Leisure, $6.99, ISBN 0-8439-5462-0
Historical Romance, 2005
Many things about Connie Mason’s Gypsy Lover won’t make sense if I look too closely at things, but expecting more from this author is like expecting to win a million dollars at some casino by this Sunday. The author’s books are campy fun stuff when she isn’t trying too hard to concentrate on the plot. Here, she focuses considerably on a murder plot. Never mind that the whole story is obvious and transparent to the point that even the Hardy Boys will be embarrassed to be caught in it, the final opinion of this book hinges on how much the hero and the heroine entertain me in their perpetual stupidity. Verdict: not too much. Unfortunately.
Esme Harecourt is bound by her late father’s will to marry the next Marquis of Alston but she doesn’t want to, as Calvin Lonsdale is a vile gambling addict who makes her skin crawl. However, she isn’t too unhappy when she visits Alston Manor and stumbles upon a country fair where she is kissed by a Gypsy. She hates Gypsies, blah blah blah – an obligatory childish prejudice too simplistically handled to be credible as anything other than a plot device for some painful internal conflicts between her and the hero – but my, this guy is hot. Actually, he’s hotter – he’s the new Marquis of Alston.
That’s right, our half-Gypsy hero Dante (who is made palatable by his English blood so that we genteel readers won’t recoil in horror at the idea of our fair willowy virginal heroine being in bed with some… some… exotic) is named the new Marquis according to the will of his grandfather who supported him when his father (the Marquis’ son, dead for ten years now) won’t acknowledge Dante in the man’s lifetime. Dante has this huge chip on his shoulder about his Gypsy bloodline so he decides that he wants nothing to do with the money and the estates that comes with the title. I wonder why that stubborn idiot don’t just accept the money and use it to make his people’s lives better, but then I remember what book I am reading and stop wondering.
Dante wants to tell his grandfather where the man can shove his title but alas, the old man is dead when Dante reaches him. Hmmm, who can the villain be? Move aside, Calvin the vile gambling-addicted jerk – Esme and Dante have a mystery to solve! Hmm, seriously, who can the murderer be? Oh, poor Dante doesn’t even know where to begin in his mystery-solving! Finally, after some investigations, Dante suspects Calvin. How nice that he has finally caught up with the rest of the world.
Dante’s prejudice against the English is as silly and simplistic as Esme’s, but Ms Mason of course has Esme in the wrong. The internal conflicts are silly “I want you but I hate your pedigree!” squabbling. These two are so silly and so, so tedious. I do get a laugh though when Dante announces that he’s becoming the new Marquis so that he can use the money that comes with the title to conduct an investigation into the previous Marquis’s death. Sure he does, snort.
As a romantic suspense, the story is too obvious and too simplistic to be of any use to anyone looking for a well-written mystery. The characters are so repetitive in their bickering that they don’t amuse as often as they exasperate me. Everything about this book, from the plot development to the characters’ psychology, is so devoid of even rudimentary sophistication that the whole thing ends up coming off like some slow, lumbering, and clumsy bloated effort. If this is a book by anyone other than Connie Mason, I may actually start to feel embarrassed for the author. But Connie Mason is in a class by herself however, where common rules for good writing have no sway. But even so, this story isn’t outrageously bad enough to either offer plenty of laughs at the author’s expense or to offend the reader’s sensibilities. Since Gypsy Lover is boring, there is nothing here to justify a non-fan of this author having to endure its shoddy writing and childish plotting. Unless, that is, she wants an expression on her face that mirrors that of the surly man in the scary cover of this book.