Pandora's Box

Daughter of Destiny

Tracy Fobes
2000, Witch Romance (Regency Wales)
Pocket, $6.50, 416 pages, Amazon ASIN 0671041746

Grade: N/A
Sensuality: N/A

There is a staff review of this book as well

Set in Wales in Regency times, Daughter of Destiny is the story of a woman, Georgiana, who possesses the ability to create illusions with her mind. Georgiana remains unaware of the power she commands, and is trapped in a marriage of convenience to Brock, Lord Darleigh. She is also a marked woman, the target of the Arch Druid who will see her dead before she fulfills her destiny. Brock has decided that two years is long enough to allow Georgiana her freedom because of his guilt in marring her for her money and letting her think he loved her. He has watched Georgiana bloom into a seductive and flirtatious beauty and now he wants her back in his life and his bed.

Blythe:  Daughter of Destiny is an historical romance with very strong paranormal elements. This is the first book I have tried by Tracy Fobes, and I found that the paranormal elements were a little overwhelming. For me, the romance seemed to take a back seat. What did you think, Linda?

Linda:  Overall I liked it, but like you, would have liked to see the romance emphasized more. There is a fairly long section that details Georgiana's Druid training, and the narrative bogged down for me at this point. On the other hand, I liked the couple a great deal and didn't think Fobes ever lost sight of their relationship. For all those wanting something 'different,' she has certainly provided it.

Blythe:  I also liked both Georgiana and Brock, and I liked that they were determined to be faithful to each other - even when outside forces were encouraging them in the opposite direction. But again, I must say that the impression I had after reading the book was that it was half fantasy and half romance, trying to be both but not quite succeeding at either.

Linda:  I would have to disagree - as I was reading it, I was amazed at how seamlessly she blended the Druid world with the Regency era. One thing I particularly liked was Fobe's decision to go very light on the Welsh and Druid names, naming her heroine Georgiana and calling the secondary character David instead of its Welsh variant. There have been times in the past when I have placed books back on the bookstore shelf because the hero and heroine had weird names that I didn't want to suffer through even if they were authentic. <g>.

I'm glad I underestimated the author on another thing - when the opening chapter made it clear that this couple has not really understood each other during the two years of their marriage, I was afraid we were in for a book based on a series of the dreaded Big Misunderstandings. I was so pleased that Georgiana and Brock actually talk to each other, and then reconcile and make love. But best of all, Georgiana chose to tell Brock about her abilities and what was being asked of her. She even showed him so that he could fully understand; this was wonderful and I was so happy to see Fobes not fall into one of the plot traps we see so often.

I also loved the fact that they were determined to be true to each other. My only problem was that after the big build up of the villain's fabulous abilities and the depiction of his totally evil nature, I thought he was defeated much too easily. Seemed anti-climactic to me.

Blythe:  I agree - that part was most definitely anti-climactic, especially since Georgiana had not been training as a Druid for very long. I know she was supposed to be extra-talented since both her parents were Guardians (for those not in the know, this means they could make very believable illusions). But the Duke had been practicing for years, so he should have given her a little more trouble at the end.

But my main problem with the book was the entire fantasy/Druid part of it. In parts it was interesting, but it never seemed fully developed, up to and including how easily Georgina defeated the villain. And, even though I was annoyed that the romantic relationship often took a back seat to the fantasy aspects of the story, I felt that Georgiana should have had to work harder at creating illusions. Sometimes a book seems to tackle too much, and in this case, the plot might have fared better without the romance to contend with. It might have been better as a straight fantasy rather than the hybrid it was.

One other thing - I was also offended by some of the ideas. I'm not someone who balks at reading books with magical characters (I've loved Harry Potter), but I found the notion that God and Jesus were magicians on the same level as Merlin very offensive.

Linda:  Blythe, that was a problem for me too. I wondered as I read it whether or not it would offend readers. I think she would have been better off just sticking with Merlin and the fantasy and not trying to link it to a "real" world religion where she could so easily punch people's hot buttons. But, this was a relatively minor quibble for me, as it did not dominate the story. I really liked the blending of the Regency world with the fantasy world and would have liked to see even more scenes of the Ton with Brock and Georgiana inter-acting as a couple and perhaps less of the training scenes in Wales.

What really made the book work for me was Brock, the hero. He is a wonderful man. With the first introduction of him you think he is a jerk for ignoring his wife for two years. But, then you see that he gave her freedom as a result of his guilt for hurting her when she found out he married her for her money. After their reconciliation, I was very impressed with his dedication and zeal in protecting her. It was Brock and his actions that kept this book a romance.

Blythe:  I know I would definitely have preferred for Fobes to stick with the magical world rather than bringing reality and religion into the picture. I know some people object to anything magic or unreal. I don't, but calling religion "magic" was too much for this Mormon girl.

I agree with you about Brock, though - which is why I wanted to see more of him. At first he comes off as unkind and insensitive, and even mercenary. But once you hear about the situation from his point of view, he becomes much more likable. And his behavior in Wales and finally back in London is quite heroic. I have heard readers say in the past that they would like to see more stories about married couples that reconcile and fall in love, and I think this might appeal to those readers. But half the time they are in Wales, Brock is nowhere to be found, which is really too bad. As with many readers, I'm not a fan of lengthy separations between couples, regardless of what point they're at in their relationship. At least half the enjoyment of a romance comes from reading scenes where the couple is together.

