Mills & Boon, £4.99, ISBN 978-0-263-91738-3
Historical Romance, 2016
I’d like to believe that the author know what she is doing here, but I don’t know. If you’re anything like me, you’d find Bound by a Scandalous Secret hard to get into because the heroine is an idiot party of one, and the only reason she isn’t completely ruined, made into a social pariah, and forced to sell herself by the docks by the time the story ends is because the hero is a nice guy.
Genna Summerfield will never forgive her sister Lorene for marrying a much older but wealthy man for the sake of the rest of Lenore’s siblings. Here’s the weird part: Genna doesn’t believe in love, she claims, and yet, she blames her sister for… doing something for the family? To put others’ happiness over hers? Why is Genna acting like she’s the one getting roasted on her rump when the perpetually morose and passive Lorene is the one who is getting browbeaten by a nasty hubby? It is bizarre to see Genna talking about how Lenore deserves the unhappiness she is experiencing, when Genna is happily enjoying the allowance from her brother-in-law and staying at that man’s house… doing nothing to contribute to the family, if I may add, other than to say that one day – one day – she will be independent and free to do whatever she wants.
Oh, and she also doesn’t want to marry. Ever! You’d think marrying some gullible older guy and then being a merry widow once he expires would give her the freedom she craves, but no, Genna is determined to do WHATEVER she wants without getting married… or doing anything else other than to pout and complain, come to think of it.
So, she bumps into the Marquess of Rossdale by chance, while she is painting and he is horseriding, and the two have a very nice chat. They find themselves thinking about the other person often. Ross realizes that he really wants to see her again, and he also wants her to be able to explore her dream of being an artist. So, he proposes that they pretend to be engaged, so that she can use the relatively more flexible schedule given to an engaged woman to take painting lessons and such.
Now, while this is certainly nice of him to do this, any sane woman will surely wonder what kind of payment she will have to pay the piper once the engagement is terminated. Will her reputation suffer? Will she be even a bigger laughingstock among the Ton? Oh, but Genna is too smart for that kind of pessimistic thinking! She will repay the “kindness” of her sister – which she spends practically the whole book mocking – by… becoming a successful artist! How the Ton would react to Genna announcing herself an artist is, of course, trivial nonsense. When she becomes a proper artist, she will finally be that free and independent woman she has always wanted to be, and the whole world will then applaud and give her $100 for being such an awe-inspiring example of a human being.
And while she’s at it, she’s determined not to marry Ross – she will break the engagement off, just you wait – but when she gets horny, sorry, I mean, when she realizes that she’s truly in love with Ross, that son of a dog has better come stick it into her right away because damn it, missy is hungry and she wants food now. What, pregnancy? Who cares. All the problems in the world will vanish once she becomes this proper artist. Just you wait.
In other words, this is a story starring a moron, with a plot fuelled by the moron’s determination to be the social disaster of the century, and the only reason she isn’t tossed out onto the streets by her brother-in-law by the last page is because Ross moves heaven and earth to get her to marry him, thus saving her from herself. Ross is really a nice guy, but he’s way too good for that imbecile of a heroine. And worst of all, when Genna finally realizes what a mess she is in, she decides to… yes, you guess it, RUN AWAY AND NEVER MARRY ROSS, even if marrying him is the only solution left for her, because she can’t bear to see him being stuck with her. For once, I agree with her, but damn it, not once – not once! – does this imbecile do anything right in this story, and she gets rewarded for her stupidity with a doting hubby who puts her on a pedestal.
I don’t know. I don’t like seeing stupid people getting rewarded without having learned a single thing, so I don’t like Bound by a Scandalous Secret at all. I’m tossing in an extra oogie because there are some lovely, romantic scenes here, but that’s as far as my generosity goes. It’s really a shame that the heroine doesn’t get what she deserves – her suffering would have made the world a better place.