Jove, $6.50, ISBN 0-515-13293-4
Historical Romance, 2002
There are medieval romances and there are medieval romances. Betty Davidson’s Heart of a Hunter has a cover that leads me to believe that I may be getting a Robin Hood-type story, but actually it’s a standard marriage of convenience tale between Lynette “Nobrainette” D’Aubere and her husband Lord Devon.
Riley, our not-too-virtuous heroine of the last book, does some maneuvering on a dying man so that she can get her daughter Nobrainette to be betrothed to Lord Devon, the dying man’s son. See, Riley and her husband are not exactly King Edward V’s favorites (they openly gave the finger to Edward IV) and when Eddie Number Five now demands the daughter Nobrainette to be present in court, Riley senses that the King has nefarious designs on her daughter and decides that the best way to save Nobrainette is by marrying her off to one of Eddie Number Five’s allies.
While the mother is as sharp as a knife, however, the daughter is as blunt as a bowling ball. Heck, send her to Eddie Number Five’s court and watch as England burns to the ground from Nobrainette’s stupidity.
When the story begins, Nobrainette is eloping with her groom Malcolm. They come this close to doing the pokey, when Daddy crashes the party and send kids packing just in time. Nobrainette is furious! She loves Malcolm! Forever! And she will hate her parents and her new husband! Forever! Mind you, after seeing handsome Lord Devon, she immediately realizes that she doesn’t love Malcolm after all, but still… she hates him forever! Yeah!
Devon doesn’t want to marry Lynette, but soon he is drawn to this hysterical brat’s antics. It must be love, because when Devon tells her to stay put, she goes berserk and runs straight into danger just to spite him again and again. The rest of the story deals with Nobrainette’s really nasty abuse of poor Malcolm in her petty agenda against her husband, her frantic and not amusing attempt to thwart Devon’s orders by putting everybody in danger, and her nonsensical “modern, virtuous” morals.
Actually, “modern” is a wrong word to use, as it implies that Nobrainette has 21st century ideas and norms. By today’s standards, Nobrainette isn’t a visionary, she’s roadkill. This is a heroine, who in all the grand tradition of useless baggage bimbo heroines everywhere, runs and stares wide-eyed at the scene of our hero fighting off the bad guy, screams to the hero, “No, don’t kill him!” (because according to her, bloodshed is so uncool), distracts the hero, and lets the bad guy run through the hero. And then she rails at the hero for being a bloodthirsty brute because he dares try to kill a spy in their household.
Moron or what?
This is really odd as there are several other aspects of this story that seem to prove that Betty Davidson isn’t a lousy writer. For example, there is ample history to remove it from the wallpaper history corner. I learned a few things about King Richard III here myself. The author also dares show the couple from her previous book not exactly having it easy. See, when the hero of the last book was a wanted spy and his wife has to juggle between two frictioning halves of her peer, there’s no way they could live happily ever after that easily. Purists may frown at this, but I like it. Plus, Mommy here has more brainpower in her pinkie than Nobrainette in her entire body.
So I don’t know what to make of Nobrainette’s anomalous stupidity in a story that shows signs of brainpower here and there. Meanwhile, Devon may be arrogant and bossy, but hey, he’s a medieval man, and besides, with a wife like that, any sane man will be just as grouchy and surly. So what’s the explanation for Nobrainette? Alien takeover? Bad deadlines? Satanic editor?
Who knows, but Heart of a Hunter is a wasted opportunity in every sense of that phrase.