Zebra, $5.99, ISBN 0-8217-7260-0
Historical Romance, 2002
In a supreme act of sacrifice, three courageous midlist authors Deborah Johns, Linda Madl, and Patricia Waddell try to cut down on readers buying pap by telling readers not to read their books. At least, that’s the impression I get from this supremo baddo anthology Blight and Doom. Or is it Bride and Groom? Is there a difference?
In Deborah Johns’s The Knight de la Marche, eighteen-year old (LIAR!) Ginevra Venier travels far and braves danger and rape untold alone to meet her true love. Her parents don’t know where she is, naturally, but she is here because her true love is alive! She will marry her true love, the glorious Knight de la Marche named Sir Gatien!
Sir Gartien is shocked. He dimly remembers fobbing off a psychotically obsessed prepubsecent girl trailing after him like a braindead infatuated puppy a long long time ago by telling her that he will marry her when she is eighteen. He was joking then. Ginevra is not. Now that she’s eighteen (liar, liar, liar!), here she is, stalking after Gartien.
Where I come from, girls like Ginevra are not allowed to have sex until after at least two years’ observation and psychiatric care at the local loonybin house. Carrie has nothing on Psychotic, Obsessive, Dingbat Ginevra who trails after the man like some ghastly wraith of doom. Gartien, to his credit, is a kind if simple-minded guy who doesn’t beat this scary ghoul off with an ugly stick. But this story is still a mess. I’ve lost track of how many times I yell at that stupid girl to just grow up and get a clue.
Okay, in the end Ginevra does grow up a little – if I can call “I’ll give him up because I love him so much!” mama drama act an indication of maturity – so I guess she’s probably 18 going on 9 at the end of the story. I know they marry young at those times, but seriously now.
Linda Madl’s The Bridal Cup isn’t too bad compared to the previous story, but it’s still a trite and annoying read. Leonora Camville is an American, a doctor, and now she’s the new laird of her Scottish clan. I’m sure if I look closer, she’s probably two-thirds on her way to being canonized too.
But we can’t have our heroines being too smart or strong now, so we also have Leonora feeling so guilty that she can’t save her uncle. If only she has done something! Everyone agrees that his time has come, but not Leaonora! It’s her fault! Her fault! Yeah, scream it out, lady – it’s her fault, alright, that full-bloom twit.
Our heroine, who is also very responsible, decides to take this silly bridal cup thing back to Scotland to the rightful owners, the clan MacDonnarts. It’s the 1890’s, and still, our hero Ross MacDonnart has to see the heroine as the Woman from the Other Clan.
So they are attracted to each other. They steal kisses, but the trouble is, Ross is engaged to Alice. Lots of irritating hand-wringing and abandoned hot kisses ensue, followed by our heroine’s more hand-wringing of guilt alternated with hot envy targeted at Alice for getting the man that Leonora wanted soooooo badly because she loves him for being sooooooo hot. I tell you, this is prime exciting stuff, I can barely stop myself from dashing to the UBS and pushing this book to the store owner, yelling at the poor woman to just take this freaking book, heck, take it for free.
So in the end, Alice, who is too good for her useless boyfriend, dumps Ross to run away with the best man. Ross, realizing that he has been deus ex machina’ed into having the cake and eating it too, then proceeds to have Leonora, who is suitably overjoyed and grateful. The end.
Okay, I’ve given the whole story away. Shoot me. It can’t be any more painful than what I’m experiencing now anyway.
Patricia Waddell’s otherwise very average Promises to Keep is like a benediction – compared to the other two, this one is so, so good, it’s like chocolate and Hugh Jackman. Jolene Chapman is a penniless, desperate post-Civil War heroine who travels all the way after spending the last of her savings on tickets and stuff to marry a childhood friend. She learns from a really rude, insensitive friend of dead man that dead man is now dead and she is now husbandless. Oh, oh, what is Jolene to do?
Why, marry that dead man’s best friend Luke Maddock, that’s what. Beat off the evil rustlers, while they’re at it. And of course, these two have sex in a chemistry vacuum, upon which Luke demands that she marry him if there’s a baby. Jolene is besotted – he will marry her because he will never deflower a virgin and then let the ex-virgin bear a child out of wedlock. Her hero!
It’s so nice to see a heroine’s standards for a life partner hovering under the minimum line nowadays. I guess Jolene should be grateful that he even pokes her in the first place.
Promises to Keep is a waste of time, but still, the diamond of the bunch.
Not that it’s anything to shout about, come to think of it. Oh well, another $5.99 down the drain.