DANGER IS SWEET
Awe-Struck E-Books, Aug 2004
Reviewed by Joy Calderwood
Medieval Fantasy Romance, Scotland 843 AD
Malcolm is held unwillingly in the service of his cousin Kenneth McAlpin, who means to make himself king of the united kingdoms of Scotland. Malcolm loves his cousin, but he longs for his home. When a diplomatic dinner turns into a massacre, and mistaken rumor labels Kenneth a treacherous murderer, it is Malcolm’s job to protect Kenneth against vengeful assassins.
One of those assassins is Bethoc, daughter of one of the murdered earls and fiancée of another. Kenneth gives Malcolm the choice of marrying the captured Bethoc, as a form of alliance with the Picts whom Kenneth means to rule, or seeing her executed. Malcolm wants no kind of obligation that would keep him from home, but he cannot see the gorgeous princess killed. He takes her in a handfast marriage, a trial marriage which will only constrain him for a year.
Kenneth’s plan for gaining control of the Pictish kingdom is to be crowned in the Picts’ capitol city of Scone, on the Stone of Destiny, a stone which sings out when a true king sits on it. Anyone who hears the welcome from the Stone of Destiny will recognize Kenneth as the true king. This means all Kenneth’s enemies will try to keep the Stone from reaching Scone. It is Malcolm’s job to get the Stone to Scone. He hopes he can persuade Bethoc to help him instead of fighting him.
As a committed assassin, ready to die for revenge, Bethoc makes a good pushover. The raving beauty, spitting promises to kill her husband on their wedding night, is almost immediately captive to her own desire for Malcolm. Malcolm too would be captive of their electric attraction, but he is like a fish out of water at the Scottish court, and knows Bethoc could not live in his true home. The mystery that keeps them apart is the basis for the story of DANGER IS SWEET.
DANGER IS SWEET is filled with brightly colored detail, giving pageantry even to everyday activities. The viewpoint of Bethoc breathes passion, and Malcolm’s viewpoint breathes longing. This makes it sound as if the story lives, but it doesn’t. You won’t convince me such a woman as Bethoc ever lived. Mad with grief at the deaths of her men, she does a full 180 degree turn-around, accepts that her loved ones were at fault for their own deaths, falls wholeheartedly for the "treacherous" king’s right hand man, and accepts the mission of making Kenneth king of the Picts, all within a couple of days.
By comparison, the fantasy role of Malcolm, a kind of man who truly never lived, is much more believable. Author Cornelia Amiri handles his dilemma with sensitivity and understanding. True, there is an incident where a single character holds off an entire pack of killer whales, but aside from that Malcolm’s story is not only vivid but easy to accept.
If your favorite kind of read is one in which the hero and heroine desire each other passionately but the author avoids getting clinical about their lovemaking, this was meant for you. The best thing to do when reading DANGER IS SWEET is to suspend analytical thought. If you enjoy medieval romances, with all their exotic brightness and lack of depth, enjoy this one. If you like your unanalytical medieval romances with a touch of fantasy, especially enjoy this one. It is based on a very old legend which still resonates in the imagination today.
Aug 2004 Review
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