Renegade Muse


Discuss this book

[1] Posted by laura kinsale on 01.08.2010

(Comments closed due to spam.  Feel free to email me or make contact on Twitter or Facebook.) All opinions are welcome, positive or negative, but civility and polite language are required for comments to remain.  Political or religious references are not allowed, unless directly related to the book under discussion. I do answer questions but I seldom give interpretations about my books or characters, because I enjoy hearing what readers see in them.  These comments and discussions replace my old forum at The Terrace. WARNING: Book discussions may contain spoilers.

[2] Posted by Susan on 01.16.2010

Laura,  Your comments above indicate that for me you conveyed the concept exactly.  I love the small details, interactions, and scenes in this book; her reading to the staff from the newspaper, and why she chose one article v. another.  Awesome!

[3] Posted by Dea on 01.17.2010

The Shadow and the Star is my favorite! Leda is wonderful. Under her naive surface, she’s steadfast and brave. The scenes with her and the Ladies are hilarious. She is exactly right for someone as wounded as Samuel.

I read this book on a Kindle and now I think I need to track down a paper copy with the Fabio cover because that is just way more interesting haha

[4] Posted by Michael on 01.17.2010

The Shadow and the Star is one of my favorite books.  I loved everything single freaking thing about it.  From the flashbacks to the cherry brandy to the bridetable to the incredibly satisfying ending, I enjoyed every word.  In the words of Comic Book Guy, BEST…ROMANCE…EVER.

[5] Posted by Brenda on 01.20.2010

This was the first LK novel I’d ever written…I was a senior in High School (I’m now 36), and have been an addict ever since!! I have to agree with Susan, that the small details are what help draw me in, and Michael, the cherry brandy scene is one of my favorites!! But I also love the scene in the library when Samuel has Leda try on the necklace…so very provocative and sensual!!

[6] Posted by SandyO on 02.02.2010

I’ve been reading romances for about thirty years.  And with most of the memorable ones, I can remember everything about the hero, but rarely anything about the heroine.  Except LK’s books.  And with the Shadow and the Star, as much as I love Samuel (that windblown Gabriel come to earth minus nothing but the wings), it is Leda that always makes me smile.

[7] Posted by Hannah on 02.17.2010

The Shadow and the Star was the second book that I had read of Laura Kinsales. This was an EXCELLENT story. I usually take books after I read them and exchange them for other books, this book continues to remain on my shelf. I have never willingly re-read a book, but this book I will do so time and time again. Outstanding imagery and characters.

[8] Posted by Pam on 03.04.2010

While Prince of Midnight was the first Laura Kinsale book I ever read, this one captured me and became my favorite. I still have a vivid memory of reading it in college, laying on my bed and being so caught up in the prose that I barely remembered to breathe. (It was the scene where Samuel put the necklace on Leda, if I recall.) It’s one of my own goals as a writer to be able to capture readers in the same way, and to leave that kind of lasting impression (we’re talking twenty years now!).

[9] Posted by Annabel Joseph on 06.21.2010

Ah. I just finished what must be my fifth or sixth reading of The Shadow and the Star, on the heels of finishing the Hidden Heart. I think the reason I love this book so much is that it has such a strong atmosphere. I can almost feel Samuel’s brooding emanating off the page, and Leda’s propriety and hidden yearning is so palpable!
I’m a romance author too, and I just turned in a book to my editor which has a slightly Japanese/shibari flavor, and the hero was creating a “senbazuru”, or one thousand cranes, in hopes of being granted a wish (the heroine’s love, of course!) It had been so long since I read this book, I didn’t even remember Leda’s gift to Samuel of ten times one thousand cranes at the end, but I wonder if it was hiding there in my subconscious as I was writing my own book. This book is just a treasure. Thank you, Laura, for writing it.

[10] Posted by laura kinsale on 06.22.2010

Thank you Annabel!  Good luck with your writing.  I think we all have many things stuck away in our mental attics and put them together in our own unique way.

