The Bride Sale
by Candice Hern, historical (2002)
Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-380-80901-X

Gosh, the heroine Verity Osborne is so saintly that if she gives one more of her modern psychology prep talk to the really walking wounded hero, she will sprout wings and start playing little harps as she screeches "Amazing Grace" or something. The Bride Sale starts off interesting, but it soon becomes an irritating, long-winded pop psychology ramble.

Lord James Harkness, who has what seems like a bazillion baggages, torments, guilts, insecurities, and neuroses, is minding his own sad miserable way when he encounters his people enjoying a cow sale. No, turns out that the cow is actually a woman, a noble woman being auctioned. It's none of his business, of course, but... damn, okay, one hundred pounds on that woman! Sold, done, contract signed, blah blah blah, and we have Verity sold to James.

Never mind that she is alone in a strange place - Verity will escape! She gets caught, where she proceeds to tell James that she's not running away, oh no, she'll just go to the next town, find employment, and whoo-hoo, repay James his one hundred pounds. Funny, I think... until I realize that she's dead serious.

Uh oh, I realize. Virtue-pikachu nitwit dead ahead.

What happens next? Well, what else? He wants her, but he is too bad for her. She wants him, in the purest soulmate ying-fits-yang a-heart-full-of-love way, but when he realizes that she is a virgin and withdraws (after the, uh, perforation, of course), she runs to her room and weeps in her bed. Oh, the shame of being a virgin! She's so unworthy of being James' soulmate!

Uh, have romance heroes now started to take up with non-virgins? That's a nice idea, but I'm serious, are they now? Besides, what's the point? The cherry has wilted already, may as well proceed with the harvesting if you ask me. At least an orgasm is better than the annoying weepy psychoanalyzing that follows.

When Verity recovers, however, she has no fear. She will sit James down and ask him, "Dear, dear, tell Virtue Pikachu here your troubles." James will resist, since he is the lowest of the low, but soon he will unload his baggages - among other things - on lovely, sweet, always understanding, totally understanding, and probably mind reading Verity. And Verity, her lovely martyr-stoic face glowing with pure love and serenity, will let him shaggy her after all those long, sad talks of bad, bad pasts.

Hey, she can even heal sick kiddies.

Somewhere, I hear Marius and Cosette screeching "A heart fuuuullll of luuuurve!" as the violins soar into a crescendo of pure, complete schmaltz. No doubt this is a story of healing and love of an understanding woman saving a man from darkness or something like that, but with Verity the lovely Virtue Pikachu and James the Sad Sad Guy running the show, I think I hear my insulin shots calling. Excuse me, please.

Rating: 63

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