Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Book Review: A Dangerous Love

A Dangerous Love
Bertrice Small
New American Library

A Dangerous Love tells the story of Adair Radcliffe, a young English lass who was born on the wrong side of King Edward IV is orphaned by one of the last battles of the War of the Roses when Lancastrians slaughter her Yorkist parents. Now the Countess of Stanton, she flees to her sire’s court where she is taken in and raised amongst her half sisters and brothers as the King keeps his promise to acknowledge and provide for her. She is doted on by her Uncle Dickon (Richard, Duke of Gloucester). At the age of fifteen it is decided she must have a husband. Her King father wishes her to marry a Tudor, she flees to avoid the marriage, but discovers later the King has had his way by simply marrying her by proxy. The young boy, barely 14, dies at the point of a Scottish raider’s sword.

Her second marriage is acceptable to her but also arranged, this time by the Duke of Gloucester. Andrew is kind and the Duke’s man. When history unfolds and the then Richard III lies dead, Henry Tudor, Henry VII, strips Adair of her titles and lands as punishment for her husband’s treason. Left on her own with no protection she is captured by Scottish raiders and sold into slavery. Sold to the laird of Cleit, Conal Bruce. The rough, simple laird thinks to take her to his bed, but ends up taking her into his heart, and winning hers as well.

The best thing about this story was the heroine Adair Radcliffe. Though Small occasionally forgets she’s writing a strong and clever young woman and has her say and do incredibly stupid things, for the most part she is a delightful character that will keep you reading. The laird of Cleit is also an interesting man and quite the appealing rough, rugged, can’t articulate his feelings but damn he feels them mightily kinda hero.

There are two downfalls to this book. First, while yes, we needed Adair’s history, Small takes so much time getting us through it that the book is half over before our hero ever makes his appearance. And a good deal of it is not necessary and rambles a good bit as if she’s trying to fill space.

Secondly, the language used for the abundant sex in this story…and I have no problem with its abundance, is down right silly. Manroot? *snort* seed sac *snicker* Adair: “It has made me feel very lustful.” *groans* Conal: “Be mindful of your teeth. For he’s a delicate lad.” *lol* I fail to see why the author was okay with having the characters constantly refer to the act of sex by the f word “I want to [*] you now.” “Do you want to [*]?” but resorted to such silly euphemisms for the human body. If the intent was to aim for a historical context it simply didn’t translate well to this reader.

The story was fair and Adair is certainly a strong enough character to keep most people reading. The view of Richard III as not the hunchbacked demented monster that Shakespeare and Tudor historians have drawn him, but as loving Uncle Dickon who was ever loyal to his brother the king, desperately in love with his wife Queen Ann and heart broken by her death is an interesting take that is appearing more and more often as historians revisit this interesting man.

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