by Melanie George, historical (2002)
Pocket, $6.99, ISBN 0-7434-4272-5
Reading The Art Of Seduction is like being trapped in a burning car while facing a nosediving Concorde heading towards me fast from the north, a stampede of crazy bulls are charging from the east, a train speeding towards me on the west, a tank about to fire at me from the south, and the mother of all volcanoes is about to erupt from under me. This book is beyond bad - it has completely no logic, the characters' stupidity defies description, and every "plot twist" is like an insulting bitchslap on my face. When a book starts with three - three! - unnecessary skanky sex scenes in a row, you know this book knows it is in trouble.
Yes, skanky sex, three in a row. First one is our heroine Parris Sutherland pretending to be her sister Annabelle while losing her vee-vee to our hero Dominick Carlisle. Why the pretense? Because Parris, the ugly one (only in her dreams, naturally), is sure that Dom, whom she has love for no reason other than Melanie George rogered her with the giant Baton Stick of Plot Contrivance into it, will only sleep with pretty, pretty Annabelle, her sister. It backfires on her, with her silly games resulting in Dom proposing to Annabelle. Oh dear.
Then we skip to a skanky sex scene between Annabelle, the pretty and hence evil sister, and Frederick Carlisle, Dom's evil brother. I'm not joking, I wish I am. Dom discovers them, and the wedding is off.
Cut to Chapter 1, today. Dom has skanky sex with prostitute.
At this point, I toss this book to that stupid dog next door that would eat anything, and watch in delight as this book becomes future dog doodah. No, I didn't do that, nah, but I wish I had, instead of succumbing to my masochistic need to see this train hurtle to the inevitable gruesome crash of an end. While Dom is screwing everyone in skirts, Parris and someone are now Lady Scruples, avengers of cuckolded women everywhere. Do you get the irony here? Parris, who wants to fight for Righteousness, is in love with a slut and philanderer of the nth degree? You do? Maybe you should take some time to write a nice letter to Melanie George explaining what irony is. She doesn't get it, judging from the rest of this story.
George comes back into Parris' life, and she goes into auto-braindead mode. The rest of this story deals with her and he trying to sort out their many, many, many, MANY misunderstandings as evil sister plot, well, evil. Yes, Evil Sisters, Evil Brothers, Slutty Hero, Braindead Heroine, In Your Face Double Standards, and Bad Purple Prose all collide in a spectacular Chernobyl that makes no sense, no logic, and it's utterly excruciating.
I mean, seriously, Lady Scruples, huh? One of the reason why Parris can't believe that Dom loves her is not because he chases after her in her every incarnation (without he knowing it's her), but because she is not pretty and she knows Dom MUST love Annabelle, whom she knows is Evil. Her own words? "Because Annabelle is beautiful." How lovely, I must say - how lovely that someone like Lady Scruples can love a man whom she admits is one shallow fucker. When the plot revolves around that freaking piece of stupidity, watch me as I actually scream in frustration.
Don't forget lovely Dom, who is so angry that he is cuckolded by Annabelle, which is different from his encounters with married women, foreign women (whom we all know don't count as humans as much as seminal receptacles) - don't worry, Ms George will take the pains to tell you about his zillion conquests, because we don't want to forget even for a minute that Dom has a ticky-ticky hyperactive dickie now, do we? Sexy women? Not nice. Oversexed STD virus incubator? Toss scruples, gimme gimme gimme.
Dom's first sight of a grown up Parris?
Dominick studied Parris. She had amply fulfilled her potential ("Potential - WTF?!!" - Mrs G). The sculptured features he always knew existed had asserted themselves, showing off high cheekbones, a stubborn jaw, and a delicate nose.
*snip to the most offensive parts*
He remembered the day he had discovered her out by the stables wearing a dress meant for a younger girl and far too small for her new figure.
But instead of the girlish attire reminding Dominick of how young she still was ("How young she still was..., am I the only one hearing R Kelly sing his lewd bump-and-grind songs in the background?" - Mrs G), it had only enhanced each new curve and hollow. ("Hollow?" - Mrs G)
This is how Dom thinks of her pretty much the entire story. It's not love as much as lust, and it's a kind of lust that makes me feel as if I need a long, hot bath now. Is Melanie George writing for pedophiles now, because I for one can't imagine what I am supposed to feel from Dom's horny lusting after a girl whose youth he keeps emphasizing again and again. Forget the bath, I'm going into the disinfection chamber and scrub myself raw with Chlorox.
As for Parris, she keeps saying that because Dom chose her sister over her, she has lost a friend, a hero, a blah blah blah. What hero? What friend? What kind of hero, engaged to your sister, will sleep with you, a masked woman he meets at a ball? What kind of hero will plot to seduce a tavern maid (you in disguise) even while lusting after you? What kind of hero will lust after one sister while planning to marry the other? Lady Scruples puts all the S's in Stoopendously Too Stoopid To Live. What kind of loony world have I stumbled into? Help!
Frankly, if Lady Scruples is serious, Dom will be the first guy she zaps to death. No wait, he's her hero. The best man she has ever known. Oops.
Put in Lady Scruples' ridiculous adventures (almost raped - help! - almost get kidnapped - help! - gets assaulted - help! - Mrs Giggles kill them all - die!) and cardboard villains of skank (I'm talking about the Evil Siblings, just in case you are understandably confused), and blame everything on Bitch Sister, and The Art Of Seduction perfects the art of driving me into an aneurysm in record time.
Incidentally, this ten-car pile up of a turkey is Melanie George's debut as a Pocket Star author. Welcome aboard. Now let's hope that the Pocket editor can whip this author's R Kelly-friendly grotesque plots into something remotely resembling coherence and palatability. Now excuse me while I get drunk on kaopectate to ease the agony all over.
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