Harlequin Historical, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-29815-0
Historical Romance, 2015
Five years ago, Hannah Lansing couldn’t speak and was seeing all kinds of doctors who claim to be able to cure her. Her wealthy grandfather didn’t have much patience for what he perceived to be a defect in her, and the only person who was kind to her was Caleb Houston, who also happened to be a sailor without much to his name. On her 16th birthday, Hannah asked him to give her her first kiss. It was magical, naturally, until her grandfather stormed into the scene and eventually made Hannah choose between duty and Caleb. Naturally, she picked the other option that didn’t involve a boyfriend, as how else would we get a story out of this?
Today, Hannah learns that the family finances aren’t in a good state, shortly before her grandfather tells her that she must marry a wealthy bloke to restore the finances. Because she doesn’t love that man, and we all know romance heroines would choose death before embracing a man that doesn’t ignite their hearts, she immediately starts planning. Somewhere out there, an alarm sounds: romance heroine thinking – oh my god, we are all going to die, RUN! Anyway, Hannah receives a letter stating that one of the family ships may have docked safely with its cargo on board, so the shipping business may be saved after all. Our heroine then realizes that she needs to head over to San Diego to check out things for herself, and now she really needs the help of the same man she turned away out of “duty” and “obligation” to her grandfather.
Of course, the best thing to do is to pack up, leave behind any documents or evidence that would prove that she is acting on her grandfather’s proxy, and then blink and stammer when men take one look at her and tell her to get out of their sight. No matter, she has Caleb! Caleb, whom she practically barks orders to and expects to jump up and listen. Did I tell you that she expects to run her grandfather’s shipping business on her own one day? She has no networking, no allies, no clue as to how to even get people to take her seriously, not even a sliver of a notion as to how telling people, “Do you know who I am?” is not going to endear her to them, but don’t worry, when she takes over the business, things would be perfect and she would finally get her grandfather to love her!
Here’s the horrible part: the author passes off such behavior as a good thing, because in the end, it is generally accepted that Hannah will take over the whole show one day. It’s like seeing a monkey with a tamborine being crowned the president of the free world, I tell you. It’s bad enough that no man would take her seriously back in those more chauvinistic days, it’s worse that she is allowed to be rewarded when she makes no effort to improve herself as a businesswoman! Oh, it’s of course possible that some woman would be brassy and confident enough to challenge the conventions of those days and become top dog in a man’s world, but not this Hannah. She’s no Cookie bitchslapping her husband’s ho over prayers to Jesus, she can’t even stand up to a lawman! Can you imagine her in a boardroom? She’d be savaged to pieces!
But of course, she can take care of herself, so how dare Caleb try to butt in! Yes, she also plays that stupid tired old song when it’s clear to all but her dumb and blind majesty that girlfriend here is in severe need of a brain juice transfusion. Even better, she talks the big talk about duty and crap, but she cherry picks the kind of duty she forces herself to obey. Therefore, it is okay for Miss Stupid Dumb Snot here to ditch Caleb out of duty, but when she’s asked to marry some bloke by the grandfather whom she claims to be indebted to, all of a sudden she decides to change the rules. And yet, when Caleb wants to get back with her again – don’t ask me why, because I don’t know and I don’t want to know – she realizes that we need some 200 pages more to go before the author can call it a day, so she’s back to bleating that she can’t turn her back to her grandfather.
I spend a bit of time and effort trying to be patient and figuring out Hannah’s head, before I start to wonder whether it’d be less painful for me to just throw my hands in the air and settle on the conclusion that Hannah is just, plain and simple, dumb. Coming to this conclusion also means that I’m quite the dumb one too for tolerating this story to its painful end, so there’s clearly no winning for me where The Gunslinger and the Heiress is concerned.