LAURA SNYDER: Romances Rank High on 'Toe-Curling' Scale
Linda Winstead Jones' "22 Nights" (310 pages, Berkley Sensation, $7) captured my interest because of the unique world that she has created through her words.
Her heroine is Belavalari, a warrior princess of a small, but prideful tribe. She wields a magic sword that has chosen her to be its keeper. Belavalari drugged Merin, a soldier of the realm, and performed the Turi marriage ritual with him when she was 17 years old. Five years later Merin returned to the Turi village only to find out that he has been married to Bela for all these years.
In order to dissolve the marriage, Turi law says they must spend 22 days (and nights) bound together by a 7-foot cord. They would eat, sleep, toil, and fight their enemies this way for three weeks and a day. This would not be a love story worth its salt if, after the 22 days, they did not want, more than anything, to stay married.
Entwined with their adventure is the story of Savyn, Merin's half-brother, and Leyla, Savyn's ladylove who incidentally, is a witch -- a good witch, of course. "22 Nights" is a two-for-the-price-of-one romance and held me captive throughout the entire book.
On the toe-curling scale, a solid three -- my favorite number.
Lydia Joyce has written a new historical romance called "Wicked Intentions" (296 pages, Signet Eclipse, $6.99). Set in Victorian England, it is the story of Esmeralda, who plays the part of a talented spiritualist in order to infiltrate the English aristocracy and force her stepbrother to acknowledge her legitimacy.
Viscount Varcourt, our alliterate hero, nearly ruins her scheme because, while trying to help Varcourt's mother come to terms with the death of her oldest son, Esmeralda opens the wounds of guilt that he, the second son, has nursed for so long.
The real story in this novel was difficult to ferret out at first. But if you can make it to the middle of the book, all of the pieces start coming together as Joyce weaves her own brand of magic into an unbelievable finish.
I'd give it a four on the toe-curling scale.
Contact Whispering Pines writer Laura Snyder at email@example.com.
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