Grand Central Publishing, $8.00, ISBN 978-1-4555-1896-8
Historical Romance, 2013
I am a skeptic when it comes to demonic possession, but I can’t help but to wonder whether this was what happened to author Jennifer Delamere shortly into the writing of A Lady Most Lovely. It starts out okay, intriguing even, but it quickly degenerates into one of the most idiotic stories I’ve ever come across. I really don’t know how to explain this abrupt shift, but I do worry about the possibility of a burst blood vessel by the time I finish this book. There are stupid plots, and then there is… this.
Margaret Vaughn is said to be one of the wealthiest heiresses in London, if not the wealthiest, and her father is dead, which makes her even more attractive in the eyes of the bachelors in town. Alas, she’s engaged to the catch of the Season, the handsome and wealthy Paul Denault, cousin to the Duke of Edgerton himself. The truth is, she’s bankrupt. Her father was a drunkard who gambled away whatever that could be gambled off, and she has a mountain of debts to pay off. Her lawyers manage to conceal her financial circumstances all this while, and she is banking on – heh – Paul’s wealth to restore her family fortune. Shortly after the story opens, she learns that Paul is basically the male version of her – he, too, is bankrupt, having concealed his circumstances all this while, and he is counting on her money to restore his fortune. As you can imagine, the wedding is soon called off.
Tom Poole, our hero, is quite pleased with this turn of event because he’s attracted to Margaret from first sight. Fortunately for Margaret, he is a wealthy self-made man, if on the untitled side, and he’s more than happy to shower her with the pounds if she’d let him inspect her pennies up close. Of course, if she agrees and they live happily ever after, rolling in orgasmic bliss amidst piles and piles of money, there would be no story. And that’s how the idiocy begins.
Margaret, who is proud of being a pragmatic survivor all this while, suddenly shrieks that she can’t marry Tom because she doesn’t care about him. Wait, come again? Isn’t this the same woman who is prepared to marry Paul for money? And yet, when she discovers Paul’s deception, she accuses him of using her, which is hilarious because girlfriend has zero self-awareness. And when Tom offers to step in and marry her, Margaret immediately transforms into that moron who decides that she’d rather die with her pride intact than to accept any help from Tom whatsoever. The creditors are in the same room when Tom offers to help her out, and she acts like he’d ask her whether she’d like him to give her all strains of HPV. What happened to that Margaret in the first chapter of the story?
That Margaret, too, was attracted to Paul. She feels desire, and is not immune to a gorgeous man’s charms. With Tom, however, she turns into a prude, shrieking that he’d not make her do obscene things and what not. What the hell happened to this creature?
The author introduces a contrived plot device to force Margaret to marry Tom anyway. Margaret is finally where she wanted to be – married to a rich man who can help her out – and Tom is more than willing to make her the happiest woman in the world. So what does Margaret do? She needlessly antagonizes him, casts aspersions on his manhood and morals, and generally acts like utter turd to the man whose only stupidity is to persist in thinking of her as a desirable mate instead of something he should tie a brick around the neck and toss into the sea. She claims that she has to do this because she is attracted to him, and therefore, he has power over her and total control over her properties. Wait, won’t any man who marries her has total control over her properties? It’s not like Tom is a special case. And won’t driving him away cause her world to fall apart more if he decides to abandon her and cut off all financial ties? How is she going to restore her precious family home then? When Margaret wails that her initial plan to marry a rich man is such a mistake because look at what happens to her since, I think the biggest mistake here is her mother not throwing herself down the stairs while she is carrying Margaret. Yes, I hate her. You try reading over 200 pages of her alternating between being a prideful mule of a martyr and an abhorrent aberration of an idiot and tell me that you don’t feel this urge to cover her face with a pillow.
Thanks to Margaret, soon she and Tom are bickering and arguing in the grown-up version of the “I go first. No, I go first!” playground argument.
Margaret gets her epiphany in the end, but by that time, I’m beyond caring and I still want her to die a long and painful death. If the author intended for Margaret to be an idiot and grow up in the end, well, normally I do like character development in my stories, but Margaret is such a horrid, joyless, and irredeemably stupid and putrid bag of dumbness for so long that the only way she can be satisfyingly redeemed is if she experiences her epiphany while drowning in the ocean or something. Truly, truly horrible. I don’t know what Tom sees in this waste of space and carbon material, as he seems to be attracted solely to her beauty.
Next time, the author may want to tackle a story where the plot isn’t “the main character is so, so, so, so freaking stupid and unlikable, and she spends 300 pages being obnoxious before discovering right before the last few handful of pages that she is freaking stupid and unlikable”. I can tell right away the character is odious, and the author would have done me a big favor if she had just killed off that character by page 20.
Anyway, life is short and beautiful, so let’s not speak about this… thing ever again.