[11] Posted by Vixen on 10.04.2010

Hi Laura. I haven’t posted anything on your site since May this year.
I’m finding I want to savour your books;like a really unique and delicious meal, or a glass of Rioja - I don’t want to rush them. I have SO enjoyed and relished each and EVERY one of them - for different reasons. I’ve realised that I’m taking plenty of space between each book too, so that I can keep my impressions of each one, separate from the others. And I’m so happy that I’ll be reading them all over again in a year or two!

I’ve now read seven of them in total. The last one being “The Shadow and the Star”, which - although I’m very reluctant to display favouritism - IS my favourite! (So far.) I absolutely adore Samuel - I think the characterisation is superb.  I love his relationship with Leda - how it grows very slowly, and how fierce and deep it is by the end of the story.  I love how you don’t make everything magically ok at the end for him.  To some extent, he will always remain damaged by his early childhood and he is all the more real and enthralling for it.  Love all the Ninja stuff! - you made it so believable - those first few back-story chapters were beautiful. Leda’s story is equally engaging - I like not having every little thing explained to me about a character; I can use my imagination. She and Samuel are a good fit - she’s so steady (thanks to the influence and love of those old ladies).  I could go on and on. It was such a satisfying read. I know I’m gushing and I apologise!  (How do you do it??  Silly question; I know it has cost you.)

I’ve asked my partner if he would please train to be a Ninja. He’s said, ‘No.’ But I’m working on him.


[12] Posted by laura kinsale on 10.07.2010

Oh, I really think he should reconsider becoming a ninja! ;)  They are sooo sexy.

Thanks so much Vixen and glad you are enjoying the books.

[13] Posted by Nerine P on 10.17.2010

A simple ‘thank you’ doesn’t convey my sincere gratitude to you for writing The Shadow and the Star.  I’ve read this book several times now, and without fail, each time find myself moved to tears for the suffering Samuel endures - both physically in the past, and psycologically throughout his life.

Leda is steadfastly loyal to Samuel, even when she doesn’t understand why.  She is reserved and demure which are qualities Samuel needs to have around him.  Lady Tess was right, Kai would have destroyed Samuels soul.  Kai’s unleased passion had they wed would have made Samuel loathe himself, and eventually loathe her.

Again, thank you for such a moving and memorable romance.

[14] Posted by Fabiana M on 10.17.2010

I..I can’t even explain what this book makes me feel..I don’t have any words for it.
It’s a treasure.

Thank you so much!..Thank you!

[15] Posted by laura kinsale on 10.18.2010

Thank you Nerine and Fabiana!  I always felt that Leda and Samuel sort of filled the empty spaces that each of them had.

[16] Posted by Melissa Winters on 02.04.2011

Oh, I loved this book - stayed up past 2am, despite having work at 8am. I cried for Samuel, I loved Leda, and having spent a year in Japan, that was just like the cherry on top. One of the few books I intend to keep forever - it is a treasure.

[17] Posted by laura kinsale on 02.05.2011

Very glad to hear you enjoyed it, Melissa!  The research for the Japanese elements was fascinating for me.

[18] Posted by Peggy Black on 02.12.2011

Ms. Kinsale,
I have read (and reread) as many of your books as I have been able to find and love this one the best of all. The scene before the mirror when Samuel forces Leda to try on the choker…oh my!!! I am breathless every time I read it! I just finished Lessons in French and love its hero too.  Your leading men are so human, but still so extrordinary, as are your heroines.  I would give an arm and a leg to be able to write as well as you!

[19] Posted by Leigh Kandetzke on 03.13.2011

Hello Ms Kinsale,
I have to tell you that I have the paperback of this book and have read it so many times that I can’t count that high.  But each time I read this novel I still feel that same emotions as if I’m reading for the first time!! I so love both your hero and heroine. I would love for you to write another novel with Samuel and Leda. I always try to image what their future is like. I started with your novel with Seize The Fire, which I fell in love with and read several times before Shadow and The Star came out. I love that your heros are not perfect and the love of woman gives them peace.  Please write more like these two. I so loved Shadow and The Star that I purchased the kindle version to preserve my paperback.  Thank you for such wonderfull novels.

