Desert Isle Keeper
In the mood for a nice, comfortable, light read? Better save Forbidden for another day. But if you’re in the mood for a spellbinding story that burns with passions both emotional and physical, the kind that grabs your heart and kicks it around like a plane in turbulence for a few hours before bringing you in for that safe, sweet landing, then this is the book for you.
Known in the Disputed Lands as Amber the Untouched, our heroine is cursed to feel pain whenever she is forced to bear the touch of another human. Raised by a member of the Learned, a mystic groups whose members are often referred to as witches by the ignorant, she has a deep connection to all things made of the precious substance for which she is named. According to the prophecy made at her birth, she will never be able to touch another human without feeling pain – and the emotions of that person – except for a man who will come to her “in shades of darkness,” a man with no name. If she allows herself to touch him, “rich life might grow, but death will surely flow.” Thus she lives her life without touching, and all of Stone Ring Keep know that to touch her is punishable by death, as decreed by Erik, Lord of the Keep, and her friend and fellow student of the secrets of the Learned.
Then one night – in shades of darkness – Erik brings her a man he found in the sacred Stone Ring – which only the Learned can enter. The man wears an amber pendant, and all things amber belong to the heroine, according to prophecy. When the man awakes, he has no memory – and no name – and when Amber touches him to find out if he is telling the truth, she feels more pleasure than she has ever known. She names him Duncan, meaning “dark warrior,” and hopes it isn’t his true name, because that would make him Duncan of Maxwell, the Scots Hammer, and Erik’s sworn enemy.
The plot implements two elements that generally don’t work for me: amnesia (caused in this case by a lightning strike), and the fact that they are pretty much enamored of each other from word go, although he apparently isn’t truly “in love” with her, as she knows when she touches him. Still the excellent storytelling drew me in, and these elements didn’t bother me as they would have in a book less well-written. Admittedly, Amber is the type of heroine many readers love to hate: she is strong and intelligent, but takes a great amount of abuse in the name of love. Meanwhile, Duncan definitely verges on being a true “alpha” hero once he regains his memory. Yet again, these facts pale in the light of the spell this book cast on me from the first reading years ago, and the hold it manages to keep on me, with every repeat reading. Because of the emotional power of the writing, I find myself able to accept and even enjoy elements I would dislike in other books.
The paranormal or mystical thread in this book is strong, but not overwhelming. The story of Amber’s curse is compelling and important to the book as a whole, but manages not to stifle the powerful love story. Rather, it accents it, creating an even more intense and emotional whole.
This is a classic example of an Elizabeth Lowell novel, so Forbidden‘s hero and heroine hurt each other quite a bit before they manage to find their happily ever after. If you like the sort of book where you feel every bit of the pain and the passion, Lowell is the author for you, and this book is a great place to start.