by Meagan McKinney, historical (2002)
Zebra, $6.50, ISBN 0-8217-7050-0
I have a raging tonsil infection that is making it hard for me to speak. I have been on a diet of horrible tasteless porridge for three days now. Meagan McKinney just has to present to me a story of an abusive jerk and a doormat heroine who, for some reason only Ms McKinney will understand, will just not fight back and hear me actually shriek in anger and frustration at this whole irritating story. Now my throat is hurting worse than before, and I, needless to say, am not a happy woman.
Set in 19th century America, Moonlight Becomes Her sees a heroine named Mystere Rillieux who moonlights as a thief (for her upcoming hunt for her Missing Brother, so don't worry, Ye Noble Readers, she has a million good excuses for her actions). A few years back, she robbed and disrobed our hero Rafe Belloch. Today, he sees her in the ballrooms of NYC and immediately suspects her of being the thief Lady Moonlight when everybody else doesn't. Whatever. She knows he suspects but does she lie? No. She freezes up - he knows, he knows, she is Doomed, oh, oh, oh!
Rafe has an agenda - complete, utter annihiliation of the Upper Class. See, his Poppa commited suicide after some bad moneymaking decisions, and Mrs Astor and the rest ocstracized poor Rafe and his Momma, causing helpless Momma to die and Rafe to grow up angry and mad. Now he is rich, and now he wants to... well, I'm sure he has a plan other than sulking and moaning and whining while treating Mystere like the doormat to wipe the soles of his soiled boots on. He must have a plan. I guess the author just didn't do a good job telling me what Rafe's plan is.
The bulk of this story sees Rafe doing all he can to bully and humiliate Mystere in being his pawn, and Mystere just won't fight back. I don't know why she lets him do those things he did to her, but I know I almost burst a blood vessel when he takes her virginity in a situation best described as just a little better than robbing dead soldiers in the battlefield. There is no tenderness in Rafe's actions, but at the same time, Mystere seems to have a sadistic, limitless endurance for everything he throws her way. It's like watching a sick freak peeing into a bottomless urinal - this story will fit right in in the All-Humiliation TV Network. Out of the blue, she decides that she must sleep with him one last time before she disappear forever, and I really wonder if this woman is mad. How can she take all that nonsense from a man and still decide that she must sleep with him "for the memories"?
This book ends in a way that suggests that a part two is in the works. I wonder - do I want to read more about these two people? No thanks. Moonlight Becomes Her is a depressing read. In this case, love humiliates both partners, robbing them of all dignity, leaving Rafe a mean, cowardly bully who abuses the woman who can't fight back and Mystere a pathetic, pridefree, spinefree codependent doormat who has a sick need to be abused to feel loved.
All I get from reading this book is a worse sore throat and a full-blown headache. I'd prefer a T-shirt.
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