I’ll admit I chose Ms. Knight’s Berkley debut because of the title. How could I not? A title character named Jane who has her very own warlord? Shallow reasons aside, I’m glad I gave Jane’s Warlord a shot. Though it’s a bit of a mixed bag, I do look forward to reading this author’s next work.
Jane Colby is a reporter who thought she’d seen it all. She’s happy that leaving Atlanta to run her father’s newspaper in her hometown means the worst thing she’ll run into is fatal traffic accidents and drunken fights. That was true until now. After visiting the scene of a brutal torture/murder Jane returns home to find Baran Arvid and his talking-wolf partner Freika in her house. Baran informs her that the killer is a time-traveling freak named Druas who films his murders. And Jane is on his list of intended victims. Though Jane’s initially afraid Baran might be the killer, he assures her that he’s been sent to protect her at any cost.
As a Warlord, Baran Arvid is an ideal pick to travel back in time three hundred years to save Jane Colby. At least according to the Temporal Enforcement Agent who hand-picked Baran for the mission. Baran’s not as convinced. He has far more important matters to deal with in his own time and watching over a civilian can’t be nearly as important. The TE Agent who pulled him away from his true mission has given him very little information, and at this point he’s not even sure if he’s supposed to save Jane or not. Whatever the result, once he deals with the killer who’s after Jane, Baran intends to return to his own time so that he can find – and kill – the man responsible for the deaths of his former squad members. Those are his plans. Any attraction to Jane is just that, and while he might go so far as to satisfy his lust, he isn’t going to let himself care about her.
If you pay much attention to the reviews I write, I rarely comment on the sex act in the novels I read. Mostly that’s because it’s the least important aspect of a romance novel for me. I’ll admit I skim if I’m reading solely for myself. If I’m reviewing a book I read every word, but I only comment on the sex/love scenes if something is off or particularly moving. Count this as a novel where I think the scenes are well done – if not for the faint of heart. Ms. Knight has incorporated dominance and bondage into the relationship, and not only did she make it work – she made it sexy as all get out. And since this has a burning rating, that’s pretty darn important.
On the surface there wasn’t much for me to dislike here. Jane and Baran behave intelligently for the most part. There’s danger and romance. The problem is that most of the book is surface. Though there’s a surfeit of issues for Jane and Baran to deal with, most of their issues get short shrift. On the one hand I was glad to have the author avoid long discussions about why time-travel is possible and why a killer would travel in time to wage his evil. But I would have loved an explanation of why Druas would target Jane in particular and why once he has, she’s the one Baran has to save. Why not those other women? After Jane asks these questions, “He glanced from her rich brown eyes to her tempting lips, then down the lush, promising contours of her breasts. ‘I can think of a number reasons.'” Hey I’m glad he thinks she’s sexy, but is that reason enough? This is an interesting story element that just disappears. Another emotional realm that is abandoned, as the action picks up, is Jane’s backstory. Jane was abused as a child by her bullying, dominating father. How does that factor into her relationship with Baran? The author touches on this but drops it in favor of the hunt for Druas (which doesn’t end all that interestingly anyway).
I think the biggest stumbling block for the author and this reader is the length. There’s just not enough space for everything and that’s why some aspects got short shrift. Give her a little more space and I think Ms. Knight could knock one out of the park. Solid writing (if you don’t count the somewhat clichéd description of Jane’s legs making up most of her height and Baran’s overlarge, shall we say, appendage), sexy love scenes, and likable characters. I look forward to her next book but hope there will be just a bit more emotional development to go along with the rest.