Five Golden Rings
by Fern Michaels, Kat Martin, Jo Beverley, Katherine Sutcliffe, and Brenda Joyce; assorted (2000, reissue)
Zebra, $6.99, ISBN 0-8217-7062-4


It's a good thing I preservere after Fern Michaels' coup d'supremo-moron tale of A Bright Red Ribbon. Brenda Joyce's closing story The Miracle isn't as bad, but it's as fun as an elephant sitting on my face. Thank goodness the stories in-between range from very good to excellent.

Let's start with Fern Michaels' story. The heroine Morgan Ames is a complete waste of carbon material. In fact, she epitomizes the phrase "genetic garbage". She spends two years angling for some drunkard, negligent, definitely wrong guy, and then, on what seems like the worst blizzard in the century, she goes driving to meet him at her parent's house in New Jersey. She doesn't know if he will show up, mind you, but she must be there, because, you know, he may propose... AAAAH!

"Die!" I scream. "Eat canyon rock and die, you braindead nincompoop!"

Alas, she doesn't skid off the road and fall straight into hell. I can hear the chorus of gratitude from the damned burning in lowest levels of hell. Instead, I get her irritating to the extreme soliloquoy, where she blames her Mr Wrong for her predicament.

"Die!" I scream. "Eat infernal meteor armageddon, you piece of leftover maggot roadkill!"

Her car goes kaput. Our heroine then leaves the car and starts walking to God knows where in the blizzard. Hello, miss?

"Die!" I scream. "Eat tsunami, you stupid too-stupid-to...-whatever piece of smelly crap!"

She faints in womanly weakness. I give a holler, thinking she's dead. Am I too cruel to wish for vultures to pick her clean?

Our hero Marcus Bishop's dog finds our heroine and drags her to the hero's house via the doggie door.

"How small is she?" I wonder aloud. Then, I just don't care. "Die!" I scream again.

Our hero is a paraplegic. He must be so hard up, he falls for her right away.

The heroine then spends her time giggling to the hero. Oh, do you know that she thinks her Mr Wrong guy drinks too much? When he drinks too much, he scares her and it makes her, I quote, "sad." Then why the forking-working heck is she angling for him? Aaaahhh!

"Die!" I scream again. "Eat - oh just die, damn it! DIEDIEDIEDIEDIEDIEDIE! DIEEEE!"

The men in white coats have to drag me away to a quiet, peaceful place where there are no bimbos and pretty, pretty butterflies fly...

Ahem, on to the next story.

Kat Martin's Christmas Angel has a Southern heroine and her old doctor (Yankee) flame reuniting after the dust of the Civil War has settled. This is the usual story, you know: she hates him, but she likes him, they kiss, they make love, and they unite against other prejudiced townsfolks to teach everybody the meaning of Peace and Harmony, all that rot. It's not a bad story, the characters are well done, but the story is so short that the hate to love thing on the heroine's part doesn't seem real.

Still, a welcome relief after Fern Michaels'... thing.

I'm surprised I love Jo Beverley's novella Twelfth Night the best. At first, I hug myself, fearing the usual non-stop ten-paged psychobabble of the heroine as she runs up and down trying to save the hero, her brother, her uncle, her dog... or something. However, this one is nice. It's another old-flame thing, nothing new, nothing extraordinary, but the characters of Lady Alice and her Tyr Norman are so well-fleshed and right together that I have a great time. There's emotional poignancy, some laughter, and not too many "Ohmigod, ohmigod, ohmigod, up, down, left, right? Here? There? Where!" nonsense from Alice.

Maybe I ought to read one of these author's old books. For the first time, I am getting a hint of the Beverley mojo everyone else seems to rave about.

Katherine Sucliffe's Home For Christmas is the longest and the only other contemporary after the vile Fern Michaels'... thing. This one is very good - horse rancher-wannabe Virginia Velemere and her vet-on-a-Harley burn up the whole city with great sexual tension. Again, this is nothing new: heroine struggling to rebuild Daddy's lost horse biz empire while trying to find money for Daddy's operations and... oh. What she needs is a hunk to keep her happy, yes?

Nice.

Finally, Brenda Joyce's The Miracle. The real miracle here is me not bleeding from my nose, ears, eyes, and mouth after reading about this always weeping heroine being bullied by her stupid husband. The dumb mule does a lot of smelly stuff, and in the end, he demands that she forgives him or else. Heroine weeps again and claws after him, she begging for forgiveness. I take a knife and stab it right through the book.

That is when the men in white grab the knife away from me and stab me with this giant needle. Oh, pretty, pretty butterflies... hey, why is everything blurry and nice?

Rating: 77


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