Fire Song

Lord Sin

Velvet Touch

Winterís Bride by Catherine Archer
(Harl. Historical #477, $4.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-29077-2
When Iím deeply involved in a book, we could have a moderate earthquake here in Southern California and I probably wouldnít notice. But while reading Winterís Bride, I found myself distracted by the clock ticking, the dog snoring and the refrigerator humming. I couldnít connect with this book.

In 1458, Lady Lily Gray, Lord Tristan Ainsworth and their newborn daughter Sabina are on the run. The political turmoil of the day has made their families bitter enemies and they are forced to try to elope. They do not succeed. Their overturned coach is discovered by Tristanís brother, Benedict. Inside, he finds Tristan and Sabina with serious injuries, but it is too late for Lily. Since he is alone and on horseback, Benedict takes Tristan and Sabina and races for help. Lily is left for dead.

Three years elapse and a very much alive Lady Lily is once again on the road, traveling to her arranged marriage with Maxim Harcourt. Her injuries have left her with no memory of her life before the accident. Lily stops at an inn where Tristan also happens to be staying. Although she notices him, she does not remember the part he has played in her life.

Tristan, on the other hand, is stunned. He has never stopped loving Lily, even though he believed her to be dead. He cannot understand why she pretends not to recognize him. Needing to speak to her alone, he kidnaps her from the inn and takes her to his hunting lodge.

A terrified Lily is certain she has never met Tristan, but there is something about him that attracts her and in the middle of their confrontation they are suddenly overwhelmed with passion and make love. This is where they lost me (and itís only page 39). I canít handle it when the charactersí raging hormones take over and all good sense flies out the window.

At this point, Tristan is supposed to be livid at Lilyís duplicity and Lily is supposed to be frightened by this stranger who claims she has given birth to a child she doesnít remember. In addition, Lily is on her way to meet her future husband, during an age when oneís virtue is all-important. But none of this seems to matter. I also found it difficult to fathom that after making love, Lily did not notice her lack of virginity.

But then, many things didnít make sense. When Tristan convinces Lily to accompany him to his castle and masquerade as his daughterís nursemaid, no one there seems to notice that Sabina and Lily are the spitting image of one another. Well, except Tristanís fiancťe, Genevieve, who is too good to be true. Although she has been a mother to Sabina and has the most to lose by Lilyís sudden appearance, she wholeheartedly welcomes her and expresses no jealousy. Even though Tristan and Lily can barely keep their hands off one another. By the time Lily regains her memory and reveals her love for Tristan, I was unable to raise much enthusiasm.

Winterís Bride is first in a series by Catherine Archer called Seasonsí Brides. Itís likely the next installment will feature Tristanís brother Marcel and the virtuous Genevieve. Hopefully, their story will be more compelling.

--Karen Lynch

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