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The Usurper’s Crown
by Sarah Zettel

Category: Fiction / Fantasy
0 pages; ISBN: 0312874421

Rating: 10/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner


When it is discovered that the princess and heir of Isavalta is a sorceress, the emperor and empress ask the powerful sorcerer Avanasy to teach her how to use her powers. Over the years the two become friends until a political marriage is arranged to Kacha, the nephew of the king of Hastinapura. The princess falls in love with him, but Avanasy warns her that he is treacherous and not to be trusted. His charge turns on him sending him into exile.

When the two are wed, she doesn’t realize that Kacha is taking over her duties and replacing her loyal supporters with his own people. Only when it is almost too late does she see Kacha for what he is and flees the kingdom, ordering a loyal retainer to find Avanasy and bring him to her at a place she designates. When Avanasy hears her summons, he is posing as a fisherman on Sand Island in Wisconsin. He stands ready to return to his homeland to help the empress defeat her enemies but he brings with him Ingrid Loftfield, the woman he loves, the wife who will sacrifice much to give her husband what he desires.

This novel takes place twenty years before the events in A SORCERER’S TREASON and it is just as good as its sequel. Readers watch the empress grow wiser and stronger, willing to admit she is wrong and take steps to rectify the problems her emotional blindness brought about. Avanasy is a true hero torn between duty and love while the mere mortal Ingrid contains more inner strength than the two sorceresses do. THE USURPER’S CROWN is an enchanting reading experience.

Harriet Klausner
Improper English
Katie MacAlister
Love Spell, Mar 2003, $6.99, 369 pp.
ISBN: 0505525178

American Alexandra “Alix” Freemar travels to England to get away from distractions in order to write a steamy romance novel. She has two months to succeed or her mother will add this on to the list of basic screw-ups that Alix has caused. She sublets a friend’s London flat.

She meets her upstairs neighbor in her borrowed digs when Alix struggles to open the apartment door. Scotland Yard Inspector Alexander Black catches Alix “breaking and entering’ when her key fails to open the lock and so she uses an awl to “teach” the bloody lock a lesson. Sparks fly from the start, but she wants a summer spree and he wants a lifetime fling.

This is an amusing Anglo-American contemporary romance that never takes itself seriously. Alex is a delightful somewhat stereotypical English stiff upper lip character. Readers will feel schizoid towards Alix. On the one hand one laughs at her antics and reactions; on the other hand want to scream at her to grow up, which she does at the end. Though profanity is used, but properly interwoven into the plot, IMPROPER ENGLISH is a genial romantic romp.

Harriet Klausner


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