Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-380-80268-6
Historical Romance, 2000
I was impressed with Margaret Moore’s last Avon book A Scoundrel’s Kiss despite a hero whom I’d love to use as a hammer. She managed to bring out the malicious cruelty that is the debauched atmosphere of Restoration London. And she succeeds in doing that too in A Rogue’s Embrace. Cruelty and ennui make horrifying bedpartners with disastrous results.
Unfortunately, this time around it is the heroine whom I’d love to use as a vacuum cleaner. Elissa Longbourne, widow of an abusive, cheating, yadda yadda the usual yadda dead scum, is summoned by the King to marry Sir Richard Blythe. Richard’s a playwright and poor man who is looking for a way to regain his holdings. Elissa has no life and only wants to protect her son’s inheritance.
Let me draw the battle lines and step back first.
Richard and Elissa have difficult pasts with lots of mental baggage, but while Richard maintains his dignity, Elissa allows herself to degenerate into a hysterical Daffy Duck. It’s not the pretty sight, the latter. She screams, shrieks, flails, and accuses Richard of all sorts of nonsense in a most unbecoming manner that it is hard to muster up any sympathy for her plight. She’s powerless, true, but she makes herself even more powerless with her passivity and shriek-happy tendencies.
And she has the personality of a yo-yo. After succumbing to Richard’s manly caresses, it’s self-flagellating and self-loathing and suspicion time once again. Things get really tedious after the third round, and I begin to wish that Richard would just ship her off to Mars. At least there I can’t see her irritating childish antics.
Sure, bitter circumstances can make one bitter. But that doesn’t mean one should lose all semblance of one’s dignity and class, does it?
Good writing can’t keep this one from being just another so-so read.