by Maggie Shayne, paranormal (1999)
Jove, $6.99, ISBN 0-515-12610-1

Maggie Shayne is an author I so desperately want to like. Okay, I admit that I find her backlist less than memorable, for she tends to go overboard with the saccharine factor. The previous related book Eternity I find rather awkward because of the stilted language. In Infinity, the overflowing of 'Twas and 'Tis is still ever present, and yes, the author mixes archaic phrases with modern-sounding turn of phrases that can be very jarring. But a greater crime of Infinity, to me, is setting up a wonderful beginning - a setting, if you will - only to bog me down not too soon after. I expected a Ladyhawke-like adventure, all I get is The Adventures of Barbie Does Witchcraft.

Let's see. The heroine here is Arianna, sis to the woman in Eternity (whose name I couldn't remember), and she spends her time learning witchcraft - covertly - from three old witches in a forest. She also has goo-goo eyes for her distant cousin Nicodimus Lachlan. After all, they're soulmates, no?

Actually, Nic is a High Witch who is immortal and is around 700 years old. He knows that Arianna is a High Witch too - she doesn't - and looks after her. Nic is also having goo-goo eyes for Ari, but is afraid of falling in love again after a previous love ended in tragedy.

Now, by this point I have Rutger Hauer's face plastered as Nic's and I am trying to imagine Michelle Pfeiffer as Ari. I couldn't. For one, I just can't get emotionally involved with the romance. Ari loves Nic and he her. But why? She's beautiful, he's gorgeous, and... what? Little else is told or shown. Perhaps it's predestined, I concede, but I would love to see why these two's initial attraction can develop into a lifelong bond of undying love. Isn't that what romance is all about - leaning good traits about each other and loving each other for their faults and imperfections?

Also, if I dig a little closer under the flimsy illusion of witchcraft and fantasy romance that this book is supposed to be - and believe me, nosey ol' me did just that - I'd find a surprisingly down-to-earth romance that has its later second half flimsily founded on a really annoying Big Misunderstanding problem. And that Ari is an impetuous, unthinking chit who stupidly flaunts the anti-witchcraft atmosphere of 1500's Scotland - she deserves what she gets, only that she causes Nic to face the consequences of her dumb antics instead. And the whole shenanigan in present-day Scotland wouldn't have happened if these Nic and Ari have blinked their star-struck eyes and paused in their exchange of cutesy love phrases to actually talk.

And that despite the wonderful cover and premise that promise magic, love larger than life - okay, make that a well-fleshed, convincing, poignant love - and exciting duels of fire, magic, ice, and hearts, Infinity is actually a rather samey, nothing-newish witchcraft romance that can easily be changed into a time-travel romance and none would be wiser. Quite disappointing really.

Where's my Ladyhawke video?

Rating: 50

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