Ballantine, $5.99, ISBN 0-8041-1985-6
Historical Romance, 2004
This is the revised edition of the 1997 original published by Avon. I bought this one because I’ve misplaced my original 1997 edition. For a while though, I’m convinced that I’m reading a different book altogether, because while the plot is similar (and flimsy-thin) and the characters have the same names as the 1997 edition, that scene is missing. If you’ve read the original version, you know what scene I’m talking about, I’m sure. Nicole Jordan claims that this revised edition is the version she has always wanted to write, but she’s actually removed some of the more controversial elements of the 1997 edition.
What I’m trying to say is, this book will still push the hot buttons of readers that dislike majorly promiscuous heroes in their romance novels, but the revised edition will still be a more palatable book to these readers – the 1997 edition will make them lay square hard-boiled eggs if they are not careful.
Sabrina Duncan is a shy, mousy Scottish woman who is trust into laird Niall McLaren’s profligate life when she is wed to him due to a long-binding agreement between Sabrina’s father and Niall’s. As Niall treats her like dirt outside the bedroom, Sabrina manages to find time to bloom. Niall starts to find her hot and of course falls in love with her, but when he starts to do so, he sabotages the relationship in a truly stupid manner because remember, he’s the Man Slut of the Northern Hemisphere and he cannot fall in love.
The plot of The Lover is paper-thin and relies very heavily on scenes of Niall seducing the brain cells out of Sabrina to carry itself to the finish line. On the bright side, Sabrina is a generally intelligent woman when it comes to everything but Niall. With Niall, she is pure putty to the point that all he has to do to win her back is to shag her brains out. Okay, Nicole Jordan actually amps out Niall’s pleas for forgiveness to the point where he actually overdoes them and Niall becomes embarrassing, but Sabrina is too ready to say yes after he’s gotten into her pants. And I find that she lets him get into her pants way too easily after the denouement in their relationship.
To be honest, I find it hard to care for a relationship that is so dependent on the hero taking his time to grow up and be a man instead of the overgrown boy that he is, because it is very difficult to invest my emotions in following a relationship where the man’s sole preoccupation in life is to follow the direction his erection is pointing him towards. When Niall starts acting like a petulant brat denied his candy because he can no longer stick his fingers into any honey pot he likes, so to speak, excuse me if I’m not exactly sympathetic to him. At the end of the day, I have no idea what Sabrina sees in him other than his bedroom prowess.
So why do I buy a replacement for my lost copy, you ask? Okay, if you don’t tell anyone, I’ll confess: I really like the love scenes here. Niall is the ultimate porn star – he stars in skanky and sweet sex scenes like the Energizer bunny that has twice the number of batteries than any average bunny and he makes a really good hero when I want a no-good down and dirty read starring a dissolute and utterly heartless bad boy who will shag a woman out of her senses and then dump her like dirt the next morning. Please don’t tell me that I am the only one who enjoys an occasional read like this! In fact, with that scene missing in the revised edition, much of the enjoyment I derive from The Lover is in fact diluted. After all, there’s nothing like a sleazy cuckold scene where the hero sleeps with the mistress outdoor while his wife watches in horrified fascination, and then he actually shags the mistress one more time as an encore and a bye-bye goodwill gesture to make this one a very average romance novel but a pretty good dirty story.
This revised edition doesn’t want to go all the way when it comes to low-down dirty no-good bastard behavior but at the same time, with its paper-thin plot and weak characterization, it doesn’t actually work any better than the original edition. In fact, without the sleazy fun of the original, The Lover doesn’t have much to boast of as a romance novel.