MacAlister, Katie. Hard Day’s Knight (2005). 344 Pages. Signet. $6.99
Hot men in tights and armor, women in bust-enhancing bodices, swords, horses, the world’s largest renaissance faire, and an international jousting tournament form the backdrop for Hard Day’s Knight. I love Faires, and enjoyed reading about them, especially because despite the increasing summer heat, I’m still cooler and more relaxed enjoying them in book form than wandering around in dry, dusty heat and longing for winter.
Anyway, Pepper Marsh is our newest heroine; she’s curvy, she’s sassy, and she’s wicked in bed.* The unemployed, single Pepper is more than willing to come to a Faire with her cousin CJ (especially when promised hot men in tights), and is even willing to work as a Harlot for a wench’s guild. Unfortunately for Pepper, things at the Faire don’t go exactly as she planned. Behemoth– the cat she is watching– does not like to behave, and leads Pepper straight into the path of two handsome men on very large horses (one of whom nearly runs her down, while the other “saves” her). We are introduced to Farrell– a blonde-haired blue-eyed drool-worthy knight– and Walker — the black-haired grey-eyed anti-hero. There is a long, bitter rivalry between the two which is about to overflow into a battle for Pepper’s heart.
Walker is a strong, distant hero with a sad past that haunts him, and is very much the center of the story (despite the fact that it is actually about Pepper, nearly everything revolves around Walker and his past). He’s not the hero you expect, and his past is not what you think it is. He and Pepper work well together, despite being seeming opposites. They both force each other to confront ghosts of their past, and they grow together.
As usual with Katie Mac, you find yourself laughing aloud a lot, there are several very steamy scenes, and there is a lot of drama. Two people who are seemingly too different find a way to work together, and the book itself really draws you in.
The Quick Version:
The setting really works for the story in this case; the faire gives it a concrete setting, the jousting gives it a solid future, and the characters do seem to grow (at least a little bit) from beginning to end. Toward the end of the book, there’s just a little too much “misunderstanding” to really leave me happy. I found myself wondering what the hell was going on, and not really sure what the characters were thinking. It was enjoyable, and I did tear through it like I do with all the other Katie MacAlister books I’ve read. As much as I like the Faire setting though, this book only gets a 3; it’s good, but not brilliant.
* Unlike a few of the heroines, she’s not much of a babbler, which was nice.
This book is part of the Local Library Reading Challenge!