Zebra, $5.99, ISBN 0-8217-6662-7
Historical Romance, 2000
There is something unhealthy about a heroine who shows more affection for a house than any living creatures. It’s just too bad there’s no Sappho Appreciation Club for Alternative Sexual Lifestyles around Hannah Whitechurch’s area, because I have a feeling she will be a better, happier person after a few drinks with some jolly, happy lesbians.
Hannah loves her home Solitude. As it is, she will do anything – anything! – to keep it in her hands even when everything else around her is falling to bits. Poor, she makes her sisters work their bones to keep food on the table while our airy heroine paints landscapes around Solitude. Isn’t that lovely? People, make sure you all get out more often and enjoy the fresh air. Look at Hannah.
Sad thing is, Hannah isn’t happy even when she’s within Solitude. “Men – bastards, that lot! The Ton – frivolous and useless (they never buy enough of my watercolors anyway, those cheapskates!)! And oh, remember, Sisters, Solitude! We must keep Solitude in our hands! Remember our legacy! Got that? So Jane, sister dear, shut the hell up about your exhaustion and overwork and leave me to paint in pace! NO ONE APPRECIATES ME! AAAAHHH!” is the song of the day where this jolly lady is concerned.
Our hero Beau St James comes in when he wants to buy Solitude. He is blackmailed by a painter who has painted nude pictures of his daughter. No house, naked pictures published everywhere. Maybe it’s the stress, but Beau takes it onto himself to woo Hannah too. While trying to get the house out from under her, of course.
An English Rose makes me feel nothing but pity for Beau. Maybe if he has decided to woo Jane instead, things will be so much nicer. Or maybe if his idiot daughter and Hannah decide to set up house together. Or maybe if this is a Clive Barker novel and the house turns into a living monster and swallows Hannah up in one big gulp. Anyway, who knows what may happen if these maybes take place. As it is, this one is an unnecessarily dysfunctional tale.