by Laurel O'Donnell, historical (2000)
Zebra, $5.99, ISBN 0-8217-6617-1
Female heroine who would rather ride horses - astride please, none of those sissy sidesaddle nonsense - and pepper people with arrows instead of doing the needlework like other sissier medieval nobledaughters. Say hi to Bria Delany, people.
Also say hi to the hubby, Lord Terran Knowles, the thinly disguised "inspired by the Sheriff of Nottingham" dude, who is rumored to be cruel and nasty and a wife-beater-and-killer. But hey, it isn't his fault, it's his assistant that is doing the nasties. Judge our hero not for his not-too-intelligent state.
The plot is divided roughly into two main acts. Act I - Is she a virgin? - has our hero doubting our heroine's state of purity. How shocking! He adamantly refuses to believe that our heroine is a virgin despite her obvious lack of inexprience in kissing, hugging, etc etc etc. The dilemma is solved in an Oops! Did I hurt you dear when I thought I didn't need to control myself when I *censored* you? climax.
Act II - Who the *censored medieval expletive* is the Night Shadow follows our intrepid heroine's alter ego, the Robin Hoody Night Shadow as she thwarts our hero's assistant's heinous acts on the Poor Innocent Peasants. Like all heroines though, she swoons and loses all logic the moment our hero unzip (or whatever they do to medieval jeans) himself and flash his impressive coronet scepter at her. Night Shadow rushes headlong into danger, regardless of risk, regardless of sanity. She doesn't need strategems or plot machinations, no indeedy. She is Heroine, she will be Impetous.
Night Shadow is another one of those uninspired medieval Robin Hood yee-ha's. Heroine with no common sense, hero with little likeable factor (the He's Handsome so He's Cool rule at work here) or appropriate grovel, and lots of wishy-washy behavior on the main characters' part. The latter is especially in the hero's abrupt turnabout from "I love my dead wife" to "I never love that useless woman" the moment he sees the scrumptious sight of Bria. And Bria, like all good obedient heroines, actually forgoes rescuing her friend from her hubby's dungeons for hubby's mighty schooling in the saddle.
Therefore, Night Shadows, I'm afraid, is not at all an interesting, romantic, or memorable book. Maybe if Xena the Warrior Princess steps in and does a few backflips, things can improve. Alas, no strong heroine, no strong hero, no credible plot makes this book one mediocre read.
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