by Trish Albright, historical (2008)
Leisure, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-8439-6086-0
Siren's Song is an unusual historical romance. It has a feisty kick-ass heroine and a rocking fast-paced story full of adventures at high seas. Okay, such a romance isn't that unusual, but how about the fact that the heroine is allowed to take no prisoners, be in the front line in the assault on the bad guy, and is allowed to have blood on her hands at the end of the day? Now we're talking, huh?
Alexandra Stafford is the daughter of a successful American successful shipping company magnate. All Stafford men - and Alexandra, of course - are masters of the sea. Alexandra was given her own ship by her father on her eighteenth birthday and she has never looked back. Alex also has with her several mysterious items. It is when the story opens that Alex realizes just how much trouble her items is giving her.
A villain named Reginald Paxton is looking after various pieces, of which two are in Alex's possession, that he believes will lead him to the location of a long-lost kingdom and its lost treasures. He also deals in slave trafficking - hey, going around the world, locating various ancient devices, and killing their owners for them don't come cheap - so it's a double whammy at the opening of the story when Alex finds herself sold to the highest bidder in Morocco while Paxton attempts to extort the items from her. Alex is saved by an English sea captain, Joshua Leigh, who happens to be there at the right time to be the hero. When he witnesses her trying to kill Paxton and coming close to doing so despite being on the block, it's love at first sight on his part, heh.
When these two meet again three years later in the ballrooms of London, things get heated up. As it happens, Alex's friend Emma is the ward of Joshua's friend, but their official reunion sees Joshua and his friend spying on Alex as she fights off an unwanted suitor with aplomb, verve, and a pistol in a way that you have to read to believe. Alas, the path to love is a rocky one, as Paxton is determined to destroy all Alex holds dear in his quest to get his hands on the treasure. There is also a prophecy, some fantasy elements, and plenty of high adventure, plus a few wince-inducing scenes of villainy that some readers may not enjoy reading too much.
The heroine, a beautiful blonde American, being the subject of an ancient Middle-Eastern prophecy - this premise may have some unfortunate implications today, what with international distribution of books means that this book may just fall into the hands of folks in Third World countries who won't be amused by another fantasy where the brash American steps in and meddles in their affairs. Still, this isn't a story to be taken too seriously, in my opinion, so I don't really see the point of getting worked up over this. There is plenty to enjoy in this romantic action adventure.
Alex isn't the smartest heroine around, but that's okay in my opinion because she can fight back pretty well when the smelly stuff hits the roof. Yes, she's a feisty heroine with all the positive and negative baggage that comes with that word, but she's also a capable one. I especially love how she doesn't display contrived concessions to the romance genre concept of femininity - she will draw blood and even kill to protect herself and save the ones she love, and bless the author, she never chickens out of this. It is Alex who wants revenge on the villain for the deaths of those she care for, so it is she who gladly gets her hands bloody to do so. The hero doesn't step in to do our heroine's dirty work for her.
Not that Joshua is a beta hero - he's very protective of Alex and he wants to do her dirty work for her if given the chance, but alas, fate has dictated that Alex will be the one in charge of her destiny in this story. Josh is a pretty nice hero for a change. He doesn't brood or act as if he has listed to too many Dashboard Confessional songs - instead, he has a sense of humor and he adores the heroine for everything she is.
The story has quite a number of abrupt switches in points of view, but while I certainly notice these switches, eventually I become so engrossed with the story that I manage to overlook those constant switching in points of view. The later half of the story is especially exciting, I find - the story ramps up the action, sending the hero and the heroine on a most gripping and dramatic series of clashes, confrontations, and captures that actually see Alex holding herself impressively well without the hero by her side.
There are some laugh out loud funny scenes here as well, which are only added bonus to an already most entertaining adventure romance story. Sure, the writing can be a little rough at places, especially in the earlier parts of the story, but eventually, I'm not too concerned about the more unpolished technical aspects of the story. I've had fun, lots of fun, and a new author to take note of.
If you are a fan of exciting action-paced romantic stories (think Marsha Canham's books), you may want to take a note of this book. At least skim a few chapters at the bookstore - you may just experience the same thrilling kind of serendipity as I did.
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