Danger's Kiss - Sarah McKerrigan

I love this author's books in general and Danger's Kiss in particular is spectacular. Sarah McKerrigan / Glynnis Campbell presents believable, rounded, human characters who have strengths and weaknesses and doubts. You grow to care for them immediately, and get drawn into the world they inhabit.

As a young teen, Desiree was sold by her desperately poor parents to a grifter. He was rough but kind to her, and she took to thievery as a normal way of life. Now her protector has been hung and she is out for revenge. She's good with a dagger and not at all afraid to use it. Nicholas Grimshaw is the shire-reeve who was forced to do the hanging, but he had doubts about the old man's guilt. Now he's saddled with his promise to watch out for the woman, at least for a little while.

What follows is simply wonderful. Desiree is intelligent. She's witty. And she's wise. So many times in stories the heroines do completely idiotic things for plot reasons. And that's not to say that Desiree is perfect - she makes human mistakes. But when a threat appears, she realizes it, considers her options, and goes for the wise one most of the time. I could only wish most authors created heroines like this. It's so much more satisfying than screaming at a book "no you stupid fool, why are you doing that???"

And in the same way, Nicholas is strong, honorable, focused - and he's also burdened by issues that are quite realistic. You can see exactly why he is the way he is, exactly why he makes his decisions, and you can feel for him. Everything makes sense. It is a joy to read.

The many little touches are brilliant. Clearly the author did her research, weaving in food choices, cooking techniques, clothing, and much more. You get a rich sense of the medieval world without it turning into a dry tome.

There were minor issuese with the point of view sliding at times, but that seems to happen in most books. Also, my one complaint would be that in one section Nicholas scoffs because men are in love with a woman who is "a bit plump and pox-scarred". OK, she's a bit plump, so therefore she's hideous? In fact, he thinks "he supposed there was naught more attractive to lads of that age than a lass who would tell them aye, and that was likely her charm". OK so a woman who is a bit plump, and has a few dents on her face, has to put out in order to be liked. I resist statements like that :). Aren't women much more than that? And does that mean if Desiree puts on a little weight and recovers from the pox that he'll dump her, unless she continues to put out for him? :).

Still, that was my only gripe in a book which is rich in warmth, detail, and emotion. Highly recommended!

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