Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-06-058433-5
Historical Romance, 2004
Can melodrama be boring? I never consider that I would be bored by melodrama until I come across Sara Bennett’s Kissing the Bride. This book has over the top evil villains, overly-tortured characters, and plenty of making huge mountains out of molehills for too long, and for the most part I’m bored out of my wits. The colorless characters have much to do with my indifference, I suspect.
Our widowed heroine Lady Jenova of Gunlinghorn is considering a marriage of convenience to her neighbor, Alfric, mainly because she considers Alfric a husband that she can control. Therefore, this marriage would provide security for her and her son without giving her too much undue problems. But since she is a heroine, naturally she’s wrong. Lord Baldessare, Alfric’s father, is evil and his priest cohort is even more evil. Jenova’s friend, Lord Henry of Montevoy (best buddy to King William, male slut, his past convinced him that commitment are for suckers, et cetera) knows about the Brutish Beldessares however and seeks to convince her not to go along with the nuptials. Along the way, he and Jenova become lovers and she breaks off the engagement, leading the Brutish Beldessares to plot mayhem on our lovebirds.
For the most part, nothing happens in this book other than Henry and Jenova indulging in melodramatic guilt-trips or hand-wringing about their many baggage and secrets. Both characters are passive and they often stand there waiting for events to hit them before they react to these events. Not all of their these baggages make much sense either, such as Jenova’s rather confusing previous marriage where the husband is a jerk or she loves him dearly, depending on which chapter it is. Henry’s Big Secret that excuses his diligence in spreading STDs across Europe is revealed only close to the ending so it’s also a long and frustrating wait as he wrings his hands and moans but danged if I know why he’s being a moaning meenie.
The characters are pretty much stereotypes of the Tortured Man Slut Hero and the Widow in Distress, only with extra melodrama, and Ms Bennett fails to make her characters interesting. The history is wallpaper so there isn’t even decent atmosphere or backdrop to give this book any hint of character that it badly needs.
The passive characters and the interminable psychoanalysis and hand-wringing in this book result in a story that crawls along slower than doped-up three-legged turtles. The characters’ stereotypical baggage that form the foundation of the story aren’t interesting. Kissing the Bride is therefore a tedious bore of a read. It’s more like kissing the time I’ve wasted on this book adios and sayonara.