The Maiden Warrior
by Mary Reed McCall, historical (2002)
Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-380-81787-X

Gwynne, our Valkyrie tomboy heroine, is the reincarnation of King Arthur. Even with the Cuckold Spirit of Loser Arthur in her, an entire army of loyal men behind her, she still has to end up the irrational wannabe-a-boy-NOW nitwit one-kiss-and-she's-all-putty dingbat trapped in a big house with the hero Aidan de Brice in some fake arrangement thing.

Remind me again please, why I read these books sometimes.

Once upon a time, Aidan and Gwynne are prepubescents in love. We all know how deep such love can be. They marry, but just as fifteen-year old Aidan is about to spear our innocent, alluring - and jailbait - heroine with his ardor, in comes the Welsh soldiers and whoops! There he goes, injured, and there Gwynne goes, doing her Magic Healing thing to save him. (Healing heroes - the only thing medieval heroines are good at!) But Gwynne gets spirited away as a result, she loses all memory of Aidan, and she is now... Gwynne, the girl who wants a penis like, NOW! Aidan, who remembers her always, vows vengeance on those Welsh pigs.

Thank you, Welsh pigs, for sparing me the prepubescent sex thing.

He discovers that Gwynne is now the Dark Warrior, an impetous, shrill, and strategy-free dingbat who is somehow the Scourge of the Wild Lands In Wales. Ah, romance novels, they can sometimes be so precious. He tells her that they are married, and now they must return to him in that Big House of his in London, where they will then spend three months getting the marriage annuled. Or is it a divorce? Anyway, there, Gwynne will wear pretty dresses, discovers her breast factor, gets kissed by Aidan, and oh! OH! She's all womanly now, which means she's now even more of an irrational, overly-emotional twit. Will Aidan love her? Can she love him? Oh, does she look pretty now? Can I kill them all now?

Gwynne, incidentally, is the worst general and the lousiest spy in the world. But she's touted as intelligent. Viva la femina, I want to renounce my vulva - can I do that? Aidan wants her back. Well, then, it can be nice seeing him feed her pretty strawberries and all, if I didn't feel like I'm reading about a Sugar Daddy spoonfeeding his Baby Girl right before Sexy Bedtime Stories Time.

Oh, and Aidan has a wife-to-be. Poor Helene - she's not an Evil Other Woman, in fact, I can't help thinking she has escaped a fate worse than death by being given the short stick by Aidan. Aidan's sister Diana provides the obligatory Nasty Woman hour, although Diana has a very good motivation for her nastiness. (If you ask me, Diana's a better woman than me. I'd take Gwynne's annoying existance alone as an excuse to poop all over her.)

Author Mary Reed McCall attempts to make Gwynne a rallying point for the Welsh. Gwynne's King Arthur incarnate after all. But in the end, Gwynne is just another sad, misguided hellion with no common sense and even less brainpower, and this is the story of how a man has to step in to rescue her from herself.

Really, remind me again why I even bother with romance novels sometimes. The Maiden Bride is ho-hum's piled upon ho-hum's, a book with an unusual premise that somehow unfolds into something unoriginal, uninteresting, and pretty unmemorable. The writing's not bad, but really, the plot and the characters are so blah.

Rating: 60

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