by Monica Burns, historical (2008)
Samhain Publishing, $6.50, ISBN 1-59998-882-8
Dangerous is set in 1897 and as stories set in this time tend to do, it's all about Egypt. While this one isn't set in that country, it does have our widowed heroine, Constance Athelson, having a deep interest in everything Egyptian. Our Egyptologist gets herself hired as Lucien Blakemore's personal librarian in Lyndham Keep. Lucian has a vast collection of Egyptian relics, you see, no doubt pilfered from the poor Egyptians who can't help being downtrodden and colonized by these British folks, and she would naturally love to take a look at these relics.
While Lucien's grandmother may have doubts about whether "C Stewart" being female will be acceptable for the job, Lucien has other misgivings. He recognizes that Constance is that mysterious woman dressed as Isis who gave out to him two months ago in the Black Widows Ball. Normally that would make him happy, since he can't get her out of his mind since that night, but he also suspects that his rival has sent her to seduce him and steal a precious papyrus scroll that contains half a treasure map from him.
If that is not enough to keep our two characters occupied for the rest of the story, he labors under the torment of the family curse which results in the men of his family going mad while she can see dead people.
I wish the author has at the very least removed the paranormal aspects or the whole "we shagged at the ball - didya recognize me?" thing because this story has enough material for the author to work on without adding all these superfluous elements that don't add much to the story. For the first half or so the story is all over the place as the author tries to put all these busy plot elements together. The story fortunately finds its footing and becomes especially very strong in its late third or so. Prior to that, I find it somewhat difficult to get a clear grasp on the characters' personalities but in that stronger last third, these characters, especially Constance, really come to their own. I especially like how Ms Burns manages to have Constance breaking a few stereotypes without coming off too much like a contemporary character. The romance ultimately makes sense because the heroine commits to the relationship with her eyes wide open and the right attitude. I also like how she refuses to pretend to be someone that she is not just to be with Lucien. She loves Lucien, but if he wants her to pretend to be what she is not, she's not going to stay with him. It's nice to encounter a heroine who doesn't act as if love is the beginning and end of everything, isn't it?
Lucien can be a silly boy at times but I believe that he's not supposed to be the sensible one. He's supposed to be this melodramatic, passionate, and tormented hero with far more bluster than common sense. Well, I'd say that maybe Ms Burns could have pushed him a little over the edge some more because I don't think Lucien is that emo enough to pull off that role (but that's probably just me - I like them really crazy), but he's fine enough as he is. He makes a nice complement to the heroine because she has common sense when he shows none and sometimes vice-versa.
I find Dangerous is a pretty good read, although I wish it has found its stride earlier in the story. The early parts of the story can be too busy and unfocused, and it is a very good thing that the later parts of the story are so much better that I can by that time barely remember why I have problems getting into those early parts.
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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