Once A Mistress
by Debra Mullins, historical (1999)
Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-380-80444-1

Oh my God. Am I glad I read the author's second book Donovan's Bed first or I would have run away screaming from the latter, a pity as while DB is fun, Once A Mistress is definitely a hazard for those with hypertension.

OAM, in fact, has Typical First Book stamped all over it, from an overfeisty heroine (read: irrational), a hero who speaks as if he's from a bad B-grade movie, and overwrought prose enough to make me cringe.

The story is atypical pirate romance. Diana Covington, spoiled to the extent of being a total ninny, is rescued from an over-ardent, sex-mad fiend of a suitor by our pirate Earl hero Alex Rawnsley. Alex isn't a bad pirate, which I know because his crew all behave more like surly proper English butlers on gin. And besides, our hero is just pretending to be a pirate - he wants to find that SOB who murdered his brother.

Uhm, okay.

Diana somehow gets kidnapped by the very SOB, and is almost raped in a grand melodramatic bad-guy-torture-good-heroine production straight out of a bad Wagnerian opera. Alex bursts right through the door at the very last moment, brandishing his much superior weapons, and sweeps our heroine out of the ship in a grand epic flourish.

"I'm independent! I can take care of myself!" Diana would then shriek in what seem to the first of her feitsy vocabulary speak. Which would be fine if she demonstrates some semblence of competency in her behavior. But no, she starts asserting her (almost non-existant) intelligence and tries to get herself into all sorts of nonsense.

Ugh. The writing does improve a little towards the end, but the whole set just screams Tacky! Overwrought! Exaggerated melodrama! (Did I hear that da-da-da-da-dum Valkyrie tune in the background?) And Diana's behaviour is not good for my blood pressure. After a while into OAM I have a sudden craving for aspirins.

Oh well. At least the author has improved tremendously in her second book. Here's to much better Debra Mullins future romances.

Rating: 23

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