Tuesday, November 4, 2008

"The Apprentice" by Deborah Talmadge-Bickmore

"The Apprentice" by Deborah Talmadge-Bickmore

It has occurred to me to ask, has anyone else read this book? It was the very first fantasy/romance cross I ever read, and I loved it. It was also somewhat a (failed) pioneer in the field, since it was published back in 1989--long before LKH opened up the genre with her Anita Blake novels.

I looked it up today and found that critics gave it a largely bad rap, and for all the wrong reasons. They stated an passive aggressive heroine and that it was "predictable" in that you saw many of the plot twists coming, and I think it was one of the biggest misunderstandings of the book I had ever seen.

The heroine was passive aggressive because she'd been abused all her life and didn't know how to fight back yet (one of the very FEW times I have approved of a passive aggressive heroine--what she was was not only perfectly natural, but classic symptoms of an abused child), and the "secrets" and "twists" the critics speak of...weren't. The author never kept anything from the reader because it wasn't important, it was only important the characters keep their secrets from one another. The book was based on character interplay and the lush atmosphere she created, and she really could make you stand right there, out on a cold mountain side with that timid but highly intelligent young lady, buckling down in too thin clothing to engage in back breaking labor while pondering with a mixture of loathing, unbidden attraction, and fear for the man who has waltzed in through the keep's front door to ever so quietly shake her whole world to their foundations.

This was THE book that got me hooked on paranormal/fantasy romance, and after reading it (*in* 1989) it set me on a 4 year search for more stories like it in a time when they just weren't being published. It wasn't until I stumbled across Anita Blake in 1993 I even began to see hints of the same sort of crossover between genres (though for a while the Silhouette Shadows series made a nice stop-gap measure). It still remains one of my all time favorite books, both in general and as a romance in particular.

Does anyone else even remember this book? Did anyone else ever read it?


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