For a book that started out very dull and came close to decorating my wall many times, it definitely surprised me the more I read. In Virtual Heaven, debut author Ann Lawrence creates a unique premise that will appeal to many a romance reader. Execution isn’t nearly so neat, but is fairly strong for a first time author.
Maggie O’Brien is getting ready for a party at her friend Gwen’s video arcade store when Gwen convinces her to try out the new virtual reality game, Tolemac Wars When a freakish lightning strike sends Maggie into the game, Maggie finds herself as the “Shadow Woman” who has to battle various villians and creatures to save the hero, Kered.
When Kered comes upon Maggie in his world of Tolemac, he is surprised that a “slave” is on her own. He determines she is a slave by her lack of arm rings. After discussing her presence with his friend and wise advisor, Nilrem, it is decided that Maggie is to accompany Kered on his quest to bring peace to Tolemac. Kered has to obtain the cup of Liarg and the legendary sword to obtain a seat on the council and bring about the end of the wars.
Maggie and Kered face many adventures and dangers on their quest, both human and not. Maggie proves her worth to Kered when she saves him repeatedly using the virtual reality gun she carried with her when she was transported into the game.
At first, it was difficult for me to suspend disbelief in order to enjoy this book – I don’t usually read many fantasy or futuristic type romances. However, I’m very glad I stuck with it. Maggie and Kered show intense emotions and the sexual tension between these two was very high. The more I read of this story, the harder it became to put down. I struggled along with Maggie as to whether returning “home” was the best thing or was she already “home” in a world where she was considered a slave and subject to being treated as such. This was also a primary source of the conflict existing between Kered and Maggie. He believes her to be a slave from beyond the “ice-fields” and regardless of how much she protests, he is not capable of believing her. Ultimately, he must make her his slave “officially” to save her from some very unsavory creeps. Of course, we modern readers can empathize with Maggie and share her anger at Kered for doing this.
Ann Lawrence does a good job describing the world Maggie finds herself in as well as the characters. It isn’t difficult for the reader to find themselves cheering Maggie and Kered on as they prove to be equal to the numerous challenges they face while on their quest to bring peace to Tolemac.
This story contained lots of action and adventure as well as the love and passion that grow between Maggie and Kered. I won’t give away any spoilers, but the reader will like the story and the correlation with another legend. I, for one, will be looking for a sequel featuring Kered’s best friend, Vad. Read the book, suspend disbelief, and check out the back cover! That’s worth some air conditioning all on its own!