“With closed eyes (Kathleen) tried to speak. ‘Eden…’
Her voice was hoarse, and deep with pain. Eden couldn’t bear it. He bent his head closer to hers to hear her clearly.
‘I hate you.’”
Anyone acquainted with historical romance will know from that brief excerpt that by story’s end these two will have gone from sworn enemies to declaring their love. The Deadly Mark plays with that assumption, though, and has some surprises in store.
When the story begins, Kathleen has been sworn to Prince Charles by her father, King Rene IV, to ensure a smooth transition of power. She’s the heiress to the throne, but Charles is violent and unstable. When Eden is appointed her bodyguard, he ends up first protecting Kathleen from Charles, then from her own self-destructive impulses.
The Deadly Mark delivers occasional passages that read well. Author Katherine Nader makes the fight scenes crackle with energy and never loses track of who’s connected to which fist. She also finds some tender passages in the chaos. When things get rough, Kathleen’s cousin Olivia strokes her hair, “–a habit Olivia had developed for when she didn’t know what to say.” This is sweet and telling as to their relationship.
Unfortunately there are many times when language is misused (“her eyelids took [sic] shape of her eyes,” “letting his breath impale itself on the glass”) and when the words obscure far more than they illuminate. Nader knows the story she wants to tell here, and has structured it well. The setting, plot, characters are there, but without clear and concise writing to direct them, the story never takes flight. .
Also available in hardcover.