[20] Posted by marianne dinel on 03.15.2011

Hello again, LK.
I was a sometime visitor on your old site, and it’s nice to find you again after so long.
Along with your book list, I am also a devotee of another “Laura” - Laura London, (also a nom-de-plume) and have always thought Samuel could be a “soul-brother” to a most beloved character in the London classic The Windflower. That would be Cat, or Cathcart, as he becomes once his sire is revealed. Reviewers of the London book often bemoan the fact that the author never penned a sequel, and nearly always mention Cat, a beautiful, soul-scarred adolescent - the product of a British peer and an opium-addicted mother who overdosed and left him to survive alone in a brothel. In the book, his childhood seems so similar to Samuel’s that I can well imagine Cat meeting and falling in love with his own Leda one day.
It is a mark of a splendid writer and a superb story when the characters come to life in a way that over-reaches and transcends the world of the original story. I have always felt that you are expert in creating exactly that sort of character.
To articulate the exquisite pleasure that reading your books has brought me, since the first one I picked up more than thirty years ago in a tiny used book shop in New England to the present, is beyond my limited verbosity.
Thank you.

[21] Posted by flip on 04.02.2011

The Shadow and the Star is my favorite novel by Laura Kinsale. For me, Leda’s coming of age is the most honest portrayal of that difficult period. Also, I must agree with Marianne that with the story of Samuel, you gave us the final story about Cat which Laura London never wrote.

[22] Posted by Nilu Fernando on 06.29.2011

Dear Ms. Kinsale,

The Shadow and the Star is my favorite book by you, with Flowers From the Storm holding the runners up position. You are a genius with characterisation,and your writing style is so unique. You have spoilt me from reading other romance novels. Every other romance novel by other historical romance authors pales in comparison. I say this with conviction because I am a voracious reader and not just confined to the romance genre. Your books actually makes me feel as if they were written in that era. I have your entire book collection on my Kindle because none of your physical books are avilable in my country. (I’m from Sri Lanka by the way).Look forward to something new from you. I’m glad that I found your books.
p.s Nemo is my favorite pet. S T’s relationship with Nemo was beautifully done :)

[23] Posted by Allie on 08.12.2011

I’m rereading this right now and enjoying it more the second time.  The dialog in this book is just so good - especially Leda’s.  I love how each character has such a distinct voice.  And the metaphors!  There was one about falling asleep being compared to unrolling a bolt of dusky cotton fabric that particularly struck me.

[24] Posted by Elvira Madigan on 01.02.2012

Dear Laura,

This is not the first time I have written, but it makes me feel good to say it again: Laura, you have my heartfelt thanks for each and every book/child. And yet, there is something so special about The Shadow and The Star. Just the other day, I was holding my own baby and wondering what it was like for Samuel and Leda to become parents. They were forced to be a bit impolite with regards to Baby Thomas, in the insistence that he wasn’t theirs. What must it have been like for them to be pregnant and to anticipate with joy the arrival of their baby? I imagine them with many children. I believe that Samuel and Leda will continue to grow and become more confident in their love for each other, and that this confidence is a loving environment that nurtures loving and precocious children. Imagine Samuel teaching his daughters, as well as his sons, the samurai arts! Just the thought of that makes me smile.

And sometimes when I am planning a birthday party, I think to myself, I wonder what it was like for Samuel to have his first birthday party with Leda? I imagine that Leda would find many more special gifts for Samuel, and that they would have found a day that was special to Samuel and made a great celebration for him. (Even though, I can’t imagine that Lady Tess and the family did not celebrate Samuel as a boy? Can this be right?)

And to bring in another discussion, thank you for only writing for yourself and not trying to assume what we readers will like or not like. Your work is art. You know that. We know that. Samuel and Leda know that. That is why they showed up and whispered their story to you.

