Mills & Boon, £4.99, ISBN 978-0-263-24799-2
Historical Romance, 2015
I appreciate what Georgie Lee is trying to do here, but there is one overriding problem in The Captain’s Frozen Dream, the stupid title aside: the heroine. She is simple vile in how she is a combo of stupidity, stubbornness, rudeness, and passivity with completely zero self-awareness as icing on that dung-smeared cake of a face of hers. There are many draining emotional moments in this story, but the heroine ruins everything by being a static picture of colossal dumbassery.
Captain Conrad Essington and Katie Vickers were in love and he wanted to marry her before he embarked on his voyage to the Arctic. Katie, a fossil-mad wretch, however, insisted that she wanted some kind of trial run of a life as his beloved, so that she could experience first hand whether she’d like the life he is offering her. So off Conrad went… and months turned into a year as he didn’t come home. Everyone thought he was dead, and in the process, Conrad’s loathsome uncle did all in his power to ruin the lives and reputation of Katie and her father.
When the story opens, Conrad comes back to England at long last – his trip, as you can imagine, had been plagued by disastrous turns of events – and practically stumbles on Katie being manhandled by a man who would later be revealed to be a villain that is continuously trying to get into her panties – with or without her permission. He rescues her, but in what would be a continuous pattern in this story, Katie lashes out to him – hard, pointlessly – for butting his nose where it doesn’t belong.
Here is Katie’s damage that Conrad will spend the rest of the story scrambling to help mend despite her continuous efforts to disparage, dismiss, and cut him down even as she shamelessly continues to latch on to him for help. Now, she had been through hell, but she now assumes that nobody can help her and she is doomed to suffer forever (really), so she keeps cutting down and dismissing Conrad’s efforts to help – sometimes, even after she deliberately tried to get him to help her in the first place. She refuses to explain to him what happened to her, but at the same time simply hates him when he starts assuming the worst. It is one thing if she is being this weird dumb wretch who silently expects men around her to read her mind, but she goes about being this wretch in a loud, toxic manner. Katie also blames Conrad for being away from her, calling him selfish for entertaining dreams that does not involve him being chained by her side, even as Conrad correctly and astutely points out that Katie expects him to, at the same time, let her pursue her own dreams and ambitions without him having any say in their relationship.
You know, I give Katie plenty of leeway at first, because, as I’ve said, she’s been through pure hell and saw her father die, the stress and humiliation he was subjected to possibly a contributing factor that accelerated the man’s demise. In her shoes, I’d be resentful and even hateful as well, lashing out at Conrad who is the easiest and most convenient target. Unfortunately, Katie shows little character development in this story. She remains in this mode even after Conrad has clearly moved mountains to make up for his absence in her life and the pain that absence caused. The man goes way beyond necessary, even taking blame for some things that he actually had no control over, and he makes major compromises to his own ambitions to make her happy.
And yet, even close to the last page, Katie insists that Conrad doesn’t love her, so what they have is doomed. I actually let loose a scream of frustration by then because I had been so patient up to that point and… I can’t take it any more. How can such a wretch be so dense? Worse, any time Katie has the chance to prove that she can take care of herself, like she repeatedly insists, the author makes Katie fuck things up. No, that four-lettered word isn’t used gratuitously – when she nearly dies at one point because she insists on being a diva, that’s when the use of four-lettered word is warranted. Like the loving guru RuPaul would say, “Girl, you fucked up big time – now sashay away, bitch.” Okay, she wouldn’t say bitch, I’m just projecting a little there.
I don’t know what the author is thinking. Conrad has some beautiful character development here. The man is not an alpha male – he has plenty of vulnerabilities and insecurities, and he’s also pretty damaged inside. But he’s the one who has to be very strong for the two of them, and it’s pretty sweet to see how he tries hard and succeeds in being the man he never knew he could be. Unfortunately, all that character development is wasted on a heroine who remains dumb, toxic, ungrateful, hypocritical, and stupid throughout. Yes, after she nearly died and admitted to herself that she was a colossal dumbass, she still blames Conrad, just like she always blames him for everything wrong in her life. The fact that she refuses to fight for herself, insisting that there is nothing anyone can do, while Nick has to do all the work for her, only amplifies the cringe-inducing hatefulness of the heroine’s behavior in this story.
Why wouldn’t the author give Katie some redeeming feature, some softness? At least, make her competent, if nothing else, so that even a little of her bluster is justified. But no, Katie is the way she is, and it is actually hard not to root for the villain to annihilate her. Seriously, when the villain actually hits her, I give a small cheer and am so disappointed when the hero stops the next blow from coming.
The weirdest thing in all of this is that the author knows what a waste of everything Katie is. At the “romantic climax” before the epilogue, Katie points out that she has given Conrad very little (no, try: zero) reason to love her, but she is so grateful that he did, and now she’d like him to shag her, thanks. What is the point of all that nonsense, then? Am I supposed to be cheered by the fact that the heroine gets rewarded in the end and marries her true love just because she’s the designated heroine? Katie never earns any of the happy ending, and you know there is a big, big problem when my idea of a happy ending to this story is the heroine being beaten to death by the villain while I cheer that scumbag on. And that scumbag is absolutely vile, mind you! That’s how much of a turd the heroine is.
At the end of the day, I kind of get what the author is trying to do with the hero, and I can appreciate that. But I have no idea what she is thinking when it comes to the heroine. As much as I’d like to give this book a better score, I can’t bring myself to without feeling like I’d vomit out everything I’ve eaten in the last three days. The heroine is such an overwhelmingly toxic presence that she negates everything good about this story.