Lord Of Vengeance
by Tina St John, historical (1999)
Fawcett, $5.50, ISBN 0-449-00425-2


Is it me or every romance set in medieval Europe has to involve revenge? Tina St John's first book Lord of Vengeance has the same old he-murdered-my-family-so-I-kidnapped-his-daughter-IWANTREVENGE!!!!!!!-oh-she's-so-beautiful plot. The murderer in question is Baron Luther d'Bussy. The avenger is Gunnar Rutledge, while the beautiful kidnapee daughter is Raina d'Bussy. Raina is your usual horseriding-at-full-speed tomboy heroine, while Gunnar is strictly whitebread avenging hero-torn material. Their relationship is nothing new really.

I would have put down this book with a yawn if not for a few things.

One, Baron d'Bussy is not your normal bile-spewing villain. He is actually quite a sorry figure, a man who was trapped in a marriage made in hell and whose one loss of temper became his albatross around his neck. He acts like a true medieval lord actually. Not that it excuses his one murderous antic, but once I know of his reasons, he actually becomes more human. He is a pathetic man who banks all his love and hope of salvation on his only daughter. Bereft of Raina, he is totally lost. Gunnar looks like a complete fool challenging d'Bussy to battle, and that man knows it.

Two, Gunnar and Raina actually talk. At first, that is. Gunnar is never cruel to her, a pleasant change after reading so many violent hate-you-love-you medieval kidnapping romances. The fact that both Raina and Gunnar suffer from nightmares is a nice touch, giving them a rather more believable basis to bond than mere sexual attraction alone.

I really don't have much to say about this book because it, unfortunately, isn't a very memorable read to me. Author Tina St. John shows promise. Her battle scenes and emotional exchanges are actually very good. It is unfortunate that she plays it safe and chooses a well-trodden path for her debut.

Rating: 62


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