Bantam, $5.99, ISBN 0-553-57966-5
Historical Romance, 2001
Kristen Kyle can definitely write a swashbuckling romance. Touched by Gold has newly-jilted-by-scum-Brit-nobleman archeologist Elysia Carlisle joining forces with gambler Matthew Devereaux to find long-lost Montezuma’s treasure before the scum Peter does. Along the way there are guns exploding, brawls in bawdy houses, near-death escapes, and chases. There’s even a guardian cougar and some Save-Nature messages incorporated. All in all, it’s fun in a Romancing the Stone way.
I had a great time – Ms Kyle can weave a chase scene as well as when she describe impending dangers, and I am drawn into the excitement of the chase. But I find the characters could’ve been fleshed out better. Matt is pretty one-dimensional, but he acquits himself pretty well as the dashing gambler-cum-adventurer.
I have more problems with Ellie who can be thicker than an elephant’s rear end at times. It is weird enough that she ends her introspective moments with either tears in her eyes (when she thinks of Daddy in England or when she thinks of marrying a man and giving up her archeology) or some sort of funny pain in her chest. Worse is her impetuous walking into trouble and then refusing help from Matt even when it’s obvious she’s way out of her league. It’s one thing to be independent, but this is close to stupidity. The only clear impression I get from Ellie’s rather blurry personality is that she wants to preserve the artifacts she finds, although, of course, she wants them to be in the British Museum and not Spanish Mexico’s.
This book really falters during its last few chapters, when both characters act out of character just to create a last-moment wedge in their relationship. It’s, predictably, a miscommunication thing, but why the author wanted to create a rushed separation and an even more unbelievable reconciliation in two chapters is beyond me. Is she trying to prove that those two don’t trust each other even after all those vows of undying love? This quite ruins an otherwise above average swashbuckling adventure of a romance.