Harlequin Historical, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-29922-5
Historical Romance, 2017
The synopsis of the back cover makes it seem like At the Warrior’s Mercy is a tale of great deception and betrayal, with lots of angst and drama spread across both the hero Gregor of Raul and heroine Beatrice of Warehaven. He rescues her from the clutches of an evil man, only to be assigned by his liege to ruin her family and marry her. Oh no, how will they ever meet a common ground to find a happily ever after?
Don’t get too excited, people. What this story actually is about is poor Gregor having to constantly scramble to rescue Beatrice. At the beginning of the story, she is facing ruination, rape, probably worse because she foolishly ran off with a man she is infatuated with, only to learn that he’s actually a cartoon villain. This villain is an idiot, by the way. The silly chit is in love with him and will probably put out if he swears his love on the soul of a hundred unicorns, but no, he had to act like a scumbag even before they seal the deal. What an idiot. Anyway, she runs into Gregor, and naturally, when you’ve barely escaped ruination and worse, and you’re still not in the clear, you give lip and act all bratty and insolent to a man who can help you. When Gregor is telling her what to do, she of course says that he’s like her brothers, and no, that’s not a compliment.
This behavior of hers persists throughout nearly the entire book. Beatrice doesn’t display any believable emotions or vulnerabilities for someone who is constantly in danger. No fear, no trauma, and certainly no learning from her mistakes, as she has no problems running alone several more times to fall right into the evil Charles’s clutches. All the time, she’s “on”, being all sarcastic or quippy as if she’s auditioning for whatever mistake Joss Whedon is going to foist on us all next. This may be okay if the story is a comedy which has everyone uttering precious one-liners while kicking ass, but this is a woman who is constantly in distress, so the frequent disconnect between attitude and her situation constantly pulls me out of the story. I can never believe that she’s in any danger because she doesn’t act it, after all.
In addition to Beatrice being a dumb bunny who is always “on”, Charles is that cartoon villain who seems to have a never ending supply of Energizer batteries. He just keeps coming and coming and coming, and no that’s not a dirty thing, to the point that the story becomes even more over the top than it should be. Add in Beatrice creating all kinds of last minute drama with her constant dingbattery, and At the Warrior’s Mercy ends up being an annoying headscratcher.