Kingdom Of Moonlight
by Josie Litton, historical (2002)
Bantam, $5.99, ISBN 0-553-58390-5

They're back. Mary and Marty Sue, the Pompadours of Perfection, Paragons of Penultimates, and Savants of Superlatives, in a romance all about the hero and the heroine and their cheerleaders trying to outdo each other in praising the virtues and glories of the other. And boy, do they have lots of virtues and glories. With nary a conflict in sight, nary a baggage or torture, just perfect people telling me what perfect people they are... ohhh, my head.

Now, now, Josie Litton, I know you love your characters and you think that they are the best ever, but no need to spend 374 pages getting off on how wonderful your characters are. Yes, you're a NYT bestseller and so far with your new trilogy, you're making me reconsider your hack status. No doubt your Viking trilogy, a trio of mediocrity, is just a bait for readers to buy your books. Bravo. Although I wish you haven't made me pay $5.99 for the privilege of being one of your stepping stones.

The first book of this new trilogy, Dream Island, is beautiful scenery. Kingdom Of Moonlight is beautiful characters. Hopefully one day Ms Litton will find enlightenment via beautiful plots and convey her inner Gautama on us, her mere readers.

Our heroine, Kassandra, Princess of Akora, Counselor Troi in training, is a seer. She can see the future, or rather, an interpretation of the possible future. Or something. This is just an excuse for our heroine to walk around with an ethereal air around her in the way she talks (supposedly deep, always filled with Chicken Soup yammering) and walks and behaves.

As an aside, I just want to ask: why would someone be proud to be named after a crazy, cursed rape victim of Greek mythology? For a race of people that practice a religion filled with pagan Greek elements, this is strange. Must be some culture to name each other after professional victims in history, I must say.

Kassandra is in England. Why? Er, supposedly she's in love with British culture and wants a full cultural immersion. At least, that's what Ms Litton says in the beginning. The next few hundreds of pages will be filled with Akoran superiority, and how Akorans don't do the Ton Slut thing. How Akorans keep aloof and mingle with the pathetic Tonnish hoi palloi because the Ton are so pathetically grateful for their presence. How the Akorans are just doing the English a favor with their presence. They are the Klingons of historical romance. Say, Ms Litton, are you a Trekkie?

Our hero, Royce, is English, but he is more Akoran than English in his character. That's what the book tells me, and I don't know what kind of superiority that the phrase "Akoran" is supposed to convey. Royce acts like a Lisa Kleypas hero when Ms Kleypas is overdosing on sugar - perfect, flawless, faux-alpha, and nothing else.

The couple from Dream Island make up the other half of the Quartet of Boredom. Plot? Is there one? Every chapter is about how Joanna, heroine of Dream Island, is gloriously pregnant, how she glows with cherubic ruddiness! You'd think the nine months of carrying a fat lard in your uterus is like a prizewinning holiday cruise to the Bahamas, the way that disgusting wench is behaving. The scene where Kassandra places her hand on Joanna's tummy and reassures Joanna that the latter will have a fabulous delivery? I am waiting for them to get drunk and do a Sorority Babe Lesbian Snog thing, if only to liven up my glazed stupor, but no luck there.

If it's not that, it's Royce marveling what a wonderful woman Kassandra is. Beautiful! Glorious! Kassandra finds Royce just as wonderful. Commanding! Powerful! Joanna agrees! Her husband Alex agrees! Everyone agrees! Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful... someone please help me. I'm trapped in Barney Hell.

Late, late in the story, someone not that beautiful, perfect, and commanding dies. Even then it's an excuse to showcase that hey, Akorans (and English Akoran-wannabes) are not just disgustingly perfect, they have brains too! At least, brains enough to solve a linear, obvious mystery.

Uuurgh. 374 pages of non-stop Akoran propaganda and not a single respite, Kingdom Of Moonlight will appeal to readers looking for fluffy, easy read of beautiful, faultless people taking their own sweet time to fall in love. No conflict, no baggage, no torment - no freaking meat or emotional poignancy whatsoever, just nothing but fattening carbohydrates smearing the pages.

And please, go easy with the Mary and Marty Sue stuff, please, Ms Litton. You could've made a pleasant read in between Karen Ranney books, but there are times when "Akoran" sounds too much like "Aryan" for comfort.

Rating: 77

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