My Champion
by Glynnis Campbell, historical (2000)
Jove, $5.99, ISBN 0-515-13048-6

I know I will have problems appreciating My Champion when in the first chapter, medieval heroine Linet de Montfort confronts a Gypsy Spaniard Pirate King - alone, unarmed, and surrounded by his evil cohorts - and demands that he pay back the loot he has plundered from her shipment. Then she breaks the wine bottles he gives her in front of him and walks away, proud of herself.

She doesn't know that the pirate's abrupt capitulation is because a de Ware duo are near them. The de Ware are like medieval superknights with Valor and Reputation of Fame and Yonder, and Duncan de Ware is immediately besotted with Linet. He decides to forgo hunting of Holy Grails and all to spend day and night protecting her from the pirate's wrath. Under the guise of a gypsy, of course.

Linet thinks this irritating gypsy an annoying cur, but when she is kidnapped by the evil pirate, fun things really happen.

Or at least I think it's supposed to be fun. But really, the hero and especially the heroine certainly put the fool in tomfoolery. Let's just say when the hero pitches the heroine overboard the pirate ship and asks her to swim all the way to land (to escape the pirates), I don't know whether to laugh at the absurdity of it all or to groan.

Linet is impetuous way beyond impulsiveness. In fact, some of the things she do surpass the stupidity line. Duncan is a strange mix of buffoonery and reliability.

There are plenty to like about My Champion. In fact, this book makes me feel so bad for not liking it. The prose displays an exuberance reminiscent of the best swashbuckling romances of print and film, the fairytale-like medieval setting is a delightful mix of Arthurian idealism and campiness, and the humor can be brilliant were it not at the expense of the hero and the heroine. But every time I am slowly being seduced into this story, Linet or Duncan does something right out the Wild E Coyote Hall Of Shame and I will end up with my forehead at the table, groaning.

Sure, this is a first book. My Champion, however, is memorable only in the potential it promises but never delivers. Perhaps fans of Claire Delacroix will embrace My Champion more warmly than I. Me, I find myself waiting eagerly for the day Ms Campbell finally delivers the promise she only hints at in My Champion.

Watch Linet closely, Duncan. Don't want her falling over your castle parapets during your honeymoon.

Rating: 50

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