Mills & Boon, £4.99, ISBN 978-0-263-91685-0
Historical Romance, 2016
Lizzie Eastway is the best maid one can ever have, because she will never complain and she will work herself to the bone even if you “forget” to pay her for six months, because she thinks that she is utterly worthless in every way. Unfortunately, she’s not a maid – she’s the heroine in Laura Martin’s An Earl in Want of a Wife.
Lizzie has no friends, nobody, and she knows that she has no dowry, and she is also convinced that she is pug ugly, and therefore, she will spend the entire story telling everyone this. She thinks her cousin Amelia is the nicest, sweetest lady ever, so when Amelia wants to run off to chase after some guy she has her eyes on, Lizzie willingly steps in to pose as Amelia in order to fulfill Amelia’s obligations. Our heroine knows that the deception will no doubt ruin her, but that’s okay, she’s poor, ugly, inconsequential, so she doesn’t mind at all.
Our hero, Daniel, the Earl of Burwell, needs a wife. The real reason he needs a wife is that he needs one to protect his son from his ex-lover’s schemes. But that’s okay, his intended wife, Amelia, doesn’t have to know that. He first spots Lizzie and feels the hots for her – Lizzie is, naturally, hot and sexy despite her repeated assertions that she resembles the unwashed rear end of a bullmastiff – but when he realizes that she is “Amelia”, his intended, he is dismayed. This is another man who wants to penetrate his wife as lovelessly as possible, because, as he puts it, he doesn’t want his lust to overcome his common sense. Why doesn’t he just marry a pug ugly girl then? What an idiot. Oh, and while he wants to have loveless sex with the wife, he wants the wife to want him anyway, so he decides to seduce her, Yes, an idiot alright.
Lizzie begins to act like she’s being penetrated into demonic possession by every demon in Hell when Daniel even looks at her. Oh, how can anyone want her when she’s so butt ugly? She really likes it when he kisses her, but how can this be, as she is so ugly and worthless, surely no man would ever want to even look at her? Oh, she knows – he must have kissed because he thinks that she is Amelia. Oh, the anguish! She told you she’s just another worthless pug ugly wretch, and now she has evidence! Every look and caress from him only underscores her worthlessness! The more he courts her, the more she knows that he is only courting “Amelia”, so yes, it is true. Jesus and Satan both agree that she is the most unlovable ugly, poor, miserable, wretch ever.
And then, put his brat on her sights and she immediately transforms into a sage mother, spouting off things more at home in a modern-day child psychology textbook. How does such a terminally dumb creature with zero self esteem have the insight to become such a remarkable mother? Who knows – I suppose it just springs naturally in Lizzie.
On top of that, everyone knows that her cousin is selfish and nasty the moment they meet her, but Lizzie is convinced otherwise.
I suppose the author just wants to show Lizzie as a selfless and adorable creature, but what results is a grotesquely stupid creature who doesn’t seem like she is capable of functioning on her own without someone else propping her up. Daniel is a genius when compared to her, but he’s pretty stupid as well. Both characters display infantile emotions and thought processes for way too much of the story, and Lizzie’s incessant determination to think the worst of herself quickly gets on my nerves. Her reaction to every crisis is to basically say that it’s okay if she dies or people hate her or anything, because she knows she is worthless and so she doesn’t want to impose. Annoying, and doubly so when she’s actually a hot babe that gets the hero panting over her jugs while she repeatedly wails that she is ugly.
I give this one an extra oogie for an unexpectedly mature response on Daniel’s part when Lizzie’s deception is unmasked, but all in all, this is one story of dumb dumbs running amok. I don’t know whom I feel sorry for more – that brat for having these two as parents, or myself for having read this book.