Author submission in exchange for an honest review.
Banish the Dragon
January 8, 2011
Forced to choose an English bride, Simon Radcliffe marries the beautiful Katherine Maguire but it’s his cousin Jonathan who saves Katherine, time and again, from ravishment. Months later, the marriage annulled, Katherine travels from Seven Oaks Plantation to Carlyle, New York, where she finds love and Jonathan Radcliffe, slayer of dragons.
Historical novels scare me, a little. Even though genetics have declared me a girl, I’m most comfortable in sloppy jeans and combat boots. So reading about real ladies and their complicated period attire and manners is daunting to me. Most of the time I’m left scratching my head over the appeal, because it all sounds so tiring.
It’s also difficult for me to critique a historical novel. I’ve had to mull it over for a few days now, trying to weed out what stuck in the craw of my combat-boot wearing feminist ways so it didn't taint the rest of my review. Okay, ignore that last label. I probably offend feminists as well, truth be told.
So let’s discuss Banish the Dragon. First, don’t let the title fool you. There are only proverbial dragons in this tale. The storyline is that Katherine MacGuire is alone in the world, dependent upon some really rotten people to keep a roof over her head. And she has good reason to distrust them: when one Simon Radcliffe shows up, proclaiming a need to find a wife with no familial ties, Katherine is quickly thrown at him.
The only problem is that Katherine is just a pawn in a really nasty scheme concocted by Simon and his true love, who is kind of like Scarlett O'Hara. Except Scarlett was a bitch with a purpose. Simon's lady love is just a rotten bitch.
As Simon and Katherine travel to America, accompanied by Simon's much kinder cousin, Johnathan, things keep happening to the poor wench. Not good things, either. Probably I should confess that I twitched a bit at some of these events, but in reflection, I realized it's really a trait of the historical romance. So ignore my twitching, because the damsel in distress is a necessary element. And, of course, I had to remind myself that I shouldn't twitch over Katherine's place in society, because women weren't exactly burning bras back then.
I think my only wish, in reading Banish the Dragon, is that I heard more from Katherine in the beginning. Her feelings and thoughts were shared, but it didn't feel like Katherine was letting us know these things. I point it out only because once Katherine really did start to develop a voice, I liked her more. She had pizzazz.
I liked Johnathan, too. He was her constant knight in shining armor, and even I, the combat-boot wearing bra-burner had a little swoon-action happening. Of course, Johnathan lost his way a little, what with doing something as uncool as following through with things that were expected of him rather than running away with Katherine. I do believe I uttered a few expletives when I realized the choice he was going to make.
Luckily, he found a way to redeem himself, only after Katherine let him dangle for a bit. I was quite pleased that she didn't instantly fall into his arms when they met once again.
All in all, I think this was a good read. And Banish the Dragon made amends for some historicals I've read in the past that nearly gave me a full-tilt seizure with all the simpering and flouncing and coquettish behavior. The author kept the story in its rightful place in time and setting without beating me over the head with glaring reminders in place just for the sake of being a reminder. I appreciate it greatly when an author gives the reader enough credit to let them sit back and go along for the ride.
One other point that gave me pleasure: Ms. Robinson is really good at creating devious personalities. I do enjoy feeling so very justified in loathing a nasty character, don't you?