Sourcebooks Casablanca, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-4022-3654-9
Fantasy Romance, 2012
I actually had high hopes for Kathryne Kennedy’s The Lord of Illusion, mostly because the heroine here is in a position of weakness, and the author’s previous two books in this Elven Lords series featured supposedly capable heroines that turned out to be prime specimens for brain-damaged heroines who should be put down out of mercy. What can go wrong in this one, right? There won’t be supposedly capable heroines running wild acting like idiots, after all.
Oops, it turns out that I was quite naïve in assuming that perhaps the author would be more in her element writing a story with the standard weak damsel-in-distress/capable protector hero dynamic.
This time around, the half-elven rebellion against the evil elven lords that rule England is underway, but so far there is hardly any loosening of the evil tyrants’ iron grip on everyone. Our bookish hero Drystan Hawkes, in addition to having one of the worst names ever for a romance hero, has a special mental link to the seven scepters of great power that can possibly reopen the gate between this world and the elves’. Perhaps if he can open the gate, the good elves will be able to come over and drag these evil elves back to their world?
Also, he has dreams featuring our heroine, Camille Ashton, so that settles the romance part. It’s love, dream at first sight style! She’s a slave in the household of the unbelievably evil Lord Roden in Dreamhame, and she’s having a terrible life, having been whipped, raped, tortured, and more. Naturally, she won’t shut up and keeps running her mouth because a heroine with backbone is like that. Who needs subtlety and cunning or, heaven forbid, survival skills when it’s more important to show sass?
When Drystan meets Camile in real life, she is being assaulted by two men.
The girl struggled with two of them, crying out obscenities whenever they managed to rake her their claws across her arms or her face, her blood bright against her exposed flesh. He admired not only the ingenuity of those obscenities, but the young woman’s fierce determination in fighting off her attackers. As if she held a wealth of experience at both.
I can only wonder what was going through the author’s mind when she wrote this scene. She actually has the hero stand and watch the heroine get assaulted, admiring her “fierce determination” and the “ingenuity” of her obscenities? Worse, he actually admires her because it seems like she has been constantly assaulted by savage men? What on earth?
Of course, when he finally shrugs off his “admiration” and rescues her, she warns him to stay back. Understandable, as she’s traumatized and all. Drystan, however, is furious, especially when Camille asks him not to touch her.
“Touch you? Have you looked in a mirror lately? Have you smelled – do not flatter yourself, lady.”
Way to go in saying these charming words to a lady who has just been assaulted and bloodied by two men! Drystan is such a charmer, I can’t imagine why women aren’t clawing themselves to marry him.
Now he had rescued his beloved, and she not only refused to thank him and fall into his arms with gratitude, but stood there pointing his own gun at him with every intention of killing him on the spot.
She was a slave that had just been brutally assaulted by two men!
He closed the distance between them, forcing the hand that held the gun to shift to the side, and clasped her shoulders, giving her a little shake. “What is your name? And do not make me ask you again.”
Fortunately, the rest of the book is a bit better, although that’s like saying that a poke in the eye is more pleasant than a nail through the throat. Drystan becomes far more agreeable once Camille overcomes her trauma with unrealistic ease and morphs back into the mouthy sassy wench who won’t shut up even if it is wiser and more prudent for her to do so. Inept psychology and unrealistic behavior run rampant, culminating in a twist where love is the key to solving everyone’s problems.
There are many things about this book that feel “old school”, from the cheesy love-beats-everything angle to the awkward names, and, unfortunately, it also showcases the author’s inability to deliver realistic emotions and believable reactions. The fact that this story is paranormal fantasy can only go so far as an excuse to cover up the author’s current inadequacies.