Daughter Of Destiny
by Tracy Fobes, historical/paranormal (2000)
Sonnet, $6.50, ISBN 0-671-04174-6

Poor Daughter Of Destiny. It doesn't know whether it wants to be a tale of a woman's coming into power ala Ursula K LeGuin or Marion Zimmer Bradley style or be a romance. If it has stuck to being a romantic fantasy, I bet its wings would have soared wide and high. But put in the limiting constraints and demands of the romance genre, and DOD just fumbles. Fantasy or romance? In trying to be both, this story goes nowhere and ends up a rather so-so read.

The Darleighs aren't happily wed. Brock marries Georgina for her money and Georgina still blames him for her ruined ideals about love and such. Now, just as they are about to go separate ways and just as Brock is about to try to win her back, comes the bombshell. No, she's not pregnant (thank goodness), she's actually some fancy high-ranking officer within the Druids of Wales! She is the Guardian of Becoming (read that as The Unpaid Caretaker) - now she must go learn some fancy spells to blow bad guys sky high.

One of her two colleagues has gone rogue, and now she must stop him. With the aid of the other handsome sexy dude who wouldn't mind practicing spells with her. But not if Brocky has his say.

The Druid mythology and other pagan elements are intertwined and interwoven beautifully that I am enthralled. Some readers may be appalled by the leveling of established religions with pagan ones, but me, it comes with the territory of the fantasy genre. That's the problem - this book is obviously a fantasy novel waiting to burst loose. But wait, a romance has to deal with some marriage stuff, and worse, DOD wants to be a conventional romance as well. Unfortunately, that results in two bland main characters. Brock is bland and boring, if nice and honorable, while Georgina is bland and boring, in a I'm superwoman so now I must Uphold Truth and Justice boring manner.

Brocky and Georgy are also a rather dour, serious lot. Some humor and carefree banter, even some naughty love scenes involving telepathy or telekinetic bananas (er, never mind) will be nice.

Anyway, since a romance must end after 380 pages, DOD can't get into a trilogy format to explore the heroine's coming of age and power thoroughly or even convincingly. There is no Grand Vision Quest to convince me that she can actually knock out the baddie just like that in the end. (My reaction: Who are they trying to kid?) All in all, the story is like a ten-pound bag of potatoes shoved through a pipe with an opening of about two inches in diameter. "The book - oomph! - must end - oomph! - must have love scenes - aaargh! - and drama - grumble! - and emotions - all in 400 pages - yeeeargh! Rushed ending coming up!"

Whether it wants to be a fantasy or a romance, it shortchanges me on both departments.

Rating: 74

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