The Heiress
by Claire Delacroix, historical (1999)
Dell, $6.50, ISBN 0-440-22589-2

The Heiress is the third and finale to the Bride Quest trilogy. Three brothers out to seek wives, a nice theme, only to be marred by Ms Delacroix's childish and careless plotting and simplistic one-lined characters. In the first book, The Princess, I went Good grief at the first few chapters when the nice sweet princess in flowing, body-clinging dress that accentuated her beautiful hair, et cetera ran into the castle keep - filled with marauding, and probably sex-crazed, battle-frenzied invading soldiers, mind you - to demand the King that deposed of her daddy's castle to get lost. And the whole story takes place because the hero chose to work in the orchard tending the plants. In winter. Last time I checked, no plant bear fruits in Ireland in winter. In book number two, The Damsel the two characters form a nice Big Misunderstanding because they listened to characters they knew are untrustworthy. How wonderful! And in this book, on page 6 alone, I am going I don't believe this!

Okay, the story. Third de Montvieux brother Rowan (doesn't matter really - to me, the three men are interchangeable) accepts a dare to wed the richest heiress in Ireland. The silly man doesn't know who on earth the richest heiress in Ireland is, of course. No matter. Our brave, confident hero sets off for Ireland, along the way buying a slave called Ibernia. How convenient that she's Irish too, and golly gee, she knows the most moneyed lass in Ireland, someone called Bronwyn of Ballyroyal. Can you guess who Ibernia really is?

She bets him to secure them a ship to Ireland. He bets that she wouldn't be able to resist him in no time. Uhm, how old are these two people again?

No Claire Delacroix review is complete without pointing out inaccuracies, right? On page 6, I'm shaking my head in disbelief when Ibernia, - a nice slave girl, I'm sure - starts talking back to her master Rowan, culminating in a terse Stay away from me, don't touch me command. Only in Ms Delacroix's beautiful pink-tinted world do slave girls mouth off impetuously and escape the undoubtedly severe consequences. Watch her act stupid, running right into the villain's clutches again and again and once again like gleeful kiddies rushing for a candy store. I do adore these sort of women. They make me feel so superior.

And only in this Utopia is a slave girl treated like a pampered mistress of the land.

As for Rowan, he's perfect for Ibernia. The Beautiful Bimbo and the Handsome Beefcake. Rowan loves to take a dare without thinking of the consequences, and he also loves himself too! While I'm all for positive self-imaging attitudes, this man ends up like a third rate Narcissus. I'm surprised he doesn't prance around the book with a rose between his teeth as that West Side Story song I'm so pretty! Oh so pretty! Oh so pretty that I hardly can believe I'm real! plays from the speaker. I've never read about a human Pepe LePew until now.

I know many people love fairy tales. I do too. Miss Delacroix can write well, and her prose sometimes shows hints of lyrical grace. Hence it's puzzling that she produces books that have such huge lapses in logic. In not just one, but three consecutive books of hers to boot. I'm sure with tighter characterization and plotting, she can do wonders. I'm willing to wait for that day, but for now, I'll turn to my Harry Potters and Chronicles of Narnia and Tolkiens for fairy tales.

Rating: 49

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