The title: Reckless
The author: Shannon Drake
Publication: Harlequin, 2005
Got it from: Reads Saint John
Katherine "Kat" Adair is a young woman living in Victorian England who has two great passions: boating and obsessing over a rich young man named David Turnberry. One day when she's sailing on the Thames, David gets knocked into the water and Kat rescues him. Swimming back to her boat, she is in turn rescued by dashing adventurer Hunter Macdonald, who falls instantly in love with her. As a reward for saving David's life, the father of the woman David loves (yeah, complicated) asks Kat to come with the group (which includes Hunter) to Egypt as an artist.
This is the second book in the Victorian Fairy Tales series, and I've already read the first and third. It's funny, but after having just finished so many good romances I'm re-evaluating my initial favourable feelings toward this series. The characters show up in all the books: the first one, Wicked, is a take on Beauty and the Beast and the third one, Beguiled, is esentially Sleeping Beauty, with Reckless of course being The Little Mermaid. While I love the idea of retelling fairy tales in Victorian times and the premise of these books is interesting, something was definitely missing.
Reckless is the weakest of the series, in large part because of the hero and heroine. Kat borders on the "too stupid to live" category, often doing things that make no sense, such as running heedlessly out into the desert in pursuit of the baddie. She is also very much a Mary Sue character, with every man in love with her, not to mention the improbability of her talents (she can reproduce a map she's seen only once from memory, she learns hieroglyphics in a single afternoon, etc.) Hunter fares a little better, but his love for Kat seems unlikely, and he's too old-school controlling and possesive for my liking.
Overall, the book feels like it's a second or third draft, not a completed novel. The pacing is strange. From the back cover, one would presume the majority of the book takes place in Egypt, but in fact the characters don't arrive there until almost the end, a disappointment for Egyptology fans. I kept wondering when they were ever going to leave, and it weighed the story down in many places. The dialogue was also incredibly, almost laughably, clunky. Characters talk improbably, info dumping for the benefit of the reader in an entirely unrealistic manor, and their actions are often inexplicable. The characters are also drawn in black and white. "She's evil," Kat's sister says at one point, referring to their father's girlfriend. No subtlety here!
Overall, I'd probably put the book in the C-/D+ range. If I were the editor, I wouldn't have let this go to print the way it was. I never really cared about the main characters, and the ending was particularly disappointing. It was ludicrous and so many loose ends never got tied up. But I will give compliments to whoever designed the covers for this series. They're gorgeous.
Here are the other two: