Avon Impulse, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-06-229227-8
Historical Romance, 2014
Sara Collins is, in everyone’s eyes, the perfect sweet doormat, to be taken for granted and be acknowledged once in a while with a pat on her head. Sara doesn’t mind. She wants to do wild things, although what those things are she hasn’t properly explored yet, but every time she wants to do something fun, she hears her dead mother’s voice screeching at her to stop being a slattern. That’s okay. Sara wants to be a vicar’s wife. Conveniently enough, this realization comes after she meets the new vicar, a handsome gentleman who gets her hormones going. But when the vicar takes her to meet the new guy in town, failed politician Nathan Grant who snarls at everyone and tells the vicar that he’d like to do sexual things to her in a way that is clearly meant to provoke, Sara’s heart skips a double beat. I’m sure you can tell which one she wants to mount at the end of the day. If you think it’s the charming and polite one, oh boy, you’re new to the genre, aren’t you?
Sara is just way too overwrought all around. Now, I like melodrama – I’m the crazy one twirling around in giddy joy to Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights as Heathcliff tries to kill himself by bashing his head bloody against a tree after Catherine died, because such drama brings joy to my cold little heart – but with one condition: the characters are fun to root for. Here, however, the characters are as fun as a root canal.
Sara is annoying. Half the way in the first half of the book, she just blinks at the hero or stammers because she is unable to speak in his presence. The better for him to berate her and behave like a jackass around, naturally. Then, when she decides that she’d like to hump his pump, she transforms into a sex doll with an overactive battery, only to then indulge in the predictable “I’m a whore! Just like my mother said!” nonsense the morning after. This dingbat is just one meat cleaver short of skinning bunnies and little children in her kitchen – the fact that she’s practically Norman Bates’s sister, listening and arguing with the dead mother in her head, doesn’t make things any better. Now, you may argue that she just needs time to be someone better, but her transformation is too abrupt. One moment she’s a stammering cow, then she’s like some pole dancer begging for dollar bills. Her mood swings from one end to the other like some out of control pendulum. I would love her if the author had started making her go crazy with a machete, but alas, this Sara is just annoying.
Oh, and her character growth? She has sex with Nathan, wants to marry the vicar, leads the vicar all the way to the aisle only to dump him because she loves someone else now – bye! She’s now going off to be with her true love now! See? That’s character growth – she goes from potential serial killer to self-absorbed user of men. Only, I don’t think the author intended for Sara to seem that way, sigh.
Then, there is Nathan. The way he behaves, snarling and being obnoxiously rude to everyone, I wonder what his damage is. Did some dogs gnaw off his testicles when he was younger? Did some sexual act with an otter went wrong to the point that that poor creature’s carcass is permanently lodged in his rectum? Maybe he is going mad from syphilis? No, our failed politician, who was on his way to being Prime Minister, suffered worse. He discovered that politics was dirty, and became permanently jackass because he is apparently tortured by this discovery. No, I’m not joking. How did this guy went so high up the political hierarchy by being so gullible? And what kind of thin skin dullard must he be, to have this trivial nonsense cause him to abandon everything and to run off acting like someone has killed his puppy while the whole world watched and laughed? Other heroes that behave like him have PTSD, a history of being tortured psychologically or physically, whatever. This guy, on the other hand, just ups and gives up while behaving like the biggest cry baby in the land. Needless to say, while the author wants me to view Nathan as sympathetic and tortured, I see him as a dumb little snowflake who is clearly weaned from his mother’s milk too early.
So, did I enjoy the romance between the deranged doormat and the prickly snowflake asshole? What do you think?