Harlequin Historical, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-29828-0
Historical Romance, 2015
When it comes to historical romance stories set in England during the Regency era, I have come across my share of imbeciles getting themselves tangled up in all kinds of sexy moments in an effort to come off as not that much of a sexually promiscuous creature. A Ring from a Marquess is pretty special, however, in that the author managed to make both the hero and the heroine appear to be demented. But first, the plot.
Stephen the stammering idiot is the Marquess of Standish. He has his future all planned out. He is in love with Margot de Bryun, and although she is “only” the lady that runs the high-class jeweler boutique store Montague and de Bryun Fine Jewellery, he doesn’t care what people say. He wants to marry her. Because she’s pure, innocent, and perfect. Of course, the lady in question doesn’t know that her loyal client has already planned everything out, right down to the sexual position they’d get into on their wedding night, but it doesn’t matter. He knows she wants him bad. It’s destiny. He senses the connection between them the moment his eyes met hers. And when she turns down his marriage proposal, it’s okay. It’s just a matter of time before she says yes to him, because they are meant to be together, forever.
Margot wants to be an independent lady, and therefore she doesn’t want to shackle herself to any man. On the other hand, that handsome man who comes into the store every day to buy something from her is cute. People all say that he wants her honeypot, and she has a feeling that, one day, he’d ask her to be his mistress. She’s not sure whether she wants to say yes to that, because on one hand, she really wants it bad. On the other hand, she can’t say it loud or do anything about it or else, those genteel readers that read traditional Regency stories would call her a prostitute and warn all their friends and family on Goodreads, Facebook, and Amazon that reading this book would send the reader straight into hell. So she hugs herself and waits for a bad plot device to come about so that she can get stuffed without looking so much like a disgusting slattern with impure desires.
And then, oh, Stephen discovers that the rubies on some bling-bling he’d bought from Margot were stolen goods… from his own family! Oh my god, that innocent child he wants so badly to insert his tumescence into all over is actually a thief. An immoral slag. Whore! Slut! Tart! That means he now has an excuse to demand that she becomes his mistress. Yes, five nights of porking, one for every ruby, so it’s time to rejoice for the boy!
At first Margot decides to approach her sister’s husband, a well-connected nobleman, for help, and I smile, because that’s sensible. But when Stephen is like, sit on my salami, you immoral slag and her trusted employee tells her that the whole thing is clearly a scheme concocted by Stephen to grab her honeypot for free, she naturally abandons her initial plan and says yes. Hurrah, now she can get it everywhere for a “virtuous” reason without people calling her a ho!
It takes about five seconds for me to correctly deduce what is going on, and it takes Stephen much longer to realize that he’d porked the heroine under unhappy circumstances. He immediately reverts back to Margot being an innocent child-like sweetheart of his – seriously, this guy makes female innocence into some kind of creepy fetish – and spends the rest of the story wringing his hands, doing stupid things or being passive and letting crap happen, and then whining that he could have done something to prevent the crap. Margot meanwhile is all sweet and understanding – well, I understand that, as she’s now getting her cake and eating it too, as she gets to have sex without the Catholic guilt making her want to mutilate her genitalia out of shame. His family are all creepy and disgusting people, but she doesn’t mind marrying him in the end because he tells her the L word. That’s “love”, by the way, not “loser” or “lunatic” like any sane people may be thinking. So it’s a happy ending for all.
To top it off, Margot is said to be an amazing businesswoman but she is actually one of the worst businesswomen around. She doesn’t check the purchase records until it’s too late, the inside villain runs rings around her from within the store without her realizing it, and… well, she’s sleeping with a clearly unhinged weirdo without trying to do anything else to clear her name, and it is that weirdo who has to come in and clean up her mess in the end.
By the last page, he’s still a creepy bunny-boiling weirdo with major Madonna/whore issues, while she clearly has issues that requires her to put herself in unhappy circumstances in order to satisfy her lusts. His family are all annoying people, but then again, Stuttering Swillbag Stephen is no prize either. Every time I turn a page, I am torn between laughing in disbelief and wondering whether I can somehow ship all these unlikable creepy-crawly wretches in this story back to whichever hole they crawl out of, for a refund of my time and money. A Ring from the Marquess and the finger from me.