In medieval times, the citizens of Markesew picked a Virgin to sacrifice to their local dragon each year and Alizon is selected.
"Saint" George is a professional wrestler, who is called across time to Alizon's castle where he is expected to slay the dragon. Upon his arrival, George finds that the dragon is not the most challenging creature in the Castle. George and Alizon match wits and fall in love as George plans how to end the dragon's reign of terror in George and the Virgin.
Linda: This was the first book by Lisa Cach I've read. The others will be moved to the tip-top of my humongous TBR pile right away! This is one funny book, and George is as unique and delicious as only the best heroes can be.
Blythe: I am agreement with you this month, Linda. George and the Virgin is one of those books that lends itself to a one word description; for me the word was fun. I don't know that I have ever watched more than two minutes of professional wrestling, but I loved this hero. I thought he was funny, decent, romantic, thoughtful...well, you get the idea.
Linda: My daughter's brother-in-law is a professional wrestler and I kept thinking of Sean as I read the book; Sean is handsome, soft spoken and just a sweetheart - but he is seemingly fierce in the ring.
The dialogue is one of the book's many joys. I whooped out loud when Alizon's henchman, Milo, told her that George was big but hit like a girl. Best of all is the male dialogue - George's internal monologues were hysterical and he sounded so much like a man. Especially when he thought that Alizon was his "feminine side." Fun is definitely the right word for this book. Cach is a very good writer who never goes too far with the humor, though, which could have easily disintegrated into mere silliness.
Didn't you love it when George circled the dragon doing his wrestling schtick?
Blythe: That was great - trash talking to a dragon (Hey Lizard Breath! LOL). I think the reason it never seemed silly is that the story had a whole lot of heart. It took me a little longer to warm up to Alizon because she wasn't the warm fuzzy type. But I thought the story truly demanded her to be more prickly and harder to know, so this didn't bother me overmuch. George, I liked immediately. I loved that he was cheesy and knew he was cheesy. He's a professional wrestler who has built his home to look like a medieval castle, and he has no problem being honest about that. For most of the book he thinks he's acting out a psychological exercise, and he's fine with that. You're right about his internal monologues; there are very funny. And it's clear from his thoughts that this guy is no wimp.
Linda: I agree, George was just a wonderful hero. Alizon would have been hard to like except that her whole motivation was based on keeping the virgins safe. Otherwise, drugging George and lying to him would have been unforgivable. I came to like her a great deal; she had to be tough to survive being given to the dragon. It was easy to see that from her point of view George was a threat to everything she had so carefully constructed and ultimately could endanger the virgins' very lives.
Blythe: What's nice too is that George got her to see what she was doing (to herself and the other virgins) and helped her find a way out. Really, that was yet another thing I liked about George; he was insightful enough to know what motivated Alizon and he forgave her for what she had done because he understood her reasons.
I guess I should also say that when I say this book is fun, it is also somewhat of a warning. This is not a "you are there" medieval full of gritty details about daily life. This is a fun, window-dressing kind of medieval, with a dragon, characters with somewhat unrealistic names, and no specific start date (it just says "Medieval Times"). Although I am usually a stickler for historical accuracy, I didn't mind suspending my disbelief and just having fun with this story.
Linda: Yes, I saw this as a fairy tale-like fantasy. I don't expect historical accuracy in a fairy tale. But, I think in many ways it takes a more talented writer to pull off a fun book then it does to write a three-hankie weeper historical.
Blythe: I really agree with that. A lot of authors try to be funny and fail miserably, or shoot for a "bantering" hero and heroine that end up sounding shrill and annoying. The humor here struck just the right chord. Time travel is really played for laughs here too. I thought it was funny that George made Alizon food from the future, and I loved when he made the sofa (and mentioned common sofa activities.)
Linda: I loved the sofa, especially when he described it as "butt-ugly," Cach's voice for male dialogue is excellent; we discussed this in our columns about Suzanne Brockmann and Susan Andersen, both of whom have good voices for male dialogue. A male friend told me that sometimes he picks up a book written by a woman and the men all sound like women to him.
Blythe: There is a certain author who many readers find humorous, but that's just it - her men sound like women to me. George really did sound and think like a man. And I loved that he did this without coming across as a major jerk. He was both masculine and sensitive - maybe he really did have a feminine side. <g>
Linda: George was just delicious! I loved him from his opening scene playing the "monster" with his 5-year-old niece. How can you not love a man who loves Good Night Moon, one of my daughter's favorite books? Speaking of opening scenes, I was falling on the floor at the book's opening with Alizon's efforts to be deflowered before the lottery. This was one of the funniest opening scenes I have ever read and I was totally hooked from page one.
Blythe: This is just one month when our reading experience is practically identical. When I started this book I was in a mall food court. I actually laughed out loud when I read the first page. That's not something that has happened to me very often.
Linda: It is rare for us to be in such agreement, I think this is because of the quality of the writing and the fact that Cach never lost control of her characters and the humor. Also, this is very much a love story with true emotional growth by both characters as well as a totally unique time travel. George is so special; who would have thought that a professional wrestler could be so sexy and so much fun. Since we read this book in manuscript form, I'm going to have to buy it - it's definitely going on my keeper shelf.
Blythe: I'll be picking this up as well. I can definitely see myself re-reading it some time when I need a good laugh. The only other book I've read of Cach's is The Mermaid of Penperro, and while I enjoyed it, I liked this one even more. I've got some of her others in my tbr pile, and I've made a mental note to myself to look for more. I find her style, well - fun! So what's up for next month?
Linda: Next month we are reading another author who is new to me, but who has gotten great word-of-mouth online - Liz Carlyle. Her new book is No True Gentleman and it is a Regency-set historical. I am looking forward to it.
Blythe: She's also new to me although (naturally) I have most of her backlist and have wanted to try her for some time. I hope this one lives up to our expectations.
Linda: LOL, I have most of her backlist in the ol' TBR pile as well, I think we are bookaholics don't you?
Blythe: Yes, we are. The only time it's really painful is when we have to move them, fortunately. Well, I'll see you next month - happy reading!
Linda: Happy reading!
--Blythe Barnhill and Linda Hurst, for
-- Pandora's Box
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