All the best wishes for a fun 2012!
Elvira Madigan

[25] Posted by laura kinsale on 01.17.2012

OK, again I find I’ve missed comments.  Back nearly a year!  My apologies, I do try to respond but if I don’t, it’s because somehow I didn’t see them.

Peggy, thank you!  That’s one of my favorite scenes, too.  I like for characters to be a bit human—or maybe a lot human! Helps me relate to them in all my own vices and flaws. ;)

Leigh, thank you for keeping that paperback and getting the ebook too! I think romances work the best when the hero and heroine bring something to one another that the other doesn’t have and badly needs. In TSATS I got lucky in that way with Leda and Samuel.

Marianne and flip, thank you! I’ve heard readers compare Cat and Samuel before.  Samuel’s inspiration was different (he was in my first novel as you probably know) but I too remember loving The Windflower.  I can recall being a breathless fan at my first RWA conference, meeting the authors who were so kind and generous to other writers and readers.  Introvert that I am by nature, when I’m at conferences and feeling a bit overwhelmed, I remember that and try to model myself on them.

Nila, I’m so glad ebooks have allowed more readers access to many books, including mine!  Sri Lanka! Nowadays that’s not so unusual but it sounds so exotic to me to hear from a reader there. ;) Thank you!

Allie, thank you!  I had a lot of fun writing Leda. She’s one of my favorite characters.

Elvira, I learned a long time ago that the only way I CAN write is for myself.  Not convenient for marketing, but not much I can do about it. ;) It’s readers like you that make it all worth it, believe me. Thank you for writing.

[26] Posted by Doresa on 05.19.2012

Thank you.  The finals went well.  Wellll, if there’s no more Samuel and Leda, okay.  What is next and HOW SOON.  I miss your books.  Take care and enjoy the summer.

[27] Posted by Loret on 06.26.2012

Ms. Kinsale,

The Shadow and the Star is one of my very favourite novels ever!  I love to read and have many, many books but I can’t count how many times I’ve read the Shadow and the Star over the years.  It’s a sturdy little thing and I’m grateful that the pages haven’t started falling out yet.  I’m currently crying my way through a re-read and enjoying every minute of it.
Thank you for a wonderful story.


[28] Posted by laura kinsale on 06.26.2012

Loret, it’s always good to hear that a story has become an “old friend.”  Thanks for commenting!

[29] Posted by Rewa on 09.03.2012

I finally read Shadow/Star, i wrote a awhile back about Flowers Storm, which i totally adored. But now after reading Shadow Heart & Star, well, all 3 are very endearing. The main couples in all books are all adorable, you want their stories to cont, well, at least 1 more book of each. I would at least.

Its funny to read some comments on this website & the Amazon’s comments of ur books. I read the 5 to 1 stars, try to see why some choose 1 star or 3, etc, just out of curiousity & entertainment b/c some women’s comments are very comical!

Some thought Leda was too innocent & dumb w/ all her unrealistic propriety. For me, i wonder if they remembered the era u put the book in, the manners that ppl had back then, compared to now, gosh, we would be considered savages! We dont have much indiscretions or censorship, not w/ You tube, Facebk, Twitter, 500+ cable stations, Ipad, Iphones, etc. Ppl lives are downloaded & viewed in seconds, no more Greek messengers or VHS tapes, those days are antique, it would seem.

So yes, some of ur female characters or just character’s manners, propriety, etc, would seem very ludicrous if comparing our society now. When i came across Pride n prejudice, whoa, i was like, “ppl were like that, men were like that, WOW!!” I laughed b/c relationships, marriage,etc., women period, have more freedom. Its unfathomable to be so dependent on men for a place in society.

I loved reading all the historical books, i wonder & wonder how it must been like back then, w/o TV, internet, no mention of gays, or genocide, no electricity, no planes, etc. how ppl were w/o such expensive items. Time machines would be grand! i would pay for 1 day, 1 day to see a glimpse of early centuries, 1 day. But thank goodness for Hollywood & books to bring only my mind to the past, time machines will never be, shouldnt be, just wishful thinkn, cuz someone would use it for evil i’m sure.

