I’m a big fan of both Suzanne Brockmann and Linda Howard, and knowing that they had recommended Fiona Brand as an author to watch, I was excited to pick up Blade’s Lady. Perhaps their recommendations, along with the loud Internet buzz about this author raised my expectations too high. Although I did enjoy this book, I never found myself lost in it like I often do with Brockmann or Howard. And yet, the flaws I noticed were fairly minor and the sort that other people might not consider flaws at all. If I sound like I’m on the fence, I’m not. I do recommend this book, but with reservations.
Anna Tarrant and Blade Lombard have shared a psychic link for over sixteen years, but neither has known the other’s identity. She thinks of him as her “knight” and reaches out to him whenever her life is in danger, which happens more often than it should, since her stepfather wants her dead so she can’t inherit the family wealth away from him. Anna has been on the run for the past seven years, but now one of her stepfather’s henchmen has finally found her and nearly killed her. In her desperation she reaches out to her knight one last time, and for the first time, Blade is able to find and help her. Even though Anna feels drawn to him, she clings to the fiction that he just happened along, and prefers to believe that her dream knight is just a figment of her imagination. For his part, Blade is also doubtful as to whether his vision was real or just coincidence. He realizes the threat to Anna is real, however, and wants to protect her, but she doesn’t want to involve him in her problems. Nevertheless, Blade won’t go away because in addition to Anna’s calls for help they’ve also shared dreams of making love, and he’s determined to finally have her.
The set-up for this story is very promising. Anna is in real danger and has justified doubts about trusting anyone. Blade is ex-military and heir to a fortune, so he’s well equipped to defend her. The psychic connection is also tantalizing, since through their shared dreams they are already “intimate strangers,” as it were. For the most part this story delivers on its promises, but does so in a somewhat unsatisfactory manner. I felt as if these two needed more time together. Even after they finally find each other, they don’t verbally acknowledge their shared dreams until more than halfway through the book. Wouldn’t that be one of the first things you’d want to talk about? But then, they don’t have much time to talk, because they are constantly being separated from each other. Either Anna is trying to leave without telling Blade based on some misguided notion of protecting him, or Blade is leaving Anna to get supplies or whatnot just when she’s the most vulnerable to attack. It’s actually a mystery to me how the henchmen failed to find and kill her on several occasions. They just seemed to ignore most of the opportunities. Consequently, Blade’s ability to protect her seems to be more luck than skill, until the final confrontation when he finally gets to show his stuff.
Blade is an Alpha Hero very much in the tradition of Linda Howard heroes, and is very appealing in that way. Anna, however, is a strange mix of insecurity and self-reliance. She takes a little too long in deciding to trust him, and continues to try to rebuff his offers of help, thinking she’ll be a danger to him. She waffles back and forth, constantly changing her mind on whether to depend on him or not. While it is true that Blade would be put at risk, I think if I had been on the run for seven years I’d be relieved to have another person to rely on other than myself, especially one who knows what he’s getting into and wants the job. Anna is also a little too much of a martyr to be believable, and was especially annoying at the end of the book when she delays psychically calling for Blade’s help until it was almost too late.
Other than her delay, however, the ending is where the book improves a great deal. The final rescue Blade organizes, transcends the clichés of the genre and is surprisingly believable and realistic. It would have been so easy for Ms. Brand to fall into expected action-suspense stand-bys such as the Villain Who Won’t Shut Up, or the Perfect Plan That Somehow Goes Wrong. Thankfully, she doesn’t, and instead wraps everything up without some of the scenes you might have come to expect. All in all Blade’s Lady was a good read which I felt mostly needed a little less internal conversation and angst on the part of the Anna, in favor of more true conversation between Anna and Blade.