Virtual Heaven
by Ann Lawrence, fantasy (1999)
Lovespell (Perfect Heroes), $5.99, ISBN 0-505-52307-8

I was reading this book while getting my hair done when I noticed people giving this book an odd glance or two. I wondered what was going on. Then I happened to look at the mirror in front me and frowned. Was that...? I flattened the book so that I could see clearer. Ohmigod, there was a naked man cavorting with a woman on the beach at the back cover! No wonder everyone was giving me strange looks. Too bad the man's naked thighs looked a little too scrawny for his upper body though.

This is a rather enjoyable book, especially for a first book as it is one of the more imaginative fantasy romances out there. Maggie O' Brien is dressing up in a virtual reality booth when lightning strikes and zap! Maggie's sent right into the virtual reality game Tolemac Wars (Tolemac = Camelot backwards, got that?) as the Shadowy Woman who would protect hero Kered from harm as he seeks the holy Liarg (Grail?) from N'olava. Kered is doing all this to prove himself worthy of a seat in the political council - he wants an end to the war with the Selaw folks.

Maggie has a super death-ray sort of gun that can blast everything to insignificant atoms. She and Kered travel together even as she keep insisting she isn't a slave, and in the end, it's love.

Kered and Maggie starts out totally cardboard in dimension, but oh, do they become more interesting as the story progresses. Ms Lawrence has fleshed out the relationship between Kered and Maggie just right as these two people grow to rely on each other more and more. Eventually Kered and Maggie realize that they mean more to each other than they thought at first. And there's a wonderful way in which the author give them both a happy ending.

Part Neverending Story, part The Princess Bride, part Conan The Barbarian (minus the chauvinist pigs), this book is quite a read. The middle drags a little, and the author could have fleshed out the nasties more (most of the time I have no idea what the monsters look like), but hey, what's next in the works? Vad's story? I can't wait!

!Uoy htiw eb ecrof eht yam

Oops, wrong story.

Rating: 75

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