On A Wicked Dawn
by Stephanie Laurens, historical (2002)
Avon, $7.50, ISBN 0-06-000205-0

Hmm, not bad, not bad at all. Of course, after the paraquat poisoning that is On A Wild Night, Stephanie Laurens writing all about the poetry of flatulence will still be better than anything. Mind you, Amelia Cynster, heroine and twin sister of the braindead Amanda of Night, is just as braindead as her sister. The plot however is not as moronic as Night, so that's a big plus.

Amelia decides she wants to marry Lucien "Luc" Ashford. She wants to get married NOW, four days after she has done the some old routine of barging into a hero's house at night to proposition him. Luc is drunk, but since Amelia's like the hottest ass this side of Ton, he leers. And collapses. Or something. Anyway, they agree to marry, and then they and the rest of the Cynsters chew scenery and parade around doing pretty much nothing for the next 200 pages. I think quite a large chunk of these pages are love scenes, where "tsunamis of pleasure" crash over our lovers - maybe these two have been to Japan, I dunno.

Amelia believes that Luc is an impoverished dolt, hence her proposal. With her dowry, surely he will be happy to marry a wife who then wants to be left alone to do her own thing? Luc of course wants to tsunami his wife all the way to Tokyo and beyond with his Godzilla Junior, so they go all pokemon in the bedroom, up and down and right and left.

Why don't they just get married straight away, you ask? Well, Luc wants to play it slow, yadda yadda yadda. Something involving a villain also comes to play. Not that Amelia cares. She's too busy flouncing, pouting, huffying, and throwing a hissyfit because Luc doesn't compliment her pretty, pretty dress. Here's a bone, now shut up, you troll girly.

I wonder what happened to this author's heroines though. Look, even the Honorias and Prudences of this author's earlier books have a little bit common sense that convince me that they, at least, are adults. Amanda is always pouting and stomping, flirting fast and loose with her reputation just because Luc doesn't like her dress. And I dare people to tell me with a straight face that propositioning a bankrupt man is the key to deeper understanding and uxoria and an act of a rational woman.

Maybe after having used up all her bags of borrowed plot devices and all - hey, it's been ten books at least, after all - Stephanie Laurens have to "improvise" on her own, and the effort has probably short-circuited her idea box. I don't know, because Amelia is truly crazy. Like her twin ghoul, she just wants to get married NOW and she goes on a robotic rampage doing the most inconceivably stupid things ever to attain matrimony. Think Bridget Jones overdosed on crack. If there's some knowing humor, I may understand that the author is playing camp, but alas, none here. The author seems to have no idea how insane her characters are being.

Luc is a little - very little - bit different from the usual Cynster clones. (Hey, it's John D'Salvo in the clinch art again. This is the fourth, fifth time he plays a Cynster dude, right? Hey, even the usually oblivious Avon art department gets it. Stephanie Laurens' heroes are clones.) He has a reputation as a rake, but he spends most of his time pulling his family's financial state together instead of whoring and drinking. Although, of course, Ms Laurens will forget this plot point later in the story and brags that Luc has zillions of women already or something.

When all's said and done, however, On A Wicked Dawn is a readable, passable, and forgettable fluff, easily sat through and digested in a straight sitting. But the cracks are showing though. If you ask me to rip apart this author's earlier Cynster books, the best I can come up with are the repetitious and unoriginal plot devices. Now, however, the Cynster books are becoming more and more illogical and badly plotted. It took Johanna Lindsey ten years and Catherine Coulter probably a little less time to self-destruct. Stephanie Laurens is in danger of short-circuiting in just five years after her Big Debut with Avon.

Maybe I shall take pity and start an aid package. Anyone wants to donate some Carla Kelly, Diane Farr, and Judith A Lansdowne books? We can wrap them up with some gingko biloba thrown in and we'll courier it to her. Any takers? No? Oh well.

Rating: 63

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