Sourcebooks Casablanca, $6.99, ISBN 978-1-4022-8605-6
Historical Romance, 2014
Reading this book makes me feel like that poor last fellow standing in an episode of The Twilight Zone, all lost and blinking in confusion. Perhaps I am a completely wrong kind of audience: perhaps the target audience are people who sigh as they smile at the image of pink bunnies hopping around flowers or something. This is because my reaction to most of this story is an incredulous “Are you for real? Seriously, sweetheart?”
Andrew Clifton, Lord Amberstall, is finally back in London after a period of exile due to a great shame. What shame, you ask? Was he publicly buggered by a man in an Easter Bunny suit while he was at Eton? Was he caught trying to steal King George III’s underpants? Did he run over some nuns on the street? No, it’s worse: he lost a horse racing match with his friends. I know, that’s such a traumatizing event.
Meanwhile, Katie Moore lives on her own, in a cottage down the estate, despite being the daughter of a nobleman – after her mother vanished and her father couldn’t stand the sight of her because she looks so much like her mother. She becomes even more of a hermit after a riding accident, and she now spends her time avoiding the stables – horses were formerly her passion – and instead do pottery like she is hoping for Patrick Swayze’s ghost to come molest her while the Righteous Brothers croon in the background. Alas, instead, she gets nearly trampled by Andrew when he and his horse crash onto her turf while trying to avoid some ruffians.
The horse is injured, so Andrew wants to shoot it straight to hell. Katie, however, is like no, no, she can heal that darling, so don’t he dare bang-bang that boo. Andrew apparently loves that horse, but he acts indignant when Katie argues with his decision to shoot that horse. Even when it’s clear that the horse will live, he still acts like Katie has wronged him because he has to wait around waiting for the horse to get well. Meanwhile, Katie is a brat to him, an abomination because she wears breeches and acts like she knows horses more than he, when everyone knows that girls are dumb, only good for wearing sexy dresses and drinking teas.
And so they go. He acts like a brat, and I’m not shocked at all when he turns out to be very trigger-happy in jumping to all kinds of conclusions, often blaming the heroine for all kinds of stuff. The heroine doesn’t make it easy for him, though, as she has a tendency to act defensive first, think later. She always acts like she’s the smartest and most capable brat in the world, but in truth, she’s often wrong and she’s far less capable than she thinks she is. These two squabble and bicker like children, and as this behavior persists late in the story, I find myself thinking, “Am I actually supposed to relate to these brats? Find them adorable? WHAT IS THE POINT, THE MEANING?”
Shame, really. Both characters have a mad passion for horses, and they make a strong case for opposites attract. However, the author relies too much on bratty antics, childish squabbling, and juvenile temper tantrums to carry the story, and I guess I am just too old for stories of this kind. How to Lose a Lord in 10 Days or Less completely loses me, so perhaps it is a good thing that there are so many other books out there to read.