Harlequin Historical, $4.99, ISBN 0-373-29211-2
Historical Romance, 2002
Julia Justiss’s descent into Barney Sue writing is not a pretty sight. Where she once shows promise to be, I don’t know, the new Mary Balogh or something, she seems to be now going through the motions, creating pristine perfect (and lethally dull) Mary Sue heroines and gigolo heroes that lack depths or even character.
Valeria is a virginal widow (in romance novels like this one, that one is actually not an exercise in irony or paradox) who is penniless, relative-less – an innocent, braindead martyr skilled in healing and making everybody happy at the expense of hers, and… oh, the tear in my eye. How touching to see such a tired plot device being rehashed again.
Meanwhile, we have the cheap male slut hero, Teagan Fitzwilliams. Prickhead Free-willie-come-and-get-it here has a sad, sad story about lousy parents, which we all know is a valid excuse to whore, gamble, and then whine that everyone is not seeing the honorable misunderstood hero he is. Free-willie-come-and-get-it seduces every human being with a vagina that he comes upon, and our heroine stumbles upon him offering his free willie to her maid.
Oh, he is so hot! Wow! So she happily partakes the offer of his free willie too.
Then they part ways. Then our heroine runs off to attend an old lady who is sick, and yes, this old lady will soon act the – oh, I can’t say the dirty M word. There she (Vacuousa, not the old lady) meets Free-willie-come-and-get-it, embarks on lots of sexual escapades and adventures, all devoid of any sexual heat, and I’m supposed to care because the author force feeds superficial “virtue” of Free-willie-come-and-get-it and Vacuousa on me.
Like, say, how Vacuousa here discovers that she is a manager supremo, healer incomparable, doormat immaculate, and sex betty inamorata. And oh, Free-willie-come-and-get-it spoils a robbery committed on our heroine and he gives good slut sex, so he’s good, pure, noble, worthy, and all. We’ll just blame syphilis on his parents, those good for nothing losers that force our hero to whine, wine, dine, whore, and pork. Never mind that he just spends his time servicing Vacousa and using her precious funds without lifting any part of his able body to help (except for that, you know, one overused part of his) while she toils and works at her house. In real life, I’ll call Free-willie-come-and-get-it a trophy husband. Or a gigolo. Or Teagan Nicole Smith. Lots of nice names, actually, but definitely not a hero.
But hey, Vacuousa’s happy, so what can I say?
The big misunderstanding thing then rears its ugly head – as if one rearing ugly head in this story isn’t bad enough, here comes another one, eurgh – and I can’t take it anymore.