Avon, $6.99, ISBN 0-380-80830-7
Historical Romance, 2001
Just Imagine is a revised edition of Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s 1984 historical romance Risen Glory. Two words, people: 1984 and historical. If you rush out and grab this book expecting a mentally-frozen-at-the-age-16 footballer doing a sugar daddy act on a neurotic virgin bimbette, you have only yourself to blame.
But if you are looking for a romance between Miss Thang and her Sugar Daddy, you’re in luck.
Katharine “Kit” Weston is 18 but she is adept at disguising herself as a boy. Now, she’s 18. She should have grown kitties on her chest by now. She should have had her voice broken. So my guess is that to pass off her deception successfully, she must look a lot like a guy. There’s no mention of breast-binding, crotch stuffing, and all. Hence I can only conclude that Kit looks like a… well, fugly male.
In this guise of a 13-year old lad, she manages to get herself hired as a stablehand to the ho-pokin’ land baron named… er, Major Baron Cain. I’m not getting it wrong, am I? Let me check. Yup, Major Baron Cain is his name. Kit wants to kill Cain, because Cain now possesses her land Risen Glory.
I mean, even if Cain is doing a splendid job managing Risen Glory, better than her father ever could, she just has to hate the man. Why? Because… because her elderly manservant died and the new staff is just not the same! Ooh, stamp feet, pout, pout, pout! Miss Thang here wants her estate back, even if she doesn’t seem to have a clue what to do with Risen Glory.
Too bad Cain rips her shirt before she can even make a move on him, and her unbound kittens spring free. Hmm… how can she pass herself off as a boy then? Maybe proportions are relative, and Major Cain’s a small-loving guy. No, I don’t think so, judging from the obligatory early skank-shag scene with his shrieky mistress. He’s definitely an ample-curves man, if you know what I mean.
My only explanation is Cain having a closet thing for transsexuals. Mind you, he has much better chemistry when he thinks Kit’s a stablehand than when he knows she’s a Miss Thang. How many guys you know will drop by another guy’s bunk at night to discuss literature?
Next, Cain sends Kit to a finishing school, but Kit, the Miss Thang tomboy, makes a mess of things and is labelled by the shrink as a nymphomaniac. I’m not joking. She grows up, heads back to Risen Glory, gets mistaken by Cain as a strumpet… oh, let’s just say this novel is obviously written in the 1980s. Silly sex, silly arguments, Miss Thang having lots of temper tantrums and no common sense, her Sugar Daddy giving her the schoolin’ daddy-knows-best education of her life – in short, Just Imagine is just plain silly. It’s this close to being campy, but really, it’s not good. It’s not funny and really gets old after too many of our Miss Thang’s stupid antics and temper tantrums.
What’s more amazing is how this one is being touted as a classic by Avon. Uh… maybe the Avon folks are aliens from Planet Undaria where Just Imagine is the Undarian’s equivalent of the Holy Bible or something? Even more eyebrow-lifting surprising is Jill Barnett’s enthusiastic “Gone with the Wind the way it should have been.” Granted, we all love our books, but seriously, Gone with the Wind? Hey, can those Undarians return the real Jill Barnett and send this clone of theirs back to where it comes from? Thanks.