Sonnet, $6.50, ISBN 0-671-77453-0
Historical Romance, 2000
Very beautiful cover, this book has. A glorious golden hunk who looks like Pierce Brosnan on a bad peroxide day (still gorgeous nonetheless) riding on a horse. Ooh. Only when I got home and eagerly turn to page one do I remember the headache that was the author’s last book, Dearest Max.
Never mind, maybe My Phillipe (what a romantic title) will be different. Afraid not, however. Reading this story is like watching Cinderella catering to her evil stepmother and stepsisters in a Springer-esque update. This time around, the Prince Charming joins in the doormat game too. Why do wimps like Phillipe Armitage and his consort Bella McFarlane get such a lovely cover I will never know. Wait, I know. It’s bait?
Once, Bella and Phillipe had a very mad affair. They promised to wait, she clinging to the memories of his touch as he faded from her view, carried by the winds of war – Oh! My heart, my heart! Then came horrifying news – Phillipe is dead! “Nooooo!” screamed Bella, and swooned. She married his cousin Edwin and it was a lousy marriage (she should’ve read romance novels more to know that marrying someone else before the first chapter is more often than a really bad idea), but still, it gave her a child named Jamie.
Now, Phillipe rides back like a golden hero. Edwin conveniently cocked his toes so as to not clutter the story (smart man, leaving a sinking ship while he can). But Bella is so worn out, tired of the excesses of celibacy and sulkiness, that she is putting a distance between them both. Never mind, he decides to escort Bella and Jamie to Edwin’s country home instead. Maybe he can get lucky somewhere during the journey.
No luck. Bella sulks, pouts, blames herself and everyone for every single sin in the world since Noah forgot to squash the two surviving mosquitoes on his ark. Then they reach dead Edwin’s home, where I am subjected to a myriad of dysfunctional, nasty people that can make Jerry Springer genuinely orgasmic. There’re, oh, nasty mommas, evil women, greedy men, stupid ugly fat slobby men, devious Jezebels… but worse has to be that boy Jamie who has to be the most irritating thing since some moron put a microphone in Aaron Carter’s hands. How old is he? One moment he is acting ga-ga cute, then he’s an eloquent crybaby hypothyroidic dwarf.
And it is nerve-wracking to see Bella catering to these horrible people. “Yes, ma’am. Step on my back, sir. Kick me in the guts, miss. Call me names, sir. Pity me, please.” And Phillipe? He’s no better, standing in the shadows like a misguided tragic hero. I dearly wanted to knock the heads of these two people together. Get a spine and tell those twits off!
Maybe someone would find delightful such impassive inertia and a misguided, almost masochistic desire to just stand there and endure all brickbats from nasty people, all in the name of justice, love, and righteousness. Me, I can only wish I’m living in that story. I need someone to clean the fridge.