Avon, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-06-222391-3
Historical Romance, 2015
Fiction needs conflicts, yes, and romance novels need to come up with an excuse to force two people, who would never get together under normal circumstances, to be in a relationship together. I get that. But sometimes, things become so absurd and silly, I find myself wishing that I can just roll up my eyes at the characters and leave them to suffer in the bed they have made. In Eloisa James’s Four Nights with the Duke – the Duke, people, not just a Duke, snort – I feel this way about the heroine Emilia “Mia” Gwendolyn Carrington. Everything about her is just too overwrought for me to care.
Fifteen years ago, when they were fifteen, Mia overheard our hero Evander “Vander” Holyfield, oops, Septimus Brody and his friends discuss and mock her love poem to him. She never meant for the poem to be found, but oh well, crap happened. Humiliated and embarrassed by the unkind things Vander said about her with his friends, she confronted them and declared that she would never marry them even if they were the last men on earth.
Well, today, she visits Vander at his home and tells him that if he doesn’t marry her, she’d expose the fact that his father – currently in a nut house – is a traitor to the Crown and Vander would lose his title and lands. Vander is angry, and believing that she wants him only for his pee-pee, ends up manhandling her and showing her the pee-pee in question. The whole scene is so over the top with irrational crazy emotions running wild that I don’t know whether to be embarrassed on everyone’s behalf or close this book and hide under the table.
I get that Vander has the right to be furious. His behavior can be beyond the pale sometimes, but then again, he is coerced into marrying someone he has little affection for. He does have some redeeming features now and then, but his tendency to act like a twat first and feel remorse later eventually becomes a predictable pattern that gets old fast.
Mia, on the other hand, oh dear. Okay, she needs to get married to care for some brat. I get that. I don’t get why she can’t tell him her true reasons but hey, romance heroines, whatever. But… there are no other men who would marry her, even with her dowry? She has to marry the very man whose mother her own father had an affair with, a man who blames her father and hates her family for shaming his mother? (Mind you, the only one calling his own mother a whore is Vander, so yes, he is projecting his other mother issues on Mia.) At this rate, she may as well marry a fortune hunter, or anyone else who, at least, isn’t determined to hate her on sight. Has a virus swept London and killed most of the men, leaving only those with jackass DNA alive?
This entire “Mia must marry Vander” angle is too obviously a forced gimmick to get these two in a painful marriage together, and I can only shake my head at how transparent this whole thing is. And then, Mia starts wailing that she deserves respect and she wants to be loved. Right, because the darling clearly deserves all these after forcing herself into that bed with Vander. She doesn’t like it? Why, who would’ve thought that marrying a man who doesn’t like you at all would be such a trying ordeal? I have very little patience for Mia and her quest for love, because she’s the one who came up with the plan, and now she’s whining because the plan isn’t to her liking. I suppose she can always wise up and have an affair with some nice guy, but you know romance heroines. Heaven forbid they do anything pragmatic to make the best of a situation.
Oh, and the title? It comes to Vander’s decision to “gift” Mia four days worth of his pee-pee in the entire marriage when he decides to agree to it. If she wants more pee-pee, tough. I have no idea why he thinks his pee-pee is so remarkable, as it’s not like he’s the only one in London who has a pee-pee. Maybe he thinks that he’s unique because of its odd shape or coloration?
The entire story is basically two children in adult’s bodies wringing their hands, moaning. grumbling, and whining. The whole thing should be familiar to readers who have read stories of two moping-moaning meenies in a forced relationship before. Only in this one, I have little sympathy for the heroine and I also have little patience for the hero’s behavior. For heaven’s sake, if they can’t stand one another, who cares? They are married, problem solved – just go shag someone else already and stop complaining. Four Nights with the Duke, and I just don’t give a damn.