The Husband List
by Victoria Alexander, historical (2000)
Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-380-80631-2


Lady Gillian Marley is the latest casualty in the Must Marry Or Lose Money plot that is always popping up like a fungus in Regency historical romances. Anyway, Gilly darlin' this time must marry within two weeks. As she paces in her Bluestocking Salon of a parlor, she awaits the arrival of Richard Shelton, Earl of Sherbrooke, whom she has selected as the new sex toy and Key to Money.

To get the formula right, let's make her rather reluctant to marry as well. Her dead husband's fault, of course. What she did was to create a list, of where out of nine, one meets her criteria - Richard. He may be once a rake, but he'll do. He is responsible and a good landlord to his tenants, after all.

Richard isn't too happy to be brood mare to the widow Gilly, but he needs the money. Hey, he needs money too, because our Richard is an artist. He wants to paint under a much more exotic name of Etienne Toussaint (how do you pronounce that last word?) and since he's an artist with an Artistic Soul, he wants Gilly's love in the bargain to boot.

So he woos her, as that Toussaint fellow in letters and gifts. And Gilly, the ninny heroine she is, starts wringing her hands in indecision and I can't lie! I can't choose! frantic mania. Here we go, The Husband List.

The main annoyance of this story is Gilly's very very - VERY - boring personality. Proper and frigid is one thing, but when she starts running around like an indecisive and immature Hee hee ain't me adorable in my bimbo-passed-off-as-cute antics heroine, I can't help but to wish that maybe a good doctor would sedate that woman.

Richard/Etienne is a bit of a fun rake, but it takes two to tango, that poor man. And when every supposedly fun repartee falls flat or at the expense of Gilly's stature as a memorable heroine, when every other page has Gilly worrying, hesitating, and dithering, Richard becomes bland too from osmosis.

Flat, uninspired, and only moderately interesting (thanks to Richard), The Husband List is best shelved under Limp Rehash.

Rating: 62


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