Bantam, $5.99, ISBN 0-553-58585-1
Historical Romance, 2003
The good news is, Josie Litton has remembered to actually include a story in her latest Master Race Chronicles series revolving around them Mighty, Mighty Akorans. Fountain of Fire has a stronger romance and plot than the previous two books in Ms Litton’s personal romantic Mein Kampf series. The bad news is, these characters are so ridiculously endowed with beauty, courage, talent, and money that it is very difficult to take these laughably exaggerated characters seriously.
A warning before I go on: this book is also filled with meta references to the author’s previous books. This one sees the author tying her Akora series with her Viking series in manners that are more often than not amusing, because seriously, is the world really that small that Josie Litton’s Band of Super Friends and their kids all end up marrying each other? It’s like an inbreeding thing, I guess, without the genetic defects, because you know there is no such thing as undesirable genetic traits in this book, no siree.
Anyway, Princess Clio of Akora is beautiful, smart, and psychic. She sees dead people. While taking some R&R from her boring but very useful life in Akora, she stays in a house in England where she spends time moaning about the superficial partying in London. Preferring to study old pots and other bits of crockery instead, she lives the life of a bluestocking. Only sexier and prettier, of course. One day, she is trying to save her beloved pots and pans from a storm when she sees a ghost. She screams. Her scream causes the owner of the house, William (the Earl of Hollister), to look for her. They are attracted to each other. Then the dead bodies start showing up. As these two start poking their noses into other people’s affair, how shocked will they be when they realize that it’s all a grand conspiracy that may start a World War in Europe!
I wonder how Clio knows how to do that CSI thing like a pro. Seriously, when that lady sees a dead body, she can whip out deductions about time of death to possible modes of murder just like that. Does she have an interest in criminology? Nowhere in this book does the author even try to explain how Clio and Will get to be so bloody talented and intelligent the way they are. I guess their bloodline is supposed to explain away their enlightened state of mind?
The romance is basically Clio and Will exchanging praises and compliments to each other non-stop. To paraphrase, a typical romantic exchange goes something like this:
“Nice dress, dear.”
“You look gorgeous.”
“The London ton is so boring, how lucky that you share my interest in Doing Very Serious Things!”
“England is an important country respected by the world.”
“Akora is an important center of trade, knowledge, commerce, and power.”
“England is good!”
“Akora is good!”
“Did I mention how gorgeous you look today?”
But at least these two are doing something together in this book, instead of just looking at each other’s eyes and exchanging nationalistic propaganda for 300 pages like the previous books in this series. Still, with too much lazy characterization in a plot that reads like pure, unadulterated Victorian English propaganda mixed with some Akoran superiority overtones, Fountain of Fire is just another tedious entry into the author’s personal Mein Kampf: The Next Generation saga. It’s a better written entry, but still a tedious one nonetheless.