cover image The Book of the Seven Delights

The Book of the Seven Delights

Betina Krahn, . . Jove, $7.99 (327pp) ISBN 978-0-515-13972-3

From the Viking era to Industrial America, Krahn's novels have explored numerous periods and places, though her recent medieval-era romances (The Marriage Test ; The Wife Test ) are probably her best known. Her latest offers up another richly drawn locale—the sunburned landscape of 19th-century Morocco—but also a rather stale romance between Abigail Merchant, a naïve, book-smart librarian from Boston, and secretive Apollo Smith, a savvy adventurer with a habit of attracting danger. The two meet en route to Morocco when Apollo nurses a seasick Abigail back to health. Variations on this encounter recur throughout, with Apollo saving Abigail from thieves, depraved legionnaires, scorpions, suspicious nomads and, eventually, her own ignorance as they travel toward Timbuktu in search of the Great Library of Alexandria. Aside from the occasional lustful look, the two primarily exchange wimpy barbs. Though more than a few romances have evolved from less, their relationship is particularly unbelievable since Abigail never outgrows her role as priggish, self-righteous librarian. Bookended by an abrupt, unlikely intro and an extraneous epilogue, this romance is bland fare despite its exotic locale. (July)