Queen of Wands
You’ve got to love a brainy guy. Well, I’ve got to love a brainy guy, and, as it turns out, so does Jenny O’Kierna, the heroine in the second book in the Sanctify series by Katee Robert. Jenny is the sister to the hero from the first in the series, Queen of Swords, and some of the universe-building will make more sense if you read that one first. It was still pretty easy to dive into Queen of Wands headfirst, though.
Jenny is on a mission – to get out from under her brother’s direct control, to save the good guy, and maybe to get some hot lovin’ in the bargain. She’s no stranger to getting herself into and out of trouble, and is confident in her ability to rescue Mac Flannery from the potential clutches of Sanctify, a religious organization out to gain control of the known universe by any means necessary. Mac is the technological genius behind a lot of weapons, and a powerful player to have, and he wants to be on their side. Nothing to it, right? But when you factor in Mac’s intelligence, Sanctify’s determination and planning, a pleasure planet (complete with the most famous pornvid stars), man-eating lizards, an underwater retreat, and dubious partnerships, you don’t know where things will go next.
Mac had his really good points and his really annoying ones, sometimes both of them happening at the same time. He’s incredibly intelligent, but that leads to a bit of a self-righteous, know-it-all vibe sometimes that could get on my nerves. Then he turns around and seems to know exactly how to react to Jenny – when to press the matter and when to back off and give her space. In the end, it worked well to give him a full, rounded personality.
I really adored Jenny, though. She’s strong, both physically and mentally, and is able to admit her mistakes and move past them. She seems to have figured out how to be both a warrior and a very feminine woman – as shown well in one scene where she is literally wearing a gorgeous evening gown while beating the crap out of a human-eating lizard. And she’s sassy. I love me a sassy heroine.
My biggest issue was really the pacing – the action sequences were practically perfect, moving along at a movie-like pace (which is pretty impressive, keeping the tension and the excitement up like that during the action, especially in a romance novel). The romantic movement was not quite as exciting for me, though I did really love the progression from insta-lust to affection to love. However, the transitions between the romance and the action? Not so much. It was pretty hit-or-miss for me. Same with the ending of the novel – the action bits and the romance bits just didn’t gel as much as I had hoped. The pacing itself was inconsistent, which left some serious lulls in the reading.
In the end, though, I really did enjoy this. I liked the characters, I liked the story, and I really enjoyed the universe the author has built. It keeps a classic science fiction feel, but adds a rather nice romance on top of it, much like some of the early Jayne Ann Krentz books. It may not be the best introduction to science fiction romance, but it’s definitely a fun read for fans of the genre.