Lord Of The Beasts
by Susan Krinard, historical/fantasy (2006)
HQN, $5.99, ISBN 0-373-77139-8

Lord Of The Beasts is the second book in Susan Krinard's series about fae creatures falling in love with humans. Like the previous book The Forest Lord, one of the characters is so infuriating that I fear for my blood pressure. Like the previous book, this one has an environment message so preachy that a part of me wonders whether Ms Krinard is being forced by the Green Party to write this book or face the rest of her life having nothing but broccoli for dinner.

Donal Fleming is the son of the main characters of the previous book. His father is fae while his mother is human, so this makes Donal half-fae with the ability to speak to animals. The poor dear isn't keen on being around humans and I blame this on his father who was such a eugenics-obsessed sociopath in the previous book. Donal prefers the company of his hob friend Tod who often takes on the form of a fox. Tod informs Donal that Donal will lose his special Tarzan-like gifts if he ever falls in love so Donal is not going to fall in love. He hasn't counted on meeting Cordelia Hardcastle.

Cordelia and her father are very, very, very rich people who make it their life mission to rescue maltreated animals and keep them in the Hardcastle estate which is designed to replicate these animals' natural habitats as much as possible. However, the animals aren't acting like they are in a Walt Disney cartoon - yet - so Cordelia needs to find someone who can help her turn these animals into Walt Disney types. This is how she comes to meet Donal.

This story has everything a Walt Disney cartoon should have but Ms Krinard then strives for Hallmark-like greatness by adding in a foundling under Donal's care. Love your animals! Love your orphans! Yet, amidst the grand Disney cartoon theme song this story is building towards, the author also opts to introduce some angst. Cordelia's baggages however do not work at all. It has all the trappings of an infuriating read and it ends up being just that with a heroine who is adamant at being treated poorly by her own father while treating the hero badly. Cordelia is a bewildering character because she is very unlikable. She's like a radical militant so bent on believing that her way is the only way that she steamrollers everything in her way, which is fine if she's not being set up to be so wrong in every way. Therefore, Cordelia is a multiple whammy of a heroine - she is oblivious enough to allow people to treat her badly, she is strident and unbending and rude, and she is set up by the author to be so, so wrong. Therefore, Ms Krinard ends up with an utterly unlikable heroine in this story that drives me up the wall.

Donal is not that great a prize either since he can be obnoxiously judgmental about people once you get him going but compared to Cordelia, he's a gem. I have no idea why he is in love with Cordelia since the author has her characters being antagonistic for so long and I have no idea how Cordelia falls for Donal when she persists in thinking of him as not right in the head for the most part of this story. Does she have a thing for men in need of psychiatric evaluation? The chemistry between Donal and Cordelia is absent in this story and I have no idea how they can even begin to fall in love.

The rest of the story are standard paranormal romance formula with some overdose of love-animals and love-kiddies sentiments thrown in liberally. Were not for the remarkably chemistry-free main characters and the unlikable heroine, I probably will not have much to say about Lord Of The Beasts at all.

I won't pretend to know what is going on with Susan Krinard but she was one of the main spearheads of the paranormal romance and werewolf thing way back before the phrase "urban fantasy" was used to describe romance novels. It doesn't feel right that she's falling behind instead of capitalizing on the current paranormal romance renaissance. I'm not saying Ms Krinard needs to ramp up the sex in her stories, mind you. It's just that the paranormal canon in her books feels outdated and stale compared to the more inventive authors in the market right now. Thirteen years ago, Prince Of Wolves was one of its kind, new and exciting. Today, the canon hasn't changed, the werewolves are still acting and behaving the same as they were back in 1999, the storylines feel like ordinary tales with tacked-on paranormal elements... Ms Krinard, please do something!

Rating: 48

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