My review of the first part of the series, Rowena’s Key, can be found here. If you are not acquainted with the series at all you might want to start with that. As I deal with the rest of the Golden Key Chronicles here, you also should expect spoilers – I tried to keep them in check so I hope these are minor ones but still.
It was actually my favourite part of the whole series – a fairy tale with an original twist, inverting the usual roles of a damsel in distress and a white knight in a shining armour. You see, in this one Rowena becomes a knight and she duels with her prince for her freedom. Way to go, my girl!
Caedmon has just escaped from his prison cell in Seviere’s dungeons and returns home to his beloved Rowena. Still Rowena has changed. Now she is a woman who doesn’t remember a thing about her past, their romance and betrothal; she is also a woman living among dangerous people and scheming courtiers. She’s actually traded Caedmon’s ring for the right to train with the guards and she is planning to escape the castle as soon as possible. She doesn’t trust anybody, Caedmon included, sniffing at every corner a conspiracy to keep her docile and bored in the golden cage. In fact she’s become a kind of warrior babe, with a sexy leather outfit and the whole armory of blades and spikes at her disposal. Rowena is unstoppable until Caedmon faces her on the training ground. Perhaps he can defeat her but will he be able to win her heart back? Lovely!
No clever twists here – I enjoyed this one definitely less. Caedmon and Rowena make it up and then make out immediately and here lies my problem: the sex scenes. They were boring, too long and too detailed with utterly silly vocabulary to boot. Do you want some proof? Here you go (these are pretty expicit scenes so I masked them; highlight to read or skip):
„With the tip of one finger, he circled the tight flower of her bottom. The taut bud repeatedly flexed and then eased, a swirling rhythm that saturated his mind with blind lust.”
“Velvet over steel, his shaft pulsed against the center of her palm as she stroked him from base to tip, gauging the full length of him. A vision of him naked, braced on his arms as he rocked into her, ignited a throb of need that made the ground tilt off-kilter.”
“The pebbled nipple hardened further and his cock jerked. A drop of hot liquid wept from the slit. A glide of his palms down to her sumptuous ass and she moaned, panting.”
Fast FORWARD DAMIT!
“Beneath the pad of his thumb, her hidden pearl hardened, grew distended.”
Pass. Jumping to another chapter.
Isn’t it actually patological that, as soon as they look at each other, they want to go to bed and f… like rabbits? It’s almost bordering erotomania. Where is the character development? Where are those long discussions about martial arts, Spinoza, Sun Tzu, videogames, the meaning of life and other worthy topics? I know, I know, it is a freaking romance not a philosophy treatise. Still the second part made me so hopeful…
Apart from that the Dreggs, big bad humanoid monsters living in the Black Forest (where else) who helped Rowena and her injured beau, were ridiculous. Great tits of the nine (a popular swearing expression in those books) what kind of creature makes you swear that you’d help them sort their mess out and they let you go without fulfilling that promise or even giving any agenda when and how you were planning to fulfill it? And they spoke English? How come? Overall Dreggs were just a plot cop-out device and cannon fodder. Pity – you see, they had wings.
Caedmon and Rowena return to the present Chicago, escaping an evil sorcerer Gaelleod. Then they have to return.
It could have been such a funny part. Only it wasn’t. It seems Caedmon’s curiosity concerning the future of the civilization on a scale of 0 to 10 can be placed somewhere near -2, possibly lower. He does notice different clothes, electricity, showers and gay men (well, one of them is hitting on him so it would be hard not to notice) but apart from that – zilch. Still rest assured that he and Rowena have plenty of sex, described in equally bad way as in part three (so no, I won’t torture you with quotes again). Then we meet again a bunch of characters from the first part and one of them, a super-duper researcher called Violet, informs Rowena what would happen to her, Caedmon and to the kingdom of Austiere if she returns. I hate prophecies in general, no matter true or false – they rob you of all the fun; a prophecy masquerading as a passage from a history textbook is even worse. Finally let me assure you that the series ends in a very predictable way which, at that point, was hardly a big surprise to be honest.
An uneven series – the first part I more or less enjoyed, the second was truly brilliant, making me want to clap and cheer, but the rest, including the ending, left me sad and grumpy. Overall I can recommend only two first parts unless you like those steamy hot descriptions of buttock jig every ten pages or so.