It's been a long time since I've read a medieval romance, particularly one with some variation of the "forced marriage" storyline. You know, where an event forces the hero and heroine to marry, the hero mistrusts his wife for some reason, the hero realizes his wife is ridiculously sweet and wonderful, a conflict forces the hero's hand, and then everything turns out alright? Yea, that one. So I thought I'd give Lana Williams' Trust in Me a try. It started out surprisingly well, with a plot that comes out of the gate fast and never slows down. The characters form just the slightest bit of romance before the hero finds out the heroine is "the enemy." Both protagonists are well developed, and I felt a sense of empathy for both of them. Unfortunately, the premise that gets the characters together is rather unbelievable, and the plot eventually transitions into a frustrating loop of contradictory actions - destroying any chance of the novel achieving an above average rating.
The storyline starts out with the heroine trying to secretly bring the hero's sick brother to the hero's home. It turns out that the heroine's brother has been recently murdered at a jousting tournament. The murder was set up to implicate the hero's brother, and the heroine's father - partially deranged from grief - locked up the hero's brother, who was injured, in his dungeon. The heroine brought the brother back to the hero so that the brother can be better take care of. The hero seems to generally be an honorable and decent man, but - upon seeing his brother severely ill - vows revenge on whoever brought the brother to death's door. The hero has psychic visions on occasion, which gives him some clues as to where his brother was imprisoned. The hero ends up spending a little time with the heroine before learning she was involved with his brother's condition, and a relatively chaste flirtation develops. When the hero's visions lead him to the truth, he confronts the heroine and her father, demanding "justice". In an effort to protect her half-mad father, the heroine offers herself... as a wife. I was never quite satisfied as to why the hero would accept such a solution to his revenge, but I guess the fact that the hero and heroine had such a strong physical attraction to each other undoubtedly helped. The new couple goes back to the hero's home to treat the unconscious brother and deal with their marriage. The hero's hatred of the heroine because of misguided loyalty to his brother continually wars with his appreciation of her inner and outer beauty. Added to the mix is the fact is the hero's "second sight." The hero refuses to consummate the marriage because he is afraid of passing his condition onto his children, not wanting them to feel isolated and helpless as it has made him feel. He also fears that the heroine will develop a disgust of him if she learns he has this unusual power. As a result of these fears and conflicts, the hero tends to push the heroine away and say stupid things that cause her emotional pain. While I could appreciate the hero's dilemma - at least at first, I felt much more pity for the heroine. She's a kind and easygoing young woman by nature, always trying to make the best of things and while trying not to disappoint anyone she loves. But every time she tried to reach out to the hero either emotionally or physically, he would verbally attack her. And this continued cycle of closer intimacy, followed by unfair anger, sadness, and helplessness became distasteful very quickly. At the very end of the book, the brother wakes up from his coma and tells the hero what everyone else knew the whole time - that the hero was being a jerk more often than not - and the external conflict leads to the HEA. Alas, the stupidity of the romantic conflict meant that the happy ending was not very satisfying.
Lana Williams' Trust in Me started out with all the elements of a very good read. However, a prolonged, stationary, nonsensical, and unhappy romance conflict ruined much of my enjoyment of the novel. Throw in a bizarre premise to get the hero and heroine together in the first place, and the result is a romance I consider disappointingly run-of-the-mill.