Dear Ms. Howard:
When it was announced that you would be contributing to the new Silhouette Nocturne line, I could not wait for this book. Some of my favorite Howard romances were categories from MacKenzie’s Mountain to A Game of Chance and the great Kell Sabin series. Sadly, this book was a shadow of a Linda Howard novel. It had all the signature Howard elements: the alpha male, the smart mouthed heroine, and a dash of action; but none of the signature Howard heart.
Dante Raintree is the head of the Raintree clan. He is the leader by virtue of his power. All is well in Raintree world until Dante encounters Lorna Clay. Lorna is consistently winning 5,000 a week in Dante’s casino but no one can figure out how she is doing it. Dante confronts Lorna and immediately guesses that she has some kind of power that is unharnessed. This provides a good reason for Dante to treat Lorna like dirt and abuse her. Their meeting coincides with the Raintree’s bitter rivals, Ansara, launching the first of their ineffectual attempts to kill Dante.
The Raintrees and the Ansaras are the only families with power. The only thing that divides the Raintrees and the Ansaras is that the Raintrees are apparently all good and the Ansaras are all bad. So the really good guys, the Raintrees, drive all of the Ansaras to near extinction about 200 years ago. It was clear to me why the Ansaras lost that particular power struggle way back then because in the book the Ansara clan look like bumbling fools. Of course, if the Raintrees paid any attention at all, they would see that by leaving even a few Ansaras alive means that they will procreate and rise again. I guess both the Raintrees and the Ansaras are bumbling fools.
Once meeting Dante, Lorna begins to exhibit powers she never had. This makes perfect sense! Not. It marks the beginning of many a magical appearance for which there is no rhyme or reason. The specially appearing magic acts are explained by Dante himself when he says “Magic doesn’t need to be logical.” Magic was inserted here and there whenever it was convenient to artificially rachet up the tension or to enable your characters to act in a sort of way. Want Lorna to be able to cheat without getting caught – it’s magical. Want Lorna and Dante to be protected in case of fire – it’s magical. Want to communicate telephathically even though you never could before – it’s magical. Want more Raintrees, their gene is always dominant – it’s magical. Want Lorna to love Dante who clearly is a prick – it’s magical.
The magical romance takes place over two days. The first day, Dante “brain rapes” the heroine by stealing her magic and leaves her so physically debilitated that she cannot remember anything except her own name. He proceeds to magically compel her to stay with him or stay in his house like an unruly animal. He throws her down on the floor, rips off her clothes and leaves her sobbing and feeling dirty. The next day, however, all is forgiven and Lorna hops in the sack after Dante tells her that they have some connection.
I had a hard time actually finishing the book because not only was Dante a jackass, but I found the story dull. The reason I was bored, despite the action scenes, was because anytime the couple was in trouble some type of magic! would conveniently occur to protect them.
These characters were never alive; they simply moved when you told them to move; had magic when it was convenient; fell in love when you required it. The movement of the story was completely obvious as was the manipulative efforts of the author. The ending is a cliffhanger designed to get the reader to be anxious for book 2 written by Linda Winstead Jones.
I wish there was some magic that could have turned back time to before I read this book. I wish I had read one of the old, classic Howard categories instead. D.