by Lyn Stone, historical (2000)
Harlequin Historical, $4.99, ISBN 0-373-29111-6
Let me hit my head against the wall three times hard. Duhhh... ahem, ahem, okay, okay, let me at it! Let me at it! Oops, excuse me. I've still barely recovered from the really lousy My Lady's Choice by Lyn Stone. It has potential, albeit via a path that is rather clichéd, but the final product is weird and barely readable.
Lady Sara Fernstowe is your typical medieval heroine. She's feisty, she runs the lands after her father died, she is a healer, she needs to marry now. Richard Strode is the typical medieval hero - the King's best friend, hates all women because his wife was a lying pig (but the world believes he really loved her though), and he will never love again. In short, Mr Perfect Knight in Shining Armor.
So when Richard is ill and delirious, and Sara heals him, she asks the King to wed them. Hurry, milord, before he awakes! So when Richard wakes up, hello, he's a married man now. Uh oh.
Hmmm... surely there are better ways of getting married, even in medieval times, aren't there?
Richard is not happy, but hey, his mighty lance of power disagrees. Comsummation of the marriage commences even despite Richard's assertion that they marry in name only. But this marriage-of-convenience angle could have been tolerable if Sara doesn't then try to behave like some failed Wonderwoman transplanted in medieval times. She behaves as if she has gone bonkers entirely, running headlong in danger and requiring the hero to rescue her again and again. And of course, she believes Richard will never love her. How could he - he loves his dead wife! Boo hoo hoo...
Richard is weird. He loves a king who makes him hunt down his own brother. Then again, go figure. Maybe King Edward is more like Richard the Lionheart than historians think, and maybe he and Dicky have been doing some private jousting sessions. Ahem.
Richard and Sara are stereotypes and their relationship develops in a manner so predictable and tired that I can hear the headsplitting screech of rusty, unoiled machinery forced into activity after the fourth chapter. Then they have to act in manners best described kindly as "moronic" (especially Sara). The characterization doesn't make sense and sometimes contradicts itself from chapter to chapter. The surfeit of danger scenes bore me. The dull and overdone psychology make me aware that the clock is ticking fast... tick tick tick...
In the end, My Lady's Choice is a very frustrating read - it's simultaneously extremely annoying and very, very dull. I've had much more fun listening to stones being jackhammered outside my window.
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