In any case, i loved the description of Hawaii in this book, really anything regarding beautiful & majestic Hawaii. One would think i would get enough of Hawaii, being that i live in HI. I never get dulled by the sunsets/sunrises, i’m addicted. When i read Kapiolani Park/Diamond Head used to be a swamp, i was very shocked how industrialization changed the environment over the years. Sad too b/c
some places change w/ progression unfortunately, i love lookn at the blk/white photos of the old Hawaii in the museums, when there were no hotels or cars, etc. How nice it wud be just to sit in carriages on red dirt roads, how pleasant. But we have more mopeds, trucks, buses, etc. - this is not what i’m addicted to, no.

I have 2wks off, so books books books, swim, run, clean, books, books, books - thats my break. I’ll hav to get Hidden Heart now!

[30] Posted by Nancy on 10.09.2012

Man.  Can I tell you how long I looked for this book?  Fifteen years.  Yes, I was 15 when I first read it.  Then, several years later I thought, I really loved that book with the poor chick and the guy who invaded her bedroom, (wait…isn’t that all romance novels?) the catch to this is the Ninja theme, and his tortured soul.  Plus, Hawaii.  Gotta love some tropical island romance.  Anyway, back to my story.  I thought this book was done by another author, and I looked and looked.  Funny thing is, I found it a few days ago, by googling romance books from London to Hawaii.  I was ecstatic!!  I STILL love this book, 21 years later.  I’m 37 now, and I live in Japan, and I have taken quite a bit of language courses.  So now, this book, this time…has kinda gone full circle for me.  Thanks Laura.  Seriously, I’m thinking about buying your whole collection because of this one book.  You.  Rock.

[31] Posted by Rewa on 10.09.2012

Aloha Nancy,

I got “notifified” see below box down there. In any csse, i became LK fan as of last yr. If u decide to get some of her other books, purchase 1. Shadow Heart 2. Flowers fr. Storm 3. French Lessons - these are my ultimate favs of LK’s, plus Shadow Star. But all hav their own unique plots & sentimentalities that you’ll love to read about. French Lessons is the most humorous one of the 4, Shadow Heart is dark/erotic, & Flowers is the ultimate romantic, well in my opinion. I’m sure you’ll hav ur own opinion of RN novels.

If ur looking for other authors that come close to LK’s romantic style, other historticals i wud recommend, Lisa Kleypas, 2 books, “Then Came You” & “Dreaming of You” - read “Then Came You” 1st. Then 1 more by author Eloise James, “When Beauty Tamed the Beast.” These 3 are humor/romantic novels, very adorable plots! good love scenes too, not like that awful 50 Shades poop, doesnt even compare. 50 Shades is like rotten ole’ fish, no imagination; these books are well, “a box of your best sweets.” The quality of the writing of these books are much more creative, tenfold.
Enjoy <;-))

[32] Posted by Nancy on 10.10.2012

Thank you Rewa!  I own everything of Lisa kleypas, so I will get the Laura Kinsale’s and Eloise James’ books you recommended.  I am reading my lady’s heart now and I know I have read it before.  I haven’t read FSOG because of the writing.  Terrible, repetitive and lacking depth.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all down for a burning love scene, but I need the romance too.  Thanks again and I will totally enjoy!!  AND Laura you writing is truly beautiful.

[33] Posted by Tania on 10.13.2012

I read this book when it first came out(I have the original, though the cover is taped on) and have continued to read it at least once a year since then. No matter how many times I read it, it gets me. There are so many things that I love: the library scene, the South Street ladies, the “subversive smiling”. It is the true definition of Romance.

