Lady Sophia's Lover
by Lisa Kleypas, historical (2002)
Avon, $7.50, ISBN 0-380-81106-5

Lisa Kleypas' latest, Lady Sophia's Lover is a pleasant, meandering story. For a story about revenge, it is completely, utterly, horrifically off-key, but as an equivalent of the pure and holy beacon of Mary Sue light of heavenly saccharine, Lady Sophia's Lover can deliver a dose of sugar shock or sugar orgasm, depending on your glucose threshold. I suggest you see this book's pace and sugar content as a more fluffy version of Mary Jo Putney's sugar-tidal wave One Perfect Rose and make your own judgment.

Lady Dopia Sydney is supposed to be mad at Sir Ross Cannon, a Bow Street Runner. Dopia believes that Floss here is responsible for her brother's death, so she will let herself be hired as Floss' personal assistant, seduce him, has lots of skanky office table and Xerox-my-butt sex, and ruin him as well as break his heart. (You do know I'm kidding about the Xeroxed buttocks and office tables, right? The day we get a romance novel like that one is the day I die happy.)

At least, that's what I believe is the plot. Am I right, Ms Kleypas? Because I'm pretty sure what I read is Mary and Marty Sue, our two hyperglycemic gingerbread people, finding reasons to even adore each other more and more until I want to tell them, "I get it, you two love each other, but... but what about that revenge plot?" Every baggage he or she has - she has a lover that dumped her, he has a wife he loves dearly until she dies and now he will never love again, et cetera - is an excuse for the other to fawn and work him/herself into even more of an idol worship session.

Hmm, so much for revenge. Right from the get go, she is already seeing in him the light and honesty and purity and everything nice and sweet and bright that Thomas Kinkade hasn't patented under his name yet, with only the obligatory "What about my revenge, ooh, I hate him! Wait, oh, his sad, sad story! His poor dead wife (bitch, I'm so jealous - no, wait, jealousy is so bad, I'm just so sad because I'm sure he will never love me like I want to be loved by him) anyway... uhm, what was I talking about again?" yammering to remind me that this story isn't just about two perfect cardboard foils trying to outdo each other when it comes to mental masturbation. There's a revenge plot, and maybe a villain... somewhere.

Ms Kleypas depicts Floss as a larger than life superhero. If you have watched Buffy The Vampire Slayer, you will know what I'm talking about when I say that Floss is Riley Finn redux. If you've watched Angel, if I say that Dopia is Fred redux, you'll understand what I'm saying. Mary and Marty Sue, perfection incarnate, sweet and perfect, polite and nice, having PG-13 "sensual" (read: polite penetration only please) sex only after lots of pretty, pretty sad story exchanges, and in the end, the whole world is better and brighter because of Floss and Dopia, the Barbie and Ken of Light and Enlightenment.

Readers wanting sedated, harmless, pleasant, and emotionally undemanding stories of two nice, perfect perfect PERFECT people exchanging coos and praises and badges of honors can do lots worse than this one. Lady Sophia's Lover is cleanly written, even if I have a hard time getting my attention engaged among the sugar clouds rising from Ms Kleypas' sugary pen. I just wonder what kind of revenge story this could have been under, say, Anne Stuart or even Meagen McKinney's hands. Bet it could have been dark and turbulent and oh so stormy and romantic, which is my kind of revenge-tinged romance, actually. I'll leave Lady Sophia's Lover to fans of Pollyanna and Pollythomas romances.

Rating: 78

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