Boroughs Publishing Group, $0.99, ISBN 978-1-941260-25-8
Historical Romance, 2014
Iphigenia Martin’s father has vanished. Robert, more popularly known as the Great Al-Ghazari, does his usual vanishing trick one day only to truly vanish. Okay, not vanish in the magic woo-woo sense – he used the diversion of the trick to flee his debtors, leaving behind a note with Iphigenia and blaming theater owner Matthias Abberly for failing to come true with some money he promised Richard. Matthias refutes this claim, telling Iphigenia that Richard is a gambling addict whom Matthias had already assisted to the tune of £600 and he had to refuse Richard when the man approached Matthias for another request for a loan.
Iphigenia naturally has no clue of her beloved father’s vice and she now hates Matthias – hates him, hates him, hates him! – for daring to impugn the character of the most amazing, remarkable, fantastic daddy ever. To prove her daddy’s innocence, she will repay Matthias the debt her father owed him, despite Matthias’s assurance that he has no intention to holding her to her father’s debt. She will continue to perform in her father’s place!
Given that the audience boos her rather than to celebrate her presence on the stage, Matthias is understandably skeptical. Iphigenia is having none of that, however.
Iphigenia narrowed her eyes. “I am an illusionist. And a very good one I might add. Obviously the buffoons who currently frequent your establishment are too ignorant to recognize my talent. And, for your information, my father doesn’t lack character! He was simply overcome with… with angst.” She took another step forward. “You’ll not expunge his debt as some sort of lesson to yourself. I will repay those funds, as it has been left with me to do so.”
A 19th character using the word ‘angst’ (which came into use only in the 1920’s) aside, what’s with the heroine’s bizarre logic that Matthias is expunging the debt “as a lesson” to himself? Does she seriously think that man is guilt-ridden over the disappearance of her father?
Yes, she’s that kind of heroine, I’m afraid. The world revolves around her father and her determination to martyr herself.
Of course, Matthias is no prize either. His response to force a kiss on her – there’s nothing that stokes the reader’s loin more than a man in a greater position of authority forcing his attention on a woman all alone and abandoned by her father! – and insist that he now has “absolute control” over her act. To win a bet, he will transform her into a celebrated illusionist!
The very thought of being attracted to the man made Iphigenia attempt to jerk away, but he held fast, leaned over to force her to look into his eyes. “I wouldn’t think of dressing you as one of my showgirls. Your attire will be far more… special, and will highlight your new profession. Tasteful yet tantalizing. I promised stardom, and I always keep my promises, Gen— Iphigenia.”
All that is missing is his evil “Muahahaha!”
But Gen-Gen, of course, experiences a major flooding in her basement at his touching speech.
Iphigenia’s heart raced at his words. Not simply because she might be allowed the opportunity to achieve her dream, or because she indeed might pay the debts her father had accrued; her heart also raced because Matthias had said the word special. She’d never been special. Not to anyone. Not to her mother who, when Iphigenia was ten, abandoned the family for her father’s manager. Not to her father, who had always put his passions first and, when responsibilities became too great, left her as well. Though Matthias hadn’t used the word for her personally, he’d uttered it in association with her, and that was enough. For now.
She’s special alright. Especially gullible and stupid, if just one word can make her feel so happy. It’s not like he even said those things on one knee while waving a ton of cash in his other hand. He just has to behave like a creepy Ike Turner type and she’s feeling special all over. Great.
She’s soon trying to find reasons to justify why Matthias is the best thing ever. He, on the other hand, insists that he’s that emo brat who is really nasty and cold inside, ooh, until the heroine puts out and it’s so amazing that he’s now a changed man, a man in love, et cetera,
Maybe it’s because of the length of this short story that prevents the author from doing much, but Gen-Gen comes off as a total imbecile who alternates between being a gullible brat and being a horny brat. Matthias is a cardboard version of the emo hero. Both of them are as shallow as can be, and the romance is as deep as a join-the-dots artwork. And if the length is an issue, why not just make Iphigenia and the Showman longer then? I guess the bright spot in all of this, at the end of the day, is that I paid only $0.99 for this thing.