Lady Katherine's Wild Ride
by Jeane Westin, historical (2006)
Signet, $6.99, ISBN 0-451-21921-X
Lady Katherine's Wild Ride is a most uninspired follow-up to the author's debut. Like the previous book, this one is also set in Restoration England. Unfortunately, it also features a storyline similar in many ways to that of the previous book. Likewise, the characters could be clones of the characters of the previous book. The only difference between this book and the other book is that this book is much, much, much more melodramatic and therefore has more unintentional comic effect than the previous book.
This one seems to be a take on Cinderella as our heroine Lady Katherine Lindsay is treated like a slave by her uncle and his wife once they swoop in and take over everything once her father is presumed dead. This uncle, Sir William Purservant, is of course fat and gross. Katherine finds his sexual overtures most repulsive indeed. One day, Sir William decides to go ahead and rape Katherine whether she likes it or not. I know I'm not supposed to laugh out loud in a scene of sexual assault, but how can I not when the following are a sample of the author's, er, wit?
"Stop!" she said sharply, and this time could not the tremor in the word or in her body. "Stop, or I will call out and accuse you for a rat bastard blackguard before all."
He laughed again heartily. "Tut, my well-born lady. Don't you know such word do but strengthen my cod?"
How about this one?
"Never! You are a monster." Katherine gasped from the weight of him.
His voice had lost the last of its fake humor. "Monster or no, I have a monstrous need. Come, you owe me this sport and I will have it!"
This one is fabulous as well.
"After I have finished with you, I will marry you to the meanest cottager on my estates. Hah, no, on your father's former estate. Someone who dunged your garden beds, someone who collected your night soil. You are mere female chattel, and I can do as I like. Time you knew that, my fine lady."
I can only admire the author's restraint in not putting in at least ten exclamation marks after every line in her characters' enchanting conversations.
A maid rescues Katherine before the worst comes to pass, and the two morons believe that they must have killed Sir William in the process, so they flee into the night. They soon find themselves in the company of Jeremy Hughes, who turns them in for the reward offered by Sir William for their capture only to have a change of heart after he's turned them in. After all, with Katherine looking so hot and innocent, naturally she can't be as bad as the charges against her made her out to be! He soon takes them in with his acting troupe, where a jealous mean woman will make life difficult for Katherine. Sir William, of course, is also bent on getting Katherine back. The honeymoon between Katherine and Jeremy may have to wait.
This story is pure Mary Sue fantasy. Katherine is one of those heroines who is naturally talented and lovable that none but the foulest of hearts can hate her. She gets a little better as the story progresses in that she becomes less useless and a little bit more assertive, but on the whole she can be really irritating to follow as she embodies everything annoying about the Mary Sue heroine. Jackson is pretty much a clone of the author's previous hero. Both he and Katherine are one-dimensional characters. Ms Westin is depending on the reader's familiarity with the stereotypes they represent as a shortcut of sorts when it comes to actual characterization in her story.
But what makes this book awful in a spectacular train wreck manner is how over-the-top melodramatic everything is, from the conversations to the love scenes to the unbelievably sweet fairy tale style ending. Perhaps the author is trying to recreate some kind of authentic "flavor" in her characters' language and all, but with lines like "Monster or no, I have a monstrous need", she's coming close to unintentional parody. However, judging from the lack of any sign in the story that Ms Westin is aware of how awfully camp her story is, I think the comic effects of this story are unintentional.
The more appropriate title for this book will be Lady Katherine's One Ride Of A Train Wreck.
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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