Leisure, $6.99, ISBN 0-8439-5063-3
Historical Romance, 2002
Okay, so it’s probably a stretch to expect people to behave with even a little bit of brainpower in a Connie Mason novel, but Lionheart is ridiculous. Nothing makes sense at all and there are plot holes so big one can fit a giant whale through and still spare some room for Godzilla and his mother.
For added creepy effect, this book is very polished in the prose. Old Connie Mason books have zany, often incoherent ramblings in them as well as dialogues bordering on outright ham, but there are some very smooth writing going on here. It’s quite disconcerting.
Our hero is Lionel de Coeur, or Lionheart as he is known as. He’s King Edward’s bestest friend ever, and he is helping his king capture Cragdon Castle and kick some rebels’ asses. He is annoyed when the castle mounts a final resistance led by a mysterious White Knight. No matter. He storms the castle, lusts after the heroine Vanora, and searches for the White Knight.
Of course, the first thing he does is to call Vanora to bathe him. Connie Mason must be a big fan of formulaic medievals. We also have a marriage thing. And like all Connie Mason novels, a Nasty Other Woman is there to create some tedious conflicts so that the author doesn’t have to bother with annoyances like character development or even character brainpower.
The best thing about this book is Vanora’s superwoman alter ego, the White Knight. When she bathes Lionheart, she cannot even carry his armor. Yet I am to believe that this woman can don a knight’s armor and wield a heavy bastard sword to fight. And she and her old servant woman can get her out of that outfit and into a long medieval gown (complete with laces and all) in a blink of eye before our hero charges home and discovers Vanora’s secrets. Vanora has long hair – I wonder how she hides all that under the knight’s helm.
I also love how Vanora, upon seeing the men she professes to love as her own people die at the hands of Lionheart’s blades, can only muster up emotion as strong as “seething inwardly at his arrogance”. Later, she will try and help her kinsman plot mayhem and perfidy not because she is loyal to the cause (she is, but a handsome man easily causes her resolutions to waver), but because she wants to make sure that they don’t kill Lionheart! Isn’t that touching? Connie Mason calls the heroine “caring”. I call Vanora “fickle-minded traitor”. Then again, heaven help people who enlist romance heroines to their cause. They ask for it.
Lionheart also won’t be winning any spelling bee contests anytime soon. He wonders why this woman won’t spread those legs for him at his command. Well, maybe the fact that he has seized her home and killed all her folks may have something to do with her reluctance?
Frankly, Lionheart and Vanora are two of the most stupid people I’ve ever come across, and it’s hilarious how the author constantly describes them as if they are virtuous, noble, and courageous. The author does acknowledge that Vanora acts rashly the first time that insane medieval wannabe did her special brand of inept stunt, but that doesn’t stop Vanora from repeating her pattern of act first, regret later, and then have angry sex with the hero when he charges at her and “punishes” her with rough kisses and that “throbbing hard” part of him. Hilarious, really.
Strangely, when the story seems to be going somewhere, the author throws all her plots out the window and introduces a mistress. Our heroine stumbles upon the stupid hero and the skank in carnal embrace, storms away, he catches her and “throbs hard” Vanora in submission, repeat, repeat, repeat. Again, hilarious.
The problem with this book, as with the previous book by this author, is that smooth well-edited prose and a plot from hell really don’t go together. A lurid, bad, ridiculous book by Connie Mason is prime entertainment. A well-written book filled with stupid characters and inept plotting is just a lousy book.
I want that old, bad, lurid Connie Mason back! You know, the one that performs divine castration on the hero’s horse within one chapter or the one that inadvertently suggests that the heroine’s sister uses the sick hero’s stool to cook breakfast? This one is just boring. Bring back the crappiness!
I can’t believe I’m actually saying that.