Avon, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-06-224020-0
Historical Romance, 2015
The title of this book, Say Yes to the Marquess, is inaccurate as Clio Whitmore has waited eight years for the Marquess in question, Piers Brandon, to honor their engagement and make her an honest woman. When the story opens, Clio has inherited a castle (don’t ask), so she decides to have the engagement broken in order to be her own person. She’s tired of her family treating her like she is lacking something major due to her current engaged-but-not-married state. So she heads over to the home of Rafe Brandon, the current person in charge of things while Piers is away doing his not-getting-married thing, and asks him to sign the papers agreeing to the breaking of the engagement.
Rafe is a prizefighter. He gets drunk frequently, threatens to beat people up now and then, and acts like he’s the biggest crybaby that ever cried like baby in the entire universe. Oh, and he’s very determined that Clio will stay engaged to Piers because (a) Clio breaking things off would mean that Rafe has to take up more responsibilities, and (b) Rafe feels that he owes Piers for… something. Naturally, it’s nothing that Clio has been a laughingstock for eight years now – she can be one for another twenty, as long as Rafe is free to loll around like an inebriated mule.
He kisses Clio.
She has to marry Piers!
He gropes Clio.
She has to marry Piers!
He almost boinks Clio – just a few seconds away from the holy grail, people, and Clio asks him to sign the papers so that they can boink with conscience clear.
No, no, no – she still has to marry Piers!
As you can see, he’s happy to cuckold the brother he claims to be loyal and indebted to, but heaven forbid she does not marry Piers afterwards.
And when Clio finally gets Rafe to agree to marry her, guess what he says the first time their relationship hits a tiny snag.
Yes, she should have married Piers.
He spends the whole book up to the last few pages running away and generally hurting or embarrassing Clio with his “Me, me! It’s all about me and my crybaby issues!” melodrama. Rafe is more than happy to dive in whenever Clio parts open her holy gates, but he’d moan and groan and whine about every single thing afterward that I have no idea why any sane woman would want to marry this perpetual wet rag. Okay, maybe he is a great lover – I don’t know, but he has to be good at something, right? – but if that is the case, that only makes him a great candidate to be ridden out of one’s system. Shag him until you’ve had enough, girlfriend, and kick him out the door when you’re done – that kind of thing. Besides, if this is real life, Rafe seems more and more likely like that guy who cries for his mother during and after his orgasm as the story progresses.
Rafe is also quite hilarious at times because he has no self awareness. At one point, he insists that he’s not a useless nobleman. Well, yes, I can see how useful he is – getting drunk, beating people up, generally being a total snot. He’d be more of a useful contribution to society if he actually drops everything like he insists all the time and go shovel horse turd for a living. I also get a chuckle when he needs an excuse not to marry Clio a little longer, so he immediately insists that he doesn’t have the money to keep her in style. I can see why – on top of being an absolute failure in everything, it’s not like he’s saving his pennies for a rainy day. Why again is this guy supposed to be a prime romance hero material?
Clio is pretty okay on her own right, but her constant “understanding” of Rafe’s increasingly childish tantrums exasperates me. We have a heroine who has as many self esteem issues as Rafe, and yet, she has to be the mature adult of the two while he can act like the biggest baby in the world. It doesn’t seem fair to poor Clio. I also don’t know why the author reveals late in the story that Rafe and Clio have always been in love. Is this some kind of attempt to sugar coat the fact that Rafe is betraying his brother by boinking the brother’s fiancée? Look at Piers – if any guy deserves to be cheated on, it’s that walking offal. This whole “have always been in love all this while” thing only makes Rafe seem more like a bigger baby than he already is, and Clio must really like having sex with him because I have no idea why else would anyone tolerate such a whiny little brat for so long. Then again, it’s not like she has any basis to compare Rafe’s sexual prowess to, the poor thing.
Extra hate points given to this book for using the dire “he helps a cute dog” trope to show me how “redeemed” Rafe is late in the story. Oh no, the hero needs a last-minute fix to show that he’s not so much of an ass after all! Quick, let’s break a dog! That one is so played out and overused in every other melodramatic Hallmark-type story, I actually wince when the scene pops out.
My biggest problem with Say Yes to the Marquess is generally Rafe making me say, “Die, die, die!” because he goes on with his boo-hoo-hoo act for way too long for my liking, using all kinds of clichéd excuses to prolong my pain. If this book has anything to prove, it’s that self-professed victims who confuse their first world problems for justifications to hurt the other person under the guise of self-martyrdom should be all crammed into a weighted-down crate and tossed into the ocean.