Jove, $6.99, 0-515-12883-X
Historical Romance, 2000
We really need to whack all those silly, inane, sheltered/pure/innocent/no-no-no heroines out of the romance genre. I hate it when heroines just cannot match their men. Ugh! With all their stereotypical countrified insecurities, they make me mad.
If you’re wondering why I’m saying all this, well, My Dark Prince is only sterling in its wonderfully dark and magnetic hero Prince Nicholas. The heroine is as interesting as a bucket of dishwater.
Prince Nicholas is in trouble. His arranged marriage to a princess is ruined, to use an understatement, when his bad cousin kidnaps the bride-to-be. War would erupt between Nicholas’s principality Glarien with the kidnapped princess’ country Alvia, and when such a war takes place, powerful and larger countries would “ally” themselves to each of them and ultimately overrun the two small countries’ sovereign.
But when Nick arrives at his long-abandoned English home (he is part English), he finds a dead ringer for kidnapped wifey-to-be Sophia. Penelope Lindsey is actually a long-lost illegitimate distant cousin of Sophia. She is recruited against her wishes to pose as Sophia while the Prince continues his sleuthing. Too bad Penny sparks Nick’s curiosity much more than poor Sophia could ever dream of. Prince and commoner – what to do?
And ooh, Nicky Nicky Nicky. What a dark, tormented figure! Jean Ross Ewing, now in her new image as Julia Ross, gets my vote as one of the best creators of tormented males that tug at my heartstrings as well as fog up my spectacles. The poor man has never felt at home anywhere in England or Glarien, and his overwhelming despair at his inability to love Penny freely makes me sigh. Poor man. Never free to have true friends, and product of a lousy childhood, he comes off more real than contrived. Here is a man who is so lonely yet so noble – truly, Prince Nicholas is one of the most mesmerizing man to grace my reading in a long, long time. I actually cried at the ending, so drawn into his life and psyche that I am. Happy tears for a man who has traveled so long down a tortuous road to his well-deserved happy ending, and tears of frustration because that happy ending comes in the form of martyr-happy, sacrifice-friendly, BORING Penny “Browner Than Brown Cows” Lindsey.
Like her silly mom who performed what is supposed to a touching gesture of love by offering herself to her one true (and unattainable in all the ways but one) love, the Daddy of Princess Sophia, this woman too makes “touching” sacrifices that makes her come off as more misguided and melodramatic than anything genuinely touching. Watch as her martyr complex roars uglier and brighter with each turning of the pages. Watch her silly push/pull games with the prince and get a cardiac arrest from all those pent-up frustration at this woman.
Of course, there’s little Penny can do under her circumstances, but for goodness sake, there’s no need to whine and moan and worry me to death while she’s at it. And it doesn’t help that I can virtually predict her character development. Bookish, intelligent, ready to give and die for kiddies and old people, that’s Penny. And she’s that way in a very – I don’t know, very much like every other Country Bluestocking Centerfold in the historical genre.
And to see such a special man like Nick get tied up to such a bore – ooh! It makes me so mad. Rewrite! Recast!
Okay, let me catch my breath and calm down before my blood pressure hits the stratosphere. Miss Ross can write, that’s for sure, but like all of her books I’ve read, My Dark Prince is such that it is as if in expanding all her creative energies on the hero, the author just hasn’t anything else for the heroine but leftover clichés. Great writing and very, very great hero, but egads, I’m putting out a Dead or Deader wanted poster for that irritating heroine.