Yankee Earl
by Shirl Henke, historical (2003)
Leisure, $5.99, ISBN 0-8439-5241-5

I really don't know what happened to this author, but whatever it is, Yankee Earl is a continuation of the author's mutation from an author that delivers readable stories with credible emotions to some amateurish author of tales of tomfoolery. As a departure from the American setting of the author's last few books, this historical Regency however reads like a Miss Spoiled And Bratty running amok all over the place with her Mr Arrogant Mule boyfriend giving chase.

In a truly unpalatable turn of events, the grandfather of our American hero Jason Beumont believes that he will help his grandson find true love by orchestrating privateer-cum-English-Earl (don't ask) Jason's capture and blackmail Jason into marrying the woman of Gramps' choice. If Jason doesn't marry, Jason's crew, especially a teenage stowaway, will be thrown into jail. How Gramps expect his grandson to find true love like Gramps found his with his late wife is beyond me. You don't blackmail people and expect them to find uxorial bliss. Only in romance novels, really.

Our heroine Rachel Fairchild is a familiar figure: she is a hellion, doesn't want to marry, wants to play with horses and dogs and nothing else, sprouts egalitarian values without knowing what they are, chases off her suitors, and one step away from complete brain shutdown. She encounters Jason when he is fleeing someone trying to kill him and they screech at each other among other things. Then they realize that they're to be married and she dumps a glass of champagne on his head at the ball. The both of them decide to marry but get their unconsummated marriage annulled a year later, but they fail to take into account their lust for each other.

This book is a classic "Lust! Hate! Lust! Hate!" book and the main characters are noisy and unpleasant over-the-top stereotypes that come close to being bad parodies. Rachel is loud, totally hot-tempered and impulsive, and she doesn't seem to display any capability for rational thoughts whatsoever. Jason is a rakish "I wanna be free to see the sea!" stereotype that comes complete with obtuse mulishness, stubborn hot-headed stupidity, and a permanent erection. At the same time these two supposedly willful and passionate creatures are complete pushovers manipulated by unreasonable and even cruel codicils by their family members. In short, these two characters are not just annoying, they are also very inconsistent.

Yankee Earl is annoying and the premise is forced and contrived. It's just not fun to read at all.

Rating: 49

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