Reiver's Bride
by Amanda Scott, historical/paranormal (2003)
Warner, $5.99, ISBN 0-446-61267-7

This latest installment of Amanda Scott's messy The Secret Clan series tells the story of Christopher "Kit" Chisholm, whose backstory, if you care to read, is told in the previous book Highland Bride. While Reiver's Bride is better than Highland Bride in that it doesn't have a million underdeveloped subplots running simultaneously, it is also not good at all because the author's faerie subplot ruins everything.

Lady Anne Ellyson is an orphan that, upon the death of her daddy, moves to her Aunt Olivia's home. There, she befriends Fiona, her cousin, and watches in helpless dismay as Fiona is betrothed to the nasty Eustace Chisholm. After the plot meanders for around 160 pages in backstory and trivial chit-chat, it is revealed that Kit can step in and halt this marriage. Fiona is originally betrothed to Kit after all, and so Kit, back from the dead (or so it seems), is Anne's only hope for Fiona. Kit has an ax to grind with Eustace, so he will help her, right? Thing is, Anne has feelings for Kit herself.

In the meantime, their faerie guardian/matchmakers meddle from behind the scenes to make everybody fall in love with everybody else. Unfortunately, these creatures have no personality but they take up so much space in the story that I start to suspect that these faerie folks are nothing more than Amanda Scott's ego running amok. Indeed, how do I explain the bizarre tendency of this story to always halt in the middle of a scene to switch to the faes patting each other in the back because they engineered everything? Am I supposed to be impressed that Amanda Scott manages to cobble a few overused clichés together coherently? Why? Just because Maggie Mulloch and Catriona spends every other page telling each other how brilliant they are to have devised such plots against their charges?

These fae scenes kill the momentum of the story very effectively. Every time the author builds up the scene only to then stop and switch a scene of Maggie Mulloch smirking as she gets one up over Catriona - well, talk about a bucket of cold water splashed onto the reader's face. Is it so important that I recognized the author's wheels of plot contrivances spinning in her head here, at the expense of a story told without unnecessary interruptions? Also, are the humans here just brainless puppets manipulated by the faerie folks?

Because everything in this story seems to be controlled by the fae folk - dull, personality-free fae folks at that - I find myself wondering why I should ever care for the people in the story. I mean, even the final love scene in this book sees Maggie Malloch watching those two going at it in satisfaction. Frankly, Reiver's Bride is a good example of what happens when an author goes overboard with the matchmaking plot device and tosses aside decent characterization in favor of shoving her hubris at my face. There is some decent history here, but everything else is just a waste of time.

Rating: 50

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