Saturday, May 05, 2007

Book Review: If You Dare

I don't know what it is about finals that makes me want to read a bunch of romance novels instead of studying, but it happens at the end of every semester. I always find myself heading to the bookstore and stocking up.

Good thing I did because I really liked this book! It takes place in the mid-nineteenth century, and much of the plot revolves around the tiny country of Andorra in the moutains between Spain and France (I'm not going to try to spell Pyrenees (okay, so I did try)). The hero is actually a Scottish Highlander who is in Andorra was a mercentary, a soldier-for-hire. He fights for the evil General Pascal who is trying to take over the country. Pascal's plan is to eventually take over the Spanish throne by marrying Lady Annalia, the daughter of an Andorran aristocrat and the last of the female Castillian royal line through her mother. Courtland McCarrick, the hero, decides to stop fighting for the evil Pascal, but Pascal refuses to pay him and has him beaten to a bloody pulp and orders his death. But before he can be executed Court escapes his captors by plunging over a bridge into a river and over a waterfall.

Annalia finds him on the riverbank and nurses him back to heath, even though she despises him because he worked for Pascal. And since this is a romance novel, they're physically attracted to each other, but Court is kind of a jerk at first. Pascal has kidnapped Annalia's brother and says he will kill him unless Anna marries him. When Anna asks Court for help, he asks for her body as payment and she's so infuriated that she turns herself into Pascal, sacrificing herself. Court's not too happy about that, so he kidnaps Anna away from Pascal, sparking the rage of the evil general.

The rest of the book involves Court and Anna moving north to escape Pascal's fury and get to safety, and along the way Anna starts to see the Court might actually be a pretty good guy, and Court sees that she's pretty amazing and brave, etc. I thought that the way they warmed to each other was genuine and believable, probably because it was halfway through the book before it happened, so it didn't feel rushed.

There are other elements in the book that made conflict between the two of them, but Cole thankfully didn't push it beyond the realm of believability (even though there was a curse involved and that's kind of silly in itself). The romance was pretty steamy, and Anna was the perfect romance heroine: not annoying, not stupid, not naive, not overly stubborn. This is the first in a trilogy about the Court and his brothers, and the second book in the serious If You Desire looks pretty good, too.

Lindsey's Grade: A

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