Marrying Mattie
by Victoria Dark, historical (1999)
Zebra (Splendor), $4.99, ISBN 0-8217-6101-3

I got these great recommendations for Victoria Dark's books recently and hence, I rummaged through my TBR mountain (I never checked bookstores before going through the dark cobwebs in my TBR pile first - I never could keep track of what I buy and then forget in the TBR pile) and - voila! Victoria Dark's debut romance novel.

Marrying Mattie, however, is just plain silly. I try to like it, even when the slapstick humor starts coming off strong at the expense of the heroine's dignity, but when the main characters start acting as if their brains were damaged by a stampede or something, I've had enough.

Mattie is a widow who has a Lousy Marriage. Ty is a hunk who has a Loisy Marriage. Mattie is poor, but refuses help (heroine would rather die than to accept help). Finally, after hearing Ty's sad story about the bitch dead wife, she consents on marrying him. For the sake of the poor neglected daughter (that's right, it's the Dead Bitch's fault Ty is neglecting his daughter - women are all such evil bitches!). Oh, and it will be a marriage in name only.

Naturally, they break the rule. In come stupid villains, and Ty and Mattie decide to join the stupidity. He leaves her and his daughter alone when he knows the bad guys are a-comin', for instance. She running off alone on her Missions of Mercy when she knows the bad guys are a-comin', for another. Oh, and the daughter, don't get me started on her when she is possessed by a spirit of a bratty teenager. That's the only explanation I have of her weird grown-up/child-like transformation, by the way.

I know, I know, this is a debut full-length historical, so I should tone down the paper-shredding somewhat. But really, there's very little I can do when it comes to characters behaving out of character, a heroine who confuses independence with hotheaded stupidity, and a messy external plot that out-hillbillies Yosemite Sam. Sorry, but not much mercy from this now headache-inflicted reader.

Rating: 48

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