by Bertrice Small, historical (2000)
Zebra, $6.99, ISBN 0-8217-6521-3

I gave the whole story away in this review. Be warned.

There's a distinct uncool factor associated with being a Bertrice Small fan. And Ms Small is not making it easy for me to stick by her when she churns out badly written and overly-verbose pap like Bedazzled.

Bedazzled is far from bedazzling. It might as well be the new cure for imsomnia. Not only is the whole book written like a historical treatise glued into a dull silly harem yarn without any effort of cohesion between these two elements, the whole plot hinges on a Ta da! coincidence that has me wishing I can take up a chainsaw and get all medieval on this thick, bloated, but ultimately empty book.

India Lindley, like all women of the O'Malley family, elopes with a useless nobleman only to be captured by this hunky harem king Canyan Reis. Seems like being a harem girl is a mark of distinguishment among the O'Malley ladies. Contrary to historical facts that say how these Arabic overlords like their women rounded roly-poly, Canyan Reis is taken by our svelte, fair heroine's beauty. They have lots of love between the sheets and in the fountains and on the divans. They have a great time plowing furrows, milking love juices out of the great pillar of flesh (or something), and discovering that there is No Fair Pleasure like Thy Orgasms.

Then India's family kidnaps her back, and she is made to wed a stranger who turns out to be... ta-da! Canyan! Turns out Canyan's also a superior Anglo-Saxon lord exiled. They continue their plowing of furrowed grottos and live ecstatically ever after. The end.

If the whole plot thing isn't bad enough, the first two hundred pages read like a very dull history of how the King and his French Queen is manipulated up and down by a wily courtier. And for what? When India goes milking great marble shafts in Barbary, the whole painstakingly-detailed court story is dropped out of the picture. Is there a point to the whole narration then?

And I'm not exactly a full-time fan of Small - I missed out on reading some O'Malley books, hence I really get a headache when the first few long chapters function as nothing more than gratuitous reunion scenes between people whose identities are never made clear to the new reader. Adding to the senselessness are these people discussing their history and lives. And for what? These people disappear soon after, never to appear again to play any role, no matter how minor, in the story.

I can't help feeling that the author has no idea where her story is going when she starts out writing Bedazzled. That's the only explanation I can think of for the whole dull exercise in stupefying boredom that is Bedazzled. It's one thing to be uncool, but I draw the line at being bored out of my wits.

Rating: 16

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