Zebra, $5.99, ISBN 0-8217-7326-7
Historical Romance, 2002
This is a potentially interesting historical romance, as the heroine Rachel Maitland Ross (actually an alias) is Jewish and the author attempts to portray the role and place of both converted and unconverted Jews in England circa the Napoleon Tyranny Era. Unfortunately, A Question of Honor soon turns into a peeing contest between hero Colonel Richard Drayton and Rachel as to who can drive me to suicide first with their bratty, immature antics and bickering.
Richard is a soldier who spends his time whoring with Spanish ladies and getting drunk. He’s one of the best spies England has to offer, by the way. And I’m Mata Hari. There is a breach in the British Intelligence, and instead of sacking all those whoring, drunkard losers they call “spies”, the Powers That Be sends Richard back to England to snoop.
England won the war? Wow. I’m stunned.
Rachel is posing as a governess to this little girl named Caroline. Scary thing is, I can’t tell them apart sometimes. Rachel is your “spunky” heroine, which means she will keep shrieking the wrong things even if these things will get her killed. Because, you know, good heroines don’t lie or fudge the truth or evaluate the situation and practice subtlety, because heroines don’t do that. They rush headlong into danger because they are intelligent women ahead of their time.
Since Rachel can speak good French, Richard suspects her immediately. He’s the smart spy, remember? All things come to a boil when both are kidnapped by Spanish-speaking scumbags. What is going on?
“Your fault!” – “No, yours!” – “You’re sneaking off to see that lover of yours who is a traitor!” – “I’m not but how dare you assume that my sneaking off is because of unsavory reasons!” – “Your fault!” – “Yours!” –
And towards the end, the author unsuccessfully tries to make Richard a model of responsibility for his irresponsible younger brother. Short of a graphic chapter of lightning striking the hero and frying his brain cells, nothing can convince me that pure, cleansing sex with a bratty dim-witted wench can instantaneously transform a whoring, dueling rake into Mr Responsibility. Unless these two are aliens from some distant planets where their psychology is more primitive and bacterial than ours.
A Question of Honor has an interesting, unusual premise, but the annoying, formulaic execution of the story leaves much to be desired. Let’s hope the author’s next book will feature some more adult characters. I’m really too old to appreciate stories of shallow, pretty, but airheaded people boinking their brains out.