My Lady de Burgh
by Deborah Simmons, historical (2001)
Harlequin Historical, $4.99, ISBN 0-373-29184-1


Firstly, a word of caution to readers before I proceed. To appreciate My Lady de Burgh, you will have to accept two premises. One, the hero will know who his intended bride will be and spend almost the whole book trying to dodge the Curse of Matrimony. Two, this isn't exactly a richly-detailed medieval romance. It's not exactly Bugs and Daffy's Acme Knight Jousting Tournament either, but don't expect too much historical atmosphere.

Ready? Okay, I find My Lady de Burgh a rollicking, feel-good read. The heroine is spunky and feitsy, and the hero is a lovable rascal.

Robin de Burgh is one of the last three - four? - unwed de Burgh mighty men, and he is running scared. He must have read too many Stephanie Laurens books. Anyway, he decides that it must be a Curse being bandied around, and he must avoid it at all cost. (Robin, try reading some Judith Ivory or Connie Brockway instead.)

On the advice of the two old mystic coots last seen in My Lord de Burgh, he decides to seek out a mighty seer named Vala. Vala must surely know how he can avoid marriage without joining a monastery or taking up alternative sexuality! Alas, when he arrives at the nunnery in Wales, he is roped into solving a murder alongside a reluctant novice named Sybil.

Sybil is pretty. But one look at Sybil and Robin's winkie wilted. Almost. She is the One! What to do, what to do?

Whatever they do, I have fun, that's what. Robin can be tad immature, but he's also a lovable, good-natured rascal. Sybil is a more mature character, and no doubt I will see "hen peck" written in neon in both their future (guess who will be doing the henpecking) but she's fun too. She's smart, not smart as in "hee-hee, let me run down that dark alley alone and see what I can find when I stick my head into that dark pit rumored to house a demon" smart, but "brainy and why, she can stand up to the hero" smart. They make such a cute bickering/loving cuddly couple, it makes me go "Awww" at some of their finer moments. Wait, Sybil does have an obligatory "I blame myself for everything" moment or two but the author doesn't let that drag into some stupid plot contrivance.

Instead, this is a simple, old-fashioned romance of strangers becoming reluctant buddies and then lovers, united against some external conflict. Just perfect for my winding down a long, hectic week with some light-hearted laughter and heartwarming scenes.

Rating: 88


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