The Lady and the Lion, by Cynthia Kirk

>> Wednesday, October 05, 2005

I was so happy with my latest venture into the oldest sections of my TBR, where I found Balogh's Longing, that I've decided to do it more often. My next random pick netted me The Lady and the Lion, by new-to-me author Cynthia Kirk.


Blaming herself for her husband's death, archaeologist Charlotte Fairchild has given up her greatest love: Egypt. Then Dylan Pierce strides into her life. Reputed to be the infamous "Lion," he is said to plunder ancient tombs and a woman's virtue with the same disregard. But with a kiss as searing as the Sahara and as dangerous as a scorpion, he ignites a passion that rivals anything she's felt before.


Welshman Dylan Pierce disdains European women and their well-bred sensibilities. But there is nothing cold or uptight about Charlotte Fairchild. She is as hot as the Egyptian sun and as fiery as its sands. Dazzling and mysterious, she embodies everything he loves about Africa. And loving the English lady will prove to be as wild and scorching as a desert whirlwind.
Before deciding to read this book, you need to consider whether you'll be able to think of a historical setting as an alternate universe, and forget any consideration about what would be historically accurate behaviour. The Lady and the Lion is set in a version of late Victorian England where, for instance, no one is particularly scandalized by two respectable and virginal young ladies who loudly discuss during a lecture the wicked acts a man might require from a wife, and whether he might even require more than one partner at a time. It's a universe where where a woman can suggest in the middle of a pretty staid dinner party that she may ask a man to demonstrate certain erotic verses, if he's athletic enough, and elicit reactions no more shocked than a mild "You're an impossible woman". In this place, the hero and heroine can lock themselves in a room all night and one of the servants can ask the following morning if they're done ravishing each other, and they can live together for a few years before getting married and it isn't regarded as all that scandalous.

I gave it my best shot, and while it did bother me quite a bit, I might have been able to mostly disregard this problem. If only it hadn't been for all the head-spinningly stupid conclusions the heroine kept reaching! As it is, I'd rate it a C+.

I wanted to love Charlotte, I really did. And I did love the way she was crazy about Egypt and so competent and able to take care of herself there, the way she was capable of shooting a cobra at 20 paces and the way she was perfectly ready to go toe to toe against people who tried to insult her. But her thought processes were too often either mysterious or plain idiotic to me!

It started with her insistence on how she was to blame for her husband's death, which I might have tolerated. But then there were too many little things, all ending by the huge to-do about Dylan having her and her father and late husband investigated... when they'd only just met, mind you. You would have thought he'd asked his detective friend to exhume their remains and use them for Satanic rites, given how Charlotte reacted to this!

The whole book just felt off, I suppose. It's a shame, because I loved the Egyptology background (I didn't even mind that most of the action was actually set in London, not Egypt) and the hero was lovely, but too many things irritated me.


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