When it comes to this book, you definitely shouldn't judge a book by its cover. I mean, this book's cover proclaims it to be a romance novel. But it's not, not really. It is, at best, Young Adult Fiction. And not very good Young Adult Fiction either.
The hero and heroine have no real chemistry. They barely touch. The heroine is almost never shown to have much of an interest in the hero. The hero ditches his normal life, hopes and dreams to run off with the heroine for no real reason, except that she asks him to do so almost the minute they meet. There was almost no passion to their relationship, nor to many other things they did. They were bland, bland, bland. And as for love scenes, the mainstay of romance novels? Well, blink and you'd miss the love scenes in this book. I kid you not, there were two of them, and they went for about a short paragraph each. For example, in the first one, the only description of how they made love was this:
'He drew her down with him onto the blue-grey cloak. Anlon held her close, becoming lost in her, until he could no longer tell where where his body ended and hers began. She responded in kind, seeking him out not as a queen but as a woman, a lover, a wife. Deep within the quiet shade of the forest, seeing and feeling nothing but each other, they moved together in an embrace that was both as old as Time and as new as the violets which bloomed along the sparkling stream.'
Ho-hum. I almost fell asleep during that. I mean, where's the passion, the fire, the desperate need for each other? Those two waited a LONG time to come together like that. They should have been like cats in heat, not elderly relatives at a picnic. Ugh! And the only other lovemaking scene in the book was pretty much the same -- a few short lines of deadly-dull nothing. Forgive me if I sound critical, but the whole point to the love scene, and to a romantic novel, is to show the passion of the characters. These two were about as passionate as binary code.
Come to think of it, I have actually seen MUCH racier, more passionate interactions between lovers in Young Adult Fiction. This was so tame, it was almost Junior Fiction.
That wasn't the only magic that was missing from the book. The heroine is the queen of a supposedly magical race called the Sidhe. The Sidhe are a dying breed, and we are supposed to feel both impressed by their magic and nobility, and sorry for their sad plight. And I tried to feel those things, oh how I tried! But the Sidhe were just, for the most part, so damned un-magical and unloveable! They were less like a mystical race, and more like really short, useless, thieving, stupid, hyper-aggressive, forest-dwelling rednecks. Most of them wouldn't have recognised good sense if it came with a klaxon alarm and a big neon sign saying "Hey! Look at me! I'm good sense!". Genocide of a race is a truly horrible thing, and I sympathised for the Sidhe's plight. But at times -- and I almost feel guilty saying this, even though they are a fictitious race -- the thought of their being wiped out was a little like thinking of an entire species of mosquito being wiped out...I mean, would anyone really miss them? Seriously, they were so annoying and bloodthirsty, those Sidhe, especially on what was supposed to be a veritable holy day for them, Samhain Eve.
The storyline of this book stretches for over a year, and it SO feels like it. I couldn't wait for it to be over. I love Ireland, and I love mythology, and I love magic, and I love tales about Samhain Eve, but I don't love this book. I think it does Ireland, its mythology, and its magical folk a disservice.
I seem to recall Bono once saying in a concert, "This is not a love song, this is Sunday, Bloody Sunday". And so, in that vein, I say of this book, "This is not a love story, this is Samhain, Bloody Samhain."
I think the writer of this book had good intentions and some good ideas, and so I feel a little sad to be criticising her work so harshly. But her skill and passion as a writer just didn't match her ambitions in this instance, and this novel definitely didn't fit the romance category. Perhaps she should try her hand at writing Junior Fiction, since that's where her heart seems to be. I think she could turn out to be quite good at that, if she worked at it.