by Cynthia Kirk, historical (2001)
Leisure, $4.99, ISBN 0-8439-4856-6
Cynthia Kirk is actually the new pseudonym for Sharon Pisacreta. The Lady And The Lion takes place in late 19th century Egypt as well as England, and it's not too bad. It starts off pretty bad, and the heroine is flaky and a ninny (what else is new in too many romance novels nowadays?), but soon the author gets into the swing of it all and the story starts being very readable.
Charlotte Fairchild, ninny, loves Egypt because her Daddy loves Egypt and taught her everything there is to know about Egyptian mythology and archaelogy. Her husband Ian, however, is a different story. While Charlotte thinks that Egypt can't be anything less than perfect, Ian can't wait to accept a promotion back in an English museum and pack up and outta Egypt. Char is aghast - not only are they leaving this favorite place of hers, Ian has left the excavation projects to one Dylan Pierce, whom she knows is a tomb raider! Oh no, how can she bear it! She must stop this!
What she does next cause Dylan to turn down Ian's offer and Ian forced to stay a little longer in Egypt. Char is happy - until Ian dies in an accident. Yup, predictably, our heroine now starts blaming herself for his death, it's her fault! She's evil! Nasty! A bitch! Why didn't she just go back to England! Whatever. Now open your mouth and let me stuff this ball of rag into your mouth, Char.
Cut to England. Char is now a grieving, guilt-ridden widow who has renounced everything Egypt and archeology. Dylan, however, is back in her life. He needs her help in an exhibition he is planning about Egypt. She hesitates - she's evil, she caused her husband's death... yeah, yeah, shut up, you stupid wench. Anyway, they work together, fall in love, and of course, someone is out to sabotage the exhibition and maybe even kill Dylan or Char (or the both of them).
The author's bio shows that the author has a past career writing mysteries. Well, I must say her writing definitely rises above the average mark when it comes to external conflicts faced by Char and Dylan. Dylan is a very well-fleshed character, a rogue with many facades, and I like him. Char, however, just doesn't gel as a person with distinctive personality, and her relationship with Dylan has this clumsy, awkward, and chunky step-by-step feel to it. Very calculated feel, if you will. The author is more elegant in her prose when it comes to someone trying to kill Char (maybe my dislike of the whiny woman is rubbing off too) - the suspense is pretty good.
The Lady And The Lion is wise to concentrate on the external conflicts later in the story, as the romance in the story is the weakest element, thanks to a heroine who just can't seem to get a grip on her emotions. Hence, the more lackadaisally paced first half of the story sinks like a whale in quicksand - dull, dull, dull, and it brings out the glorious ninnyhood that is the heroine. But when people start behaving badly, things become more fun.
TLATL is not a bad read, but it's not an exceptional one either. Just decent on this side of slightly above average.
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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