Lady of the Upper Kingdom
Lady of the Upper Kingdom, unusual in its setting of ancient Egypt, is quite a nice afternoon’s diversion from the modern day world. Merline Lovelace, a retired Air Force colonel, has combined her intimate knowledge of the warrior mind with extensive research and devised an unusual love story which blends in the historic king Alexander as a strong secondary character to the hero and heroine.
Philip Tauron, our hero and great friend to the King, is a Mesopotamian warrior. Through a series of exciting events, he finds himself married to the Lady Farah, high priestess and protector of a dangerous desert cat who is considered the earthly incarnation of a deity.
Both the cat and his lady are sleek, small, dangerous, and totally foreign to him. Farah feels similarly, wanting at first to fight her attraction for this gigantic, hairy, and arrogant stranger. Although they come to respect one another, underlying trust does not come easily and is exploited by one of Farah’s powerful neighbors.
The author, as usual, strongly captures the sounds, sights, and tastes of an exotic land. Her unique perspective into the warrior mind always makes her characters strong and decisive, never victims. Her use of the cat-deity and strong secondary characters fleshed out the leads considerably.
In soap opera fashion, however, much of the excitement between the leads happens prior to their marriage and consummation. After they enjoy connubial bliss, the book sort of fizzles. Philip and Farah seem to settle into a routine existence a little too easily.
In a way, however, perhaps that very routine aspect helps create even more drama when a very exciting and horrifying scene occurs that shatters their lives together. Readers will understand the void Farah falls into when she loses her beloved aunt. The numbness that settles onto Farah is eventually shaken off as she takes control of her destiny and that of her warrior.
Unfortunately, readers will find it more difficult to regain feeling. Though the final chapters are tempting, the lack of feeling remains and the book’s poignant ending seems flat.
The author’s use of history and culture clash, when combined with her obvious flair for story-telling, makes this story an interesting one. As is often the case in a book penned by Merline Lovelace, personal honor and duty to society are major themes and are handled well.
While this book is flawed, it remains a quick and diverting little tale. For those just finishing a longer, more intense romance, this book would make a fine transition before attempting another “big” book.