Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-380-82007-2
Historical Romance, 2002
It’s almost midway through 2002, but Ana Leigh still writes romances with the sophistication of a ten-year old fangirl discovering melodrama for the first time. The Mackenzies: Jared is the King Kong equivalent of a romance novel – its plot is laborious, clumsy, and transparent, and its characters are black and white sketches of stereotypical plot devices badly stitched together. There is no flow, no humor, no subtlety, just some King Kong charging motion – boom bam boom bam – from Point A to Point B.
Along the way, this story is also a revolving door of Mackenzie folks past and future, whose function is meaningless and context-free unless we consider Ms Leigh’s “Buy their books too!” plugging a context. Mackenzies come, Mackenzies go, so much coming and not one drop of pleasure. Good thing no one is asking me to fake it.
Kitty Mackenzie blames herself for the death of her husband. See, her husband died of a heart attack and she feels guilty because she knows he isn’t happy living with her family and now that he is dead… oh, oh, oh! Still, as motivations go, Kitty isn’t as bad as some heroines I’ve encountered lately. She leaves her home to visit her family and relatives, and somehow ends up playing nanny to Jared Fraser’s two kids. Kitty, naturally, is the perfect mother, perfect shrink, and perfect Mary Poppins. It’s amazing what misguided, liberally applied guilt can do to a woman.
Jared doesn’t want to love again. All women are bitches! See, he neglects his kids because his wife made him do so. And what a bitch that wife is, because she doesn’t want to follow him when he wants to indulge in his adventure-lust for war in India. For daring to choose stability, that bitch must die. BITCH. So he moans and whines that he will never love or trust again, the same old story.
Then the bitch wife shows up. Well, she has to. Someone has to be so bad that she will make Kitty look like the new Florence Nightingale. And what does Kitty do? Run, of course! Now that the bitch is back, surely Jared will want to love that bitch he spends almost the entire book bad-mouthing again, so run, you smart Kitty, run, run, run!
Even after I skip every single waste of page that is nothing more than a catalogue of Mackenzie shenanigans – which leaves probably around 150 pages of genuine story left – I still am left with that stupid lump of coal that is a stale, unoriginal, painfully executed, and lame story. Jared is as fun as sticking my head in a tub of ravenous piranhas, and probably more painful.