday Caelan will marry for the sake of the kingdom, but even that cannot keep them from falling in love.

The threat of war with the Speicans is a constant threat, and one that grows more frightening as she and Caelan train toward their eventual knighthood. Aislinn has committed herself to serving Arnhem, and has promised herself as King's Champion when Caelan claims the throne. She is willing to give up everything... her childhood, her life, even her heart for Arnhem. No matter the pain it brings.


Each day following her initial watery escapade, Aislinn returned to the watering hole. If someone else were there already, she would quietly leave. Most days, she was alone. Soon, she was able to kick her legs and move them around enough so that she floated in areas deeper than her height. Although she made progress, she still couldn't swim and she became anxious to figure out the key that so many others seemed to find so easy.

Time passed and her improvements were minimal, even though she felt she had come further than she ever dared. One day, shortly before summer, Aislinn approached the watering hole for her daily exercise in self-torture, but stopped short when she stepped into the clearing. Several pages were already swimming. Hardly anyone ever came to the swimming hole that time of day, and even when they did come, Geoffrey had told her they usually only came in small groups. Taking a step backward, Aislinn turned to leave, but not before someone shouted that the ¿puny wench¿ was running away. Before she could make it to the foliage line, several hands grabbed her, laughter swirling around her.

"Let me go!" she screamed, tugging against their grips.

There was more laughter, and she was lifted into the air. Aislinn screamed as they pitched her, and seconds later the water enveloped her.

Aislinn's first instinct was to panic but she forced the emotion away and tried to stand up. Her face broke through the surface of the water, and she sucked in a deep breath. She was in the middle of the water, the deepest part, and her feet couldn't touch the bottom of the lake. She bobbed in the water, trying to move her legs to keep her afloat, but her emotions ran high and it took her several tries before she succeeded. As she wiped her hair from her face, the roaring laughter of the boys greeted her.

"Hahaha, you were right, she can't swim!"

"I can't believe she got her head above the water."

"I think she needed to cool down, didn't you?"

Aislinn ignored them. She took a deep breath, raised her right arm up over her head, brought it down in front of her, and then moved her left arm in the same manner, while kicking her legs. She soon moved, finally swimming, and she quickly reached the other side. This silence the crowd but Aislinn's heart pounded so loudly that she wouldn't have been able to hear them. When she stood up, she turned to her pranksters.

"You're lucky I'm in such a forgiving mood. The next time any of you lay a hand on me, you shall live to regret it. I swear it." Her voice was low and deadly and two of the boys immediately dropped their jaws. They believed her, she saw, but the short one in the middle didn't. He must be the ringleader, she realized.

The boy in question spoke, "Sure. Run along now, little lady knight. Why don't you practice your dancing? After all, that class is the only time anyone would dance with you."

"Oh really?" Aislinn remarked coolly. "From what I hear, not all squires become knights. Not if they don't have the prestige or money to afford knighthood."

The page turned pink. "Why you little!"

Aislinn smirked, turned away, flinging her wet hair behind her, causing drops of water to wet him, and stomped away. She was pleased that no one spoke as she left.


That night, just before curfew rang, Caelan again knocked on her door. They stood just as they had at his first visit, Aislinn just inside her door and Caelan leaning close so only she heard what he said.

"I'm glad you listened to me," he said, relief evident in his smile.

"How did you know?"

"I had heard rumors that some of the other pages wanted to knock you down a peg or two and someone commented that they never saw you swimming. They just assumed--"

"Thank you for the warning."

He shrugged and smiled, leaning his shoulder against the doorjamb. "I didn't thought that you would listen."

"Why is that?" Aislinn asked, tilting her head slightly.

He grinned. "We both know why, Aislinn."

She didn't admit he was right, but Aislinn smiled. The only admission he would get that it was 'who' the advice came from, not the advice itself, she didn't want to listen to. But, he had yet to do anything to hurt her, so perhaps Prince Caelan wasn't as bad as she originally thought. Didn't mean he didn't get on her nerves from time to time. Aislinn looked down before she admitted "I wasn't ready for them to do that though."

"You were fine," he said quickly, his voice rising only slightly higher than a whisper, and she looked up. "I may not have seen the -- ah, event -- but I most certainly heard about it."

"That was the first time that I actually swam, fully and completely," she admitted.

"Well, you reacted quickly, not at all as if you were deathly afraid of water."

She shook her head, the vision of dark murky water returning. She had been having more nightmares about it and they affected both her sleep and work. "I couldn't let them win. I had to do something."

Caelan nodded, his eyes unreadable. "You won this round."

