Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Two Umbrellas: Laird of Darkness by Nicole North


My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The short novella form is just so difficult to get right in the best of circumstances, and it's almost impossible for a steamy- historical-paranormal with a unique world/mythology structure. North has only a few pages to hook us into the story, which is the main problem here because she also needs to 1) introduce Duncan, his curse, his abilities, and the possible cure, 2)have a meet-cute with the heroine, 3) introduce heroine and her unique backstory, 3) set up the conflict, and 4) build a believable magical world. It's just too-tall of an order for 85 pages, and the first 20 pages tried to do too much and just didn't suck me into the story which left me feeling detached for the remainder. The basic premise is strong: Duncan is a half-fae cursed with horrible dreams that leave him scarred both physically and emotionally. His evil half-brother has the cure, so Duncan kidnaps his brother's intended bride to barter. Had this been a 300 page novel, North could have allowed the conflict to develop more slowly, built up Duncan's character a lot more, and made Alana's character more fully-fleshed. North has a lot of talent, and I think she can be a great addition to the historical paranormal market, but I wonder if she might not be most successful with a few longer books to set up this world. Also, I love a good Scottish kidnapping story, but Alana went from captive to bedmate way too fast--it may be that this plotline simply needs a longer time frame to be believable, even when heroine is not a virgin and not at all ashamed of that fact. In this compressed format, Alana ended up coming off like a shameless hussy, instead of the complex character she had the potential to be. All the right elements were here, and I think it is entirely possible that other readers would rate this higher. If you read a lot of paranormal and love historical paranormal, particularly with Fae creatures, you will probably feel more at home in this world to begin with, and if you are looking for a fast, sexy, kidnapping story you may be willing to suspend some disbelief. I plan to check out longer releases from North as I think she may have just been too hampered by the length requirements. The best part of North's writing is the little details like Alana's work as a healer, and I'd love see her have room for them to really shine.



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