by Miranda Jarrett, historical (2003)
Harlequin Historical, $5.25, ISBN 0-373-29272-4
The Golden Lord is a hodge-podge of the most ridiculous clichés prevalent in the Regency subgenre cobbled together with little rhyme or reason. The result is an unfunny story of brick-headed heroes and mush-brained heroines running around acting like fools.
Jenny Dell and her brother Rob are con artists as well as Irish performers. The "Irish" part is important to justify why poor Jenny needs love and not a nice long reality check. She needs a reality check because while she whines that she's not too happy at having to hustle old coots - platonically, of course - she at the same time reasons that these people whose money they bilk can afford to lose those money. But she still doesn't like what she's made to do. Yet she doesn't stand up to Rob or anything.
Her brother's latest escapade with a Really Nasty Widow results in Jenny and Rob parting ways. Jenny runs and knocks her head against a tree. When she comes to, she's taken in by Brant Clairemont, the Duke whose estate she has crashed into. She fakes a case of amnesia to escape suspicions (and of course lying ineptly in the process). But because she is so helpless and beautiful, Brant falls for her. Because he's hot and he takes care of her so that she will never have to think or make decisions for herself again, she falls for him. But the Very Nasty Widow starts sending notes to Brant in an attempt to expose Jenny and poor Jenny flies into a panic. With her scatterbrained antics, unfunny and very idiotic Very Big Plans and the painful consequences ensue.
Jenny is the kind of heroine that can be called "intelligent" only in romance novels. She's a hopeless nitwit: inept, passive, hapless, and has a tendency to unthinkingly make grand and unnecessary gestures of martyrdom. Oh, and she also wants to marry for love. I'd expect a low-class nobody hustler woman would be a little less discriminate when it comes to finding a way out of her circumstances, but lo, Jenny is Holding Out for True Love. How commendable, I'm sure. Virtue, romance heroine-style, over common sense is the way to be when you're a romance heroine after all.
As for Brant, he's not that much better than Jenny. He's dyslexic and this is his reason to act as if he's the most disgusting person in the world and that he will never, ever be loved. When would these rich and powerful Dukes understand that women would love them no matter what even if they are old and doddering? He has money, he has titles, he has property, he is surrounded by friends and family members (buy their books, people!) who admire and even adore him, so his pity party is out of character. The author needs to find a more plausible excuse to make Brant "tortured", because right now Brant comes off as "whiny" and "not particularly intelligent" instead.
The plot is an exercise in coincidences, serendipity, and happenstance. The characters do all sorts of stupid things and come up with the most insulting reasons to whine and wail about why the world don't love them. The Golden Lord isn't as golden as it would like to be.
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