Berkley, $6.99, ISBN 0-425-17695-9
Historical Romance, 2000
I’ve been told that I shouldn’t complain about authors following the formula too much. Not when the majority keep lapping it up. Well, okay. So I won’t mention anything about that boring old routine of brainy bluestocking heroine preferring her books than the boring ton, oh no. I won’t mention how she gets her pristine innocence soiled anyway by dipping her feet into the boring, stultifying cesspool that is the London season, all in order to please Her Dearest Auntie.
I won’t mention also the boring hero who doesn’t believe in love and who insists on marrying only for money and prestige. After all, his daddy married a woman in a match unsanctioned by the Crown, and look where that got those idiots.
So what will I mention? Well, that heroine Phoebe Pennington (I won’t mention how I keep thinking of a clucking hen every time I read that name) invents a beauty cream that is all the rage. Marcus, the hero, bets with that fatso Prinny that he will find the secret of the beauty cream. So he wooes that Pennington woman – cluck cluck cluck – and whoa, lust surges forth in our hero’s manly chest.
Sounds fun? It can be. Ms Claybourne has a way with words and dialogues. But like her last two books for Berkley, she still hasn’t proven to me that she can handle external conflicts well. As the problems pile up, the heroine’s IQ surges down in inverse proportion. A heroine that is so willing to give up, give all, roll over and die all in the name of love – not my type of heroines. Cluck cluck cluck indeed.
And as the story goes on, the humor and the tolerable hum-hum familiar elements of a comfort read give way to our heroine’s increasingly clumsy attempts to save the world, our hero’s increasingly mulish insistence on getting back his inheritance at the cost of that ninny woman’s love, and the not-very-pleasant feel that the external conflicts are spiraling out of control. The pace becomes more frantic, the heroine’s indecision and hysteria mount, and I get the feeling that I am in a sinking ship.
Whatever its virtues or faults are, A Thing of Beauty gets a “Not my cup of tea!” stamp