by Mary Reed McCall, historical (2004)
Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-06-009812-0
It seems to me that Mary Reed McCall's books are becoming more and more melodramatic since her debut with Avon. The Sweetest Sin has a literally multi-tortured hero, a predictably pure and often bratty and silly heroine, a villainous duo so skanky and so evil, and lots of adventures. While a part of me recoil at the silliness going on in this story, a better part of me actually have fun at the whole campiness that this story is packaged in.
Duncan MacRae wants REVENGE! They killed his wife on the wedding day (how thoughtless), captured and tortured him (how mean), and stole the Magic MacRae Amulet that can bring its wearer Great Powers Untold. Hmm, he should have worn it before they came and did such bad things to him, shouldn't he, that silly twitwaffle? Adding salt unto his injuries is that he is betrayed his brother Colin who is besotted with the evil, evil, evil Morgana MacDonnell, who predictably wants Duncan for evil purposes like endless sex and more endless sex and is bitter that Duncan turned her down.
So now Duncan is back and he wants REVENGE! He and his men launch an assault in the MacDonnell keep to take back the magic amulet. Our heroine Aieleana MacDonnell is Morgana's sister, but be rest assured that Morgana is the only bad seed of the clan. Aieleana hides the amulet and for this good deed, her brother offers her to Duncan in return for him sparing her people. They are all too stupid obviously too stupid to use the amulet. Instead, they have such an overrated perception of the value of Aieleana's sex appeal, don't they? Or maybe not, as Duncan finds her hot enough to leman-ize her anyway. They spend so much time bickering like children rather than having Hot Leman Sex, however, that I find myself shaking my head at Duncan. Oh Duncan, you gave up Skanky LePew but took up Aieleana's offer instead? What a twitwaffle indeed.
Colin and Morgana aren't dead like people think they are, and they are back to cause problems. They want the amulet! Aieleana's stupidity and Duncan's being led around by his twitwaffle stick make it so easy for them, but since bad guys don't win as it is the Law, the bad guys lose even if the main characters are frankly too stupid to win. I've lost count of the time I want to use the amulet myself to bestow upon Duncan and Aieleana some brains. The whole silly story culminates in a really laughable dramatic denouement where love saves the day and obliterates skanky magic forever, or something like that.
Aieleana and Duncan are a straightforward medieval stereotype couple where he takes everything out on her, she makes a lot of noise but never actually fighting back (instead acting like a servant because she's So Noble and Egalitarian Like That), and because she lets him dump on her, he realizes what a wonderful woman she is and it's love. Besides, being a Good Heroine, Aieleana will cook, clean, and sew for him without any complains. This is probably what Duncan means when he spots her sewing some clothes and start thinking of the "simple" life he missed.
"Here, woman, clean my kilt! Feed me next! Do it or I'll start thinking of you as no different than your Slut Magic-Using Sister!"
"Oh no, husband, no! I can't bear to be thought of as a Slut! Let me prove it to you that I am Pure and Noble. Do you want me to clean your toenails? Let me cook and serve drinks for everyone while you and the guys watch football on TV! I will never nag or complain again! Because I'm Pure and Noble! Let me show you, my lord! I'm PURE! I'M PURE! PLEASE BELIEVE ME!"
"Wow, I love this simple married life!"
The villains are so evil that they have no other personality. They are just evil. Instead of developing credible characters in a convincing relationship, Ms McCall just plies on the arguments, villainous rantings, and increasingly dramatic external conflicts until The Sweetest Sin is an overcooked broth of silly antics and overwrought characters. That's not to say that this broth is tasteless or anything. I do enjoy a campy read now and then. I'm not sure about this book as a romance novel though.
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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