The Prisoner
by Karyn Monk, historical (2001)
Bantam, $5.99, ISBN 0-553-57762-X

If you are going to read The Prisoner, be aware that there are kids on board, kids that speak in cute kiddiespeak when situation demands it and in adultspeak in other situations. Note that it is kids plural, as in several kids, giggly "innocent" kids that clap hands and go "Oooo!" Kids that think our hero is a "prince" from get-go. Ergo, if anything stumpy and giggly makes you go ballistic, stay clear.

Having said that, the romance in The Prisoner is pretty good. Haydon Kent, some Marquess or the other, was imprisoned after some drunken/brawl thingie that resulted in the death of some fellow. Self-defense, of course, but the damage is done. To jail he goes.

Genevieve MacPhail is a do-gooder. No, don't yawn - Karyn Monk actually succeeds in making Gen a realistic (somewhat) do-gooder rather than a braincell-deficient doormat. Gen is currently running a reform school for stray, orphan, and bad - sorry, misunderstood - kids that is run on love, understanding, and Oprah Winfrey lovespeak. When Gen comes in to collect a young boy Jack for her school, Jack springs Haydon (they have shared some male bonding thingies in jail - oh please, not that kind of prison bonding!) out too. Haydon hides out in Gen's place, Gen discovers him and nurses him back to health (he nekkid in bed, et cetera), and bad law enforcers come to try to take our Scottish laird back to the slammer. Oh, will love triumph at the end of the day?

Of course. Haydon is a decent hero despite his stereotypical set-up (rake) and story (he spends most of his time in bed, naked, wounded, and sweaty). Likewise, Gen actually has a past that makes good sense of her current Mother Theresa crusade, and I like her. Their quiet times are okay.

Unfortunately, the author shoves their quiet times aside for kiddie antics. Not only that, I must be told every single reason of why every single kiddie ends up at the home. Nice, nice, but this is not a Charles Dickens "My sad life at the home" book, this is a romance novel. I want love, sex, laughter, and tears, not some preachy reform pamphlet published two hundred years too late. Enthusiasm and passion for kiddie reform is one thing, but the author goes beyond that. The kids are everywhere. Giggling, laughing, sprouting "Awwww" dialogues - it's enough to drive me up the wall. I could try blanking out the kids, but like I said, they are on almost every page, and there is just no escape.

This is definitely a case of too many kids spoiling the story. I hope the author practices the literary equivalent of birth control the next time around.

Rating: 82

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