by Stephanie Laurens, historical (2010)
Avon, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-06-179515-2
The Elusive Bride is the third book in Stephanie Laurens's The Black Cobra Quartet, but in my opinion, this one, like the other two books that came before it, can be read as a standalone book. This one is especially easy to be read as a standalone book because the villains in this story will generously expound their plot to each other for the reader's sake, just like bad guys do in those adorable Merry Melodies cartoons. Still, I'd direct you to the review of the first book in the series, The Untamed Bride, to get the background information on the premise if you are new to the series.
In this one, Major Logan Monteith, is carrying those important documents with him on a ship voyage from India to England when he is attacked by those nefarious cultists. When the ship goes under due to a storm, Logan of course can swim while the bad guys can't. He gets hit in the head and all goes black... until his body gets washed up on the island of Guernsey in the Gulf of St Malo. Here, our heroine Linnet Trevission runs a household full of adorable kids and devoted servants like a queen. When her ragtag motley crew of a family discovers Logan's unconscious body, she is so charmed by the sight of this virile and gorgeous hunk, apparently still sexy enough to make a woman drool despite having been flotsam in the sea for who knows how long, that she lets him shag her while he's still out of it.
When Logan comes to, he has amnesia. Oh no! That means he has to stay and shag Linnet some more. They pause occasionally to wonder whether his memories are coming back, before resuming their vigorous shagging. Can you blame them? There isn't anything exciting to do when they are in an island apparently untouched by the war taking place around them. Eventually, Logan's past will catch up with him. In the meantime, the villains kindly explain their plot to each other before having skanky incestuous sex, apparently because describing their plot gets their body fluids all heated up. The author wants me to imagine that we have two brothers having skanky sex in this story, but it is also obvious that Ms Laurens takes care to ensure that Alex is never referred to as "he" or "she". I bet that we will learn eventually that Alex is a woman.
Linnet behaves like a modern day heroine when it comes to her attitude about sex and love. Unfortunately for Linnet, Ms Laurens never bothers with a decent explanation as to how Linnet gets such an unorthodox point of view, thus Linnet comes off as yet another present day heroine slapped into the pages of a historical romance. As for Logan, he's another Cynster clone - fifty feet tall, manly, arrogant, and with a penis that is at least two feet long on a good day. The author lavishes ridiculous superlatives on him to such a degree that Logan ends up like a walking Christmas tree overloaded with ornaments. The story becomes even more ridiculous when Logan meets up with Demon Cynster's entourage late in the story. Logan, Demon, Lion-O, Voltron, Popeye, and He-Man all combine powers to smash the villains in a most anticlimatic manner that I don't know whether to laugh and cringe in embarrassment on behalf of the villains.
The weakest link in this story is definitely the plot revolving around the Black Cobra cult. Ms Laurens's idea of conflict is to have the good guys overloaded with muscle power to the point that they can pretty much lift buildings with their pinkie even as she makes the bad guys so idiotic and inept that it is a wonder how the bad guys can even tie their shoelaces without accidentally strangling themselves to death. Put the impossibly and ridiculously awesome good guys in the same room as the awesomely inept bad guys and the result is a stillbirth conflict.
The romance fares better. It goes without saying that the romance, like the characters, is a carbon copy of that found in way too many of the author's past books. However, Logan actually shows adequate respect for Linnet's independence and he's not as overbearing as his other clones. Linnet doesn't do too many stupid stunts here and she's certainly more proactive than the heroines in the previous two books in this series. Despite the interminable sex scenes between Linnet and Logan, there is some discernible chemistry between them that reminds me of that in Ms Lauren's early books, which I enjoyed before I became interminably bored by her tendency to crank out two or three variations of the same book every year.
All things considered, The Brazen Bride is the best book in the series so far, which isn't saying much considering how much the author has turned into a parody of her old self nowadays. You can read this book - you certainly won't contract some deadly disease from it and who knows, the campy and ridiculous plot may provide some entertainment where the endless sex scenes can't. I personally won't urge you to run out and buy this book though, unless you are a very big fan of the author and you can't get enough of the author's books. If you have read the author's books before, you'd have most likely read a superior version of this story.
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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