The Husband Hunt
by Jillian Hunter, historical (2002)
Sonnet, $6.99, ISBN 0-7434-1791-7

It's been awhile since I heard from this author, but I wish she has made her comeback from her short sabbatical with a better book. She has done better. The Husband Hunt has a one-note cranky hero and a Mary Sue heroine so dull and simple-minded that this story never comes to life at all to me.

Catriona Grant is from Scotland. Altogether now, class: "Healer, bluestocking, countrified, subjugated, fleeing from an unwanted marriage arranged by an obnoxious cousin". She is - class? Yes, "desperate". You're all getting an A+, I tell you. Accompanied by her loyal henchman and her dog, she flees Scotland all the way to Rutleigh Hall in Devon, hoping to see a relative she barely knows or is even close to and beg for sanctuary. Well, she's desperate, what can I say?

Tough luck, the guy's dead. What she finds are the guy's wife Olivia and her brother Knight Dennison. Knight just wants to toss her out, sure that she is an impostor, but Olivia trusts her, becomes her friend, and she and her gaggle of friends decide to throw Cat a season and find her a husband. Thus, The Husband Hunt. Knight is not amused, and as he saves Cat from yet another misadventure through la-la land, he has to want her for himself, naturally.

Knight is an ex-rake, he is surly, and he keeps baiting Cat. This kind of guy can be fun if the heroine can match him. But Cat tends to be flabbergasted most of the time. It's only five pages before he teasing her and she getting flustered gets old and tedious fast.

But the most tedious is Cat. She has no negative thoughts, she is all about healing everybody and anybody, she doesn't want pretty dresses - no, no, no - she will guilelessly bumbles her way through the woods, looking for stones, toadstools, or other things that she must obtain now to ease someone's minor sufferings. She is innocent. Dogs love her. Owls love her. She has an affinity to animals and nature, and she can see your pain and heal it just like that. She is selfless, she is honest, and she has very little wit. What little wit she has only leads her to blush or go "eee", because she cracks a joke about the man-thing, hee hee hee. I don't buy Cat as human. She's more like a gamboling puppy wanting to please everybody and anybody. She's not so much a doormat, but she's at the same time oh so easily manipulated. Mary Sue to the bitter end.

Since she is no challenge to the hero, this is just another story of rich people pampering a deprived nitwit. Cat's family background is a typical romance heroine's: loveless, abused, used, subjugated, et cetera, that she spends most of her time here cowering or trying too hard to please. This is fine if she will learn something in the end and becomes a more realistic character, but our Paragon of Mary Sues remain a too-eager-to-please-him-and-you-and-you-and-you hambrained nitwit to the very end. And she's loved for it!

The Husband Hunt is a story that relies too much on matchmaking Mary Sues types to push our hero and heroine together. It relies too much on people doing things for our heroine. It also depends too heavily on the hero saving the heroine from her many instances of immaturity. Heck, Cat doesn't feel like a woman in her twenties, she seems 13 judging from her antics and thoughts.

This book will delight readers who love their heroines a complete blank canvas when it comes to emotional development. Happy, giggly, toadstool-hunting Smurfette heroines being rogered by Gargamel heroes... what a hoot, eh? May as well tossed in some Cat-is-supernatural thing... oh, wait, that's in here too.

I'm going to lie down now. If you don't hear any sound from me after ten minutes, please call a hunk (for example David "Christopher" Sutcliffe from Gilmore Girls) to revive me up. I deserve that much, at the very least.

Rating: 55

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