Thursday, March 6, 2008

Bonnie Vanak 'The Sword and The Sheath'

Oh How do I hate thee, let me count the ways! Let's not even mention the title, why discuss the obvious. I think the reason I really hated this book was because I so wanted to like it. I really did. I ignored the title, I ignored my misgivings about the whole desert sheik thing. Has anyone read The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley? I loved that book so much, and I've been waiting my whole life for a romance even remotely similar.

Fatima is a twin born to a Bedouin tribe in Egypt. Her twin brother is a by birth a Guardian of the Ages, born to protect the sheik of their tribe and his heirs. But Fatima is the better fighter of the two (so we are told), and has visions that seem to help her predict danger to the sheik's son, Tarik. As a woman, Fatima can never be a warrior of the wind, much less a Guardian of the Ages. But when she switches places with her twin and ends up in battle, and saves Tarik's life, things get re-evaluated.

Fatima manages to break thousands of years of tradition and become a warrior, even though she doesn't seem to do too well at her warrior tests. OK. Then she swears a warrior's oath and a maiden's oath, you can imagine what that is, and when she breaks it with Tarik, she can't really understand why she has to marry him. Hmm. Tarik never truly accepts that she might be a decent warrior, despite her saving his life left and right, and when he makes little effort to hide the fact that they are sleeping together, he says, 'Well, yes, I did intend to stop you from being a warrior by taking your maidenhood, but not quite yet. Sorry. Can't you just be happy being married to me?' Excuse me? And after about a week, she's cool with that. WTF?

In general I try not to get too worked up about the inherent 'marriage and babies are what's truly good for a girl' theme of most (all) romances, BUT when the story uses the conflict between being a wife and mother and being something incompatible as THE CONFLICT of the novel, I tend to pay attention. Some still manage to squeak by my feminist radar, but this one? Not so much. And really that's just the beginning of the storyline problems here. The writing itself wasn't terrible, but the storyline, the characterization, the inconsistencies, oy vay!

Historical Desert Romance 2007: 1 out of 5 blood oaths.

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