Bantam, $5.99, ISBN 0-553-58584-3
Historical Romance, 2003
Josie Litton invites everybody to her Mary Sue Island, Akora, once more. Not content with ruling England from behind the scenes while showing nothing but disdain to English culture, introducing feminism to the free world, all the while wearing kilts and togas (look, no underwear), now, the most perfect race in the world tackles seismology, geology, archeology, and even some theology in Fountain of Secrets. Xenu help us all.
Gavin Hawkthorne, heir to one of the most elite titles in England and Crown Prince of Akora, is also a super geologist and seismologist. Since he is better than everybody else, he learns that a volcano is going to erupt and sink the island of Akora. Like it’s such a bad thing? So he decides to the island of Deimatos just off the shore of Akora to study the volcano. He discovers Persephone, our heroine, living as a hermit there. Since Persephone is better than everybody else but Gavin, she has used her expert carpentry skills to create a fabulous tree house and an amazing assortment of furniture and more. She also has an admirable selection of books, because remember, she’s not only perfect, she’s also a bluestocking. So these two meet and they talk. And talk. And talk. About the legend of the Akorans, the island, the age of the Earth debate, the caves, the volcano, and of course, they also remind me every other few pages that they are attracted to each other just so that I don’t forget that these two are not only perfect but they also want to jump each other. But Persephone has a secret – because she is better than you and me, she is willing to suffer forever and ever and ever for the sins of her father, so to speak.
While less exasperating that the truly out-of-control propaganda muckfest Fountain of Dreams, Fountain of Secrets is mostly all about geology. Ms Litton doesn’t seem to be writing a romance as much as a travelogue-cum-racial superiority tract. What little plot there is in this story is stillborn because the main characters are described as perfect, flawless, super-talented, ultra-enlightened, and so, so, so unblemished that there is virtually no suspense in this story. Instead, the author is more carried away by telling me about how marvelous Akora is, how uniformly wonderful the people are, how amazing the landscape is, ooh, ooh, ooh.
Also, the author tries to link all the characters in her previous books and this one together in a way that don’t make sense. For example, Persephone, a hermit, happens to be the cousin of one of the previous characters whom Gavin is close to, and the books she finds in a shipwreck belong to an acquaintance of Gavin. How neat is that? Then again, the author is always stressing on how Akorans (and the wonderful Americans and not-so-wonderful Englishmen that love them) are better than everybody else, so I guess it’s no surprise that the inbreeding and selective eugenics are already taking place.
As it is, Fountain of Secrets is simply too bizarre to be considered a mere “romance novel”. The overwhelming “Akorans are the master race!” overtones, the increasing disdain the characters are showing towards the presumably inferior cultures outside Akora, the sacrifice of plot and characters for stilted epic-monologues passed off as dialogues… eh. While it may be amusing to have a brand new L Ron Hubbard emerging from the romance genre, of all places, I am still suffering from my utmost disappointment that Akora never did sink at the end.