Ivy, $6.99, ISBN 0-449-00486-4
Historical Romance, 2001
Desire is the latest in Nicole Jordan’s ongoing Bacchanalian worship of priapic wholesomeness. You know the drill: super sexed rake, innocent martyr heroine, and damn the plot and character development, let the torpedoes fly at full speed ahead! Just like the hero’s super spermine ballistas blasting through the heroine’s liquid uterine defenses in the prologue, its overheated reliance on sex to carry the story completely obliterates any traces of decent character development.
Brynn Caldwell is a walking and badly-glued pastiche of two of the most popular clichés in the romance genre. She is a bluestocking who will do anything, anything, ANYTHING for her brothers, while at the same time she is also so drop dead beautiful that men drool, slaver, and try to press their amorous kisses on her. But since she is so beautiful, we have to punish her. So our heroine believes that she is under an age-old family curse that inflicts only women in the line. The Caldwell women will make all men fall for them, but tragic consequences will ensue. Brynn lost her own boyfriend when she was sixteen. Never mind that the boy jumped down a lake or something – it’s her fault! Just like how later her brother would do some Very Bad Things – well, it’s her fault too that her brother is bad, just like it’s her fault that super rake and spy Lucian, Earl of Wycliff, falls for her (so in a roundabout way, the curse is probably her fault too). Whatever. I’m not at all surprised when she is manipulated up and down by all the selfish men in this story later onwards for some desperately needed padding, sorry, conflict.
Lucian, while on some spying mission – all super sexed noblemen in England of the early 1800s are spies, you know. I bet the Secret Services personally test these spies’ priapic strength, stamina, endurance, and durability themselves. Where can I sign up to be a tester? Anyway, he sees Brynn and ooh, desire takes over. Hard kiss, forceful kiss, muah muah muah! Brynn realizes even as she melts in his embrace, “Oh no, ’tis the curse!” She flees, but he catches up with her.
He must have her! He must! Upside down, left and right, back and front – okay, back and front is Robin Schone‘s shtick, so no back and front – he must have her, even if he must marry her.
“I can’t marry!” she predictably protests.
“I will school your lil’ brother and pay off your elder brother’s debts,” he says.
“What can I do? I’m only suffering the good sex and all for my brothers’ sake,” Brynn laments, “Please don’t hate me, readers, I’m not the avaricious, beautiful slut you think I am.”
Lucian starts having second thoughts after he has had Brynn. How like a man. He starts thinking that oh, how could he put his dickie above his country! Man, that is so not cool. Brynn, on her part, knows that Lucian is a spy but she just can’t imagine why he will take off to places unknown like that. Gee, I wonder why too. She also has somehow twisted the curse thing by now to believe that okay, marrying Lucian is okay as long as she doesn’t fall in love with him. She also starts having dreams of Lucian getting killed. I have no idea what all these dreams are for, or whether or not Brynn is really psychic. The author seems to be putting this as some means to break the monotony of the bed-buckling and bed-bouncing.
Oh, Brynn and Lucian have issues. Definitely. But the author’s idea of emotional confrontation is this:
She: Let’s talk.
He: Let’s shag.
She: No… ooooh.
Later, they will discuss their sad past and shag some more, as if sad stories from the past will make null and void whether issues they have at the moment.
I have issues with the characters too. Why does Brynn believe in the curse so much? Her family doesn’t even mention it much, only she does. Her brothers have either a strong scientific background or they are too busy having fun (future book heroes alert!). So how could she be the only superstitious one? Why makes her fall in love with Lucian? What makes Lucian fall in love with her? The lust is there, yes, but love? How did that happen? Where’s the chemistry? Where’s the realization, the moment when they fall in love? When Brynn declares she will die for Lucian, Lucian isn’t the only one snorting in disbelief.
Then again, I don’t think character development is the issue here. The throwaway intrigue and tiny misunderstanding issue late in the story don’t matter too. It’s all about the sex. Character is measured in the length of the hero’s ever-mighty penis. Love is measured in how many times they can do it and for how long. The message here, I guess, is “Orgy! Orgy! Orgy!” Toss character development, people, it’s all about the boinking, and don’t we all forget it!