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REVIEW: My Lady’s Treasure by Catherine Kean

Dear Mrs Kean,

My Lady\'s TreasureI’d like to thank you again for sending me a copy of your latest book to read. However, when you read my review, I don’t know if you’ll still wish you’d sent it. I guess your writing style and my reading preferences just don’t mesh. You’ve garnered a slew of five star ratings at Amazon so obviously it does work for some readers.

Facing the tall, brooding rider by the stormy lakeshore, Lady Faye Rivellaux clings to her goal–to rescue the kidnapped child she vowed to protect. At all costs, she must win back the little girl she loves as her own. When the stranger demands a ransom she can never pay, Faye offers him instead her one last hope –" a gold cup.

Brant Meslarches is stunned to see the chalice. Worth a fortune, it’s proof a lost cache of wealth from the legendary Celtic King Arthur does exist, as Brant’s murdered brother believed. Brant can’t return the little girl to the lady whose desperate beauty captivates him. Yet, now that he’s seen Lady Faye, he can’t let her escape his grasp; she is the key to his only means of redemption.

The last thing Faye wants is an alliance with a scarred knight tormented by secrets. But, she has no other way to rescue the child. Risking all, she joins Brant’s quest. And finds some things are more valuable than gold.

Well, where to start? You have a very dramatic (to me too melodramatic) style of writing. Lots of adjectives and adverbs when fewer would convey the intensity just as well for me. And faux medieval dialogue. Oh, I hate that. Just throwing in mayhap, nay, aye, fie! doesn’t do it. It only serves to annoy me. Faye says fie! (always with an exclamation point) a lot. And any emotion always evokes a gasp! Hate, love, anger, embarrassment, suspense, you name it and Faye will gasp when the emotion hits her. I know that you have a degree in history (though what era I don’t know) but the historical details are more like what a friend of mine would call “wallpaper” history. Maybe they’re entirely correct but too many things made me stop, raise an eyebrow, pause, ponder and write them down to check on later. Somehow I don’t think you want readers dragged out of the world you’re trying to create quite so much.

Now for the plot – two people who’ve made promises and vows and are going to keep them come hell or high water. Okay, I can see keeping your promise especially as it would have been vital then. A knight’s vow or a vow to a dying woman would have been sacred but….Brant’s vow makes little sense. Faye is going to find the kidnappers but hasn’t a clue what to do, where to look, etc but she’ll shove away the one man who might be able to help her. Brant (is this a medieval name?) is going to hunt for treasure. What!? How about keeping a roof over his head and eating? How is he surviving on his own? Does he fight in tournaments? And what is with his brother keeping a journal? A journal? Who has the money to have one and a bound one at that? I have a lot of doubts about anyone having enough money to have something just to jot down their thoughts. And could Brant not immediately figure out who had his brother’s journal? I did. In fact, I had figured out almost the entire plot by about page 80 with 300 more pages to go.

Brant and Faye haven’t met a misunderstanding that they don’t want to rush out and claim as their own. Give these two the least chance to jump to the wrong conclusion and, after a page of working themselves to a mental frenzy over what might happen (but almost never does), they will. In regard to the villain, well there’s no need not to say it’s Torr since you all but point your authorial finger at him from page seven, he is so obvious. I immediately picked up on every clue and wondered how Brant and Faye missed them. Oh, right the plot demanded it.

So…what did I like? You got a great cover. Faye is certainly determined to find and care for her friend’s daughter. Brant is kind to small animals and pock marked whores. I’m sorry but that’s not enough. As I mentioned earlier, you have lots of enthusiastic fans leaving great reviews at Amazon. Your books obviously please some readers. I’m very sorry I’m not one of them.

~Jayne

This book can be purchased at Amazon.

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

9 Comments

  1. vanessa jaye
    Sep 04, 2007 @ 15:11:50

    Brant is kind to small animals and pock marked whores.

    Oh. So. Dry. *gmbo*. But tis true, tis a loverly cover.

  2. DS
    Sep 04, 2007 @ 17:08:05

    There’s really no excuse for messing up names in a historical. There’s lots of name sources on the internet with good authority behind them.

    Brant does not sound right although I didn’t check and Faye really doesn’t sound right. Morgan le Fay (Morgan le Fee) meant Morgan the Fairy and frankly meant something dark and unchristian. She’s been rehabilitated a bit by feminist reinterpretation of some of the stories, but go back to the Matter of Britain and to the folk tales of Brittany and you can see her dark beginnings in a Celtic Goddess.

