Portrait Of A Bride
by Tracy Fobes, fantasy (2005)
LoveSpell, $6.99, ISBN 0-505-52577-1


I'm very curious as to what happened during the writing process of this book. So much effort is placed into explaining the world-building to the reader at the expense of character development but the world-building itself a complete mess of inconsistencies. So yes, Tracy Fobes has pretty much sacrificed character development in order to show me very clearly what a mess her story is. Talk about misplaced priorities, oh dear. After a long period of silence, I am hoping that Ms Fobes' latest book will be something worth the wait. Unfortunately, this book doesn't even come close to being good. It's a mess.

Let's start with the heroine. Jordan, for a geneticist, is wailing constantly about her state of infertility... which leads her to pursue passionately the cure for male infertility. Shouldn't she be trying to find a way to overcome her own infertility? But maybe she's a nutcase because she has to be one to marry a caricature of a lousy first husband with no good rhyme or reason. Yes, I'm sure you can see where this story is heading towards when it comes to that angle. Anyway, apparently she will unleash a plague that will cause problems in mankind thousands of years into the future where women have a hard time conceiving daughters and therefore women are nearly decimated. This, people, is what happens when you put in a stupid romance heroine's hands things like a gun or a test tube. They become weapons of mass destruction.

In this future, the men of that time obtain women by using magic portals to bring women from the past over to them using portraits of these women as a catalyst. I wonder: if they keep siphoning women from the past to the future, won't this cause a problem in the past where the number of women will be reduced? Since these men will be wanting beautiful brides, does this mean that the female ancestors of these men in the future look uncannily like Albert Einstein? Why am I thinking about these things when I can be doing more interesting things like painting the bedroom door? Our hero Conlean brings Jordan for his father and falls in love with her. Oh no.

Jordan is a complete dud as a character and Conlean is just as dull. They have no distinct personalities and their initial attraction is as electrifying as a wet blanket. Also, for someone who should be familiarizing herself with her role as the future wife of the Patriach of the province (of which Conlean's father is one) as well as finding a cure for the plague she unleashed in the past, Jordan spends a lot of time either being sequestered in her room. I don't understand why Ms Fobes mention the plague and come up with all those things involving portraits and magic for her fantasy world only to have her hero and heroine pretty much stuck in the same place acting like adolescent twits but there you go.

So basically the story is just pointless and dull mental lusting and utterly vapid psychobabbles from Jordan and Conlean ("In fact, she'd welcome the chance to get naked with him, because he was one handsome piece of ass and seemed to care about her, at least a little") until wham, here comes the villain (huh, where does that fellow come from) and bam, here comes the deus-ex-machina (or is sequeal-ex-machina?) to save the day, and finally, in the epilogue, the heroine decides that maybe it's time she starts doing something like finding a cure to the plague. Now that is a case of getting the point way too late.

So basically this book is just one long meandering story of Nothing Really Happening Here, Yawn. But factor in the inconsistencies that pile up like a mountain - there are no carnivores anymore but there is a cat around the place, there is no electricity or gadgets that we know in our time but there is a convenient bedside clock, there is no more wheat but our characters can enjoy oatmeal for breakfast (maybe they are magic oatmeal?), and more - and this book starts to come off as a very half-baked book with not enough time spent on it before it is rushed off to Ms Fobes' editor.

Portrait Of A Bride is, in its core, an utterly dull book that is neither good nor bad enough to stick to the mind, just a long meandering story with two bland and lifeless characters. This is the start of a new series, so hopefully the next book is less of a sleeping pill than this one.

Rating: 49


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