by Elaine Fox, historical (1999)
Leisure, $5.99, ISBN 0-8439-4648-2

This review has a major spoiler about the ending

Elaine Fox'sCompulsion rubs me the wrong way. It's like being trapped in an elevator with Camile Paglia and Hillary Clinton - things are going to get really ugly, but I can't turn away. The author's great writing style keep me turning the pages, but soon, I'm no longer turning the pages out of a need to read the story, but out of bizarre fascination.

The story is like this: Catra Meredyth is marrying her childhood friend Ferris Chester for reasons of convenience and mutual interests. When shipping magnate Ryan St James (also Ferris' business partner) drops by her party one night, hormones fly and sparks practically shoot out of each other's eyes (Catra and Ryan, that is, not Ryan and Ferris, not that the latter scenario wouldn't be any less interesting).

Ryan and Catra engage in mutual saliva-exchange, but her father, mad at this turn of events, convinces Catra that Ryan is just using her. The girl believes his line and she marries Ferris.

Oh boy.

From here onwards, things really go down the drain. She's married, but wa-hey, she doesn't love Ferris, so it's okay to spend her honeymoon cheating on her hubby with Ryan. Boink, boink, boink, token guilt trip, boink, boink, boink! And it makes me mad to see these Catra and Ryan act so shallow, so much at the mercy of their sex hormones.

And I like Ferris. He's a nice guy who doesn't deserve all this nonsense. Just because he's impotent and not as handsome as Ryan doesn't mean he should be treated like dirt! The treatment of his character is too heinous a crime - he is shoved off at convenient times when our Samson and Delilah want to play, worst, he is killed so that our two lovely people can play peacefully ever after.

What is this? Since when do beautiful, virile people given free rein to act spoiled and selfish and treat every other mere mortal who lack their physical splendor like dishwater?

I apologize for getting on my soapbox and rant, but really, the Oppression Of The Other Man and Woman has to stop. Compulsion is just another example of injustice meted on our favorite genre's supporting players. Call the Character Police, somebody!

Rating: 54

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