Leisure, $4.99, ISBN 0-8439-4920-1
Historical Romance, 2001
Katherine Greyle’s latest, Major Wyclyff’s Campaign – jeez, so many Y’s in the name; what is he, a Serbian? – starts off fine, but it descends into painful, unfunny tomfoolery soon enough. The shining blob you see in the sky is just this book and my TV being hurled into the stratosphere. I am so pissed that Team Guido is not eliminated in The Amazing Race, and my rage only intensifies thanks to this book. So off they go flying into – I don’t care where they go, to be honest.
Sophia Rathburn is a lady who has formed a bond with a dying soldier, Anthony Wyclyff, in her visits to the hospital. When a dying Wyclyff demands – note, I say “demands” and not “proposes” or “begs” – that she marry him, she says okay. Nice ladies always humor a man on the verge of croaking.
Imagine her surprise when Wyclyff – oh shucks, I keep misspelling his name, I’ll just call him Cliffy – Cliffy, whom she believes dead, shows up one day, demanding again that she marries him now and leave with him to India. Sophia, who is on her feminist trip, romance novel style (which is to say, a “She’s just acting all independent and strong because she doesn’t have a guy boffing her regular” thingie) does not want to be married, however. She wants to be free. Her aunt, who is a feminist-type with so much regrets (she was a feminist-type, but oh, no kids, no men in her life – boo hoo hoo), decides to hire Cliffy as the butler, so that he can woo Sophia. This book should be called Aunt Agatha’s Campaign.
There is a wonderful scene on pages 24 and 25, where Sophia flings her corsets gleefully into a ditch before burying those bloody things. I’m not sure if I will ask people to pay $4.99 for that scene, maybe a flip-through in the bookstore will suffice. Everything else here is pretty much silly attempts at forced humor that just don’t work.
Sophia, for example, wants to be a feminist figure, but my respect for her evaporates when I realize this is more akin to a madness trip than a staunch principle thing. She has no money, no plans for the future, nothing, and she wants to be a spinster? What is she going to do to live? Lay eggs?
Cliffy – oh my head. I think the author wants to portray a man who is awkward around people. There are charming examples of romance heroes with little sophistication in their manners. But Cliffy is a blockhead. He has no manners, he demands his way and he wants his way now NOWNOWNOW, he has no subtlety, and he isn’t above embarrassing and humiliating the heroine to get his way. He crosses the line from rustic simple hero to outright psycho too many times. If you run to Cliffy, sobbing that you are tired of society demanding you to look thin and svelte and how you want to eat chocolates, damn what people say, and if you then ask him how do you look in that new sexy red lingerie you just bought, he’ll be the one to give a ten-minute critical dissection of the cellulite in your body. And then he will be angry when you lock him out of the bedroom door, because damn it, he want pumpies and he wants it NOW. He will also be the one to yell at you for being frigid or something outside your window with all the neighbors hearing.
The story becomes tolerable only when Aunt Agatha is in the limelight, acting all maternal as she guides the two young buffoons to a happy ending. Then again, I’m not sure about an aunt who, after spending a few hours with Cliffy (a stranger to her) and even knowing that he is stubborn and inflexible, decides that he is the right guy for Sophia. Her reason? Sophia is lonely and needs a man now.
Sophia is right to ask Cliffy to treat her with respect and to give her space. Unfortunately, the author also bestows upon Sophia not one ounce of conviction or maturity. In the end, Sophia is so wrong to have a conviction. Argh!