[34] Posted by Kim on 10.01.2013

This was the very first Romance book I ever bought. I saw it on display at a mall and thought the guy on the cover (Fabio) was gorgeous. I was 14. To this day (I am 36 now) it is my all time favorite book. I loved both the Leda and Samuel. My original is falling all apart so I keep it in a zip-lock baggie to preserve it! :)I actually have 2 other copies (with the original Fabio cover…just in case!

[35] Posted by laura kinsale on 10.01.2013

Hi, Kim! LOL maybe that original will be worth something some day. ;) So glad you enjoyed it.

I see that I have somehow missed replies on this thread, so I apologize very belatedly to Tania, Rewa and Nancy. Love your comments!

The Shadow and the Star will be released as an audiobook in December 2013. The narrator is Nicholas Boulton, and he is WONDERFUL.  I love how he did Leda, and Samuel’s American accent is so soft and sexy.

Look for links at in December!

[36] Posted by Aimee on 11.18.2013

Hi Laura, I’m excited about listening to Nicholas Boulton narrate this book. But I have a question or two. Forgive me if you’ve already answered this, but I noticed that Shadow and the Star is the second book in the Victorian Hearts series and I wondered if I need to read the first book before listening to the second or will that not matter?

[37] Posted by laura kinsale on 11.18.2013

Hi, Aimee,

That’s a great question. No, you definitely don’t need to listen to the The Hidden Heart, first, or at all, for that matter. THH was the first book I ever wrote, and many years later, I remembered a minor, minor little boy character who appeared briefly in it, and I felt he ought to have a happier life than the story implied he’d get. All of that is made clear in TSAS, by the end. In some ways I think it would be better to read TSAS first in any case, and think of THH as more of a “pre-quel.”

The Shadow and the Star came out just yesterday (a bit early!) on Audible.

Nick is in a play this season with the Royal Shakespeare Company, so The Hidden Heart and the rest of my books will be recorded next year.

[38] Posted by Paola on 07.16.2014

Dear Laura, I can’t thank you enough for breathing life into these magnificent characters. I’m a vociferous reader and can still call TSATS my favorite book of all time. Yes, my favorite of all time. The attention to detail and the authenticity of the characters thoughts and actions are beyond compare. I’ve read it a thousand times and it still brings me to my knees every time. I could never read it in public ex. planes- because they would have to call the pilot and administer oxygen. My one question/ criticism is the realization that at 28 or 29 Samuel would not have, in the years of planning, taken under consideration that Kai would have wanted children? I loved Leda’s innocence regarding how children are made (priceless when she asks Tess id she’s sure) but it would seem Samuel would know something about it (animals and such) and that he would take that into account? Would love to hear your thoughts.

[39] Posted by Laura Kinsale on 07.16.2014

That’s a good question Paola.  I think in some ways it’s just a blind spot, because it’s such a threatening aspect of life to him. Also, because he was orphaned and never had a sense of being part of a genetic family, plus his unusual training and student/teacher relationship with Dojun, I kinda think he doesn’t really feel quite human, or at least like a normal human, as if he somehow stands apart from the messy physicality of life and birth and women.  Don’t know if that makes sense, but that’s how I look at him.

So glad you have enjoyed the book!  Laura

[40] Posted by Paola on 07.16.2014

Hi Laura- I just read my post and laughed. I wrote avaricious and spell check thought otherwise. although I’m rather loud when I’m crying and reading. Thank you so much for your response. That makes perfect sense. I cringe at the thought of casting Fabio as Samuel. No living mortal could really measure up. And I know Fabio personally, not that he’s not a nice guy but… One last question. How long does it usually take you to research your novels?

[41] Posted by Martha on 09.15.2014

Hi, Laura.  Enjoyed TSATS greatly.  Loved the ending, but I am a sucker for epilogues where we find out they did well in the future, had kids, etc.  So for TSATS I made my own epilogue in my mind.  In it I had Samuel present as Leda gave birth, but it was Leda who had to remind Samuel to breathe and think of waterfalls.  That always brings a smile to my face. 

Will there be a follow up to TSATS?  I don’t want this family’s storyline to end.

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