Dark Emerald

Dark Ruby

A Family Kind of Guy

A Fortune's Children Christmas

Twice Kissed

Unspoken

Whispers

 
Dark Sapphire by Lisa Jackson
(Signet, $5.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-451-40779-2
**
It's a shame when a book with a good plot and an interesting premise can't be recommended because of an unworthy hero, inattention to historical accuracy (which could have been prevented with a little research), and on again off again dialects that only serve to confuse the reader.

Keegan has been the captain of his own ship since his father was murdered at Castle Ogof in the year 1369. He doesn't remember anything of that horrific day, as an arrow in the side presumably caused him to block out the memory. When a female stowaway is ferreted out aboard ship and brought before Keegan, there is something oddly familiar about her to him.

She claims to be a Lady Victoria, yet he had heard gossip at the last port he docked in that the Lady Sheena of Tardiff was missing after having slayed her husband on their wedding night. Is the runaway woman Victoria or Sheena? If she is Sheena, lady beware, for he will ransom her to her pursuers for whatever he can get out of the deal.

Lady Sheena of Tardiff, formerly of Ogof, is on the run for her life after killing her sadistic husband in the marriage bed. She stows away aboard Dark Sapphire in the hopes of eluding her captors. Sheena remembers Captain Keegan as the same boy whose life she'd once saved from her father's soldiers after they had dealt a death blow to Keegan's father Rourke. Should she reveal herself to the handsome captain or run from him at first opportunity? Whatever the case, Sheena quickly realizes that Keegan can make her want him as no other man ever has...

Dark Sapphire employs several questionable historical techniques, beginning with the premise that a lady's hand in marriage in the late 1300s could be gambled away. Baronies and marriage contracts were granted by kings, not rolls of the dice. A man could not gain a barony by winning a wager, nor could he win the hand of a gently bred lady in such a manner, which is how Sheena's father (a secondary character) came to be the master of Castle Ogof and husband to the lady Bertrice. This tweaking of history is never explained by the author.

The names of some of the characters didn't fit neatly into history either. A medieval stepmother named Fawn? A man named Wart? Bo? The names don't sound very authentic which detracts from the feeling of reading about Wales in the year 1369.

The author also kept switching back and forth between using "ye" and "you", "nay" and "no", and phrases such as "Ye be" versus "You are". Worse yet, a couple of the Welsh characters possess an on again/off again Scottish brogue. The secondary character of Bo, for instance, sometimes pronounces the word "can" as "can", but at other times as "kin". Sometimes he "didn't" do something and at other times he "did na" do it. (And often times in the same sentence.) All of these dialect contradictions, by the way, can be located throughout the entire read; I'm not just picking apart one or two scenes and grinding them into the ground.

Lastly, there is the issue of the hero. There are quite a few times throughout the book where it is difficult to remember he is the novel's hero instead of its villain. Throughout most of the book, he plans to ransom the heroine back to her pursuers (even after their relationship has been consummated). Keegan isn't exactly the stuff romantic legends are made of.

Dark Sapphire, the last book in the Dark Jewel trilogy, will not end Lisa Jackson's series on a positive note. The plot starts out intriguingly, but fails to deliver. The only aspect of the book that saves it from a one-heart rating is its action-packed ending, but a few pages at the end are unable to salvage an overall disappointing literary effort.

--Tina Engler


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