Sourcebooks Casablanca, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-4926-2136-2
Historical Romance, 2016
Lady Evangeline Green knows that she has to get married to avoid her mother’s “wrath”. Apparently a mishap on her part in the past has since become the leverage used by her mother to ensure that our heroine behaves or else. This is the first misstep in The Rebel Heir: the author clearly wants me to see Evangeline as a sympathetic bird in a gilded cage or something like that, but just look at her. She defies conventions, says stupid things all the time, refuses to trot the line even if doing so means getting a husband and a way out of her mother’s control, and puts out free kisses and allows men to paw her body without putting up much of a fight. If I were the mother, I would be in my room sobbing over whatever misdeeds I must have done to have raised a passel of ungrateful, weak-willed, and self-absorbed bimbos.
And then there’s Ashley Claughbane. He’s the son of a now dead duke, and he is still furious all these years that Evangeline’s father dared to collect the money owed to him from the family, leaving Ash’s family with nothing. Never mind that his brother reminds him that Evangeline’s father is perfectly within his right to do so – that man must be destroyed, so he will lie, lie, lie his way into Evangeline’s good graces to lure her father into investing money into a business venture that doesn’t exist. That’s the second misstep from the author: she knows that Ash is being an asshole for the perfectly wrong reason, but she goes ahead and has Ash continue his exploitation of a stupid girl to gain his petty revenge.
The third misstep is having these two characters behave like slaves to their hormones. Our heroine’s pattern of behavior here is straightforward: when she’s on her own, she will repeat non-stop that she must stay away from Ash. But when she’s with him, up go her skirts and her legs because her mother is completely right and she is a menace. Seriously. left to her own devices, Evangeline isn’t bad. Repetitive, yes, but she is smart enough to look up Ash’s past and deduce that he is not whom he claims to be. Unfortunately, he then tells her that he’s just going to cheat her father a little bit, and she’s like okay, so up go her skirts and legs and seriously, #teamevilmommy. This heroine needs a chastity belt.
As for Ash, given how easy that stupid young lady is, he comes off as double the creep because he will always paw and molest her every time they are together, while plotting the ruination of her father. He’s a liar, a cheat, and a schemer – which won’t be so bad if he weren’t paired to a stupid heroine who is no match for him at all; she is, in fact, barely better than his mattress when they are together. Yes, she is completely ruined when she finally learns of his deception, so she’s lucky that he decides to love her and hence she doesn’t have to pay for her stupidity.
The author consciously and deliberately made the choices in The Rebel Heir to have Ash to be a ruthless POS over a reason that makes him come off as even more of a POS, and Evangeline to be a pitiful slave to her hormones whose actions here validate every single thing her supposedly nasty mother said about her. I don’t know what else to say.