Zebra, $5.99, ISBN 0-8217-7263-5
Historical Romance, 2002
Adrienne Basso, Colleen Faulkner, and Debbie Raleigh, after too many cans of beer, decide to see who can out-twit, out-crap, and out-shame the most in a Mediocre Romance Novels Survivor competition. At least, that’s how I can explain the existence of Only with a Rogue. The back cover touts, “Three independent women..”. If the heroines in these stories are independent, I can see a mob of feminists coming to pull every follicle out of these author’s heads.
Adrienne Basso’s The Ultimate Lover is the same old crap. There’s something rather pathetic about a 35-year old widow coerced into marrying an unlikable man by her brother-in-law. Amelia Wheatley has married for love and on her own will, and she was punished severely for it when her husband turned out to be an ogre. Now, the late husband’s brother controls her money, et cetera, so the only way she can escape an unwanted marriage is to ruin herself.
She sleeps with a gambler/womanizing rogue who treats her like, well, crap. In the morning, he proposes, it’s the end of the story. I wonder: so a womanizing, rude, and gambling-mad man is now a good catch, huh? Ms Basso doesn’t even try to make it convincing: sex and everything in Amelia’s life is okay again. I know a man’s ding-dong can do some amazing tricks, but saving the world? Don’t bluff me, get lost.
Colleen Faulkner presents in The Pleasures of a Wager your American braindead ghoul tomboy hellion heroine in London. Alison “Ally” May is here to learn manners, et cetera but she spends her time running wild. Because England has rules, and Americans don’t like rules. Ally wagers her virtue in a race, loses the race, so now, bound by honor, she must lose her virtue. Nice and kind womanizing rake William (I know, but you must understand, in crappo romance stories like this one, “nice” and “kind” and “womanizing” actually all belong in the same sentence) takes pity on her, marries her, sleeps with her, and Ally is happy because she has fulfilled her wager.
A big freaking FAIL based on the premise alone. Now let’s move on.
Finally, Debbie Raleigh’s One Night with Lucifer, a revolutionary feminist track that reduces feminism into the issue of which woman dresses up as the prettiest boy and wins the womanizing, lecherous rake. And we wonder why there are women who hate romance novels.
Diana Howard, suffragist, does a lot of stupid stuff like dressing up as boys and enters gambling dens and all because she wants to prove to Luceford that men and women are equal. In this case, “equal” means a woman who impersonates a man the best, I guess. I suggest that if Diana wants to be a man that bad, she should just take a hot poker and shoves it up her womanly parts. Oh, is that too nasty? So, I’m too bitter to play nice anymore at this point.
Luceford has humiliated her with his challenge, you see. After all, England listens attentively to the words of a drunken, womanizing gambler and pays close attention. Diana so dresses like a boy, gets unmasked, gets screwed by Luceford himself, and they marry. Apparently stupid reckless adventures are enough to prove that women and men are equal. How much stupid can it get? I want a refund and compensation for my intelligence having been insulted ten thousand different ways by this “feminist” crap.
Only with a Rogue is a collection of three shockingly stupid women doing humiliating and debasing things in the name of love and pride. Worse, the men they are doing the debasing to are men with debatable characters and virtues. If these are what intelligence and independence consist of in romance novels like this one, I say it’s time Ms Basso, Ms Faulkner, and Ms Raleigh take deep breaths, do some tai-chi, and maybe think before writing for once.