Pocket, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-4767-4136-9
Historical Romance, 2015
I had my reservations about even reading Luck Be a Lady, because it features a secondary character in the previous loosely-related book Lady Be Good, Catherine Everleigh as the heroine. If you have read that previous book, you would know that the author planted the seeds for a romance between her and the crime dude Nicholas O’Shea, and this is that story.
The thing is, Catherine is a hideous piece of work. She was that horrid employer of every wage slave’s nightmares: the cold, very rude, haughty creature who couldn’t be pleased and who always never has anything nice to say – only a cutting word or twenty for every occasion. She used and hurt her employees just because she could. I’m sure you can think of someone you have worked for who resembles Catherine, and you must be thrilled with the resemblance. The author tried hard to justify Catherine’s continuous existence by claiming that she is just insecure and sad inside. Well, insecure and sad people can meet the business end of a speeding bus too, you know – let’s free up some space in this world for better people to live and run free, that kind of thing.
Well, in this story, the author doubles up on the effort to make readers warm up to Luck Be a Lady, often by forcing the story to be less risky than it could have been. Nick may be a goon lord, but when the story begins, he is so wealthy that he is actually moving into sneaky politician territory. He runs a gambling den, but it’s mostly a way to obtain some degree of influence over the more powerful nobs that frequent his establishment. All to keep the tenants in his “county” warm, safe, and such. The author polishes Nick’s halo further by pointing out that the noble people are all mostly sheltered, pampered, and worthless corrupt twats who deserve to be screwed anyway, so go, Nick, go. In this story, one such corrupt nob is getting Nick’s buildings demolished by order of the law, even if there is no actual legal reason to do so, and Nick is so furious on behalf of the poor oppressed tenants of his soon-to-be pulled down buildings. Oh, and yes, bad childhood, lack of parental guidance, et cetera – really, people, we shouldn’t judge Nick. He’s actually all noble and stuff. Plus, he has a big penis.
Catherine, in the meantime, has become a truly tragic victim. Her brother is embezzling funds from their auction business, which Catherine loves and works so dearly for because her father drilled into her head when she was young to be this way, and we all know how romance heroines are when it comes to their beloved daddies. She would hurl herself into the pyre to save the family business even after the daddy is dead because… DADDY! Well, I hope that daddy is burning in hell because he clearly wasn’t a good person when he was alive, considering how close he was to his daughter and look what the daughter turned out to be. Catherine can only gain full rights to make decisions in the company if she gets married, and she doesn’t want the guy her brother is pushing her to marry (conveniently, this guy is the same one Nick is after), so she goes off to marry Nick.
That way, she can tell her brother that, if he doesn’t do what she says, she would tell everyone that she has married Nick, and poor Peter’s political aspirations would crumble as the man becomes a laughingstock. Oh, and on Nick’s part, he marries Catherine because Peter’s BFF is the same nob that is trying to tear down Nick’s building, so if Peter doesn’t exercise his noble bloke privilege to get things swung in Nick’s favor, everyone would know that Nick is married to Catherine too. In other words, this is blackmail and the marriage is supposed to be a practical thing, to be dissolved after five years.
It’s a pretty decent, if convoluted move, and then Catherine ruins everything by continuously putting her brother in positions that allow the man to keep undermining her. This story, just like the previous one, is the way it is because it is fueled by the heroine’s ineptness. If the heroine of the last book is an incompetent waste of space, Catherine takes things up a notch by being continuously wrong and showing really poor judgement when it comes to other people’s character, all the while acting like she has a telephone pole stuck up her ass, all the way up until the pole reaches her brain and damages those parts that allow rational decision-making.
Seriously, there is no reason why a supposedly hard-nosed businesswoman like Catherine would continuously show such uncharacteristic ignorance and naïveté about the way both the business world and the Ton work, and she also has zero sense of self-preservation when it comes to her own safety. She can’t stop her own brother from destroying her happiness without help from Nick, and yet, she continues to resist Nick’s often rational efforts to fix things or keep her safe. To the bitter end, she continues to judge Nick as morally wanting while often going out of her way to protect her embezzling, lying brother who has no qualms in playing dirty and doing his best to really ruin her.
My problem here is not that Catherine is unlikable – unlikable is okay of the heroine can still carry her own weight. Here, I am absolutely exasperated by the fact that Catherine is always wrong and dumb while acting like a holier-than-thou twatwaffle in the process. Nick has to clean up her mess here, and even he begins to annoy me when he praises Catherine for her savvy, cunning and other nonsense that is nowhere apparent in her behavior throughout the entire book. Catherine’s continuous stupidity is not in character with what she is supposed to be; there is no reason why this pointless waste of flesh should be this useless and stupid – that is the biggest issue here. She is only good at identifying antiques and artworks, it seems, so I begin to wonder whether Peter was the actual driving force behind the success of the family business all that while.
The only reason I give Luck Be a Lady an extra oogie is because Nick, despite turning into a safe and tame version of the bloke he was in the previous book, is pretty decent in a hand-me-down version of Derek Craven kind of way. He’s capable, kind in his own way, and… oh yes, lots of money, flat stomach, big penis. What’s not to like? If it had been any other heroine he ends up shagging out of trouble, this one would have been a far better read. As it is, luck certainly wasn’t with me when I plonked down $7.99 for this thing.