Jane’s Warlord by Angela Knight
(Berkley, $6.99, NC-17) ISBN 0-425-19684-4
****
First Emma Holly, now Angela Knight. Kensington Brava better watch their back, because Berkley is quickly becoming a new player in Romantica Town.

Jane Colby not only runs the local newspaper in Tayanita County, South Carolina – she also covers the crime beat. While journalism is the family business, Jane has spent most of her life trying to work past the emotional abuse she was subjected to at the hands of her father. There’s also the nasty business with Jane’s mother – who disappeared long ago, making Jane wonder exactly what happened to the woman. However all of that is the least of her worries, considering a serial killer has just come to town.

Baran Arvid is a warrior from the future. His superiors have sent him back to the 21st century to protect Jane from the serial killer, but in true bureaucratic fashion they don’t give him much information to go on. The bad guy he’s sent to hunt down also happens to be from the future and is nasty piece of work. Not only does he make gruesome snuff films for paying clientele, he also happens to be none other than Jack the Ripper.

Jane is more than a little disconcerted to find a strange man in her house – a very large, very muscular, strange man. There’s also his traveling companion – a talking timber wolf (he is not a dog thank you very much). With the help of Baran’s computer intelligence and the aid of his timber wolf, Freika, they quickly convince Jane of the danger she is in and she agrees to their bodyguard services. And trust me when I say, Baran guards her body, very, very closely.

Knight has taken the basic idea of the Terminator, put her own spin on it, and run with it. Her world building is interesting without mind numbingly taking over the story, and Baran’s history is particularly fascinating. Essentially he’s Special Forces times one thousand. He’s big, mean, muscular, Alpha, and oozes sexiness out of every pore – all this while having a facial tattoo and beads in his hair.

Jane is strong and determined, but lacks the annoying feisty characteristics that turn heroines stupid. She basically muscles her way into helping Baran with his hunt for the killer – and Baran quickly concedes that he can’t do it without her. However, she also has the good sense to not go traipsing off into the woods by herself.

Yes the plot is interesting and the characters appealing, but honestly doesn’t it all just come down to the sex? In this reviewer’s opinion there are very few writers who can write erotic sex scenes without coming off as silly – and happily Knight falls into that elite set with Jane’s Warlord. Jane and Baran set off a ton of sparks, and the sexual tension between them is thick from the onset. The happily ever after is a little harder to swallow considering this whole story takes place in less than a week. Lust is easy to see, but falling passionately in love within one week does require suspension of disbelief on the reader’s part.

The only setback to this erotically charged tale is one big dangling thread left at the end. Knight spends enough time on Jane’s baggage with her father, that when she doesn’t resolve the mystery of her missing mother, it’s a bit of a letdown. Jane fears her father may have had her mother killed, but has lacked the courage to go rooting around in family secrets. To not have this tied up once and for all was a little disappointing.

Still, Jane’s Warlord is a fast, fun, sexy read. Knight has been tiptoeing around in Romantica Land having written for small press Red Sage. Her next book with Berkley is slated for later this year, and if it’s as hot as Jane’s Warlord she should have no trouble garnering a larger fan base. Romantica fans that don’t stray into small press territory are in for a treat. This is one “new” author that’s worth checking out.

--Wendy Crutcher


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