Heart Of The Tiger
by Lynn Kerstan, historical (2003)
Onyx, $6.99, ISBN 0-451-41085-8


Everything that is good about Lynn Kerstan's Heart Of The Tiger lie solely on the hero and the way the author weaves a murder mystery in her story that brings out some nice scenes of drama and passion. The heroine is a dead weight.

Mira Holcombe is quick to announce that she's no virgin and no martyr. Since her claims of non-virginity is because of violence and this causes her to carry on the entire story ineptly plotting revenge again and again while taking care of her invalid father, there goes the non-martyr claims. Then again, how many times have you encountered a Regency heroine who isn't a martyr? She's in London to kill the bastard who ruined her life and especially her father's, and so far all I see of her "plans" is for her to walk into the enemy's house and gets manhandled before her nerves fail her and she flees to rant and whine another day. No, she's no martyr. She's an idiot.

Then again, it's a common trait of "virtue" in this book. There is another female character who comes all the way down to England, risking all to climb into the enemy's room with a gun, only to later lament that oh what the heck, how sad that the bastard died before she got to him, never mind that she also admits that she won't have the nerve to shoot in the end anyway. So why would she even go through the trouble? It's the show of melodrama that counts, I guess. And no, they're all not martyrs, just Regency heroines whose brains got left behind thanks to careless midwives.

If Lynn Kerstan's female characters aren't template heroines who are so trigger-happy with the self-blame thing but is all about the inertia when it comes to actually helping themselves, she'll be writing some really nice romantic mystery stuff here.

The hero, being a man and hence has to do everything in the story, is luckier. He's Michael Keynes, and he's the brother of the man whom Miranda "Mira" Holcombe hates and wants to kill. Lucky for Mira, he hates his brother too. He spent his time in India sabotaging his brother's trade business, as a matter of fact. Now he's in England with your obligatory Indian/Sikh sidekick Hari. He and she soon get entangled in a really big mess when the man they both hated end up murdered and Michael takes the blame.

Michael's not a bad hero at all, although he's not exactly original either. Still, because he's a man, he is given the luxury to laugh, be roguish, be tortured, and bend the rules as much as he wants. This is pretty much his story, and I like him. On the other hand, Mira is straight out of Misery Casting: claims to be barren, sexually brutalized, caregiver to daddy, self-depreciating, popular phrase "It's all my fault!", and a complete nitwit when it comes to making decisions. The story is well-written and I really had a great time reading it, but that's despite the women in this story trying their best to make martyrs out of themselves.

Oh, and please please tell me Lynn Kerstan didn't confuse Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion, with Gautama Buddha.

Rating: 80


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