The prince left. Aislinn slowly closed the door behind him as her thoughts swirled around her. His last words haunted her and she refused to dwell on the possibility of another round.

Professional Reviews
Woman of Honor by Nicole Zoltack is a beautiful sweet romance with a touch of fantasy. The author uses a lyrical cadence in her descriptions. At first, I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy reading about a young girl, but to my delight, I did! Ms. Zoltack created a story that allowed me, the reader, to experience a different world through a seven year olds eye all the way through womanhood. The depiction of the surroundings, as well as the struggles Aislinn has in her travel to knighthood is well done. Tender moments sprinkled throughout kept the story warm and inviting. Aislinn is a heroine worthy of her ambitions. I was reluctant to stop reading for sleep because I wanted to know how the story progressed and if Aislinn succeeded. The supporting characters and accurate details gave a lovely view of life in medieval times. Ms. Zoltack took the time to build, layer by layer, a magnetic plot. Woman of Honor concludes nicely with the commitment of Aislinn and Caelan. The behind closed door intimacies seem very appropriate for this coming of age love story.
Ms. Zoltack did an excellent job giving a personality to Caelan through Aislinn’s eyes but as a reader, I want and expect a little of the hero’s point of view. What I missed was the thoughts and narrative of the hero, Caelan. Even with that said, I still found their journey to be wonderfully romantic.

With the exception of wanting a little more insight to the hero’s thoughts, I would recommend this book. Nicole Zoltack provides a well crafted story that focuses on emotion and anticipation. Not only a book that a young adult would enjoy, but a woman of any age who wants to enjoy romance and a strong heroine and how she gained her strength. In the future, we will see Nicole Zoltack ranking with many of the top authors we have come to love over the years. We will have a section of our bookcases or hard drives waiting for her newest release. I will certainly read the second installment in this series, Knight of Glory, due out in April 2010 because I enjoyed Ms. Zoltack’s writing and Woman of Honor that much.

Rated 5 Delightful Divas and a Recommended Read by Em Epe!
Aislinn is a little girl with big dreams. After the death of her older brother, she decides to follow in his footsteps and become a lady knight. Her quest for knighthood brings many challenges and the temptation of forbidden love. Aislinn learns that being a knight means putting the Kingdom in front of personal concerns and helping those that cannot help themselves. In a journey is fraught with danger and filled with adventure, Aislinn is forced to grow up fast. She must stay strong and develop the skills necessary to realize her lifelong dream.

With sword fights, passionate love, mythical creatures, and courtly games, Woman of Honor is my kind of book. I love the idea of incorporating real history in fantasy, and Ms. Zoltack’s book is based on the real life story of a group of female knights. Blending history with fiction, her writing is full of plot and adventure and her characters are strong and believable. Most of all, I grew to love all of them and cared about their hardships and successes.

Aislinn is quite the main protagonist. She’s tenacious and bold, beautiful and strong. The romance that blooms between her and the prince is well developed after years of solid friendship and teasing. I enjoyed reading about their secret courtship and had no idea how their romance would turn out! Ms. Zoltack has a few twists in store that will shock and startle as well as please.

In conclusion, I thoroughly recommend this book for everyone that enjoys fantasy, romance and adventure! I will be eagerly awaiting the sequel, Knight of Glory.
Title: Woman of Honor
Author: Nicole Zoltack
Publisher: Desert Breeze Publishing
Publication Date: March 2009
ISBN: 1-936000-03-2 or 978-1-936000-03-6
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Length: novel
Buy Link
Author Website
Rating: 4 Diamonds
Heat Level: sweet
Date: December 2009

Woman of Honor is the first in the Kingdom of Arnhem series and tells of a young girl’s desire to honor her brother’s memory by becoming a knight. The tale outlines the story of Aislinn’s adventures from a child of seven to adulthood in the twelfth century. There are glimpses of mythic creatures and such, but the book primarily focuses on Aislinn and her personal struggles as she strives to become worthy of the title Lady Knight.

Woman of Honor has all the best elements of an epic adventure – danger, self-discovery, unrequited love, true romance, and noble expectations. I found Ms. Zoltack’s world intriguing. The writing style and storyline flow nicely and the characters work well. Caelan, Geoffrey, Aislinn and many of the other knights-in-training demonstrate the attributes necessary for true honor. Although I occasionally struggled to suspend disbelief early in the novel - some tasks seemed impossible both physically and mentally for a child of seven or eight - the majority of Ms. Zoltack’s novel proved a delightful read. I left the story with a few unanswered questions about shadow warriors and Alce, but if I did not there would be no reason to read the next installment in the series. Woman of Honor provides a refreshing escape from the standard, making it a novel worth enjoying more than once.

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