Jul 21 2008
Dear Mr. Bonnamy,
My fellow reviewers know I’m always on the lookout for historical romances that utilize the rare and unusual setting. “Hero, the Amazon” certainly does that as well as give us an Amazon for a lead character. It’s filled with adventures centered not only in and around the Mediterranean but also ranging as far as prehistoric Britain. But I have to be honest and say that it’s not what the typical female romance reader is probably looking for.
Did Amazons really exist? Lots of characters in the novel are surprised to meet one and more than one states s/he thought Amazons were only a legend. I think you do a great job of portraying how one might have acted and what her background could have been. Hero is proud of her heritage, her training and her abilities yet she also accepts the reality that she was captured in battle and has now been a slave for a decade. Life as a slave isn’t great but she’s adapted, works hard, follows the rules and has hopes for the future.
She knows she was lucky to escape death after raising a weapon to the ancient version of bored rich boys who thought to rape her for fun. Sold to a rich man in another city as a bodyguard/concubine, she still comes out fairly rosy. And things really look up for her when the old man dies and his young, handsome nephew inherits her.
Aito is intrigued by the novelty of owning an Amazon but quickly becomes emotionally attached to Hero and determined to take her along on his quest to discover a cheaper source for tin. Iron is still a relatively new metal, available only to the rich and it requires tin to blend with bronze. The Phoenicians have a strangle hold on local sources but far away at the edge of the world is a country rich with the stuff and he who can access it stands to make a fortune. But Aito and Hero don’t count on just how far, so to speak, the Phoenies will go to protect their supply.
Hero is sort of a Mary Sue (or should I say Marty Sue since you’re a man) character. Everybody loves her. Everybody admires her. Everybody wants to be her or have her or something. She always makes the right choices, always acts with honor, integrity, and kindness to small animals and children. True, she can get mad and take revenge but it’s only on bad people who deserve it. As such, I ended up finding her hard to believe in. The woman needed a few flaws to make her seem real.
Still, your narrative is well thought out, the plot hangs together nicely, no issue is left unfinished and the story ends on a hopeful note. And yet, the novel has a very episodic feel to it – the characters arrive at one place, get into trouble, get out again, move on to the next adventure, solve that problem, advance to the next issue…I think the story works better as an action-adventure style book rather than as a romance. There are no internal romantic conflicts that these two need to work out or on. In fact the only thing that seems to stand in their way of a Happy Ever After is surviving the adventures and somehow working out a way for their children to overcome having had a one time slave for a mother.
I like the historical detail you include and since you’re an Englishman, I had to laugh at your descriptions of the ancients of Cornwall. Even before I read your author’s note, I had caught on to the English slang feel of the dialogue and was mentally ‘reading’ it in a country English accent. I like that you stick to the facts we know or can reasonably deduce of Minoan Crete. It’s a world in flux as it transitions not only into the Iron Age but also deals with the aftermath of the volcanic explosion. One can’t help but bring to mind the sobering images of SE Asia after the horrific tsunami of 2005 or Myanmar in 2008.
I did enjoy reading “Hero” and seeing her get her reward of true love with her hunky hero but this is definitely not a traditional romance novel. Hero needed to be a bit more well rounded as a person while she and Aito could have stood a more thorough exploration of their romantic relationship. But having said that, I think this is a novel that men would enjoy more than one aimed more at women. B-
This book can be purchased through Fictionwise.