Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-380-80802-1
Historical Romance, 2001
This isn’t too bad. A Breath of Scandal has no logic when it comes to plot, and sometimes there is no continuity between scenes at all. The characters are cardboard deep and they are as original and refreshing as fish left under the sun for two days. But there’s no denying the fun I have reading all its bloopy humor.
The plot, or what I can make of it, is this. Julian Thornton, some Earl, is also some sort of secret agent for the Crown. This story makes it seem like a secret agent’s duties consist of spying on smugglers once a week, initiating boinkathons on the other six days. While spying on – what else? – smugglers, using a fake beard to hide his identity, he is captured by them. Our hero’s rippling brawny strength, however, allows him to break his bindings and he jumps overboard, his impressive pectorals straining at the tension and his thunder thighs threatening to rip out of those skin tight breeches as he escapes in daring breakaway. Will he get away? Yes he is, look at him go! He’s jumping, he’s jumping –
Our gypsy heroine (with blue blood connections via some melodramatic thwarted gypsy-aristocrat love affair nonsense) Lara and her friend Rondo find our hero washed up on shore. She immediately asks Rondo to do his special brand of CPR on the unconscious beefcake.
“Do something. We can’t let him die. Press the water out of his lungs.”
Grumbling, Rondo turned the man over on his stomach, straddled him, and began pumping in and out.
“Keep pumping,” Lara urged.
Rondo renewed his efforts and was rewarded when a gush of water spurted from the man’s lungs.
I am both relieved and disappointed to read the word “lungs”.
But the smuggler scums are still hot on Julian’s tail! Maybe they want to pump his water too. And here is where things start getting sticky. Lara decides to marry Julian under gypsy law to protect him. Huh? Why can’t she just lie instead of going through the whole silly notion? Oh yeah, heroines can’t lie. Silly me.
Julian wakes up, makes a remarkable recovery, and gets all hot and pumpy over Lara. After all, we all know that gypsy women are all hot slutty kitties who could give the busiest highway a run for its money. But Lara is a virgin – she is a half-aristocratic darling, mind you – and they take it slow. Only three times a day, seven days a week. “I’ve always heard Gypsy women were hot-blooded creatures,” he tells her as a term of endearment, and Lara falls straight into love. Even though she doesn’t even know that he’s married or not and he makes it clear that he is not going to stay despite having consummated the marriage.
So Julian goes back to London after a multichapter boinkathon, and then he realizes she has gotten under his skin because he can’t get a hard on for any of the society ladies in London. Lara goes to London to live with her father, and when Julian sees her, boy is he mad. What is that slut doing here? Is she trying to sink her claws in him? (Well, she is married to him…) Worse, is she looking for a protector? SLUT! BITCH!
Yes, I am definitely reading a Connie Mason novel alright. Nobody makes lurid big misunderstanding like this author. But after a passionate reunion of genitalia, the misunderstanding is cleared, and Julian proposes marriage the Anglo-Saxon way. Reason? He wants their kiddies to be legitimate. And our intelligent heroine basically shrieks, “No! No! No! I may have spread for you, I may even be bearing your bastards at the moment, but no, I will marry only for love! Augh! Augh! Augh! Get out! Get out!”
He will go something like: “You think so? You weren’t complaining when I was pumping your water, missie! Maybe I shall perform an encore, heh heh heh… here comes Big Papa!”
“No, no, I hate you, I will not respond, I will not – Oh! Oh! Oh! I will not – ah! Ahhhh! OWWWW!”
More popcorns. This is fun.
The rest of the story is just as campy. The hero saves the day, captures the smugglers and their mole in the government, and rescues the heroine. The villain is a complete buffoon – you know the sort. He could have killed the heroine, but no, he wants to ravish her. So conveniently, he doesn’t hit her, even thoughtfully waiting for the right moment for the ravishing. Maybe the violin players are late. Maybe the camcorder is still at the repair shop. So, the hero has plenty of time to stage the rescue.
Utterly predictable, unintentionally hilarious, and definitely a hoot, A Breath of Scandal is one of those so-bad-it-hurts-so-good romance novels. If there is such a thing as a spaghetti Regency-era romance, this book is it.