Avon, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-06-235891-2
Historical Romance, 2016
It is a good thing that I am an open-minded lady of love and harmony, or else, despite having read just one other book by this author, I might have jumped the gun and made a pronounced judgment that the author’s target audience are starry-eyed nine-year old girls. With so many unhappy turn of events happening these days, let me just embrace the love and say that there is a place in this world for everything, and His Scandalous Kiss is always welcome to take its place at the short bus in my neighbourhood any time.
Richard Hearty hates Society because he came home from the war only to find himself surrounded by traitors and liars, oh the drama. Okay, he’s also friends with all the nice people that starred in the previous books in this series, and if Richard seems oddly at home with the crowd in this story – a far cry from the pariah like he makes himself out to be – I suppose it makes sense since the story is set in a party and he’d naturally be surrounded by friends who took the trouble to invite him over. So yes, he’s not a drama queen at all! I have to keep reminding me of that, because, honestly, the author makes it too easy for Richard sometimes, and as a result his issues seem far more exaggerated than they should be at times.
And then we have the clown seated at the back of the short bus, Lady Mary Bourneville. The Bornvile Cow will make it her life mission to constantly remind Richard and the reader that she is not like other women. You see, she doesn’t sew. etc – not like other women, hurray. She only wants to talk about her favourite topics – her unironic love for Jane Austen which sees her completely missing the biting social commentary in those books – and shows little patience or knowledge of anything outside her bubble. Oh, and she is convinced that she is plain, dowdy, etc. She will also keep reminding everyone that her dowry is meager, she has no looks and ladylike skills because, remember, she’s not like other girls, and she also doesn’t like to mingle. Oh, and she views every man that approaches her – men that don’t set off the fire alarm in her loins, that is – with extreme suspicion because… yes, you’re right, it’s love or death of the Bornvile Cow.
She has a suitor who tells her that he’d let her have her independence. Hell, she can even keep her dowry, as he’s wealthy enough to never need her money. But the Bornvile Cow, who has spent three Seasons wasting her parents’ money and time, insists that she can’t marry him because she is holding out for love to come find her. Yes, she insists that she has nothing to give a man, but she is waiting for that man to still come to her anyway. Meanwhile, she meets Richard in a masked ball and, despite never wanting to marry for anything other than love, starts writing secret notes to him asking him to meet her all cozy and discreetly in the garden. Oh, and despite claiming incessantly that she is not like other girls and hence has nothing to offer any man, she is pursued by every guy in the party anyway, because the author won’t stop forcing her imbecile heroine onto my face until I break down, play Leonard Cohen’s Did I Ever Love You non-stop in the background, and beg the Almighty to take me to that man’s concert in heaven.
Okay, there is a puppy-like earnesty to Richard that I find appealing despite myself, but the Bornvile Cow is something that only little self-absorbed girls can relate to: that sour-faced mung determined to play the oppressed victim while secretly reveling in the fact that she’s the most popular, most desired cow in the market just by simply existing, rather than through any effort of her own. Reading her moaning and whining about love even as she does stupid things to justify getting felt up by Richard makes me wonder whether I was that annoying when I was, say, in my early teens. God, I hope not.
The nail into the coffin that will drag me screaming into the afterlife is the fact that this story just oozes banality and vapidness from every sentence. I’ve already mentioned how the Bornvile Cow gushes about Jane Austen’s books while completely missing the author’s messages and themes. Well, every time that cow opens her mouth, I cringe, because there is no shortage of profound insight from the Bornvile Cow.
“Based on a few observations that I have made, I have concluded that love matches are more possible than we allow ourselves to believe. Especially among the middle and lower classes where financial alliances are not so prevalent.”
How nice. Does this mean that she will start hunting for love among the drunks in the Seven Dials tavern? Lower classes are so awesome and lovey-dovey, after all. No, of course not. Just like how those Americans claiming that they wanted to move to Canada but, gee, never Mexico, despite claiming solidarity with those poor illegal Mexican immigrants that earned the soon-to-be President Trump’s ire, privileged social justice cows like our heroine will never give up their cozy, parasitic lifestyle despite claiming incessantly that they are surrounded by greener pastures all over. No action – all talk only.
“As with the Art of War, I failed to complete it, but in this instance, it was mostly because I found it to be entirely too devious and self-serving for my liking.”
Clap for this hooker, people – this is the same imbecile that wastes her parents’ money on three Seasons, looking for love instead of a husband, all the while claiming to be above self-serving nonsense.
To be fair, though, Richard can be equally vapid, as can be seen by his response to the Bornvile Cow’s critical evaluation of a book she has clearly missed the point about, just like she misses the point of Jane Austen’s stories.
“Deception, as advocated by Machiavelli, can be a powerful tool when used correctly.”
No kidding! So profound. Let me try to sound just as smart – this machete, as advocated by Jason Voorhees, can also be a powerful tool when used correctly SO DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE.
The only reason I made myself finish this book was that valiant hope that the author would make the Bornvile Cow eventually grow up and become something that does not resemble a permanent resting bitchface constantly complaining and whining while waiting for things to happen to her instead of doing something to make those things happen. But no, the entire story is a validation of her principles. That’s why I said earlier that the author’s target audience must be those young kids that find joy in relating to a ridiculously self-absorbed clueless heroine that has very little self awareness.
Okay, I’m going to start playing Leonard Cohen now.