LoveSpell, $5.99, ISBN 0-505-52528-3
Fantasy Romance, 2003
I wonder whether Janeen O’Kerry is aware of how monumentally clueless her characters are behaving in Keeper of the Light. Did she or her editor even read the book before it goes into publication? I have no idea how a story with a plot this ridiculous manage to get by their quality control, because this story is begging to be ripped apart.
Our medieval Sidhe-kin heroine Rioghan is a midwife who runs around healing people. Donaill, our hero, is some sort of king’s champion in a vaguely described kingdom. By the by, details are vague in this book, as if Ms O’Kerry expects italicized Gaelic words and mentions of “magic” and “castle” to be enough when it comes to setting up a backdrop to her story. Anyway, Rioghan is summoned to aid a traumatized woman who witnessed her husband making love to the local slut-witch. (I guess some women would rather fall in genteel spells of insanity instead of grabbing for the cleaver.) This slut-witch casts her slut-spell on men to make them carry out her dastardly wishes. Okay, so we know that Rioghan and Donaill are aware that Slut-Witch is doing her thing.
Meanwhile, Donaill’s warrior Beolagh sees a few goblet trinkets in Rioghan’s midwife cave home (sort of like the Batcave only with smelly hay instead of scary gadgets) and starts blackmailing her – give him the treasure or he’ll destroy the sidhe stones. I have no idea why the sidhe stones are important, the author doesn’t explain why, so I’ll just have to assume that they are important for some reason or the other. Rioghan tells Donaill about this. So we know that Rioghan and Donaill are aware that Beolagh is doing his thing.
So what do our heroic duo do? In exchange for him warning off or maybe punching Beolagh once as if the man is a recalcitrant child, Donaill wants Rioghan to stay with him as a guest. In the same castle as Beolagh. Meanwhile, Slut-Witch is allowed to run free and do her thing. You can guess what kind of fun Beolagh and Slut-Witch get into.
I can tolerate the caveman-like too-simplistic dialogues between the main characters. I can take the heroine’s grand – if unnecessarily stupid – ways to martyr herself. But what I cannot swallow is the completely oblivious manner the author approaches her story. At once point Donaill tells Rioghan that he will never torment her. I guess forcing her to live in the same quarters as villains don’t qualify in his definition of “torment”. This is one story where the main characters are daft enough to stand by and let the villains run amok while they try hard not to fall in love with each other for the silliest of reasons (they’re beautiful and they insist that they are great people but somehow they can still maintain that the opposite sex is not worth committing a relationship to). By the time the villains wreck mayhem, I’m all for cheering them on from the sidelines. Some characters are just begging for extinction and our Sidhe Barbie and Gaelic Ken are definitely gagging for a major dose of mercy killing.