Dell, $6.50, ISBN 0-440-23744-0
Historical Romance, 2003
The first word in this book is “Papa” and it’s a perfect foreshadowing of this horribly girlish book. If a heroine that actually bursts into tears like some broken hydrant when she learns from the hero’s servants about how the hero has a horrible childhood is what you like in your book, Katherine Kingsley is calling you to buy her book. But Calista Melbourne acts like a really stupid ten-year old girl throughout the book, talks like one, and is treated like some porcelain, delicate fragile creature by everyone in this book. This book ranks up there with Kinkade paintings, china with pictures of little angelic cherubs, pink poodles, and Barry Manilow’s Greatest Hits as things that make me squirm in pain. It’s too cute and worse, the heroine is just too precious (read: nitwit).
Calista Melbourne, the Girly Monster of Corfu Island (that’s in Greece), is in the prologue weeping because her father is dying. The father, like a Bollywood dying heroine who takes six minutes to wail an epic song before croaking her last, goes on and on about how the wind over the sea touching her cheeks is his gesture of love from beyond or something – he can’t die fast enough for me. Then the heroine starts to sing that “soul song” thing Mama Africa thought Papa, who then taught her and my screech of horror accompanies her “soul song”. Some people just don’t have the decency to die with dignity and grace.
Before he dies, Papa has arranged for the Girly Monster to marry Harold Carlyle. The Girly Monster doesn’t want to marry – no haughty men can boss her (other than Papa that is, and now he’s dead, ooh, poor Callie, boo hoo hoo). So what she will do is to sail to England, tell Harold that she can’t marry him – he will be understanding, of that she is sure, being the optimistic Pollyanna she is – and then sail back out to explore the world. It’s probably not dramatic enough to leave a Dear John letter, I guess.
One year later, Adam Carlyle wants to die. His darling wife and kid are dead and he can’t bear it! But he must die far away from his home so that his evil cousin Harold – yes, the same fat ugly arrogant useless Momma’s son Harold whom Calista is supposed to marry (thank you Daddy!) – will take years to inherit. So he paddles his boat out into a horrible storm. And instead of jumping down to feed the jellyfish, he just lies there like an idiot. What is he doing? Hello? Jump, you fool, jump!
And look, who comes but the Girly Monster. The ship she is on is nearby, that is. He hears her sing and looks. I don’t know what she is doing standing on the deck during a thunderstorm and singing like that (maybe that was why the storm came?), or how he can hear her, but if you have read this far into the review and still hope for logic to settle into Song from the Sea, you too are an optimist and a far better person than I.
Then a wave hits the ship and she falls over. It must be a really small ship.
He rescues her, drags her all the way back to his house, upon which she awakes. With amnesia! But she doesn’t dare tell him because she feels that he will think her mad and kick her to the curb, so she just has to spin a truly wretchedly far-fetched tale about traveling Europe only to return home to be a lady’s companion. He doesn’t believe her, but his entire household staff likes her and immediately knows that she is the “one” for their darling master. Nigel, the loyal friend who stares at Adam’s body and thinks of how “muscular” Adam is, and who watches Adam sleep before murmuring “Good night, my friend”, especially knows. I guess closeted gay guys know about these things. So Adam watches and lusts as every maid, cook, and closeted gay butler pamper and cherish Sweet Little Girly Monster. They watch in concern as she runs off like an idiot, smiles indulgently as she stammers her apologies when the hero gets her back, and more. This is so fun. I have this book now. I don’t have to stick my head in the oven any more for kicks.
I can go on and on and on about this silly prattle of a book, but I don’t think my nerves can take it. Callie doesn’t learn, she just acts like a really stupid creature and everyone makes excuses for her. Adam and Callie have very little chemistry apart from some creepy daddy-daughter-love overtones, and the story soon gets bogged down by Callie’s tedious and unnecessary lies or fudging. If it’s not that, she’s weeping over Daddy, Adam’s horrible life, and how she loves him but he loves his dead wife and kid oh boo hoo hoo. This is also somewhat a big secret story that really has no reason to be that way, made worse by an extremely girly heroine who must have pure sugar running through her veins.
To show how much devoid of irony this book is, the book has Callie reiterating her love to her father – the same father who wants to marry her off to a caricature cowardly scumbag and who leaves her totally unprepared to face the world. At the same time, a mother who wants to see her lackwit, ambition-free son succeed is demonized as a monster.
Song from the Sea – please, just make it stop.