Leisure, $6.99, ISBN 0-8439-5020-X
Historical Romance, 2002
To read a Connie Mason story is to gamble one’s soul with the devil, or so it seems. I don’t know why I keep doing this to myself, but here I am, looking at the really nice cover. The guy looks like a progeny of a test tube cloning and gene melding experiment using the DNAs of Guy Pearce and Val Kilmer, and I love the way the white shirt hangs over his muscled torso, with only a hint of a nipple teasing me. Eye candy is never this good.
Alas, The Rogue and the Hellion is not good at all. Why not good, you ask? A really bad but campy Connie Mason novel is what we should be aiming for, because Connie Mason, to be blunt, plots like a drunken simian with no sense of humor or irony whatsoever.
I mean, in this book, heroine Olivia Fairfax declares that she is never marrying the only man who wants her (because the man is a lascivious, woman-abusing he-slut who (I quote) “drinks too much and gambles too deeply”. This easily describes the hero Gabriel, the Marquis of Buttburst – okay, Bathurst, buttbursting, whatever, I’ll stick with Buttburst – anyway, Buttburst, yeah, he easily fits the description too. But Ms Mason isn’t doing irony here. She’s dead serious that Buttburst is good because he is only a slut who sleeps with non-virgins. Presumably Ms Mason believes that all non-virgins who have sex are sluts who are “asking for it”. I hope the author will finally find a clue while dusting the pantry this weekend.
Anyway, Olivia is poor because a pig ruined her beloved daddy. Yes, it’s not daddy’s fault that he’s a moron, it’s the pig’s fault, whoever that pig is. Since her brother needs to pay his college fees, our heroine wears boy’s clothes and robs stagecoaches for the money. I don’t know about you, but if my brother needs money for tuition, he can bloody well wait tables, sell his sperm, sell his kidney, or do porno for all I care. Just don’t expect me to give up my life to cater to that wimp’s moaning and whining. Romance heroines, I tell you. Give them breeches and watch their brain shrink to the size of a gnat.
So one day, Olivia robs our hero, and our hero can’t get the robber’s eyes out of his mind. Again, Ms Mason doesn’t know the irony here. For one, Buttburst believes Olivia to be a man. Buttburst also spends more time with his two male buddies Ram and Luc talking nothing but tupping wenches like closeted football jocks overcompensating for their teeny weenies, and I find myself trying to combine the phrase Ram, Luc, and Gabe into something that sounds like it has a lot to do with buggery. Luc-Ram-Gabe is closest I can come up with. Incidentally, Luc-Ram-Gabe call themselves the Rogues of London. I guess when you are overcompensating for tiny shrivelled shrimp-weenies, you are exempted from having wit.
They may have slept with every non-virginal slut in London. I’d like to ask – how do they know whether the women are virgins or not? Maybe Connie Mason personally uses a pair of tongs to do the purity test on the he-sluts’ sluts before each copulation on those soiled, dirty pages of this book. Anyway, when Buttburst sees Olivia – zoing! He sees Olivia being harassed by some nasty suitor, and immediately assumes that she’s the lover of that evil, male, female-abusing lech. Pot, kettle, black. Then again, do you expect a he-slut who talks about nothing but scoring with his drunk frat buddies to think otherwise? He probably clubs his women and knocks them out so that they wouldn’t shriek in laughter at his pathetic winkie.
In the meantime, he wants to catch the male thief whose eyes haunt him every night. He shoots Olivia, and Olivia’s aunt/marm/whatever worries. Let me check that paragraph: ah yes, she frets that Olivia will get a fever, because oh, how will she tell the doctor how a genteel bluestocking like Olivia ends up with a gunshot wound?
Yes, poor Olivia. Heaven forbid she gets a fever and dies, because that will be like, so embarrassing.
All this could be hilarious if the author isn’t writing with all the gravity of a judge. She is serious, and she wants me to know that I better like i because this is how the story should be told. I can’t laugh, because I’m too busy taking my red pen and drawing monkey faces all over the pages.
Did I mention that Buttburst is the one responsible for ruining Olivia’s father?
Lots of big and small misunderstanding, silly sex, nasty male behaviour, braindead female hysterics, but in Ms Mason’s world, all of these are serious, people. This is how the story should be told, and who’s being ironic or funny? Connie Mason is sober and she is not happy that the world is laughing at her insanely illogical plot contradictions and lack of continuity or even characterization.
Usually a book like this will have me either begging to join the Branch Davidians or rolling around the floor laughing like a loon, but this time around, nothing. I’m bored, actually. Horror of horrors, no one here does anything stupid in the catastrophic level. No lurid silly sex, just silly sex; no epic extrapolation of stupidity, just lots of unrealistically tedious male jock talk that will make the Friday night drunkard Paw Paw guys look like overzealous Jehovah missionaries. There’s nothing here to make really wild mocking fun out of. This is like slapping helpless babies. How… dull.
Anyway, talking about this book has already caused rigor mortis to set in. I’ve retyped this paragraph three times, trying to think of some suitable closure, hopefully a witty one, but you know what? I can’t be arsed.