Heart Of The Dove
by Tracy Fobes, historical (1999)
Sonnet, $6.50, ISBN 0-671-02468-X

I almost labeled this book Historical/Paranormal, but decided not to. This book has practitioners of magic (or witches if you prefer) as the heroine and a villain, but frankly, I'm disappointed. From the back blurb I'm led to expect a paranormal romance where witchcraft and sorcery is abound. All I get in return are a gripping duel of sorcery in the brilliant prologue and another at the end. Everything in-between, apart from token mentions of love spells and curses, is strictly mundane historical romance stuff.

The wonderful prologue has corrupted vicar/warlock Edward Drakewyck and his henchman Harry Clairmont stealing a magical talisman, called the Dove, from Morgana Fay. They put Morgana under a curse of eternal sleep, and then burn her husband as her murderer. Morgana vows revenge, and prophecy has it that a Clairmont knight and Drakewyck witch will fall in love and awaken Morgana from her sleep, upon which she will wreck revenge on all things and persons Clairmont and Drakewyck.

Cut to 1856, 263 years later, where Lucinda Drakewyck foresees a vision that she will fall in love with Crimean war hero Richard Clairmont. In a spell went awry, she manages to reawaken Morgana, earns Richard's distrust, and causes them all to plunge into big trouble. Along the way her uncle meet some financial mishap and urges her to get married. In order to avoid a persistent suitor, she gets herself hired as the chaperone for annoying, shrill Carolly (the annoying name is a dead giveaway of her personality). Carolly and she somehow had a carriage accident that causes reawakened Morgana to get injured, and now Morgana is recuperating in the Clairmont house. Lucinda is uneasy. Then there's this problem with Richard falling in love with her, and she can't allow that - if they fall in love, the prophecy will come true. What is she to do?

Whatever she does, she comes close to the ninny-like heroines I dislike, namely those heroines that would gather secrets to her heaving heart, not telling the hero anything in some misguided hope of protecting him and everybody. Guess what? She has to be incompetent while doing it. This woman just cannot keep her mouth shut. She tells herself ABC must not be known by the hero. The hero looks at her, and the first thing she blabs is ABC! ABC! ABC... oops. Reminds me of another book I've read before where the heroine tries to play Wonder Woman and ends up getting me all annoyed with her. Lucinda is young, so I can make allowances for her, but she is so passive and timid that she is a complete failure when it comes to chaperoning Carolly (what an irritating name!), She can't stand up to this annoying young lady at all. She also cannot stand up to Morgana, much less Richard. As a heroine, she isn't memorable.

Richard fares better as a man tortured by memories of the Crimean war and the death of his best friend. He is a charismatic and attractive hero, but unfortunately his presence only serves to expose Lucinda's inadequateness as a compelling romantic heroine.

And don't get me started about Carolly.

I'm more interested in Morgana. The poor woman has the right to her revenge, for the sin committed against her is unforgivable. The author must be commended for making her three-dimensional. I care more for her than Lucinda. Strong, determined, vengeful, Morgana is ultimately redeemed by ... oh well, let me just say that it is her happy ending that brings tears to my eyes, not Lucinda's. Morgana is a wonderful character. I can't help wishing the author has written her story instead.

Oh, and I'm afraid this book suffers from the fact that it is too sweet at places, and awfully corny at others. A love that is perfect in all way, a glorious blending of two halves of a broken soul, a melding of intellectual and passionate intercourses - these are fine, I want one too, but I don't find these sort of romances interesting reading. I believe the most interesting - and realistic - relationships to be akin to shoes. You try on a new shoe to see if it fits. It does - so you commit yourself to taking it home. At first it's a little uncomfortable - there are some rough edges that need to be smoothed out, but that's okay. As time passes, one may still bicker or yell or throw things at the wall, but like old shoes, these sort of relationships could only get more comfortable, wonderful to wear, and becomes an indispensable part of you. Maybe that's why I don't really buy this sort of perfect saccharine union of souls philosophy. Give me the more imperfect relationships anytime.

Mind you, Heart Of The Dove isn't a bad romance, for a historical romance, that is. But if one is looking for a true blue paranormal romance rich in witchcraft lore and sorcery, she will be disappointed.

Rating: 60

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