by Shiloh Walker, fantasy (2009)
Samhain Publishing, $4.50, ISBN 978-1-60504-486-6
Shiloh Walker's fantasy romance My Lady catches my interest because the hero is a goblin. King Tyan of Aisé is only half-goblin, actually, since his father is an elf of the Fior Sidhe, and don't worry, folks, he doesn't look like the Gollum. He actually looks like... you know, long midnight black hair, jade eyes, "poetic beauty", and all the rest. Judging from the physical descriptions of the Aisé goblins, they seem more like a winged variation of their elven neighbors. I'm quite disappointed, in a way, because I'm hoping that we have reached a stage where we can all agree that Gollum lookalikes need love too.
When the story opens, he is in a bind. The Oonkaen are about to attack the lands of the Bruin Sidhe elves. Tyan has a peace agreement with the leader of the Oonkaen, but he can't just sit quietly and watch the Oonkaen slaughter the non-militaristic Bruin Sidhe. He also knows that Oonkaen's expansion of their borders would pose a threat to his own people one of these days.
King Callum of Bruia isn't going to sit quietly while Tyan makes up his mind what to do, however. Rynae Corda, his daughter, will marry the Oonkaen leader Guldric. Nae hates her father and has unsuccessfully tried to escape his clutches before, so the poor dear is now at her wits' end thinking about her upcoming nuptials to a man she considers a monster. Hope is on the way, however. Her brother Valin is a prisoner of the goblins, although he's not too unhappy about being separated from his father. Valin has some amazing telepathic powers that he will use to help lead Tyan to Nae. Learning from Valin that the Bruin Sidhe and the Oonkaen are in an alliance and therefore nothing that had happened so far was what it seemed to be, Tyan knows now that his country is the sitting duck waiting to be crushed by the secret alliance. So he does what every hero does: kidnap the catalyst for the alliance to sever it.
My Lady is a difficult story to get into because way too much of the first dozen pages consists of exposition. I don't know why the author doesn't put all the background information in a "Once upon a time"-style prologue, because that will fit in very nicely with the rest of the story, because all that exposition reminds me of a particularly dry history lecture.
Having said that, I am also quite disappointed that after all that build-up about war and deception, the story settles down comfortably to become another one of those A Princess In His Castle stories. The emphasis is more on sex than romance, and I wish the author has spent more time having her characters interact on a non-sexual basis. I feel quite cheated at the end of the day because there isn't any climatic battle or any other kind of gripping pay-off that will make all that build-up worthwhile.
The setting is nicely detailed and the first few chapters raise some expectations that are not adequately met at the end of the day. My Lady isn't a bad read, but it's a disappointing one nonetheless.
Search for more reviews of works by this author: