Ivy, $6.99, ISBN 0-8041-1980-5
Historical Romance, 2003
This book shares the same strengths and flaws as the author’s last book Ecstasy. The plot is better, but the entire nonsense is catalyzed by the really birdbrained heroine’s stupid and melodramatic need to martyr herself. This is also a big misunderstanding story for the first half of the book. The reason for this misunderstanding is the heroine scooping her brain out of her skull and feeding it to the pigs, so I really don’t know how other readers will take it. I certainly think the heroine is ridiculous and a waste of time. Then again, you probably read this book only for the sex. Good for you – the sex is definitely hot, even if the heroine is just a little more stupid than an average blow-up doll.
Since the reason for the heroine’s nonsense is revealed later in the story and is probably a spoiler, I’ll just say this: seven years ago Dare North, the Marquess of Wolverton, and Julienne Laurent are lovers. Despite their parents objecting to their union – Julienne has no objections, neither does her innocence, if you know what I mean – they decide to elope. Then Julienne, for the usual reasons why a codependent braindead will do her usual nonsense, sets Dare up to hate her, think her a lying slut, and drive him away for his own good. Alas, in the process, Julienne not only causes her mother hurt forever and ever (and thus making Julienne feel guilty forever and ever too) but also ruins herself, forcing her to flee her family (the fact that she is inflicting greater hurt on her family this way never occurs to her in her need for selfish self-flagellation) and become an actress. This new career of hers, of course, gives Dare more reason to suspect her a slut forever. I told you this woman’s braindead. Trust a braindead to destroy herself and the people around her in some stupid misguided attempt to save the world when the world doesn’t even want saving or even care to be saved.
Today, he suspects her a French spy or in cahoots with the Frenchie our hero is trying to expose. Why on earth would the Government asks men like Dare – who believe a woman as incapable of thought as Julienne a spy – to do these things is beyond me. No wonder the British Empire collapses in the end. He does this by openly declaring that he will make Julienne, now an actress and temptress extraordinaire (although of course she took a protector just to pay off Momma’s health fees and she is not slutty – see Broken Record #5 for the rest of the song) his mistress. Way to go to alert the French spy that something is up. She in turn declares publicly that she will break his heart. Dumb and Dumber are going to procreate and make stupid babies. Mankind is doomed.
While the love scenes are nice, the biggest problem of this book is clumsy and repetitive psychobabble. The characterization is a little more consistent this time around, but the characters seem incapable of changing. They keep singing the same old “Can’t trust love, won’t love” song even after they’ve done the doggy in every conceivable tame sexual positions. Julienne learns of Dare’s suspecting her a spy in the middle of the book, thus clearing up the bulk of potential headache misunderstanding drama, but Julienne seems inexplicably shocked that after she’d worked so hard to convince him that she’s a treacherous slut, he really thinks her capable of treachery. How amusing. And how stupid, that woman. Dare is one-dimensional hero who’s either wooden in the head or in the Mr Winkie, while Julienne’s range consists of either “Self-Pity” or “Naked”.
Cardboard characters and clumsy relationship development, laced with stupid heroine martyr complex, all contribute to make The Prince of Pleasure a stilted, wooden book whose saving grace is the abundance of sex scenes that are just a little bit purple. The author really, really, really needs to ditch her whiny, one-dimensionally stupid “I’ll die for Mama, Papa, Grandpa, while flinging myself off the precipice and making myself so miserable – listen to me, I’m so pitiful, ugh ugh ugh!” heroines. This is one of those books that are, how does one say it, good in the sack only? It’s a backhanded compliment, I know, but with the author currently incapable of creating credible characters and convincing romance outside the bedroom, that’s about all the good things I can say about this book.