by Kat Martin, historical (2010)
MIRA, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-7783-2744-8
At the time of writing, I have not read Kat Martin's books in a while for one reason or the other. Thinking it would be good to catch up, I pull her latest one, Reese's Bride, out of my pile of unread books. Have you seen or read about those religious martyrs who decide to get closer to their deities by sleeping on a bed of nails, meditating under a raging waterfall, or doing other painful things to purge themselves of worldly temptations? I feel as if I've inadvertently been made to undergo such purging by the time I've finished this book.
The plot itself is a land mine of, not miscommunication problems, but problems of deliberate refusal to communicate, topped off by a hero so horrifyingly brutal, calculatedly cruel, and awesomely stupid.
Eight years ago, Reese Dewar and Elizabeth Clemens were engaged. Unofficially engaged, mind you, what with her father being against the relationship. That didn't stop them from having sex. Shortly after, Reese left to play the soldier. As you can predict, Elizabeth got knocked up. Forced by her father to wed the Earl of Aldrige, she realized that she had to comply in order to give her baby a home. Reese, when he heard about it, was naturally furious because Elizabeth was clearly the biggest whore that ever whored in the history of whoredom.
As you can predict, Elizabeth's husband turned out to be evil, beating her so brutally that she could compare scars and traumas with a heroine from a story by Catherine Anderson to see who can get a shiny gold medal for being victim of the year. When the man died, Elizabeth continued to be traumatized and abused and even poisoned by her late husband's relatives. Half-dead, very sick, and completely helpless, she shows up at Reese's doorstep with their child, begging for mercy and sanctuary. Reese, seeing this pitiful woman on the doorstep, immediately begins to plot his revenge on her.
Reese knows she had been through hell. He has seen the scars. He could see her pallor and pitiful emaciated state. And yet, one look at all these and he could only think of sexually debasing her and humiliating her because, you know, she is a whore who broke his heart. Following him as he puts Elizabeth through another round of degrading verbal abuse is as pleasant an experience as it is to slather my hand with barbecue sauce and place it between the jaws of a starving bulldog.
Elizabeth is too pathetic to be paired with such a hero. She prays pitifully all the same, and worse, she actually blames herself for the situation she is in. I don't know what the author is thinking here. Does she genuinely believe that Elizabeth is somehow deserving of her treatment at Reese's hand? Mind you, Elizabeth's only crime is to obey her father's orders in order to protect her child. The engagement between Elizabeth and Reese is not official. If anything, Reese should know better than to have sex with a woman whom he shortly left behind so that he could kill people abroad. At any rate, I don't see any redeeming quality in Reese. Elizabeth is better off throwing herself in front of a train like those melodramatic heroines in Russian classic novels.
Not only that, the story is full of clichés. Reese's son naturally takes to him because it's that cliché all over again where it doesn't matter if you are a deadbeat parent because your kid will automatically love you. The characters' refusal to communicate is so contrived that the whole script is predictable in a most excruciating manner. It also doesn't help that the characters are completely flat. Reese has only two personality traits: Erection and Asshole. Elizabeth has only two as well: Victim and Martyr. Pair the brutally stupid asshole and the determined martyr and it's a trainwreck waiting to happen, with me strapped to a seat in the first class coach and screaming at the sight of the chasm looming ahead of me.
At the end of the day, Reese's Bride is simply one of the most awesome spectacles of two unlikable emotional wrecks. The hero should have been smothered to death at birth to spare everyone of his grotesquely stupid presence while the poor pitiful heroine should be put down as an act of mercy. My recommendation is that you avoid this book completely. It's just not worth gambling on the chance that you may like this book - there are so many awful books out there, I'd wager nine out of ten of those books are better than this complete waste of my time, money, and bile.
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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