Lady Danger
by Sarah McKerrigan
(Warner Forever, $6.50, PG-13) ISBN 0446-61617-6
***
Medieval English is difficult for a writer to capture without totally confusing the reader at times. New author Sarah McKerrigan appeared to decide about halfway through to start using phrases and words that were more common then, such as “anon” and “forsooth,” an archaic word meaning "indeed." She used this word at least one time per page and sometimes more often. It was so distracting that I found myself counting how many times it was used or skimming down to see if it was there again whenever I turned the page. The sad thing is that this occurred during what was supposed to be the climax of what had been a very engaging story. And it dropped my rating from a recommended status to an acceptable status.

Lady Danger introduces us to the three sisters of the Clan of Rivenloch. Dierdre and her sister Helena have been raised as boys, taught how to fight and now that the Lord is showing signs of dementia, they have been running the keep and training the knights. Muriel, the youngest, has been raised differently and appears weaker to her sisters. When the King declares that a Norman Knight will marry one of the girls to protect the keep from marauding bands of English and others, the girls decide that it must be Dierdre. She is the oldest and most likely to maintain her will against the Norman scum. Muriel goes behind their back however, and offers to marry the man when he comes. Dierdre plots to intercede and does indeed end up married to the man.

Sir Pagan Cameliard is a seasoned warrior and leader of the renowned Knights of Cameliard. He sees the three girls bathing in a pond and picks out Muriel due to what he sees as her easy manner. He also has a run in with Dierdre when she sneaks up on him and his man Colin as they are spying on the girls. She uses her sword to leave them without pants – not exactly a peaceful way of starting a relationship.

The rest of the tale engages the reader as Dierdre, known as the Warrior Maid of Rivenloch, slowly earns Pagan’s respect as she wields her sword and runs her keep. Dierdre slowly accepts Pagan as he works to restore the defenses of the keep and bring her inexperienced knights up to par with his own knights. They have a major battle of wills as Dierdre refuses to let Pagan bed her and he has vowed to Helena not to take her sister by force. The seduction game is on and while playing, the two fall in love, as they learn about their strengths and weaknesses and as they work together to protect the keep. When threatened by the English, the battle is engaged.

Helena and Colin leave the keep in a sub plot, setting up their story in the next novel. Since Helena is so headstrong, she would have dominated the story, no doubt. As it is, alone and without Helena’s verbal haranguing, Dierdre was able to grow beyond her distrust of the enemy and learn the good about the Normans and what they bring to her life using her own brains and emotions. Muriel is the most intriguing of the sisters, as she seems to have secrets not yet revealed. Her story should be interesting too.

Pagan is a good hero, not afraid to show his softer side and very much a man with a will of iron. His control of his lust is admirable. He is smart and yet struggles with his need to protect and to allow Dierdre to be the person she can be. Pagan may be a tad too good to be true, but he is a fun hero and one the reader will root for in the end. His scenes of seduction are warm and once they agree to consummate their marriage, Dierdre and Pagan are well matched! They burn up the sheets and a number of other places.

The story moves along nicely and anon, there is adventure, friction, seduction, loving and even some laughing. Forsooth, Lady Danger is a medieval that seems mostly true to the setting and McKerrigan is a writer to keep an eye on in the future. Ballocks! It is just unfortunate that the language of the day is the downfall of the tale.

--Shirley Lyons


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