Bantam, $5.99, ISBN 0-553-58121-X
Historical Romance, 2000
This book sounds interesting. The bulk of the story takes place in 1909 India – a festering zone for anti-British colonial sentiments – and it has two cat burglars as the main leads. I can’t grab this book up fast enough. Unfortunately, while My One and Only sounds like a great book, what it is is an entirely different story.
Kitty Fontaine is trained in some mystical Indian martial arts and now she is back in England to steal a ruby called the Blood of India. Her father is arrested for some corruption practices and is scheduled for execution, unless Kitty can find this ruby to pay an Indian smuggler to help her father break free. The Ruby is stolen from India and is now somewhere in England. Only Kitty isn’t alone in her hunt, for another cat burglar known as the Tiger is searching for the Blood of India too. They meet one night, kiss, and next thing they know, they find themselves caught in some political intrigue thingie that has them working together and going back to India for more fun and games.
This story is a mix of some third-rate cheesy cornball and operatic melodramas. People don’t just die, they die in dramatic grand productions, arms flailing about in slow motion as they fall to the ground. There are scenes out of old B-grade adventure movies, like Kitty and Tiger wading through a river infested with crocodiles. Secret of swimming with crocodiles? “Think like a crocodile. Say I am a crocodile,” Tiger tells Kitty seriously. Don’t try this at home, kids.
The only reason I can think of why this book is a romance is because there are some grand “I hate you, let’s boink!” scenes and the two characters say “I love you!” and boink in the shadows of the Taj Mahal in the grand epilogue. People don’t just love in this book, they scream, pull hairs, and stand in awe as they bask in the “spirit of the great ruler’s love and longing for his wife”, while equating themselves to Shah Jehan and his wife. “I will rather die than to live without you!” Kitty breathlessly tells the man she was screaming hate words to only a few chapters back.
There’s the supposedly-intelligent woman who can’t do a thing without degenerating into mental hysterics – Kitty. The brooding one-dimensional macho hero who can do everything except flying – Tiger/Max/Cameron. The villain who looks like someone with a nice friendly face. Our heroine’s milquetoast fiancé. Kitty can fly an aeroplane, but that doesn’t stop her from heaving her giant bosoms and clinging to the hero helplessly everytime she’s in danger. I’m surprised there is no chase scene where she trips and falls.
Then there is the purple prose in and out of bed scenes. Kitty doesn’t just orgasm, she screams and does incredible acrobatic contortions. The hero’s endowment is comparable to everything from the Giant Meat Pillar of Strength to the Great Pulsing Manly Spear of Potency. It’s all pretty hilarious.
There is no book that screams guilty pleasure material more than this book. There’s no great romance, but enough melodrama, corny adventures, ridiculous characterization, and the most frivolous underutilization of Gandhi I have ever seen to make this book something to read and chuckle at in rainy days. Ms O’Neal has written sensual romances with great swashbuckling fun in the past. What happened?