Zebra, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-4201-4721-6
Historical Romance, 2018
Minerva Spencer’s Barbarous has much of the same narrative annoyances as her previous effort Dangerous, with an extra fatal flaw – this time around, the pacing is dialed down to “Boring now… why are you still here?” levels.
Here’s the thing, I can tell you specific details about the story, because the author keeps repeating these details so often to the point that the story seems like one long, florid merry-go-round. For example, I know that the hero Hugh Redvers is also the buccaneer known as One-Eyed Standish – don’t ask me whether he names his penis One-Eye Standing – because he tells me that during his internal monologue, and heroine Daphne Davenport tells me that too in her internal monologue, and then he reminds me of it again, and she does it too, and subsequently he tells her that yes, he is also One-Eyed Standish, and so on. Does the author think her readers are that annoying Ellen DeGeneres fish thing in Finding Nemo? Likewise, I know that Daphne believes that she has somehow robbed Hugh of his birthright, because the inheritance bypassed him (as everyone thought he was dead) right onto her now-dead husband – I know before she keeps bringing it up again and again. Oh, and I know Hugh’s pants wrap nicely around his big thighs because, yes, Daphne keeps mentioning this and his other physical attributes too. ALL THE TIME.
Ask me of the synopsis, however, and I will give you a blank look.
Because of the constant repetitiveness of the narrative, the first half of this book feels like it’s just an incessant torrent of conversations and internal monologues that aren’t going anywhere but round and round. I find myself looking at my phone and wondering whether I should check to see whether the hot guys I follow on my Instagram have put any new pictures of them going all half-naked or near-naked to the world. As I keep turning the pages, my eyes begin to glaze over, and I find myself entertaining the notion of finally getting around to clean out the fridge. I try to keep reading, and then I wonder whether I should order that brand new pizza they are advertising on the fliers they keep shoving into my mailbox. Will Chris Pratt look hotter in yellow briefs or green ones? Oh look, I can actually sing every word from Ariana Grande’s 7 rings! Maybe I should sing aloud again just to be sure…
My wrist, stop watchin’, my neck is flossy
Make big deposits, my gloss is poppin’
You like my hair? Gee, thanks, just bought it
I see it, I like it, I want it, I got it
Hmm, Chris Pratt and briefs and big deposits… oh yes, this thing. Let’s see… sassy heroine who loses her IQ the moment she sees the hero and falls in lust, evil greedy villain who is also the man that assaulted the heroine (she’s now worried that he will expose the true parentage of her kid), the heroine becomes totally dumb and gets into trouble because every plot needs one of these things… you know, for a story with a buccaneer called One-Eyed Standish, nothing interesting happens for the first half of the story, and whatever else that happens is crammed into the second half in a most uninspired, cliché-laden manner.
Is the hero also a spy of some sort? Is the heroine a scholarly sort in need of sexy lessons as well as sexual healing from the hero? Maybe her kids are creepy matchmaking adults stuffed into midget bodies? I don’t know, I’m just throwing these clichés out as trying to actually read this thing after the first half causes every nerve in my eyes to short-circuit while my brain tells me that I need to go look at hot guys on my Instagram quickly or it will shut down.
So, Barbarous. It’s… ooh, a hot guy in only red short shorts leaning against a railing. I think I’ll order that pizza after all, and while I’m at it, I may as well practice that dance in the 7 rings video since I already know the words to that song. Has Brandon Tenold uploaded a new video yet on his YouTube channel? Yeah, Barbarous… whatever.