To Catch A Countess
by Patricia Grasso, historical (2004)
Zebra, $5.99, ISBN 0-8217-7473-5
After reading this paper-shredder worthy book, I wonder whether Patricia Grasso even understands what dyslexia is. The heroine of this book is supposed to be dyslexic, but the author portrays Victoria Douglas as someone who gets lost when she leaves the house, speaks like a gibbering baby girl who has just learned her first three words ("I am stupid!"), and generally acts like a spectacularly brain-damaged woman in a porn star's body. I doubt that a dyslexic, even in those Regency era, will be so helpless that they cannot even figure out how to speak properly!
Victoria, who should be renamed "Victimoria", is hated by her family who delight in calling her stupid. They marry her off to the Earl of Winchester, who, when he's not delighting in berating her for her stupidity and humiliating her before the guests, is hating her irrationally because his last wife had the decency to treat this misogynist pig exactly the way he deserves to be treated. Because Victimoria is hot though and she has the mental capacity of a five-year old (the better then for the hero to indulge in his Lolita fetish), she eventually endures enough crap to win the affection of her jackass husband. And so she lives happily ever after.
Our hero Alexander Emerson has absolutely nothing going for him other than a big dongie and his tendency to give Victimoria lavish presents when he's briefly tainted by lucidity and remorse. Hey, Ron Jeremy has a big dongie but you don't see me wanting to marry him, do you? In fact, Alexander's behavior becomes increasingly appalling as the story progresses, culminating in a truly horrid action on his part that stems solely from his horrifying misogyny and stupidity. And still Victimoria endures, stammering and trying weakly to stand up for herself before collapsing under the pressure of Alex's browbeating, taunts, or sexual manipulation. But then again, Victimoria has nothing going for her either. She may be dyslexic but she is firstly and foremostly truly too stupid to be pitied. How can she get lost going home, I will never know. It is not as if she can't use landmarks to identify her surroundings, can she? Unless dyslexics are really unable to follow very well human speech or carry out well actions that don't involve deciphering of words - and that would be news to me indeed - then Victimoria may not be dyslexic as much as she is possibly brain-damaged.
The only way this book could be redeemed is if it ends either in divorce or with Victimoria plunging a knife through Alex's heart and twisting it slowly. The author makes a fatal mistake of pairing a truly passive, unsympathetic, and probably mentally handicapped heroine with a raging asshole of a hero and then letting the hero treat the heroine like complete crap for the rest of the story. There is no redeeming feature in Alex or Victimoria, just two very irritating characters driving my blood pressure through the roof. This isn't a complicated book featuring tortured characters, so Laura Kinsale needs not worry about Patricia Grasso challenging her reign anytime soon. Instead, this is just one horrid book where mental abuse and victimization are passed off as "drama". The reconciliation towards the end of the book between Alex and Victimoria, needless to say, is as credible and convincing as a Lifetime movie called OJ and Nicole: An Enduring Love Story For All Time.
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