If you had the pleasure of reading All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, you know Bryn Greenwood does not shy away from controversial material. She continues this tradition with her latest book, THE RECKLESS OATH WE MADE. This story is equal parts romance and thriller, and Greenwood is equally adept at writing both. A modern day chivalric romance set on the Kansas prairie, The Reckless Oath We Made gives us two characters, Zhorzha (Zee for short) and Gentry, whose unlikely relationship grows through adversity and hardship. All I can say is, get ready for a book hangover*.
We begin with a drug run to Colorado. Zee quips that she has a pair of imaginary bill collectors on her shoulders the way some have an angel and a demon, and this drug run is to keep the rents paid and the bill collectors at bay. The daughter of a man who died behind bars, and a mother who copes through hoarding, Zee is used to making hard decisions and sacrificing herself for her family. Her financial woes include hefty hospital and physical therapy bills from a motorcycle wreck which is how she meets her champion, Gentry Frank, a young man with autism who works for a plane manufacturer by night, and immerses himself in medieval chivalric culture by day. A self-trained swordsman and archer, Gentry listens to the council of voices only he can hear—the wise witch, the bawdy Gawan, and the pious Hildegard. Or as Gentry puts it for the benefit of Zee: the “hag, nag, douchebag”. This short stocky young man with a bad haircut and a medieval turn of phrase drives her to and from physical therapy appointments, after the witch tells him to be her champion. He continues to watch over her, in a way most would find a bit baffling, if not invasive, but given Zee’s past, she brushes his attentions off as non-threatening.
It’s during this illicit trip to Colorado that she finds her sister, LaReigne, has been abducted during a prison break. The bottom falls out of Zee’s world and there is Gentry, waiting to help her pick up the pieces. Gentry’s protection offers Zee some support while she comforts her mother and deals with the press and the police, all the while using her father’s prison contacts to find out where her sister is and if she is safe. It’s Gentry’s singular devotion to Zee, and his chivalric code that compels him to follow her into the underbelly of white supremacists and drug lords to save her sister.
Greenwood’s characters are flawed and marvelous. They both help and hurt the people they love. Through the depth of her storytelling we see the motives that drive even the most problematic characters. The Reckless Oath We Made is a stick-to-your-bones read with characters that will follow you long after you finish the book.
We are happy to host, in partnership with the Raven Book Store, Bryn Greenwood on August 20th at 7 pm in our auditorium for a book launch party celebrating the release of The Reckless Oath We Made. There will be cake, knights in shining armor, books for sale, and a signing, so don’t miss it! Check out the event on Facebook, or our website.
*A book hangover is the feeling you will never be able to read anything ever again upon finishing a book offering you total immersion into the author’s world. If it lasts more than a week, please consult your local librarian or bookseller.
-Kristin Soper is Lawrence Public Library's Events Coordinator.