Bantam, $5.99, ISBN 0-553-58355-7
Historical Romance, 2002
Lord of a Thousand Nights is not a romance set in the lands of Scheherezade or Ali Baba, despite that rather Arabian Nights-like title. It’s a medieval romance related to the author’s previous four books. While touted at the back cover as “freshest, most tantalizing”, I would hesitate before I bestow such generous accolades on the author’s latest book.
It’s a straightforward by-the-book romance, albeit a very well-written one. Misunderstood virtuous save-thy-world-and-doggies heroine held captive by arrogant lord, later marriage, some post-nuptial readjustment, and oh yeah, the obligatory villain stand-off thing by the end. It’s all in a day’s work for another author writing standard pap-mill when it’s so obvious that she can do better than this.
Oh well, maybe authors have to eat too. Too bad I don’t have enough money to send everybody food bags so that they will maybe write something interesting for a change.
The heroine in question is widow Reyna Graham. She’s a medieval widow, which means she also has a nasty daddy and a hubby who didn’t turn her jellies on when he was alive (to be fair, he isn’t a complete psycho like most dead husbands – he’s just an undersexed, ineffectual twerp), and look, here she is trying to be a courtesan to kill the hero right before he attacks her town!
You want me to repeat that again?
Reyna plays the whore. Our hero naturally, isn’t fooled – romance heroines and slutdom go hand in hand like the Pope and Hugh Hefner, and it shows when the heroine protests that she is “not a whore but a courtesan.” There’s a difference? Ian of Guilford, our daddy of a million nights, pretends to drink the drugged wine, feigns sleep, and when the heroine naturally chickens out of her murder scheme, he pounces on her.
Oh Reyna, here’s a tip for her and other aspiring fake sluts out there: a man will never believe your slut disguise when you tell them you’ll play their flute while they relax and you really actually pull out a real flute and play. Pffft.
After all this plot contrivances for some capture-me-ooh-baby fun, our heroine is allowed to escape (I hope we all have stopped overestimating a heroine’s ability by now, as I have also run out of Taj Mahals to sell). She meets a male friend of her late hubby, who turns out to be a mad fiend (remember, romance heroines never meet nice guys, hero may or may not be the exception). In short, she has no choice but to run back to Ian.
After her town gets sacked, poor Reyna now has to face a murder trial for murdering her husband. And since it’s either Ian or Daddy Abusive, Reyna decides to kill herself after leaving a melodramatic note damning authors everywhere for sticking her in a crap plot. Wait a minute, that’s a figment of my boredom-induced fantasy. Of course she marries Ian. I can go back to snoring my head off now.
Now the pace starts to sag in a “Did she kill that man? But oh, I’m still hot about that wench!” rigmarole from Ian “Such a Stereotype” Million-Nighter and “Ooh, does he love me? Can I love him? I’m trouble, he saves me, so I must love him! Does he love me?” rigmarole from Reyna “I Love Because I Don’t Know Anything Else!” Failed-Fake-Slut.
Then comes the obligatory villain and after the showdown where our hero embraces our heroine and the stage falls down with all the elegance of a pregnant elephant tossed out of an airplane.
It’s not a bad book. It’s very readable. It’s also very standard. Stock hero, stock heroine, stock relationship development, stock plot, stock chicken soup cubes, stock market crash… er, maybe not that one. Hugh Jackman. Okay, definitely not Hugh Jackman, but I just want to mention his name, just to liven up the whole bore-snore fest that is Lord of a Thousand Nights.