Jove, $5.99, ISBN 0-515-13101-6
Historical Romance, 2001
I was first expecting a generic wallpaper medieval romance when I first open Heart of a Warrior. After all, it has a generic title, a cheesy beefcake cover, and a cheesy name for its hero (David D’Aubere, Earl of Lynchbury). Well, turns out that I’m wrong. Won’t be the first time, oh well.
Betty Davidson actually creates a rather deep plot for this story, and the characters are not the usual central casting sorts. David D’Aubere isn’t a chivalrous knight, heroine Riley Snowden isn’t a nitwit damsel stuck in a turret, and there is no marriage of convenience. Okay there is, but not between the two of them. David, in what seems like a middle move in a chess game of politics, is wedded by proxy to the daughter of the Earl of Cornwich. But the new bride is mentally incapacitated, and David isn’t that medieval to consummate his marriage.
While on his way to collect his bride from the nunnery, though, he and his men have captured the infamous Yorkist spy Riley Snow, who wants to wipe out Cornwich in quest for her vengeance. See, long time ago… oh, that’s a long story. Anyway, David decides to strike a bargain with Riley. If she gives him his heir (which he can pass off as his wife’s), he’ll let her go. And Riley agrees, deciding to use this chance to milk (no pun intended) secrets and confidential information from David. The game has begun.
Heart of a Warrior is a pretty exciting read – lots of stab-you-stab-me stuff happens, and it’s a rollicking read. But I’m not too sure whether the author has succeeded in juggling the hate-you-love-you relationship between Riley and David. These two profess hatred even as they rip each other’s clothes off for so long that I find it hard to believe the eventual declaration of love and smoochies. But lust, ah, that one I do believe.
While it may be unpolished, however, Heart of a Warrior actually keeps me turning the pages long into the night. All things considered, this one’s alright.