Why do I find errors pertaining to academe so annoying? They can kill an otherwise good book for me. Immortal Hope is a) full of such errors and b) is not an otherwise good book.
Anne MacPherson has just moved into a new home in Atchison, Kansas. She’s a doctoral candidate studying the Knights Templar – who also happens to have second sight. She is under a strict deadline to write her thesis and prove that the Templar’s received hush money from the Catholic Church, because she’s aiming for a position as department head. She also works in some kind of metaphysical shop for a mysterious, dreadlocked boss named Gabriel, and as the book opens he gives her an armband with serpents on it that he has found in St. Louis. When she arrives home, she concentrates on her armband and receives a vision of a handsome, powerful Templar Knight.
Soon thereafter, that same knight comes appears in her parlor and accuses her of being a demon. Merrick is actually in her home because it used to belong to Abigail, a witch destined to protect a holy relic and provide shelter to Templar Knights. Abigail was killed and the relic taken, and when Merrick smells the stench of a demon, he thinks it’s Anne. He soon sees the actual demon and kills it. He then notices Anne’s armband, throws her over his shoulder, and carts her off to the Templar temple.
The armband marks Anne as a Seraph. The Templar have been battling Azazel, who unleashes demons and is up to no good. Because they are cursed, the Templar Knights take in a little evil with every demon they kill. They know that gradually they will go over to the dark side and join Azazel – unless they are saved by a Seraph. Each Seraph has an identifying mark that matches her with a particular Templar, her destined mate that she will save from Azazel’s power.
When Anne arrives at the temple, some of this is explained to her. The men all swear loyalty, and Merrick is placed in charge of her while she searches for her mate. As soon as Anne sees Merrick’s tattoo, she knows it matches her own. However, she has no intention of telling him that. Nothing is going to stand in the way of her promotion, and she figures she’s just struck academic gold. She wants to find out the Templar secrets, write her thesis (apparently in a matter of weeks which is about how long that always takes), and claim her promotion. She decides that seducing Merrick will probably help her out here, because then he’ll do what she wants. She’ll have to keep her socks on though; her telltale tattoo is on her ankle.
So the plot of this book essentially revolves around Anne looking at other men’s scars and tattoos (even though she knows she matches Merrick), trying to seduce Merrick, complaining about her environment, and trying to figure out Templar secrets. Meanwhile, Merrick spends his time lusting after Anne, feeling sad that she doesn’t belong to him, and fearing that his soul will go over to the dark side. Eventually he gives into his lust and sleeps with the sock-clad Anne, all the while feeling guilty that he’s banged one of his friend’s mates. The scene is very retro and full of purple prose; I couldn’t suppress my giggle when Merrick’s “cock jutted forth.” Everyone at the temple knows about Merrick’s jutting you know what, because they have all taken vows of chastity and have to put their swords and cloaks out in the hall every time they have sex – which is apparently often.
Obviously, this book didn’t work for me – on any level, really. I liked the idea behind it (cursed Templars, modern historian), but the execution of it was a total failure. Admittedly, the total botching of academia details pretty much doomed it from the start. Probably, this wouldn’t bother everyone, but for the record:
- A doctoral student is writing a dissertation, not a thesis.
- Someone who does not have a PhD would not be a professor.
- And there is no way in hell someone without a PhD, who is not a professor, would be a department head.
- Whether you’re writing a thesis or a dissertation, it’s not something you dash off in a week or two.
It would have been very easy to make a more plausible scenario. Anne could be slightly older, in possession of a PhD, and seeking tenure. She could be working on a book instead of a “thesis.” Would it have been that hard to talk to a grad student for five minutes and ask how these things work?
That wasn’t the only thing that didn’t make sense. The book is full of incongruities. The Templars are (sort of) immortal and have been around for hundreds of years. But they speak in Medieval/Yoda speak, even though they all have cell phones and participate in most aspects of modern life. Which is more than we can say for Anne, who has a glorious moment when Merrick brings her some of her possessions…including her beloved radio! I tried to remember the last time I had owned a radio outside my car. Maybe 1990? Kids don’t even own radios.
I also found the matching marks silly as a plot point and tedious in execution. I find the destined mate concept a little lazy in a romance novel; no one really has to fall in love, because they’re destined for each other anyway. It also frequently gives men the excuse to act like club-her-over-the-head-cavemen, which doesn’t really do it for me. And really, the whole thing made me think of the cutie marks on the My Little Ponies.
There are other Seraphs to come, most obviously Anne’s twin sister Sophie – another lucky recipient of a serpent armband. I won’t be reading about them, or their cutie marks, swords, crosses, and radios. One was enough for me.