Heart Of The Condor
by Laura Renken, historical (2002)
Jove (A Seduction Romance), $5.99, ISBN 0-515-13335-3

Laura Renken seems to be trying to make her mark in writing swashbuckling romances, but Marsha Canham need not take out the voodoo doll yet. Heart Of The Condor is less by-the-book plotted than this author's previous books, but the sisters in Ms Renken's books still gasp at their brothers' breathtaking beauty even as they lust after their boyfriends (no, not the brothers). VC Andrews - the original and dead one, not the ghostwriters of today using her name to exploit young teenage girls wanting to read "sexy books" - at least has her moments (who can forget Catherine Dollanganger and her brother and the Million Exclamation Marks Abused In The Name Of Bad Purple Prose?), while Laura Renken just comes off as pretty inept in her plotting.

Anyway, the hero is Gabriel Cristobel de Espinosa Yadda Yadda Yadda - let's just call him El Condor like everyone else does. He's the guy whose sister married the hero of Night Shadow, and now he will marry the sister of the hero of Night Shadow. That way, all the siblings have a legitimate excuse to sit together at Thanksgiving and admire each other. Or something.

The heroine is Sarah Drake. She's blind, although that problem will soon be desposed off when things get a bit complicated. El Condom is trying to reconcile with his sister and brother-in-law, but those two don't want to see him after the mess he caused in the previous book. Instead, he finds the Drake, and when the Drake is threatened by Evil People, he forces her to marry him for her own good and they go sailing, El Condom and the Drake, into a sunset of danger, intrigue, and unsafe sex.

All will be good if El Condom and Drake actually have a decently developed relationship, but from what I can see, it's lust through and through. El Condom suffers ruptures from a Bad Woman in his past, so can Drake fill the Condom with love and purity all over again? Yes, it's that same old thing again. But it's hard to see why Drake will want El Condom, unless we count that he is injured when he sees her and it's a case of the typical healing-crazy romance heroines' fetish for open wounds and festering larcerations. Indeed, throughout this story, the Drake seems to act on her own only if someone is wounded, and there she goes, scrambling for a chance to prod at some injured sad losers.

He loves her just like that - snap! - and she he a little earlier (those wounds, remember, are sooooo hot, oh baby), and that's it. The tepid adventures that culminate in the predictable incarceration of the Spanish hero and the entire Attractive Siblings' rush to save him only to result in he disappearing and she mooning at the harbors like a lovesick Drake until he comes back and... well, those are okay, I guess, readable but nothing groundbreaking or even adrenaline-pumping.

In fact, that is the general theme song for this Condom Love Story. It's just okay, but with an underbaked romance and pedestrian plot developments, it's nothing much other than just okay. The accidental incest undertones are hilarious though, although if you ask me, crazy and obsessed Christopher Dollanganger still blows them all out of the water. Pun not intended. Or whatever.

Rating: 70

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