Dark Sapphire
by Lisa Jackson, historical (2000)
Signet, $5.99, ISBN 0-451-40779-2

My friend Grace told me that Lisa Jackson writes fine contemporary suspense. The other day I was checking the bookshelves at my favorite bookstore for new releases for October (alas, no sight of any yet), and I came across this book with a lovely cover. Dark Sapphire by Lisa Jackson promises a bad, dark hero and lots of high sea adventure.

Okay, I could use some vicarious ocean cruise. To the book bag it goes.

Only to realize too late that Dark Sapphire is a romance that leaves much to be desired. As much as I love bad boy heroes, the hero has the tendency to abandon the heroine to danger too much for my liking. The heroine ends up looking like a wuss for being unable to stand up to him, and the most interesting - make that brainiest - character happens to be the Evil Stepmother of the heroine. Alas, that one gets a bad end in the ending. Life's so unfair, I tell you, when it should be the hero who should end up in the Fiction Microwave Oven.

The story is pretty typical. Heroine has a crush on hero since childhood when she saves him and he dumps her. See what I mean? Some people never learn early. Now, after a typically bad marriage and one dead (evil) hubby later, Sheena flees her marriage night and a murder indictment by hiding in hero Keegan's ship.

Keegan wants to ransom her, boinks her, still wants to ransom her, boinks her some more, and drools at the amount of ransom money he will get out her. What a hero. I can see all those doormat-sy, dysfunctional romance heroines clawing each other's eyes out in their cat fight over him.

But since our hero is out to Avenge his daddy's death, I guess I am supposed to forgive him. Plus the fact that he could make the heroine do tricks like jumping through hoops for a taste of the Keegan Orgasm Delight.

But really, I don't even care. It doesn't help that the storytelling style is more suited for some cheesy B-grade movie. Did she trade her old life for a worse one? the hero would think, and I wonder if it is for my presumably doddering, easily-confused mind's benefit that he thinks in such grandiose old-opera style narrations. The hero acts like a petulant, spoiled child who wants the cake and eat it too as well as second helpings, and boo-boo to the heroine for letting him steal off all the bread in her bakery.

Fawn the Evil Stepmother is the only fun thing about this story. A cross between Cruela de Vil and that psycho woman from Fatal Attraction (another story where devious, cunning women get the short stick), she shows much more personality than the pea shells that are the hero and heroine.

I could try and enjoy Dark Sapphire as a medieval seafaring episode of Batman-and-Robin style tomfoolery - "Holy hot smelly stuff, Keegan, that's a giant guacamole of a cannon ball! Ker-pow! Down goes the bad pirate! Will Sheena be rescued from the Giant Man-eating Rabid Stepmomma's Claws? Will Keegan survive the Bruiser of A Hangover? Stay tuned next week!" - but really, there's something about the whole writing style that suggests that this may not be the author's intention. Chances are, Dark Sapphire doesn't want to be campy. It is therefore a horrible misfire of a romance.

Rating: 46

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