Waking the Princess, by Susan King

>> Friday, August 12, 2005

Waking the Princess is the second in a trilogy by Susan King, an author I hadn't read before.

An antiquarian for the National Museum, Christina Blackburn has her reasons for disguising her smoldering beauty with a pair of prim spectacles and an icy facade. She posed for a painting that scandalized the Victorian art world--"The Briar Maiden of Dundrennan"--and it nearly ruined her life. Ever since, she vowed to suppress her passionate nature and keep her identity a secret.

But when the museum sends her on a trip across Scotland, Christina discovers the same notorious painting--and its dangerously handsome owner. Sir Aedan Arthur MacBride knows the local legend about the sleeping maiden, of course, but he refuses to believed in its curse over the lairds of Dundrennan. Then he gazes upon this very real maiden's face, and he knows he is utterly doomed...
I like slow-moving books, I actually prefer them to those action-filled books which run along at break-neck speed. I like books which concentrate on the character building, I tend to prefer them to those where the conflict is purely external. However, slow-moving and character-based doesn't have to be boring, and this one was. A C.

Anyone who reads this blog can probably deduce that to be able to post about as many books as I do, I need to read them pretty fast. Well, this one took me almost 2 weeks, and that was including a couple of hours of sitting down and forcing myself to push forward as fast as I could. I kept putting it down and picking up something else.

It's a shame, because it had a lot of things that could have made for a lovely book. The characters are nice and the ambience is very well done, for instance, and I always love books that incorporate early archaeology. But the tediousness pretty much ruined what could have been a lovely reading experience.

I think part of the problem was that there was no real conflict between Christina and Aedan. Sure, they were adversaries, after a fashion, in the problem about whether Aedan was going to be able to put his road through the hill Christina was evaluating for possible archaeological significance, but they both were quite reasonable about that. It wasn't as if they were enemies about it. Each trusted that the other was doing their job to the best of their abilities, and that neither was going to do anything dishonest to get their way. Whatever happened, neither was going to "triumph" over the other, the situation just wasn't like that at all.

But that's not a problem (in fact, it's quite refreshing). The thing is, without that as a source of conflict, what's left? What bothered me was that, in the end, the only reason these two weren't engaged to be married within a couple of days of meeting, was that Aedan believes his family's under a curse, so if he married for love, his wife would die. Period. That was it. It didn't do it for me.


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