Zebra, $6.99, ISBN 0-8217-7287-2
Historical Romance, 2003
If Shannon Drake spends as much time on crafting her plot and developing her characters as she did trumpeting in the Glory of Scotland in The Lion in Glory, she would have single-handedly liberated her darling Scotland from the Queen’s incestuous gay-butler-bullying tyranny. As it is, this one is more like a quacking duck in infamy as it struggles to the finish line in a repetitious cycle of childish bickerings between loathsome characters.
If I ignore the almost unthinkingly hysterical pro-Scotland sentiments in this book, I’ll get a story about the “hero” Jamie Graham leading his men to bully and cower the English holdings of Hamstead Heath into paying protection money. Alas, the guy in charge of Hamstead Heath is rotting in jail, suspected of treason by King Edward II. While the author is careful to skirt around Edward II’s sexuality so that she will not be tarred for Demonizing Gay People, she has everybody here in her story calling Eddie Ponzie II here weak and useless. When the author chooses to have her characters all sprouting one common belief regardless of their backgrounds and regardless of plausibility, she’s definitely treading on propaganda here.
Anyway, the person in charge is Christina who offers herself as a hostage to Jamie so that when Jamie and his men finish looting the place, it will seem to Eddie Ponzie II that Christina and her brother aren’t abetting the Scots.
Seems reasonable to me.
But not to Jamie. In what will be the rest of the book, to the bitter end, he will mock, bait, humiliate, and insult Christina and when she fights back, he will silence her with threats to her loved ones or on her self. Very heroic, Jamie, eh? He will impregnate her, cast her aside, and she will somehow insist on loving him to the bitter end. And for what? Jamie is a close-minded bigot who uses the English’s razing Scotland – as opposed to Sainted Scotlandia not doing their shares of sins in the war, I guess? – as an excuse to behave dishonorably and cowardly. The author doesn’t seem to be aware that her Great Scottish Hero is browbeating a woman who can’t fight back, so intent is she in her Glory Ye My Mother Scotland, Let Me Die – Okay, Let Me Write Books from My Home in Florida – With Thee orgy of patriotism.
Christina does develop as a character, from a self-absorbed woman who tries too hard to save the world to a woman who gets some awareness of the events surrounding her. But Jamie remains an alpha mule to the end, a stupid alpha mule of all things, and not only is he loved for it, all sorts of excuses are made for his behavior. In fact, the hero offers a speech at the end that is a complete revision of his entire behavior that I actually screech “Bull!” at the whole nonsense.
I don’t know why the author writes in such an overwrought “Scotland, Scotland, SCOTLAND! I’m having an orgasm as Scotland’s glory comes over me!” style, but instead of presenting a well-written piece of propaganda, she ends up charging me $6.99 for a childish apologia for the nasty and cowardly behavior of a bully who just can’t get over himself. The Lion in Glory is all roar but no bite. The only glee I get from this book is knowing that in the end, after all that bluster and abuse of patriotism to treat the heroine like crap, where is Scotland today huh? Jamie’s efforts are all in vain. I dance and sing God Save the Queen over his grave.