Autumn's Bride

Dragon's Dower

Fire Song

Lord Sin

Velvet Touch

Winter's Bride

Dragon's Knight by Catherine Archer
(Harl. Historical #606, $4.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-29206-6
Reading Dragon Knight was like playing s/he loves me, s/he loves me not on a daisy with never-ending petals. After 295 pages of assumptions, misunderstandings and a couple who don't express their feelings until literally the last page, I was more than happy to toss this daisy aside.

Lady Aislynn Greatham's brother Christian has mysteriously disappeared. In desperation, she writes two of his companions, without her father's permission, and begs them for any help they can offer. Jarrod Maxwell, son of an Eastern woman and a British Crusader, answers her call.

The two of them are of course attracted to each other, but for various reasons of their own making, they know they cannot be together. Imagine their chagrin when Aislynn's father has a vision that she must travel with Jarrod to a remote village to find Christian.

That's pretty much the plot. Jarrod and Aislynn travel hither and yon in search of Christian. All the while they convince themselves that the other doesn't want them "that way". Each love scene is followed by several pages of self-flagellation that ruins any romantic feelings the scenes may have inspired in the reader.

For example, before they begin their journey, Aislynn and Jarrod engage in a pretty steamy clinch. Jarrod comes to his senses, realizes he's about to deflower his best friend's little sister and backs off. Aislynn immediately assumes that Jarrod must be totally disgusted by her and avoids him. Jarrod assumes that Aislynn thinks he's scum for going so far and avoids her.

Both Jarrod and Aislynn are big on mind reading. Aislynn just knows that Jarrod loves freedom too much to settle down. Therefore, she can mean nothing to him. Jarrod just knows that Aislynn would never settle for a poor landless knight like himself, so he can mean nothing to her. Not once do they ever talk to each other, or think of anything but the most obvious conclusion.

This goes on for the entire book. They stop at an inn, Aisylnn sees the female innkeeper embrace Jarrod and assumes they must be lovers. When she finds out they are just friends, she gets her hopes up, until she overhears part of a conversation where Jarrod says "she is not my lady". Despite being taken out of context, Aislynn of course interprets this as meaning Jarrod doesn't want her. When they finally do go to bed together, yet another misunderstanding drives them apart before their bodies even cool down.

I could go on and on, but the examples are so numerous it would take more space than I have to mention them all. Suffice to say that Jarrod and Aislynn continue to jump to conclusions and internalize their feelings until the bitter end. Both of them are so busy putting on a proud face and acting like they don't care, that the reader doesn't care about them either.

The subplot involving Christian is merely a vehicle to keep this book part of the Brotherhood of the Dragon series. The remainder of the book is just Aisylnn and Jarrod assuming and misunderstanding their way to a dubious happily ever after. This book was not worth the two weeks it took me to finish it.

--Anne Bulin

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