    Custom dictated that one did not ever name the fairies for fear of summoning or offending them– calling them the Fair Folk or the Pharisees was one way around this. The Pharisee thing is from Sussex– you can see it used in Kipling’s Puck of Pook’s Hill and Rewards and Fairies and has nothing to do with the Jewish group except conflation of the two words. Therefore the idea of christians of the period actually naming their child “Faye” is close to mind boggling.

    Gawd, I know so much useless stuff.

  3. Jayne
    Sep 04, 2007 @ 19:06:42

    Vanessa, she does have some lovely covers and bookmarks. And was sweet enough to send me some chocolate with the book. Unfortunately, it was June and it melted but the thought was nice.

  4. Jayne
    Sep 04, 2007 @ 19:14:12

    DS, one thing that drives me batshitty is for an author to give historical characters too cutesy and/or modern names then jump through hoops to justify those names. Why not just use Anne, Catherine, or Mary? John, Richard or Edward?

  5. Kaz Augustin
    Sep 04, 2007 @ 20:37:40

    I don’t know this author, I haven’t read this book, and I’m not a History major (so why am I commenting, right? ;) ), but your review got me thinking, Jayne. We all know vocabulary defines the times, but I’m wondering if the author has to walk a rather difficult tightrope here. I mean, at what point is Chaucer, e.g., unintelligible? And where would someone draw the line between changing some of the words to their more modern incarnations and keeping some to convey the atmosphere? It can all get terribly subjective.

    At the other end of the scale, I’m constantly struggling with this in my sci-fi stuff. When is it okay to use a term? Especially when a reader may later point out, “Oh yeah, and she wrote that the heroine called the hero a fucking bastard, when we all know those are Earth terms. Since when did a galaxy 40,000 light-years away know how to swear in English? *snort*”. And, of course, such a reader would be perfectly correct and I would be/am defenceless against such criticism. I’m curious…when does language go from “authentic” (even though we know it isn’t, right?) to “too intrusive/over the top”?

  6. Jayne
    Sep 05, 2007 @ 07:48:16

    Good question Kaz. What I really don’t like is otherwise modern English with a few words thrown in to make the book sound period. Sorry but they only serve to pull me out of the story. If you’re going to go period then really do it. Laura Kinsale’s marvelous “For My Lady’s Heart” does it right. Patricia Veryan’s books do it right. The book I’m reading now about the Spartans holding off the Persian hordes at Thermopylae does it right. Often it’s not so much the words used as the rhythm and cadence of the characters’ speech. Especially if a book is set in Ireland or Scotland.

    As for your sci-fi stuff, can’t you say something like, “well, I couldn’t render an exact translation of what my heroine said so I substituted what I thought was an appropriate English equivalent.” After all, the whole book is being written in English anyway, right? [G]

  7. Kaz Augustin
    Sep 05, 2007 @ 08:19:15

    Yes, I know what you mean. I may have to hunt up that Kinsale book you mentioned because, you’re right, the rhythm is the thing.

    As for the other, imagine saying that in response to a witty snark?

    Reader: Perhaps Ms Augustin conveniently forgot that ‘fait accompli’ is not a galactic standard term. Or maybe that’s the French trying to influence yet another galaxy! ::implied witty little chuckle::

    Me: Yes, I can understand your concerns, Reader, but I felt I couldn’t render an exact Cirlian Formal translation of what my heroine said, so I substituted what I thought was a colloquial equivalent that an English reader could understand.

    Is it just me or does my answer sound rather turgid?

    I think I may just have to ::hand to forehead:: suffer silently. ;)

  8. Catherine Kean
    Sep 12, 2007 @ 16:02:22

    Hi Jayne,

    Thanks for the review. :) I’m sorry my book wasn’t to your taste, but I do appreciate your write-up and thought-provoking points. I will say that the name “Faye’ was a very deliberate choice; it means “fairy or elf,” and relates to the book’s overall theme of the magic of love, and that love has the power to heal all wounds. Brant is an Old English name that means “Proud One,” which I feel suits his character.

    Again, thanks for the opportunity for the review, and best wishes,

    Catherine

  9. Jayne
    Sep 12, 2007 @ 18:03:22

    Catherine, thanks for clearing up my question about Brant’s name. I guess it’s one of those old names that goes in and out of fashion over the centuries and is currently sort of “in” hence I thought it was newer.

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