Avon Impulse, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-06-274740-2
Historical Romance, 2018
Let me make this clear first: The Viscount Can Wait isn’t a badly written book, at least from a technical standpoint. Its problem is that it completely fails in every way to give me an interest to care about this story.
Eliza Cartwick, a widow, always had a thing for Thomas, Viscount Evanston, even before she was married off to his BFF when she was sixteen. After all, her father warned her off him, he hangs out with unsuitable women, and loves drinking and gambling too. How could a sixteen-year old resist? Now that her husband is in the ground, being eaten by happy worms, and she has her daughter Rosa to think about – given that the new heir to her husband’s title and things is coming over to evict them out of their home – she naturally contorts herself so that her upper body is determined to drag herself to potential respectable new husbands while her lower body splays her legs out like a pair of helicopter blades determined to rotate and spin her towards Thomas’s waiting willy.
That’s the plot. I may care if there is some depth to Eliza’s conflicted feelings for Thomas, but her attraction is completely superficial and never progresses beyond a sixteen-year old’s hormonal yearning for the boy she is warned off from. Thomas is a throwback to the romance novels of two decades ago: he treats his mistresses like dirt and has Madonna/whore complex up to the wazoo, all of which is portrayed in an unapologetic, unironic manner as attractive traits of a romance hero. In fact, the mistress is the one who is demonized for trying to get back at him for his cold dumping of her (she dares to suggest that they marry when she should know her place and realize that she’s unworthy of being anything more than a shag, so shut up, whore). If that isn’t lovely enough, early on this story we have a charming moment of a then-twenty five year old playboy Thomas forcing a kiss on a sixteen-year old Eliza just before her engagement is official, and he told her that if she ever told her future husband about the kiss, he would tell her that she didn’t resist when he swooped in on her mouth. Oh, and for a long time he’s determined to make her his mistress.
Thomas is one hero who is far from ideal as a romance hero, and for a while, I was hoping that the author is doing this by design just to make him turn over a new leaf later or something, but no. In fact, him deciding that he loves her comes out of the blue – he is a sack of coal for so long, it seems like the love thing comes up just because the story needs to end soon. If anything, he seems to love her only because she has a high tolerance of taking crap from everyone else and looks pretty while she’s at it.
Throughout it all, there are immature and childish antics galore. The only reason why these two immature gonads do not meet by page 150 is because they both do not know what they want. She alternates between shrieking that she wants love or respectability when she’s at the same time seized with lust-induced craze to dry hump furniture because he is within her sight. He wants her in his bed, but he only wants her as his mistress, and besides, her brother warned him off, blah blah blah, and the suspense in this story comes from turning the pages and wondering whether the next page will be the one which sees these two idiots finally copulating in some open space and get caught by her brother or something. The romance is a hard sell when it hinges on these two idiots doing something stupid and being forced to take it to the next level as a result. Oh, and these two can’t just go away and shag someone else either – the author makes sure that there are plenty of contrived reasons to make sure that the childish circular dance continues for as long as possible.
While I admire the author’s fortitude in bashing out a full-length novel, sadly she neglects to give me any reason to care about the two dolts in this story. My enjoyment of The Viscount Can Wait hinges on me being tolerant and engaged by all the tedious “Will they finally do it? Will the next page be the moment when he finally shows her the thing she has always wanted to see since she was a horny fetus? My heart can’t take the suspense!” childish antics here, so that’s not going to happen, sorry. The romance is superficial, the main characters have the mental development of hormonal teenagers with little common sense, and the story seems determined to drive up my irritation as much as possible. At this time of the year too! Is the author trying to get me targeted by the Krampus or something?