by Ann Lawrence, historical (2003)
Leisure, $6.99, ISBN 0-8439-5139-7
"Boring" is a very vague word to use to describe a book, hence I'm sorry to have to say this, but I find Lord Of The Hunt a really boring book. The author goes into some detail about the history, but her characters are so distant and flat that I have no emotional investment at all in this story even when it's almost time to say goodbye. There's some attempt to tie the hero Adam Quintin and heroine Joan Swan to the legend of Robin Hood and Maid Marian, but I really find it very hard to bring myself to care.
It is 1217. Adam is a nobleman living in some exile in a monastery when he is given a chance to redeem himself. He must go undercover to Ravenwood (which he is supposed to inherit) to expose the identity of a baron that is conspiring with a bishop to bring Prince Louis of France into power in the English throne. Lucky for him, he has a ready-made alibi. The lady of Ravenwood, Mathilda, has to choose a husband and her father is throwing a grand party for all the young men to come and joust/fight/whatever each other for her hand. Adam is one of those men. Alas, he finds himself attracted to an apparently working class woman instead, Joan Swan.
Adam and Joan are technically decent characters, but they leave me cold. It strikes me when I'm close to the last page why this is such: this book has absolutely no sense of humor. Not in the characters' repartee and certainly not in the prose. I've read medical texts that display more life than the author's style. Her prose - technically - is okay, but at the same time, every character is smothered by a blanket of relentless dourity. Adam is so serious. Joanna has a father slowly being crippled by memory loss and yes, she is so grave and serious. These characters just cannot laugh or smile unless it's to make a "Oh! We're so serious! This is a serious 'smile' scene so we all smile - seriously!" statement. Their love scenes have all the gravity of the three Wise Men cheering on the birth of Baby Jesus or something, and Adam saying that he wants to make love to her until "he was drained of seed" only makes me shudder at how serious this man even takes the simple act of lovemaking. I guess for him, it ain't an A+ act until his testicles turn blue from overdraining.
I really think Ms Lawrence should get a little more relaxed in her next book. Let her characters smile and do a little silly fun things once in a while. Lord Of The Hunt is so solemn and proper, the characters so insistent on doing the right things with a cheerless expression on their faces, they make me feel as if there's going to be a pop quiz at the end of the book. It's really a pity, because the premise of this story is such that the author has a lot of chance to show her stuff. A gamekeeper heroine - how often do I encounter that in a medieval romance? Alas, what a cheerless book this one turns out to be.
This book at Amazon.com
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