Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-380-81742-X
Historical Romance, 2002
Reading Lorraine Heath’s latest book To Marry an Heiress is like watching a horse race. We have one horse, Dire Stereotypes, racing side by side with Masterful Storyteller. Which horse will win the jackpot? Sad to say, by mid-race, Masterful Storyteller collapses and dies a painful death, leaving Dire Stereotypes to win everything. The lesson of the day is: always bet on dire stereotypes when the going gets tough.
Seriously, this book is filled with so many painful stereotypes that it’s quite painful to read. Georgina Pierce is an American in London. That means she is a spokesperson for outspokenness and defiance of silly Ton rules, while at the same time she is a tomboy who is sure that she’s a plain-faced whey, and at the same time, she has no time for parties and soirees, and she just wants to marry a man like her fellow American cowboys – hardworking and devoid of sense of humor. Don’t forget her Daddy, though, whom she loves the bestest and will do anything for. She doesn’t want to marry – gee, how shocking – but when Daddy asks her to, she’s all for it.
The Earl of Huntingdon, Devon, is penniless and he needs to marry for money. He is a rake. He has a lousy dead wife who loves him only for his title, how shocking. He is attracted by Gina’s outspokenness and innocence – obviously this man don’t know any country bluestockings – and they marry.
It will be a marriage of convenience, they both tell me. He wants her money, and she wants a baby.
What I want to tell them can’t be repeated in polite company.
For the first half of this story, when these two Malodorous Malevolent Stereotypes get together, things become more bearable. After all, these two talk, they communicate clearly, and they seem like intelligent, reasonable adults who don’t know it yet that they’re destined for each other. Sure, on their own, each is painful to follow, Gina the more excruciating of the two, as their actions, thought processes, and psychology all seem to come out of some formula book.
Then the second half see our twosome succumbing to conflicts that bring out the worst of each other’s stereotype nature. Conflicts are started because she is too nice to tell him not to push her around and because she wants him to save her daddy forever and ever. If these two people actually put their feet down and start a shouting match that will clear the airs, things will be more bearable, surely, but I guess the formula doesn’t call for that?
Sure, one couldn’t argue against Lorraine Heath’s storytelling ability. But when she starts churning out rigidly formulaic books like this one, I have to remind myself that once, this author actually wrote emotionally charged stuff. But those were a long time ago, back when Jove had a specialized Western line. Reading books like this one makes me feel nostalgic, for all the wrong reasons. If there’s any excuse to relive the past to escape the present, To Marry an Heiress is it.