Believe in Me
Believe in Me picks up soon after the first book leaves off. This second volume’s plot is similar to the first an alliance is to be formed between the Saxons and the Norse Vikings. Again paranormal elements are utilized, but they continue to be less then fully realized.
Lord Hawk is the hero of this one. King Alfred is pleased with the alliance that was formed between the Saxons and the Norse when Hawk’s sister, Cymbra, married the Viking Wolf Hakonson. Now he’s asked Hawk to cement the alliance by marrying a Norse woman. The woman is Lady Krysta and she seems curiously reluctant to appear at Hawkforte. Can I say as an aside here that the names chosen for the heroes and heroines of these books are a distraction? Wolf, Hawk and Dragon (third book) as heroes’ names and Cymbra and Krysta as heroines sounds like something out of a 1970’s bodice ripper. This was doubly disappointing because the books are so strong in other ways.
Lady Krysta has a reason for her reluctance to present herself to Hawk. She’s grown up knowing that there’s a strong possibility she could follow in her mother’s footsteps. Krysta’s mother was something other than human and when the man she loved proved unable to return that love, she wasn’t able to remain in the mortal world. Krysta needs to discover if Hawk is a man who could love. If he isn’t, she fears she will be drawn away from this world like her mother was.
Her efforts to get to know Hawk without revealing herself include disguising herself as a servant to Lady Krysta. She hopes to study Hawk before committing herself to him. Luckily, this masquerade goes on for just long enough. Though Hawk is drawn to Krysta as the servant, the author is careful to make sure this does not become a “Big Misunderstanding.” To her credit, there are other elements that could have had the same effect, but again she avoids the romance clichés.
Krysta’s mixed parentage is the primary driving plot thread. She fears what will happen to her if Hawk cannot love her, she worries about what Hawk will think and feel when he finds out. Every thing she does is related to who she is. But by about two-thirds of the way through the book her background begins to matter less and less and is addressed very infrequently. Additionally, her two servants are shapechangers and their status is accepted too easily by the people who become aware of this. The book takes place in the early Middle Ages, the author doesn’t have to write the protagonists as backward, but she should parallel the research she has done into the historical facts with some real societal consequences.
Because of the machinations Krysta went through, she became occasionally less credible. Her uneven development was exacerbated by a villain whose characterization was equally uneven. This made for some stretched plot points and a villain who was pretty easy to spot. None of this was enough to make me not want to recommend the book, though it did weaken my enjoyment. The strength in this story again lies in the relationship between hero and heroine. Hawk and Krysta have wonderful scenes together and I did believe that they would fall in love and work for that love. Their love scenes are hot, but they’re also sensual and tender.
Like the marketing efforts (cheaper prices, books released in quick succession) that Bantam used to launch Madeline Hunter’s books, Bantam has come up with a surefire way to intrigue readers. But, bottom line, whoever the author is, whatever the reason for the mystery, this two-book volume deserves the treatment it’s getting. Fact is it probably would not get nearly as much buzz if the publisher and the author hadn’t come up with this plan. I say congratulations and more power to them.