Title: The Jouster’s Lance (A Ren Faire Romance)
Author: A.J. Marcus
Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Links: Publisher
Genre: contemporary romance
Length: novel (212 pages)
Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by Larissa
Review Summary: a story with a lot of potential that fails to deliver
Blurb: Dale O’Toole, aka Diederik, the Demon Duke of Denmark, takes his Renaissance festivals seriously. He has been on the jousting circuit for five years and enjoys his gypsy lifestyle, traveling to faires around the country. It’s fun and he has good friends.
Austin Renfro has worked in a pirate gift shop at the Colorado Renaissance Festival for several years but has a life outside the medieval fantasy world. When Austin spies Dale during the first joust of the season, he knows he must find a way to meet him, even if the jousters and royal cast don’t normally associate with the working class.
Their first chance meeting causes more than a little embarrassment for both men, but they don’t let that stop them. They try to let their budding love find its place while keeping it from becoming common knowledge. But when a particularly conservative knight catches them in flagrante, it’s bound to cause problems. After all, jousts are dangerous….
Review: Renaissance Faires! Knights! As soon as I saw this title, there was no doubt that I had to read it. Being a reenactor myself, I love stories that feature knights in any form, however as wonderful as the blurb sounds, The Jouster’s Lance (still chuckling over that title) just fails to deliver the magic of a good story.
The story is nicely set up and starts slow. It gives a detailed image of the world Austin and Dale live in and of the Renaissance faires. It was in a way pretty funny how Dale and Austin met too. However, it soon became clear the story didn’t really take off. Part of this has to do with the writing itself and part of it with the plot. While the setting for this story is pretty unique, it features themes that are pretty common and well used. There is the evil religious fanatic homophobe, the burned ex and the attacks.
Right from the start it is pretty clear who the big evil bad guy is going to be and the story takes on preachy qualities that just frustrated me. The homophobe and the burned ex were too obviously there for me to really get into the story.
An obvious bad guy and often used themes don’t necessarily make a story bad, but the writing in The Jouster’s Lance just didn’t work for me. The writing is a little on the static side with the names of characters often repeated. It makes that it’s a bit like reading a script for a play or a movie. The writing failed to draw me into the story and keep me there, despite the interesting characters.
Because I did very much like Austin and Dale and Jasmine and Chip. They are good characters and despite the plot and writing, they were set up well, fleshed out with their own voice in the story and flawed. And you all know how I love characters that have flaws.
It is unclear if there is going to be a sequel or not, but the story leaves a lot unfinished. The story very much focusses on the romance between Austin and Dale and by the end they are nicely set up, but there are still several loose ends to tie up and it gives a sloppy air to the story even if there is going to be a sequel.
I really wanted to like this story, but the themes and the writing made it so I wasn’t drawn into the story. If there is a sequel, I hope it’s going to be better than this one.