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REVIEW

"Alternate universe of virtual reality game comes true"

Gwen Marlowe owns a video gaming shop in Atlantic City, where the main hit is the virtual reality game Tolemac Wars II. The game is especially popular with women, who adore Vad, the angelically beautiful warrior hero of the game. In the midst of a major storm, Gwen finds a semiconscious and very confused Vad look-alike inside her shop's virtual reality game chamber. She assumes he is the actor she hired to play Vad at her Tolemac-themed costume ball that night. His constant remarks about his "honor" and his strange behaviour (such as attributing modern appliances and vehicles to magic or the gods) could be taken as part of his devotion to his role. The situation changes after the ball, when Vad insists he must return to his own home and Gwen is accidentally zapped back with him to the alternate world of Tolemac.

Tolemac is similar to ancient Norse societies of legend, except for fantasy elements like multiple suns. Despite the frequent (and sometimes confusing) allusions to Arthurian legends (try reading all those place names backwards), this is not a medieval European world. It is also a place where women have no control or position -- they are either slaves or the powerless possessions of their fathers or husbands. Gwen has quite understandable problems accepting the restrictions and conventions of Tolemac, and determines to show Vad that women can also have honor and play important roles.

Once the pair are in Tolemac, the story becomes an action adventure. Vad and Gwen must deal with the puzzle of a missing magician, escape devious villagers, help the princess of the neighboring land of Selaw save her father from evil influences, rescue kidnapped maidens, defeat an evil wizard, find a hidden map, and embark on a quest to locate mythical treasures of the gods. There is also the mystery of Vad's unknown origins and his link to our "real" world. Through all this, the sexual tension between the two of them builds, as Gwen struggles with her position in this society and Vad resists his attraction to a woman who can only be a "slave" and never his wife. My only complaint with the action was that it seemed to end too abruptly -- the defeat of the villain was rushed and a lot of questions left unanswered.

Virtual Desire is the sequel to Virtual Heaven. During the early part of the book that takes place in Gwen's Atlantic City, the author did a good job of filling in the back story and introducing the situation and characters. However, once in Tolemac, I was sometimes at a loss about how that society functioned and why certain things were said or people behaved as they did. There were also a few instances when Gwen seemed to know things she shouldn't have (unless she had read Virtual Heaven). I would recommend that people read the books in the proper sequence. Considering some of the situations left open at the end of this story, another book in the series seems a real possibility.

Reviewed by Raelene G. February 2002

Reviewed by PNR Group Member
Posted October 30, 2006

SUMMARY

He went in search of his honor... and found love.

THE TRUE BEAT OF A WARRIOR's HEART

His silver blond hair blew back from his magnificent face. His black leather breeches hugged every inch of his well- muscled thighs. He was every woman's fantasy; he was the virtual reality game hero Vad. And Gwen Marlowe found him snoring away in her video game shop.

She knew he must be a wacky wargamer out to win the Tolemac warrior look-alike contest. But the passion he ignited in her was all too real. Swept into his world of ice fields and formidable fortresses, Gwen realized Vad was not playing games. On a quest to clear his name and secure peace in his land, he and Gwen must forge a bond strong enough to straddle two worlds. A union built not on virtual desire, but on true love.

 

Virtual Desire
(Tolemac Wars: Book 2)
by Ann Lawrence

Dorchester
August 1, 2000
Available: August 1, 2001
ISBN #0505523930
EAN #9780505523938
391 pages
Paperback
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Other Books by
Ann Lawrence

Do You Believe?
Lord of the Keep
Lord of the Hunt
Virtual Warrior
Lord Of The Mist
Paradise
Virtual Heaven


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