The Tiger And The Tomb
by Bonnie Vanak, historical (2003)
Leisure, $5.99, ISBN 0-8439-5299-7


The hero is obviously the Tiger, even if one takes into account that tigers aren't found in Egypt, which is where this story is set. Does this mean that the heroine is the Tomb?

Bonnie Vanak's The Tiger And The Tomb should have been better plotted. The author's reliance on mistaken identities and the heroine behaving ineptly for conflict only make both her main characters come off as so stupid as to be very annoying indeed. Set in late 19th century Egypt, the hero Nazim Ramses bin Seti Sherif is nothing more than an almost offensive exotification/erotification of the Middle Eastern Overlord With A Big Dong stereotype. He's as bad as those Native American hero caricatures. To top it off, he's quite dumb, but not as dumb as the perpetual bunny-in-distress heroine Katherine Kalila Smithfield.

Our villain Foster Burrells' biggest and fatal mistake is to force Kate to steal a treasure map from our hero Ramses. Ram guards the treasures of Egypt from treasure-hunters, you see. Kate, of course, has to get the map, or Foster will kill her darling cat and get her father arrested for a theft she is sure he didn't commit. Kate is also scarred in the face so when she's not loving Daddy while wailing about Daddy forcing her to marry some native guy (but she will still love Daddy forever anyway - DADDY!!!), she's wailing and whining that no man will ever want her enough to show her what it means to be a real woman. Her mind occupied with such distressing matters like loving Daddy forever because no other man can love her, surely, it is probably inevitable that the heroine's attempts to get the map come off like a train wreck in repeat motion.

She tries to seduce Ram only to panic and flee, leaving Ram to fantasize over that mysterious and exotic babe that he almost got his grubby paws on. Meanwhile, he manages to stop Kalila's inept attempt at sneaking in and stealing the map, but that sneaky man gets hurt, forcing Kalila to halt in her fleeing to turn back and nurse him back to health like she is programmed to do. He decides to seduce Kalila to find out what she is up to, reasoning that her scarred face will make her so needy that she will tell everything to the first man that shows her any affection. The author says that he's wrong, but if you ask me, he's right. Kate accuses him of trying to seduce her to get information from her, but that's after the dimbulb has revealed enough information that shouldn't be revealed if she has half a brain.

Along the way, he also agonizes over his impending nuptial to a "Lady Katherine". Kate also has no idea that Ram is the man she is going to marry. The author fails to make this entire mistaken identity premise plausible so both Ram and Kate come off like the rotten lightbulbs that should have never left the factory.

Ram has very little personality apart from his having to come to Kate's rescue all the time and having the biggest dong in the land. He's a flat "My Sexy Middle-Eastern Overlord" blow-up doll impersonation. Kate is hopeless as she botches up everything she tries to do while whining about her unloveable state in that grating way of hers.

The love scenes are pretty hot, but the main characters' subpar intelligence makes The Tiger And The Tomb more like a bungled attempt at storytelling than a campy guilty pleasure. It has guilty pleasure qualities in its unintentionally humorous scenes and lines and the luscious love scenes can't hurt either. But I still find Ram and Kate too irritating for words.

Rating: 50


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