cover image Lord of Falcon Ridge

Lord of Falcon Ridge

Catherine Coulter. Jove Books, $7.99 (368pp) ISBN 978-0-515-11584-0

Coulter can't seem to decide between fantasy and historical romance in this third title of her Viking series. Cleve, who was almost murdered at the end of Lord of Raven's Peak, is now an emissary for Duke Rolo seeking the hand of Chessa, Princess of Ireland, for Duke Rolo's son William. Lord Ragnor, future ruler of the Danelaw, is also interested in Chessa and kidnaps her when she refuses to marry him because she has fallen in love with Cleve. To escape her suitors, Chessa claims to be pregnant, and when this doesn't work, Cleve disguises himself as a woman to rescue her. After the two finally marry, they journey to Scotland to claim Cleve's inheritance, and it is in this last third of the book that Coulter turns to fantasy. Though Chessa is supposedly a wizard's daughter, she shows no magical powers until meeting Cleve's father, Varrick, also a wizard. When Ragnor's henchman kidnap Chessa yet again (a plot device Coulter uses far too often), Varrick uses a burra or magic stick to locate her. Even with an appearance by the Loch Ness monster, the pacing is slow, the multitude of characters from the first two books confusing and such names as Kerek, Kiri and Kerzog don't help. Though some background information from the earlier books is given, it would be best to read this series in order. (Apr.)