MIRA, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-7783-1834-7
Historical Romance, 2015
Okay, I said in the review of the previous book that I guessed the villain of that story. Well, surprise, A Match for Marcus Cynster tells me that I am wrong, because in the prologue, it is revealed that the accomplice is the actual villain! Well, the guy everyone thought a villain turned out to have been murdered by his brother, who all this while had been the brain of the operation. Apparently, the villain killed his brother because he thought all was lost, but eventually he was driven mad by the idea of killing “the only person he had ever loved” that he threw himself off a cliff and died, leaving our heroine Ninny Hammer… er, Niniver Carrick as the new boss of her people.
I don’t know why the author revealed all this in the prologue instead of in the previous book, but she ended up making the whole melodrama even more overwrought. Still, it doesn’t matter – the mystery is no longer relevant, and the story is now about to start anew with a new plot and a new villain. The hero and the heroine, alas, remain the same archetypes.
Like his sister, Marcus Cynster believes in woo-woo stuff like destiny. He knows that the Lady will tell him one day which woman he is allowed to shackled himself to permanently. He has been attracted to Niniver since forever, but he can’t bring himself to press his amorous attentions on her as, after all, what happens if the Lady reveals later that she’s not the one for him? Then he’d have hurt Niniver, and he can’t bear that! You see, all his life, he is seized by this need to “protect” Niniver. So, loving her may be the biggest un-protective thing he can do. Thus, he stays away from her all this while. I’d leave you a while to digest his logic.
In this story, however, Niniver clearly needs some manly power around the place, as there is only so much a lady can do on her own. Marcus immediately rises to the attention, charging ahead to protect her even as he tries to keep his heart locked away from her.
He paused to let that sink in, then continued, “I’m sure all the household are aware of what a treasure the clan has in Lady Carrick. I would appreciate it all if you would also spread the word that your treasure now has a guardian. One who would take a dim view of any further infractions.”
The author’s heroes always treat their so-called loves of their lives like helpless creatures who would die if they are left alone for a minute, but Marcus takes the whole “my darling is a fragile porcelain doll… well, unless we’re talking about her sturdy uterus, that is, because look how she goes, popping out babies after babies without breaking a sweat!” thing to a higher obsessive level that I can only wonder whether the magical “Lady” in this story is an euphemism for cannabis. Oh, and the heroine still gets abducted by a villain who shows up out of nowhere during the “exciting climax” despite his “I’m a guardian of her galaxy!” act, so way to go, hero.
Niniver is a classic example of how boring the standard formulaic historical romance can be. She has no problems having sex with Marcus, but she will continuously, repetitively refuse to marry him because she doesn’t believe that he loves her. Certain hasty jumps to conclusions and misunderstanding only reinforce her stubbornness – it is only when he comes to save her life that she goes, oh, she finally has proof that he loves her! I can only wish Marcus good luck for the future, if saving her life is the only thing that can inspire her to trust him even a little. Yes, the heroine has no problems putting out to a guy she can’t trust – but I guess this is okay, because this nonsense of hers is proof that she’s waiting for true love?
Niniver’s classic stubborn act is made really tedious here because the author has that wretch repeating the same boring “Does he love me? Can I trust him with my heart?” psychobabble all the time. If that is her one-note song, then Marcus’s one-note song is “I must protect her, I want to shag her, but oh, do I love her? Is she the one My Lady wants me to have?” repeated non-stop. Really, this book is only as big as it is because these two really love gazing at their own navels endlessly as their preferred activity for those moments when they need to catch their breath after yet another round of thoughtless sex.
By the time Marcus realizes that it is okay to love Niniver as, really, she’s meant for him by the Lady, and Niniver realizes that Marcus really does love her so she is now finally free to release her inner woman (really), who cares? These two have already done everything a married couple can do. I’m just glad this tedious by-the-numbers story is over. A little more judicious self-editing to remove the more tedious rehashes of the characters’ navel-gazing would have made this one a far more lively read.