Forbidden
by Helen Kirkman, historical (2004)
Harlequin, $6.50, ISBN 0-373-83629-5


I am in awe of the way Helen Kirkman grabs me by the throat and forces me to enjoy her otherwise very familiar "noble woman and the captive pseudo-barbarian she owns" medieval romance. The author has a way with pacing her story so that the momentum never stops and she manages to pass off her main characters' often silly antics come off as amusing in a benign and even campy way. There is nothing new about the story, but boy, how fun it is nonetheless!

Lady Rowena may be living in the early 700s, but you bet she is an egalitarian at heart. Oh, violence! Oh, the hideousness of the feudal system! Why can't we all live in one big happy democracy? Our heroine also has an ax to grind - she blames a corrupt taxman for the death of her father and she wants that man dead. Wow, an egalitarian that wants the IRS people dead - how can I not like her? And what better man to kill the taxman other than the slave for sale that has just defended the king from certain death, right? Wulf isn't who he seems to be - duh - but his Fabio hairstyle, shining beefcake muscles, and thunder thighs soon tempt Rowena to heave her bosom and spread the love around.

Wulf at first wants to crush the lady and get away, but his innate nobility only allows him to crush the lady's slender body to his powerful body instead. Meanwhile, Rowena doesn't want to marry, doesn't want to love, but Oh! Wulf! Oh! The villain is cartoonishly nasty, the suspense is predictable, and Rowena is expectedly the silly type that trusts easily and is just lucky that she's not taken in by the wrong kind of people. Read one silly male captive romance, read Forbidden already.

But the story is darned infectious no matter how formulaic or silly the story becomes. The love scenes are quite purple but enjoyable nonetheless. The characters are silly but I can't help laughing at them instead of clutching my stomach in pain. There's something about the mood and writing style in this story that enables Forbidden to come off as an enjoyable rollercoaster ride, something like the Ride A Humongous Beefcake Rocket Launcher Adventure maybe. So yes, this book won't be the best book around, in fact, it's downright cheesy and silly at times. But I've had lots of fun, so what can I say? The Ride A Humongous Beefcake Rocket Launcher Adventure has been quite an experience indeed.

Rating: 78


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