by Judith O'Brien, historical (2003)
Pocket, $6.99, ISBN 0-7434-2798-X
It's been a while since we heard from Judith O'Brien, but alas, Enter The Hero is an excruciating and very infuriating read. The heroine displays mental capabilities that will embarrass even a protozoan blob. We are talking about a heroine that lets her twelve-year old sister runs her life and this said horrible sister runs wild in this book, causing a lot of unnecessary and painful nonsense to crop up. There is a phrase created for the grotesque Fairfax sisters and it's "Please die, thanks".
Lucius Ashford, our hero and the best thing about this otherwise horrible book, is a responsible pacifist. He is a well-known second at duels because of his ability to placate and soothe over ruffled feathers that often ends with the duels being called off. He is also a responsible member of the Parliament and he wants reforms to be made. He despises the overdramatic tripe of Byron. He meets Emily Fairfax when his friend challenges "Edgar St John" to a duel and Lucius is roped in as the second. They arrive in Ireland where Lucius learns that "Edgar St John" is actually the pseudonym for Emily that writes popular plays performed in London.
Emily is a truly, monstrously stupid heroine. She is a very rich woman, so this predictably sees her wailing that she is content to be a bluestocking as every man just wants her money, but the moment Lucius makes a platonic, friendly overture, she immediately wails that he must want her money because surely she has no other value as a person! And yes, if you ask me, a gnat is worth more than this creature. We are talking about a woman that lets her twelve-year old sister Letty blackmail her into taking Letty along to the site of the duel early in the morning. Because it is so vital that Letty keeps her secret that Emily doesn't think twice about taking her sister with her (unescorted, armed with a gun nobody knows how to use) to meet two men in the mood to shoot somebody dead. And why is she letting her sister into her secret anyway?
When Lucius tells her that dueling is not romantic as families can break up from the aftermath, she dismisses him as an unheroic man because according to her, dueling is the natural way real men settle their disputes. Lucius sets up correspondence with her, he hoping to gently show her his way of thinking even as he becomes attracted to her beauty. He writes to her substantial descriptions of the life in London and his reforms and Emily writes back vapid nonsense about wanting to bathe naked in rivers. When he doesn't know how to respond to that and is a little slow in responding to her letter, she childishly decides to take "revenge" by writing a slanderous play about him. Letty of course sends this play to London behind Emily's back (the first of the many painful episodes this monster creates in this story) and the Fairfax sisters flee to London at once, where Emily's inept, stammering, and hopeless attempts at reparations end up humiliating Lucius beyond the pale in public.
And then Letty goes missing, Lucius has to help her, and you know how bad romance novels love to end themselves too often: A Damsel In Distress Is A Woman Worth Loving, Damn Everything Else About Her, The End.
Lucius is an attractive hero and this idealistic reformer deserves better than a flakey, braindead nitwit like Emily. Emily is really infuriatingly moronic as she indulges Letty so much that she actually wears the clothes Letty wants her to wear, even if these clothes make her look horrible. I don't know how the author expects me to respect a heroine that is a complete pushover as well as very immature to the point that everything she does only makes everything else worse. Then there's Letty - way too much of Letty indeed.
Letty is getting her book next, of course, and I sincerely hope this obnoxious pipsqueak gets a brain transplant in the meantime.
Enter The Hero has a classic self-professed bluestocking heroine that seems to have not one drop of common sense in her head being loved for her lack of thinking ability. Reading this book almost made me burst a blood vessel because the Fairfax sisters are really this infuriatingly inept and mucus-brained, and to top it off, they have to giggle and traipse like giddy schoolgirls while they're doing their empty vessel act.
If Letty's book is going to be as awful as this one, I hope the publisher has the decency to offer a free baseball bat along with every purchase of the book. That way, I can work off the impending cardiac arrest by putting the book down at every one of its truly obnoxious moments of moron behavior and cheerfully beating the book until my blood pressure finally goes down to a more tolerable level.
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
Search for more reviews of works by this author: