Highland Press, $13.95, ISBN 978-0-9787139-6-6
Historical Romance, 2007
This is a story of a simple-minded and sheltered young woman who has a plan to save the world. Or, in Mercedes Maxwell’s case, save her twin sister. Depending on your ability to tolerate such feeble-minded heroines, Pretend I’m Yours is either a joy or an agony to sit through.
Upon discovering her identical twin sister Kat all frail and helpless in a mental asylum, unwilling to return to Kat’s apparently tyrannical American husband William Braxton, Mercedes decides to travel to Philadelphia to confront the man. The moment she steps foot off the boat, she is mistaken for a thief, and while running around flailing like a chicken with its head chopped off, bumps into William himself. Predictably, he mistakes her for Kat.
But because William is so handsome, Mercedes starts doubting Kat’s allegations that he is a terrible man with a mean streak. No, really, I wish I am joking, for Mercedes is really that foolish. Naturally, the villain here is Kat, not William. Kat, as usual, is the whore and terrible wife who keeps a terrible secret about William only so that she can blackmail the man with it. Even more horrifying, Kat has a wardrobe full of indecent low cut gowns that wounds Mercedes’s virtuous soul to even slip into!
Meanwhile, William realizes that “Kat” is now a changed person. She’s dutiful, polite, and submissive, like his late first wife (but damn that woman, she’s lousy in bed), only hotter, like Kat minus the skanky tendencies. How can a man not love such a woman?
Pretend I’m Yours is not exactly what I would call a well-plotted book. For example, I find it hard to imagine that for being such close twin sisters, Kat and Mercedes can end up being so different with Mercedes manage to remain ignorant of Kat’s true nature. Then again, given how bright Mercedes is in this story, maybe I shouldn’t wonder. Mercedes starts out a terribly irritating creature who has a hard time stringing together a thought without acting as if she’s at the brink of a nervous breakdown. She improves considerably as the story continues in the sense that she stops acting as if she’s about to break down and cry at any moment. She’s still a twit though, who can’t see the obvious and needs to have things spelled out to her before she gets anything.
The story is also full of tedious and often bizarre Madonna/whore comparisons between Kat and Mercedes (Kat loves low-cut dresses and is a whore, Emily wears demure dresses and is therefore a submissive faithful woman of good values, et cetera), often making me feel as if I’m reading some kind of ultra-conservative dogma about dutiful virtuous women.
The uninspired and rarely sensible use of clichés in Pretend I’m Yours makes it a far from inspiring read, unless I’m in a mood for outdated dogma on what a good woman should be, which I’m not.