by Monica Roberts, historical (1999)
LoveSpell, $5.50, ISBN 0-505-52353-1

This book has a virginal preacher for a hero. The cover is lovely. But no, the story inside is one sadistic tale of an anally-plugged hero bending a free-spirited heroine to his twisted notions of propriety that in the end, the woman is an empty shell. The head-up-his-excretory-orifice man is the hero by the way.

Preachers can make romantic heroes. But Preacher Mike Mulgrew should just jump off a cliff. He sends for a mail-order bride, expecting a willowy, obedient Miss Prim from Boston. He gets No-Account Savage, an orphan of dubious origin instead. The newspaperman who composed No-Account's reply letter has played a joke on Mike, and now, Mike isn't a happy man.

No-Account has wonderfully simple views in life, which she espouses with dry wit and charming naivety that has me warming up to her. She also has a somewhat slow brother called Slow, which is the reason why she wants to be married. She wants stability for them both. Isn't that a wonderful woman?

But Mike is embarrassed that he is now a laughingstock. He treats No-Account like a punching bag. Even after No-Account cleans up (into Miss America 1800s, of course) and gets a new name - Hope Savage - Mike still gets that ten feet concrete pole shoved up his you-know. That doesn't mean he doesn't lust after her. But he makes petty demands on Hope/No-Account, gets mad when she meets those demands, gets mad when she doesn't, gets mad because he wants her like a horny toad, gets mad when she tries to seduce him, gets mad when she doesn't want to be seduced... and I get mad too.

So much for all the things Mike preach before the flock. Underneath the cloth, he is a control freak, a spoiled, pampered, prejudiced Colonel Von Trapp on drugs. When he makes one too many petty It's Me Or Your No-Life, No-Good Dirty Friends demand - a few chapters before the epilogue! - and then banishes No-Account/Hope when she chooses to help her friends, this book is a goner.

Mike gets the rack, the book gets a 38, solely on the account of the heroine.

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