Blue-Eyed Bandit
by Stobie Piel, historical/time-travel (2000)
LoveSpell (Timeswept), $5.50, ISBN 0-505-52394-9


Blue-Eyed Bandit is a hybrid of campy fun, downright sizzling sexiness, and humor gone haywire. I love the title of the story, but I think the cover art is boring. I like the hero, but I think the heroine is annoying. So I'm afraid I'll just toss a coin - heads I'll love Blue-Eyed Bandit and tails I'll savage it for my sadistic pleasure.

Okay, I'll be more scientific and analyze things.

The story first. The main characters of Free Falling are now living happily as modern yuppies in 2000. But they are not pleased when they realize that Darian Woodward, the dude they met during their sojourn in 1870, was hanged soon after they left the past for modern plumbing. Even worse, the nice dude they know was painted as some sort of Western Genghis Khan's Evil Twin in history books.

But since they are reluctant to leave the comforts of an automatic flush toilet bowl - okay, because Cora is preggers - they decide to send their friend Emily Morgan instead. Emily thinks time travel is nonsense (imagine that), but she steps into the magic whirlwind that is the gateway to the past and woosh!

Fine, so she'll try and save Darian, but heck if she'll fall in love with him. No way! No blarney blarmey bloody way!

Darian isn't actually a bad guy, he's framed by his evil superior. But now that he knows he will die soon, he decides to take Em with him on his run from the law. Now, he will find a way to Uphold Justice, Lose His Cherry, and Save The Day. Small potatoes for a hero, yes indeedy.

Thing is, I don't know. Blue-Eyed Bandit is sometimes fun, sometimes sexy, sometimes silly, sometimes great, and sometimes downright illogical. It's as if this book is written by many, many people, or by the author when she is in very different moods. Sometimes Darian and Emily are like two Stooges after a non-stop alcohol and herbal substances binge; they act silly and behave stupidly. Darian eats the silly cake when, during his act of waving his gun around a salon and throwing drunkards around, he wonders why everyone is looking at him like they are scared of him. Really, huh. Must be something in the air, Darian. Emily too is contradictory. Sometimes she is smart like a crackshot, making practical suggestions that bowl me and Darian over. Then she's acting ninny and vapid, screaming and whining as if there's something stuck up her nostrils.

The plot too is like a up- and downhill ride. Sometimes it's funny, sometimes it's silly in a campy way, and sometimes it is downright painful in its silliness.

Therefore, Blue-Eyed Bandit feels like a product of someone randomly taking out parts of several different manuscripts of different quality and sticking them together regardless of chronology or even coherence. I try to see it as some sort of campy fun, and to an extent it is campy and fun. But I don't know - the mixed messages I receive from this book are too confusing even for me. Is it to be taken seriously or not? Sometimes it says yes, take me seriously as a story of courage, destiny, and trust. Then it does a turnaround and shows Darian and Emily doing something silly, and says, come on, enjoy life as it is - it's too short to be taken seriously.

Well, at least there are some nice hot love scenes.

Rating: 67


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