Heaven's Rogue
by Colleen Shannon, contemporary/paranormal (1999)
LoveSpell (Romance of The Millennium), $5.99, ISBN 0-505-52340-X

It has to happen. Romance heroines, in their sexless, dateless, friendless, clueless lives, have never sunk so low as in Heaven's Rogue. Heroines falling in love with portraits of long-dead heroes is one thing - hey, I have known to enjoy seeing images of guys myself... er, never mind. But this book has a heroine calling a statue, a stupid, lifeless block of marble her soulmate.

Honoria Psyche Fitzhugh is the really tragic woman in question. All her life, she is obsessed with the statue David. You know, the one by the First Closet Sculptor Michelangelo? They do say the sculpture David is actually a prepubescent boy, so Honoria, on top of having a full blown case of (how do you call it?) stone-o-philia, is also a pedophile to boot.

Of course, this book tries to tell me, no, no, nooooo, Honoria is just virtuous and pure. She doesn't have dates and she lets everyone walks all over her. If only we mortal women can be so glorious.

So when she finds a replica of David in Italy, she gets her probably first full-blown knickers-wetting orgasm on the spot. Despite being the supposedly intelligent curator that she is, she can't be too smart. Because according to her, this David has a large dongie. Anyone who has seen the real statue will know that that David won't be starring in any porno flicks soon. Naturally, the statue is soon confirmed to be some sort of anomaly and hence fake, and our heroine is fired. She, in her braininess, has told everyone - I mean everyone, as in press conferences and all - that she has found a long-lost Michelangelo work before the test results are released. Smart.

Time for a nice, long break in the room with padded walls, girl, I thought. But no. Our heroine puts her arms around the statue's legs and weeps. "I will miss you," she laments. "Oh God, why can't you be real?"

Here, I rub my nose and wonder if I should just pay a few hundred bucks and order her an anatomically correct male blow-up doll. It'll be my monthly mission of mercy.

Anyone surprised that she is a virgin? There's some attempt to pin her celibacy to Catholic beliefs, but that is so ineptly done that the author ends up making Catholics look positively medieval. I still believe it's because of the heroine's extreme neuroses. Probably the size of those hairy, ugly monstrous thingies scare her unless they come clean shaven and coated in pure white marble.

Next thing you know, David steps off the plinth. He's real! He's real!

From here, let me quote the really awful back blurb.

As Honor examined his awesome grace, she could not help reaching out to trace the outline of his taut muscles. But when the white marble turned to warm flesh under her fingertips... His sculpted legs, poised for whatever challenges lay ahead, stepped off his pedestal, and his chiseled arms, sharply defined with strength, wrapped around her...

Sounds like a porno flick, doesn't it? But be assured there is little sculpted legs thrusting motions in this story. The statue is actually Dominico Castiglione, Michelangelo's assistant (ooooohhh... Heh heh heh...), who is cursed to be a statue for his saying some nasty things about God's mental state. If he can reform his descendant in 1999, he will finally be mortal again.

And Honoria now has a problem: Italy wants the X-rated David back, and this X-rated David is now a very human Dom. What to do?

Whine. Shriek. Panic. Worry. Wring hands. (Her) Whine. Sulk. Barroom brawls. Jealousy. Ego. (He)

Big misunderstandings. Small misunderstandings.

Ridiculous plot holes. For instance, as a historian specializing in Greek/Roman mythology, she has no idea who Psyche is. Now, I may forgive if she has no idea who Iphiginia or Desdemona is, but not knowing who Psyche is? Did she buy her degree from some hack for $200 or something?

And don't get me started on Dom's "You are slim and shapely, unlike the fat women so admired in my own time". Can anyone say "slimy frat boy"?

With all its awkward dialogue and tiresome, predictable psychological baggages redux, Heaven's Rogue makes an already ludicrous premise completely unreadable. It's not campy, it's just plain horrific. This book perfects nosebleed into an art.

Rating: 02

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