New Concepts Publishing, $3.50, ISBN 1-58608-236-1
Historical Romance, 2000
A Saxon’s Love illustrates perfectly how things can really go wrong when an author takes a plot that requires daring elements but is too eager to play it safe to actually stretch the plot’s possibilities. The end result is a half-baked, no, make it quarter-baked affair that succeeds in only insulting my intelligence.
This one has a hero who is Saxon (in a medieval, that’s like finding a Holy Grail) and better still, a villain in the last medieval by Ms Grall, Conquest of the Heart. Sounds fun? Ranulf, formerly of Ravenwood, has been a rapist and murderer. I can’t wait to see his redemption, which is why I bought this one as soon as it hits the stands.
Unfortunately, the author dare not do anything with this intriguing scenario. Instead, she starts distorting reality, making silly cuts around corners to justify the hero’s behaviors instead of redeeming him.
What happens is that seven years ago Ranulf tries to usurp Lady Brenna’s husband’s position in Ravenwood. He murders her husband and rapes her. Ranulf is thwarted in the end by Sir Stephen in the last book, and now he is back in yet another attempt to take back Ravenwood from those Norman curs.
He disguises himself as a lowly serf called Tinker, but what do you know? Brenna can’t recognize the man who boinked her so long ago, but her libido zones in on him right away. Complication ensues.
But get this: no, no, no, Ranulf didn’t rape Brenna, no way. He seduces her, so that’s okay. And get this – Brenna spent seven years feeling indebted to Ranulf who has gone missing since. After all, like all bad, shoddily-written heroines, Brenna’s husband was a nasty, abusive scum, and when Ranulf slit that scum from ear to ear, Brenna wants to do the hallelujah dance (she didn’t – good heroines don’t do things like this). And even better, Ranulf left her with a child!
And now she can’t recognize him. Her eyes must be rolled up so high in their sockets during that boinking seven years ago if she can’t recognize a man she has been pining for like a silly pup for seven years.
This story could have worked if the author doesn’t play it safe and make the heroine already in love with a man who uses her for political games. That makes Brenna as smart as a brick house. She is no match for Ranulf who pulls all her strings. Worse, I’m told that I must love Ranulf, because he’s the frigging hero. No redemption, nothing. He didn’t rape Brenna who didn’t fight back too hard back then, so I’m expected to be okay with his current boorish behavior. No guilt, no stormy confrontations over that night seven years back, no Brenna making Ranulf pay for his treachery.
Instead, I get yet another tired boring old rehash of the tale of an alpha male and the spineless damsel who loves him. The whole plot smacks of calculated set-up to escape the more annoying nuisances in a story like complicated characterization or difficult, morally ambiguous plot twists. A Saxon’s Love makes heroes out of villains in such a slipshod, lazy manner that I really feel insulted.