Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-380-81517-6
Historical Romance, 2000
The awful bastardization of Shakespeare that is the title above is deliberate, so cringe not, Shakespeare purists. Much Ado about Love is, er, “inspired” by the movie Shakespeare in Love. This time around, we get to see how Shakespeare get the inspiration for the play that shares the same title as this book. And get this – Shakespeare is a pseudonym for Lady Olivia Tudor.
Wait, let me get my earplugs first… damn, those Shakespeare purists can shriek loud indeed.
Anyway, the gender twist is the only thing interesting here, an otherwise badly-handled romance featuring stock secret agent hero and innocent, feisty heroine-who-wants-only-to-save-mommy-and-prettier-sister. I’d rather have Shakespeare high on medieval cocaine when he was inspired to write that play than what is offered here.
Ian Terrance is the spy/agent in question. Queen Elizabeth I has ordered him to apprehend that upstart Willy whom she suspects is behind some anti-monarchy uprising. Ian by chance realizes that Olivia is the playwright in question, and she is supposed to have been killed by him ages ago.
What happens next is some forced kidnapping, screamy sex, distrust, more screamy sex, and finally, a happy ending. Lots of lines from Shakespearean plays are thrown in for flavor. But hey, that’s okay. I just wonder if Ian supposed to be that colorless Claudio fellow? Be rest assured he is no Benedict and Olivia is definitely no Beatrice.
Anyway, the author must be commended for creating a new twist of a storyline. It’s a nice attempt, even if it is an experiment gone awry. It’s just that, well, when the story starts making cheesy concessions to conventionality in the characterization and plot departments, Much Ado about Love is actually much ado about nothing.