Knight In My Bed
Donall the Bold is the laird of the MacLean clan, which shares the island of Doon with the MacInnes clan. When his sister-in-law, Lileas MacInnes, is murdered, Donall is blamed (entirely without evidence) by the MacInnesses for her death. He is kidnapped by the MacInnesses, who intend to torture and kill him.
Donall is enraged.
Never will he submit.
The laird of the MacInnes clan is a woman, Isolde, who has limited power over clan policy due to her youth and sex. Though she grieves for her sister Lileas, she fears that the MacLeans will make war on her people if they kill Donall. She has an alternative plan: she will seduce Donall and become pregnant with his child. Somehow she imagines that this will help forge a lasting peace between the two clans.
Isolde is willing to sacrifice her virtue for her people’s safety.
Just so long as she doesn’t enjoy it too much.
What’s that? You’re wondering why I’m using those annoying short paragraphs? Sue-Ellen Welfonder pretty much wrote the entire book like that. Not only does she love italics and flowery, ornate description, but her paragraphing follows a sort of rhythm. A paragraph of description will be followed by one or two short paragraphs, each composed either of one sentence or a sentence fragment. I thought I’d try it.
It’s harder than it looks.
Anyway, Isolde finds her manly captive extremely desirable, which upsets her. She will have sex with him, but the idea that she might like it causes her deep shame. While attempting to seduce him, she swigs an “anti-attraction potion” she got from the local crone. Donall also desires the lovely Isolde, and he too fights the attraction, because she is his captor and he’s angry with her. Although she is the only MacInnes who has any intention of sparing his life, he’s deliberately rude to her and flatly refuses to sleep with her. Eventually it dawns upon him that he maybe ought to make nice with the woman who wants to spare him from being tortured to death. Coincidentally, that’s about the time he realizes that he loves her.
Had Knight in My Bed been well-written and featured interesting characters, I wouldn’t have minded the nonsensical and tiresome plot. But Donall and Isolde fit perfectly into the shoes of scores of other medieval heroes and heroines who have gone before them: the brave maiden who wishes to sacrifice herself for others, and the masterful alpha warrior who wants her in spite of himself. To say the least, it’s been done. To make matters worse, what passes in Donall for manly arrogance comes across as smugness, which I found very irritating.
And then there’s the writing style:
Donall shifted on his pallet of straw and wished more covered his manhood than a thin piece of cloth. If the lady Isolde’s appearance proved halfway as provocative as the honeyed timbre of her voice and the avowals of her uncle, he would have preferred a more substantial modicum of dignity.
Cell-bound and fettered or nay, red blood yet coursed through his veins.
Nor had the blackguards put out his eyes.
Pressing his lips together, he pushed aside all thought of fetching lasses. It’d been longer than he cared to admit since he’d last taken his ease with a wench, but he did not want to be bestirred by Isolde MacInnes.
Not even a wee bit.
What he wanted was a way out of this cell.
And so on, throughout the entire book. I have to admit that the weird rhythm is sort of infectious, and Wellfonder’s use of descriptive language is nothing short of hilarious. Isolde’s hair, for instance, is “the color of a thousand setting suns,” and a drop of water that lands on Donall’s face is a “bothersome bead of bedevilment.” I imagine Welfonder thinking, “Cassie Edwards’ writing style is good, but it needs to be more dramatic.”
To sum up, Knight in My Bed embodies all the most embarrassing stereotypes of the romance genre. It is florid, nonsensical, and just plain silly.
It’s almost painful to read.
Unless you keep a firm grip on your sense of humor.