Leisure, $5.99, ISBN 0-8439-5202-4
Historical Romance, 2003
Katherine Greyle reminds me of a very promising kid who has a lot of ideas and enthusiasm, but somehow she gets too excited and spills everything good about her story in the first few chapters. The chapters after that are lackluster fillings to read while waiting for the inevitable happy ending. Unfortunately, the author’s typical unrealistic treatment of a heroine from the gutters (read: too sweet, too much apologizing for her background) and even more unrealistic treatment of life in the underdark (read: Oliver Twist kiddies) prevent No Place for a Lady from redeeming itself.
When the story starts, our typical stiff-lipped nobleman Marcus Kane and street lady Fantine (“Come to me, Cossette, the night eeeees faaaaading!”) Delarive forced to cooperate by Marcus’s Intelligence boss (and Fantine’s father) to work together to foil an MP’s assassination. Unfortunately, this really goes wrong when Marcus and Fantine become more intent on outdoing each other and even doing little things to spite the other person. They are very shrill while they are at it, and I have to put the book a little farther away from me while I am reading. This mission soon leads them into Marcus’s world, where everything turns into Tedious 101 when Fantine starts singing the “I’m Not Worthy” anthem. Sure, she’s not worthy, but we’re talking about a typical “bad heroine” who turns out to be an apology instead any genuine bad girl. The story soon peters off into a tedious merry-go-round of little misunderstandings, Fantine refusing to correct Marcus’s misassumption of her wrongness (secondary characters have to do it), and monotonous lust-and-self-recriminations scenes.
Fantine is at least a proactive heroine when her loved ones are in trouble – I will give her credit for that. But throughout the story, she and Marcus commit many questionable actions that don’t bode well for their supposed intelligence or professionalism. To be blunt, they are positively childish at times. The life on the streets setting would be a welcome change from the ballrooms, but the author just has to move the setting to the ballrooms just when I am settling down to enjoy her story. The hero really comes off as obtuse, but one could argue that he’s just being who he is: a spoiled, upper-class nobleman. Fantine really doesn’t help him by hogging secrets ineptly and preferring to act like a martyr for the children and all instead of coming clean with him about matters he is suspicious about. Women like Fantine need men who can read minds to make the story enjoyable.
No Place for a Lady won’t find a place among readers looking for real tough street ladies and the men who love them.