by Claudia Dain

September 2004
ISBN: 0-8439-5221-0
Reviewer Graphic Button Leisure Books
Mass Market Paperback

The story of Claudia Dainís The Fall is an easy one to tell. In 1165 a landless knight sets out to best a lady at the game of courtly love. Both are skillful and accomplished. She is called the Lady of Frost and no man can resist her. He is a lover unrivaled with a heart unclaimed. Itís a contest and wagers are placed.

Courtly love, wagers won and lost, legends of Ice Maidens and Seductive Knights turn the first half of Claudia Dainís The Fall into a story written on pages I was unable to leave unturned. Already I made room on my keeper shelf. Destined to be placed next to my favorites. And then all of a sudden the story went wrong.

The heroine turns bitter, the hero most persistent. No words of love are found and still a wedding contract is signed. Hostile forces claim gullible hearts and fear reigns all.

Where is there romance to be found? Lengthy debates, discussions and arguments slow down the story to an agonizing pace, turning every page into lead and every sentence into words better left unspoken (and unwritten!).

Did I find the story erotic? No, I did not. How to lose oneself in a story, when rape is needed to thrust forward a story? When murder is accepted and even seen as mercy? When those actions manage to shroud the characters in a thin veil of hurt and pain only to see it easily torn by more heated words of pride and wagers won?

Were it not for its language and its first half of happy, playful banter, of stolen kisses and heroic deeds, Iíd recommend to leave this book be. However, with those few, but most entertaining moments, it might find its way with fans and undiscriminating readers. A sequel is obviously in the works, letís hope it will be just as beautiful in its style, but less cruel and crude in its actions.

Reviewed in October 2004 by Kris Alice.

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