New Concepts Publishing, $4.50, ISBN 1-58608-639-1
Fantasy Romance, 2005
Laine Morgan (who also writes as Summer West) presents a story that, while set in a sword and sorcery setting, is nonetheless enjoyable because it doesn’t have too much of the tedious healer/princess/virgin/vegetarian cliché and the hero isn’t some cartoon caricature. The title Thieves Bounty may make some English teachers out there frown, but if you’re looking for a quick and breezy fantasy romance that isn’t all about the heroine’s reproductive functions and not overladen with soulmate/heartmate sugary stuff, this book may just be the thing.
Set in a world populated with Dwarves, Humans, Elves, and other familiar creatures, this story revolves around our mercenary heroine Thena who is currently working to raise enough funds to get her brother out of prison. Her latest mission has her tracking down a human thief, Eagen (like Thena, he doesn’t seem to have a last name). Since this is a fantasy romance, it’s inevitable that destiny and paranormal matchmakers start yammering that Thena is destined to revive the near-extinct Elven race. With Eagen, perhaps? Thankfully, the author solves this issue very nicely without using Thena’s ovaries as a plot device to save the world. Instead, Thena is allowed to be a kickass heroine without doing uncharacteristically overemotional things in some misguided attempt to prove her “femininity”.
I find nothing much to nitpick about regarding the characters. I wish the story is longer and has a wider focus than what it currently has, though. The whole revival of the Elven race issue is too significant – too “big”, if you will – to be contained in this story. The premise of this story is simple but when the author mixes in issues like Thena’s destiny and dreams, the story’s length forces these issues to be resolved too quickly. The closure feels inadequate because Ms Morgan’s build-up in the story leads me to believe that I will be getting some story of a nobody becoming a hero and taking on a corrupt government. Instead, Thenna and Eagen get married, have babies, and it’s love, the end. Huh? Where are the dramatic fights and heroic struggles for justice and freedom? Where are the Ewoks? Okay, forget the Ewoks.