The Lady's Proposal

A Gentleman’s Bargain

Whispers in the Stars
by Patricia Waddell
(Love Spell, $5.99, PG) ISBN 0-505-52522-4
Whispers in the Stars is a fairly forgettable tale of a queen and the warrior she is forced to wed. Lady Zara rules her planet, Nubria, as generations of her ancestors have before her. Nubria, a matriarchal society, is known as a peaceful world with few defenses because it is historically impartial in any conflicts. However, Zara has made a critical error: she offered sanctuary to the survivors of a rebel spacecraft that crash-landed on her planet. Now the Unity Council has decided that Zara’s actions make Nubria impartial no longer, and she must surrender her sovereignty to a husband chosen by the Council or face destruction.

Logan, Commander of the Galactic Guard, is the man chosen by the Council to marry Lady Zara and rule Nubria. He is unaware of Zara’s ability to read the emotions of others. Logan is a hardened fighter, and his main ambition is to be a good ruler for Nubria and get his lovely wife in bed as soon as possible. Then he’ll order her to give up the hidden rebels and she’ll have no choice but to comply.

Zara, of course, has no intention of doing any such thing. Oh, she’s a virgin, of course, and she and Logan establish an immediate sexual relationship, but Zara wants to open Logan’s mind to deeper emotions. She wants to show him how satisfying it could be if they were to truly meld their emotions.

There just isn’t a lot of substance tot his story. Logan is a typical alpha hero; blustering a bit and determined to have his way, and Zara is fairly passive. Other than being ethereally lovely and devout about praying, she doesn’t do much. She floats through the story being beautiful and inciting Logan’s lust, but I had a hard time picturing these two as anything more than contented bed partners. Neither made a strong impression.

The story really runs out of steam about halfway through. With the plot basically slowing to a crawl, Zara decides to introduce her new husband to Nubria’s religion by making a pilgrimage of several hundred miles - in bare feet. The thought that this pampered queen would walk for several weeks, barefoot, was ludicrous. She doesn’t get so much as a blister, either - the worst that happens is she’s exhausted after performing a religions ritual. This continued sweetness, devotion to religion, and physical perfection combined to make Zara uninteresting. I found nothing with which to identify in her character. At least Logan, with his pigheaded attitude, felt somewhat realistic.

Whispers in the Stars does offer one twist at the end that is unexpected. And the total absence of space-opera clichés such as starships, alien creatures, and intergalactic battles was welcome. If only Zara had been a little more human, it would have made the story much more enjoyable.

--Cathy Sova

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