Lord Of The Mist
by Ann Lawrence, historical (2001)
LoveSpell, $5.99, ISBN 0-505-52443-0
Talk about missed opportunities. Lord Of The Mist could have an interesting romance about forgiveness, guilt, and healing, but it just doesn't go there. You know, too complicated, hard, and risky, et cetera (what if some reader just can't accept emotional depths in their romance, that sort of thing). Hence, this very familiar, predictable medieval romance complete with healing-maniac heroine, gruffy boring macho knight/lord, and the usual action/treachery intrigue.
Our heroine Cristina le Gros is married to a bad, bad hubby Simon. But who's complaining? She has her herb pouch for comfort. Not, mind you, that I'm saying she intoxicates herself into a junkie high using natural herbs and spices. She is too busy running up and down the place healing everybody to even notice. One day, she is summoned to the keep of Lord Durand de Marle to be the wet nurse of his newborn. Durand has issues. His wife died in childbirth, and he isn't even sure that lil' Felice is his. Wifey, after all, runs the busiest highway in Medieval County, if you know what I mean.
So the story goes. He has issues. Cristina wants to give him some sexual healing. But, ah, here is where things get complicated. Durand, so righteously angry about his wife, is now confused because he is now lusting after another man's wife. He is now in the position to turn the woman he is attracted to into the very type of woman he reviled. Interesting moral dilemma, huh?
But as fast as the author broaches this subject, she quickly flees from it. What better (and easier) than to reinforce the usual trite plot devices instead that romance readers are used to and hence probably won't complain that Ann Lawrence dare make their brain work a bit. Let's put the blame on the dead wife and her lovers, and let's enforce the double standards - Durand reviles his wife for giving out while encouraging his brother's philandering, asking the latter only to keep his number of bastards to a minimum. You may say hey, this is an accurate depiction of men at those dark, barbaric times. I say, hey, if Ms Lawrence wants to play it safe, she shouldn't even tantalize me by dropping some interesting moral and philosophical dilemmas only to drop the ball the next page. Nothing irks me more than a cop-out.
Anyway, if I just overlook the wasted opportunity, the story still suffers from slow pacing. The plot just goes nowhere except for chit-chats and our heroine on some Heal-The-World mission, and our hero brooding. Only towards the last third, Evil People start causing problem, and then we have some action going. By then, the author has pretty much abandoned her half-hearted attempt at giving me something deep and substantial to chew on.
So that's it. Lord Of The Mist is another standard, usual medieval with all the usual plot devices, with only a little hint as to how different and unique it could have been if the author dares do something out of the usual formulaic plotting. Not bad, but not that good either.
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