Friday, October 5, 2012

Wendy, Wendy, Dumb, Dumb Head

I'm not smart enough to read this book.

There, I said it.

I'm going to state up front that this review for Deception by Kris Kennedy isn't necessarily going to be a "fair" one.  I also will admit, up-front, how ludicrous I'm going to sound.  I am in no way implying that the author should have "dumbed down" her book.  No, it's more like I think this particular story has a very specific audience.

Sophia Darnly's father was a corrupt judge with his fingers in a lot of dirty pies.  Eventually executed, the hunt is now on for a ledger he kept - records of various transactions that many powerful people would be none too please about should it come to light.  For her own purposes, and protection, Sophia needs to get that ledger.  She just didn't plan on running into a former lover on the night she plans to steal it.

Kier was basically one of the judge's hired henchmen, and after some of the very men who did business with Sophia's father try to have him killed, he's determined to have his revenge.  He's got a fairly intricate plan in motion, and then into his lap falls Sophia - a woman he was desperately in love with, and eventually torn away from.  He may still have a passion for her, but Sophia being around definitely complicates things - not to mention she seems determined to become a part of his scheme.

Kennedy writes what I call Very Medieval Medievals.  They're ideal (I think) for hardcore, Old School, medieval romance fans.  She doesn't skimp on the history, detail or language and she uses the "darker" time period to create fully realized, suitably heroic characters, that still have some dubious moral codes.  The thing about the medieval time period though is that it's very fraught, intricate, and uncertain - especially politically.  It's one of the few romance settings where both characters could sell their mothers and readers probably wouldn't whine too much about them "not being nice."  I mean, it's a medieval.  You expect that sort of thing in a medieval.  (Well, at least I do).

The issue here is mostly the plot and writing for me.  Kennedy's language is heavy and the plot itself includes various political maneuverings, subterfuge, and bad men doing bad things while trying to cover it up.  It's all very involved.  It helps matters that the chapters are short here - sometimes only a couple of pages long.  I'll confess, if I had to slog my way though 20 page chapters there's no way in heck this book would have gotten read.  As it is, the smaller, bit-size pieces helped me to keep my head above water.  However, while I got through it, I never found myself riveted, glued to the pages - mostly because it took most of my energy to keep the whole thing straight.

The plot, the medieval setting, the language - this was just a very heavy book to read.  I like medievals, but I tend to read them as "palate cleansers."  They're the sort of historical I go to when I want a change of pace.  I'm not what you would call a Super-Duper Medieval Fangirl.  And this story?  Is a Super-Duper Medieval.  I think you almost have to be a fan of the setting and time period within the romance novel world in order for this book to work for you on a bigger level.

Which just makes me sound like a brain-dead ninny twit.  I guess what I'm trying to say is that while I've enjoyed Kennedy's other books, this one didn't strike as "accessible" like her others.  While I do feel her other stories can appeal to a broad romance-reading fan base?  This one I think is more geared towards those medieval fans, the readers who have really devoted themselves to the time period over the years, cut their teeth on Roberta Gellis and the like.  For the rest of us?  Might I suggest The Irish Warrior?

Final Super Librarian Grade = C

Final Super-Duper Medieval Fangirl Grade = B or higher


Barb in Maryland said...

Wendy, Wendy..
Never use the phrase "dumb head" in conjunction with yourself!
You are certain smart enough--the book just wasn't your cup of tea, that's all.
However, I thank you from the bottom of my Roberta Gellis lovin' heart for the review--I'm off to buy this now!

azteclady said...

Reviews like this are one of the many reasons I love you so, oh Super Librarian!

Wendy said...

Barb: I hope you like it! It's very "medieval-y."

Wendy said...

The Super Librarian and her minions love you as well AL!

FD said...

That cover so does not scream serious medievalry to me. WTF marketers?

Wendy said...

FD: I know right? My gut feeling is that if they really went with a more appropriate cover that readers would have thought "historical fiction" and not "historical romance." So yeah, we get beefcake. Again.