A Storm of Passion
Terri Brisbin has been one of my auto-buy authors for the past several years. She’s written some fantastic books for Harlequin Historicals, and when I saw she had a historical paranormal in the works for Brava, I was curious to see what she would deliver. With A Storm of Passion readers get something of a mixed bag. There’s an interesting twist on the revenge plot here and some wonderful chemistry between the lead characters, but some of the backdrop does not hold together well and that can be a problem.
Set in remote reaches of Medieval Scotland, the powerful Diarmid maintains and strengthens his control, at least in part, because of the visions of Connor, his seer. Connor’s visions have brought many seekers to Diarmid, but at least one of these visions has also made Connor an enemy. The heroine, Moira, lost her entire family and blames one of Connor’s visions for the massacre that killed them.
Moira has spent six years trying to find Connor, and manages to finally locate him and get inside the castle. When she finds her way to Connor’s room, he assumes that she has been brought to him for his entertainment and the two have sex. However, it is not until some months later that Moira finds herself with the opportunity to attack Connor.
It is at this point that readers will quickly realize both main characters are imprisoned to an extent. Not knowing her to be Moira, Connor is curious about his attacker and demands to keep her with him following the attack. His wish is granted, and much of the story takes place with Moira as Connor’s prisoner. However, Connor is a prisoner of sorts himself. His role as seer makes him valuable to Diarmid and he guards him quite closely. Connor’s whims may be indulged, but he has little freedom or privacy. Given that the price Connor’s visions exact upon him is something he wishes no one to know, he has a hard time keeping his own secret or even thinking of a future with Moira.
On the positive side, Brisbin’s portrayal of the Medieval world is an engaging one and different from what one sees in many lighter historicals. Diarmid’s keep is a stark place, and life there quite harsh. The realities of life are worked into both Connor and Moira’s backstories as well as into the day to day details of this novel, including some references to violence and abuse. Even so, the romance at the heart of this story manages to be romantic.
The chemistry between Moira and Connor comes on instantly and, surprisingly, felt quite believable. The book is full of love scenes that actually advance the plot. Trust is a major issue between Moira and Connor for fairly obvious reasons and one sees the change in levels of trust between them in their most intimate scenes together. My one real quibble with their relationship arose from what I call “The Myth of the Magic Lay”. In other words, Connor, obsessed with sex at the beginning of the book, suddenly finds that his first encounter with Moira in his bed has changed him forever and he becomes obsessed with finding this woman again. While I know hero and heroine must fall in love in a romance, this was a little cheesy for me.
My other real issues with this story came into play toward the end of the book. Throughout the novel, we follow the trail of Moira’s need to avenge the deaths of her family, as well as the present-day intrigues taking place at Diarmid’s court. Without spoilers, let’s just say Diarmid runs one heck of a dangerous place. However, toward the end of the book, the ends of the various plots start getting tied up in rather rushed fashion and the paranormal bits of story hinted at with Connor’s visions suddenly become something much more complex – all in the last chapters of the book. It was a little too much.
So, while I really did like parts of A Storm of Passion, the book does have some definite weaknesses which may put some folks off. I found this book to be more enjoyable than not, so I give it a qualified recommendation and will probably give the next in the series a try.