by Denise Lynn, historical (2010)
Harlequin Historical, $5.99, ISBN 978-0-373-29578-4
With a title like Pregnant By The Warrior, is it any surprise that this is a Harlequin Historical book? As it happens, this book deserves such a dreadful title, so the drunk person at Harlequin that came up with the title deserves another mug of beer in this instance.
This is a medieval romance where the setting is merely a backdrop for the author to inject modern day sensibilities into her story via the heroine in a manner that is, frankly, deranged. Our heroine, Lea of Montreau, is the widow of a man who was predictably a monster who conveniently enough couldn't bed her. Shortly into her widowhood, she finds that her holding is being eyed by both the warring factions of Princess Matilda and King Stephen. Stephen wants to marry her off to some bloke while Matilda is sending a warrior to "keep an eye" on her holdings. Because Lea won't need to marry if she is carrying a child whom she can claim to be her late husband's, she decides to seduce the warrior sent by Matilda, Jared of Warehaven. As it happens, Jared was Lea's fiancé until she dumped him. Thinking that she ditched him because he is an illegitimate son, he decides to seduce her as a form of revenge.
This story is pretty much a laundry list of medieval romance clichés, from a hero who is a bastard knight to the stock villains and all. But what really annoys me here is the unrealistic pacifist stance of the heroine. For a woman of her time, Lea's determination to hate all warriors is not only overly simplistic, but counter-intuitive as she is now responsible for the welfare of her late husband's people. If she is as goody-goody as the author claims Lea to be, then Lea should have just married a strong warrior with the right political connections to keep herself and her people safe. But no, in this story, Lea is blindly, hysterically, and stupidly determined to have nothing to do with war even if she's going to be knee-deep into that stuff. She won't marry Jared because he is a warrior, she doesn't want a warrior to be her husband NO NO NO NO NO. Never mind that her stance will leave her and her holding ripe for the plucking, Lea is determined to have nothing to do with a warrior.
Lea runs amok in this story, spreading her stupidity like a plague. Poor Jared is forced to babysit her as she tries to play the United Nations of Peace and Goodwill to all and sundry with all the effectiveness of some random Miss Universe trying to chair a peace conference in the Middle-East.
Ultimately, the whole thing plays out like a tale of two modern kids making out and bickering as they dress up and pretend to be medieval-era people. Pregnant By The Warrior is already too clichéd for its own good, but Ms Lynn just has to add salt to the wound by having the heroine come off as a modern-day dingbat transplanted into the 12th century. I can't in any good conscience recommend this book to anyone.
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