REVIEW: Cold Iron by D. L. McDermott
Dear Ms. McDermott:
I know you sent this book to me in ARC format so many months ago and I meant to read it but I think it got lost in my TBR pile. When the two books in the series went on sale for $1.99, I bought them both and on vacation read one and then the other. Enjoying them so much I emailed you immediately for access to the third.
Paranormal romance hasn’t been moving me of late so I was surprised at how well I responded to this one. In some ways, it reminded me a tiny bit of Son of the Morning by Linda Howard.
The heroine is an archeologist who digs with her ex husband, Frank. Beth Carter is a Celtic specialist and has always had an infinity for locating buried artifacts. As a grad student, she was wooed by her professor Frank and allowed him to take credit for her finds. Now she is unable to get funding without him. If she wants to go on a dig, she must partner with Frank.
Frank is overtly villainous. Not only does he take credit for Beth’s work, but he has used drugs to force her to find dig sites for him when she has refused. And allowed another man during a drugged episode to touch her. His lesser sins include having multiple affairs and flaunting his new grad student acolytes in front of her. Beth suffers all of this because she wants to go on these digs.
During a dig in Ireland, Beth rouses Conn the Betrayer. Conn is a fae warrior who had never been bested in single combat. He was a Queen favorite but when he refused to do something, the Queen punished him. The punishment was so severe that Conn helped to imprison his entire race by helping the Druids. In exchange, the Druids left Conn alive but bound him to the sword The Summoner.
Awakened, Conn goes after Beth at the Inn where she is staying. He’s portrayed as cruel and unfeeling. Through glamour, he excites Beth and begins to fondle her. Because there is no clear consent (and her desire is wrought through fae glamour) this is the beginning of a rape scene. At one point, Beth is able to grab hold of the bedframe which is made from iron and with that she is able to reject his advances and then flees back to the US leaving all the relics/artifacts in the hands of her sticky fingered, amoral ex husband.
Conn pursues because not only is he interested in Beth but he’s under a geas to maintain possession of the sword which Frank has hidden in Beth’s possessions. Conn’s admiration of Beth quickly turns to a huge commitment that you could define as love.
There’s a few problems with the setup. Would an archeological find really be confined to just a few people such that it would be easy for Frank to steal a number of gold pieces? Was it believable for Conn to have made such a swift transformation? Why does Beth fall so quickly for a creature who had nearly raped her under glamour?
These are the problems presented in the story and I’m not convinced that the text answers them sufficiently. Yet…I enjoyed the story quite a bit. Even with the quick way in which the couple vowed their love to one another, the book was a page turner for me.
There were a seeming number of impossible odds. Conn’s power is reduced the longer he is away from the sword. There are multiple bad fae. Neither Conn nor Beth know who to trust. They have to find not only the sword but fend off attacks on multiple fronts. There are the challenges to Beth’s career as an archeologist when she is accused of stealing relics from the dig in Ireland.
There are the outcast Fae that have been living in the human realm who have no desire to see the Queen return and yet there are others that have searched without rest for a solution. Beth has an innate power that both sets her up as a prize and a danger so that some Fae want to use her and others want to kill her.
It is the suspense of what happens next that kept the story moving. The love scenes are plenty steamy and the attraction between Conn and Beth is believable but for the story to work for the readers, they must accept the very quick character change of Conn from viewing humans as nothing more than toys to Conn tying his immortality to Beth.
Interestingly enough there is a backstory to Conn told in the third book which may have explained his motivations better but it wasn’t in this book.
As for Beth, I felt her attraction to Conn was easier to understand. She’d always had an affinity for the Fae. Conn, other than the initial interaction, was attentive, desirable, and giving. He made a big sacrifice for her early on which demonstrated his commitment to her as a person. Despite the problems, I gave the book a B- because when I finished, I immediately began the second book. B-