by Lauren Royal, historical (2003)
Signet, $6.99, ISBN 0-451-20831-5

Eeeuw, this book is unbearably girly. Lily is right up there with Pink Care Bears, Winged Unicorns, Happy Hearts, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and other nauseatingly cute pink monstrosities that strike fear in my heart and make my hair turn blonde and curl into ponytails. There is a limit to how much prepubescent puppy love baby talk I can take in, and the entire book is way over the limit.

The sister Violet is married, three years later it is Lily Ashcroft's turn to get her story. Lily is a truly horrible monster. She loves animals. Since she was sixteen, her heart and virginal cavities are pledged to Lord Randal Nesbitt because... well, okay, I admit Randal is a nice, very adorable beta hero, but Lily's devotion to him is written in a "just because it just is" manner. Lily loves animals. She loves children. All she wants is to be married to a perfect husband, lives in a perfect house, and make many happy perfect babies. But she knows that she must see the middle sister Rose marry first before she does, because she is a very good girl who knows that elder sisters must marry first before young sisters do.

Taking the flimsiest of reasons, Lily believes that she must help Rose win Randal even if the thought of her sister and Randal breaks her heart and makes her virginal womanly parts shrivel in unbearable unquenched need. Why is she doing this? Because she loves her sister, because she loves Randal, and so, she must make sure Rose finds happiness even if it's at her expense. Because Lily is a sweet, devoted girl who loves animals and wants to see everybody happy. Give me a broom, somebody. I want to whack someone's head.

But ah, Randal wants Lily. Hot, sweet virginal Lily that makes his manly virile parts shudder with throb-bobbing need! He is not the marrying kind, but because of Lily, he will try to be one. Aww, isn't he sweet? I don't find him as nauseating as Lily because there's a big difference between a starry-eyed Pollyanna and an earnest suitor. I can stand, even like, the latter, the former must be exterminated without prejudice.

So they make love. And to Lily, this is... let me quote the author herself, "sharing herself with Randal had been an incredibly amazing experience, and it couldn't have been wrong - not when they'd pledged one another their hearts." See what I mean? Lauren Royal writes romance the way a thirteen-year old girl will imagine love to be. "Pledging hearts", "sharing herself", "becoming one" - what is this? My Little Pony Falls In Love? When Lily declares that it is okay if Randal impregnates her in those premarital sex moments, because her own sister Violet is conceived three months before their parents marry, so squish it in, my hunk Randal, I completely lose it and cackle like a senile bat. Seriously, Lily spends the entire book behaving like a twinkle-twinkle little-star Pollyanna type, prattling non-stop about soulmates and her eyes brimming with tears or her heart showing on her sleeve whenever she imagines poor, poor Randal hurt or unloved, I would cheerfully see her drown in a vat of vinegar. Cloying doesn't come close to describing this horrifically naive nitwit.

There is a silly conflict that takes up half the book involving silly daddy-son disputes, evil women, and our heroine running away in tears because She Is Unworthy, but at that point, every joint in my body is aching from my being in that cringing posture for too long. If you don't mind a silly schoolgirl heroine type that will prattle on and on in unbelievably childish ways, Lily is worth a look, because Randal is really a sweet gentlemanly (if a little dim at times) hero. Everyone else, make the sign of the cross with your arms and walk past quickly when you encounter this book staring at you from the bookshelf.

Rating: 56

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