Samhain Publishing, $4.50, ISBN 1-59998-178-5
Contemporary Paranormal Romance, 2008
Ciar Cullen decides to take a little liberty with history by having real-life 19th century explorer Frederick Catherwood leaving behind a collection of writings that mentioned a fearsome bunch of folks called the Lords of Xilbalba that terrorized the Uxmal region of the Yucatan. The Xilbalba is the Mayan version of the underworld and the Lords, therefore, are folks that you don’t want to mess with. Needless to say, our hero and heroine Tyre “Indiana Romancing the Stone Jones” Rasmussen and Troya “academic professor with love life issues” Twamley can’t head over to Uxmal fast enough to determine whether there is any truth to Frederick Catherwood’s writing about Xilbalba and all. And why are you people laughing at the main characters’ names? You people are so rude sometimes, I tell you.
There is an interesting story here in Mayan Secrets especially when the secrets of the Xilbalba are slowly revealed, but I cringe every time Tyre is on the scene. Can this fellow be any more clichéd as this swaggering womanizer/explorer type? He comes on so strong from the get go towards the heroine that he comes off more like a rampant horny alligator rather than an actually charming womanizer. It makes sense in an unfortunate manner that Troya has enough clichéd issues about her love life that she is putty in the hands of this smarmy fellow. She has a history of pretty terrible taste in guys after all, no?
While I appreciate Ms Cullen’s attempts to portray Troya’s subsequent behavior and thought pattern after her predictable bedding by Tyre in a pretty decent and not-too-clichéd manner, I find myself more interested in the story revolving around the secrets of Uxmal. The romance is the least interesting aspect of this story, mostly due to Tyre being such an uninspiring stereotype that seems to ooze smarm from every pore in his body. I can’t help thinking that Mayan Secrets would be a more interesting story if it doesn’t have the lackluster romance or some boring attempts to “sex up” the story to hold it back.