Leisure, $4.99, ISBN 0-8439-4807-8
Historical Romance, 2000
No, no, no, this is not Superman porn. It has nothing to do with him or his mighty lance of steel. A Man of Steel is a medieval romance. A romance that has the potential to be interesting, but is bogged down by its lackluster and – dare I say it? – clichéd execution.
I mean, come on, do we need another heroine-bathes-hero-naked-in-his-room scene? In a medieval romance? All that’s missing in this story is the hero-spies-on-her-bathing scene. Maybe that one got edited out to make room for the others.
Camilla Rosedown is determined to save Wickingham Castle even if it means seducing the hero, Stevyn Strongbow, the King’s Justice. (Strongbow… man of steel… oh my!) Stevyn is investigating the case of some priests selling fake religious relics and conducting illegal indulgences (including reinstating virginity to dead women). Cam is sure that Stevyn is going to crucify the wrong priest, a priest who saved her Before.
Frankly, this story sure knows how to cover its bases. All the medieval romance clichés are trotted out like overeager beauty pageant contestants in a free-for-all bikini event. The hero, the villain, the heroine’s impetuous foolhardiness… been there, read that. But most inexplicable is Cam’s motivations. Even if I try to keep to the school of belief that medieval women are more stupid than we are today, I am hard-pressed to appreciate Cam’s insistence on obeying promises, vows, and misguided obligations even to the point of endangering herself. Martyrs are so boring, and they tend to bleat like sheep too. Why is Cam doing all this hiding, keeping secrets, and all? The author fails to make that clear. That, or she expects me to applaud Cam because that woman is too stupid to unbend for the sake of survival.
Frankly, this book is neither here nor there.