TITLE: The Panther & The Pyramid
AUTHOR: Bonnie Vanak
STARTED: November 1, 2006
FINISHED: November 2, 2006
FIRST SENTENCE: The red hair haunted him, as it always did, in his deepest nightmares.
SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] Graham Tristan has been tormented too long. He is physically strong: during his childhood exile, he rode with the Khamsin - Egyptian Warriors of the Wind. He has learned their code, is called The Panther. Now he has returned to his rightful place as the Duke of Caldwell. And there is a new face - that of a woman - that haunts his dreams.
Hair the color of blood. Eyes the color of emeralds. The memory threatens to consume him. In his dreams, this woman threatens all he seeks to protect, all he thinks to hide. She is more perilous even than the ancient treasure that draws him back to Egypt. This woman will uncover his heart.REASON FOR READING: Vanak is all about the Egypt, just like me.
THOUGHTS: Oh Bonnie, why don't you write faster? While this was not Vanak's greatest novel, it still was a decent read. I started this book after midnight, as is often my habit. I told myself that I would read until the first kiss. Well, surprise surprise, that came within the first chapter. After that, it was all downhill - not the book, rather my ability to stop reading. Vanak has a natural ability to keep her stories flowing, and her characters likable. Thus, it is often impossible to stop reading.
Graham was an extremely flawed character, who had an inner strength. What made him different from most romance novel heroes is that he flipped these attributes in himself. Outwardly, he was all buff, warrior, male. Internally he was a scared little boy. While many romance novels try to pull this off - they generally fail in the manner of one of Meghan's paper airplanes. That is to say, the crash and burn almost immediately. Vanak keeps Graham afloat because she's allowed the character to live by his rules. Horrible things happened to him and, instead of letting that completely dominate his life, he balances those instances against the greater story. There is no tunnel vision in The Panther & The Pyramid, there is a broader story that encompasses all the minor incidents.
Additionally, Jillian's character seems almost anachronistic. I often expected her to say "I think *this.* What of it, biotch?" She's no holds bar - but only when she lets herself be. Her upfront personality is buried by her father's domineering and controlling attitude. She wants to break free, but fails to do so until she reaches the "AUGH!" point of her life.
The reason the chemistry between these two characters is so spicy is because they both are repressing an attribute in their personality that is shared in the other character. Graham is repressing his vulnerability, while Jillian holds her "F*ck You"ness in check. It is when the two characters begin to bring these attributes out in one another that makes the book a delectable read.
The plot is your typical one of revenge and discovery, but it happens in Egypt, which is why I like it. Seriously, setting a book in Egypt is almost a guaranteed way to get me to buy it. Reading this around election day, however, made me think about the plot a bit differently, particularly following the Mark Foley scandal. Because of this I found myself scoffing at certain scenes where I probably would not have scoffed before.
MISCELLANEOUS: If I found a man in reality who shared the passionate eyes of the man on the cover of the book, I just might drool. I can't get enough of this cover!
RATING: 6/10 [Good]
CR: The Untamed Heiress by Julia Justiss
RN: Hard Evidence by Pamela Clare