Laird Of The Mist
by Elizabeth English, historical (2002)
Jove, $5.99, ISBN 0-515-13190-3

This book is a sequel of sorts to The Border Bride. Alistair Kirallen is a pariah at the end of The Border Bride, and now he cranks up the tortured-hero schtick in Laird Of The Mist.

In this book, he is given a vision that his redemption lies in the hand of a beautiful woman, and he decides to take up a life of a mercenary as he finds this woman. She is Deirdre Maxwell, wife of an abusive SOB (of course) who also happens to be Alistair's new boss. These two meet the first time in some vision scryching thing that will make any junkie envious, they meet again when Dierdre and her daughter are on the run from hubby and bump into - ta-da! - Alistair. As they flee, Dierdre's nasty in-laws want her back, Alistair's people are after him too, and everything's just peachy in late 14th century Scotland.

Yes, peachy. Everything's going to plan according to the Great Rule Book of Romance Formulae. The heroine is feitsy but ultimately in need of rescue, the hero is tortured and reluctant to love, that daughter is irritating, and many, many secondary characters jostle for limelight as they create a "Look! My sequel is coming soon! Buy! Buy! Buy!" cacophony (subtlety, what's that?). There are some glimmers of life: Dierdre's first love scene with Alistair rings painful and poignant as she is an abused woman, for example, but not enough. What an annoying tease.

The writing is technically fine and very readable. But the derivative setting, the familiar characters, and rather laborious plot make it an only slightly above average book. For example, the author tries to create a magical, folklore-steeped 14th century Scotland, but just what these magical stuff are exactly, I am never told. Can someone tell me just what the freak is this Laird of the Mist thing? It sounds nice, but unless someone just tells me what exactly all this faerie/magic/whatever thing do, I'll just have to come out with the usual recreational drug thing to explain the visions.

This is not a bad book. Could use some polish and some characters should really just be excised as they just take up space in an already cluttered story, of course, but it's rather competent as entertainment.

Rating: 78

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