Linda:  I would have liked to see more of Brock as well. I loved his plan to keep David from meeting Georgiana in the circle and thought him most creative. It was obvious that this hero and heroine belonged together and perhaps it is to Fobes credit that we liked him so much we wanted to see more of him.

Mixing the two genres (Regency and Fantasy) requires a deft hand; I think Fobes was mostly successful. I found the secondary characters of Gwynllian and Stanton, Georgiana's aunt and uncle, interesting also; I liked seeing how they had lived their whole lives with a foot in each world.

Blythe:  I didn't care for Gwynllian and Stanton as much as you did, perhaps because they seemed so cavalier about Georgiana's marriage. When they initially encouraged her to mate with a sixteen-year-old boy, it really gave me the creeps. I did like how Brock handled the situation. Half the heroes I have read lately would have seized any opportunity to have a Big Misunderstanding and assume that Georgiana and David were involved with each other.

Something else I liked about this book is the love scenes. I thought all of them were effective, well written, and touching.

Linda:  Yes, I thought the love scenes were very loving, not just lust in action, but truly loving. I thought Georgiana's handling of David was well done, treating him as the boy he was. I was afraid that we were doomed to a Big Misunderstanding and Long Separation and was pleased that instead, Fobes had Brock accompany Georgiana and protect and love her. In fact, I think it is Brock's acceptance of her abilities that makes the book - he keeps the very fantastic grounded in Regency reality. Fobes really avoided a lot of the obvious plot ploys here and I for one was overjoyed. I am sick to death of the Big Misunderstanding plot that keeps the couple apart for half the book and then is settled in one or two paragraphs. It is very annoying and as you mentioned too frequently used. In fact at one of Celebrate Romance 2000's workshops the "BM" and the "Long Separation" were mentioned as the two least favorite plot devices - hopefully the authors were listening.

I thought Gwynllian was a little harder to understand. With the powers that she had she knew they belonged together, but she still put obstacles in their way, even going so far as to drug Brock. I thought that their pushing of David was kind of half-hearted though; they verbalized what was really the wish of others and never really attempted to force Georgiana to take David.

Blythe:  Brock accepted her abilities very quickly, which is a big plus in my book. It drives me crazy to read stories with paranormal elements, or time travel, in which one character spends half the book trying to convince the other party that he has been transported through time or has magic powers while the other refuses to believe it. Of course it would have been hard to deny the elaborate illusion he saw. <g>

He does keep the story grounded in reality; I just wish he had been around more often. Not only did I miss him during the whole training portion of the book - I also felt the beginning was a little choppy, almost like we were coming in in the middle of a story.

Linda:  I thought the beginning was a good set up for the situation, but was glad they had their reconciliation before the fantasy part started.

I also thought Brock's scenes with his insane mother were very touching - his ability to put himself into a role in order to communicate with her gave us a quick insight into the caring and sensitive man he was. There are some books with heroes who are such jerks I wish they would disappear, so it is a compliment that we wanted to see more of this hero.

Blythe:  It is, isn't it? <g> I also liked his interaction with his mother. But I was a little surprised that it wasn't played up more. I kept expecting her madness to play a larger role in the plot. Maybe it was just wishful thinking though, because it would have kept Brock more involved, and would have created additional ties to other parts of the plot.

Linda:  I really did like this book. While the druidism and magic did cause some lags, I was never bored. I think we both would have preferred a stronger emphasis on the romance, but for me, that's a minor quibble. I also liked Fobes writing style, there is no purple prose or over-mentioning of hair and eye-color here.

Blythe:  I don't think the book worked quite as well for me as it did for you; to me it seemed like perhaps Fobes bit off more than she could chew. But I certainly liked parts of it - particularly the hero.

Have you read any of Fobes' other books?

Linda:  I read Touch Not The Cat and liked it. The hero in that one was also well done, so good heroes may be a Fobes hallmark. I think having a likable hero and heroine is one of the most important elements in a romance. How can you root for people you don't like?

Fobes has also been blessed with some great John DeSalvo covers on her books. The cover of TNTC is one of the all-time best romance covers in my opinion - John DeSalvo in a kilt with a gorgeous cougar - wonderful!

I would certainly recommend Daughter of Destiny to those who want something a little different and who like a fantasy element in their romances, but like most books it is not flawless.

Next month we are reading Christina Dodd's Rules of Engagement, the sequel to Rules of Surrender. I am going to read both books, as I hate reading sequels without having read the prequel. Although each book should stand alone, I just like the feeling of knowing everything that is going on.

Blythe:  I read and reviewed Rules of Surrender when it came out, so I won't have to play catch up this time. I didn't care for the hero or the forced seduction in that book, but I have enjoyed some of Dodd's books in the past, most notably Move Heaven and Earth.

Linda:  Dodd's books usually generate a lot of discussion and I will read ROS so that we can discuss them both. I find it funny you liked Move Heaven and Earth, the hero in that one made me very mad when he sent the heroine away "for her own good." We should have fun next month with Rules of Engagement.

Blythe:  I'll be looking forward to it.

--Blythe Barnhill and Linda Hurst, for

-- Pandora's Box

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