St Martin’s Press, $6.50, ISBN 0-312-97402-7
Historical Romance, 2000
The Mistress of Rosecliffe ends the trilogy of dysfunction hell that started with the horrendous and sadistic The Bride of Rosecliffe. I didn’t read the second book, which I hear is equally brutal, and I don’t know why I picked this book up, but read it I did. And I am still suffering from the aftermath of this horrendous lop-sided powerplay where our supposedly spunky and willful heroine hangs on pathetically to the trouser legs of our hero for any scrap of tenderness from the brutal and emotionally castrated man. It is not a pretty sight, and I end up feeling sad for the both of these dysfunctional people. But hey, if they’re happy…
Rhys ap Owain, one of the many male pigs that populate the Rosecliffe trilogy, plots to regain the castle of Rosecliffe. Dressed as a minstrel, he slips into the castle and catches the eye of our heroine Isolde, whose parents are away. Isolde, typically, is about to be married to a man so boring he has to be created by the author to be disposable. Rhys seduces her, marries her, and reveals his true identity as the enemy of Isolde’s family.
What follows is Rhys’ systematic humiliation and mental abuse of Isolde. And our heroine clings on to his trousers, begging pitifully for him to love her like how she stupidly and blindly loves him. Nasty, malicious exchanges count for romantic conflicts, and when these people need to sit down and sign a peace treaty, they end up boinking. When morning and sobriety dawns, it’s back to hate and venom time.
And when the story is about to end, woosh, Rhys does a turn-about that is not only unconvincing, it makes me wonder suspiciously if this is another one of his humiliation tactics.
And I must also question the sanity of Isolde’s parents and uncle and aunt who actually believe that Rhys is the right man for their pampered daughter. With family members like these, who needs Prozac?
For a depressing, painfully bitter time with two characters who think not only the worst of each other but also themselves, call Rhys and Isolde. Pity and cruelty and everything Jerry Springer, and all your money’s worth too.