The Love Match
by Deborah Simmons, Deborah Hale, and Nicola Cornick; historical (2002)
Harlequin Historical, $4.99, ISBN 0-373-29199-X


Two Debbies and one Nicky, held at gunpoints by the evil Harlequin Historical demons masquerading as editors, present The Love Match, another pointless anthology existing only to drive home how pathetic unoriginal, overly-predictable historical Regency romances can be. Thoughtfully arranged from pleasant (Deborah Simmons' The Notorious Duke) to ho-hum (Deborah Hale's Cupid Goes To Gretna) to outright eeeeeuuuwww (Nicola Cornick's The Rake's Bride), this is like a journey through the Cracks of Doom, $4.99 only please.

Deborah Simmons' story deals with our rake hero Pagan Penhurst and our virginal bluestocking heroine Scholastica Hornsby, and yes, I think it's amazing those two grow up past the age of fifteen without killing themselves or their parents, what with names like that and all. He claims that among his conquests are some lesbians - I guess that's why they are lesbians now? - while she hails from a family led by an - yawn - eccentric father.

He wants to seduce her. She doesn't know what she wants much. Game, set, boinked, shagged, marriage, the end.

At least these two characters have some funny moments together. And plus points to the author for letting Scholastica think here and there about her situation, which is more than what I can say of the next two Little Girls With Big Breasts (LGWBB) that follows Scholastica.

Story two, Cupid Goes To Gretna by Deborah Hale. The really big plus? A really yummy nerd hero who defies stereotype by not being selfish or self-absorbed. The minus? He's a virgin who - get this - has never experienced an orgasm before. He hears that there's some pleasure involved in the act of coitus but gee, he wouldn't know.

Yeah, I know. It's sad, isn't it? I told my husband this, and he declares that Oliver Lyte, short of being a double amputee, is an embarassment to the entire male sex.

Ivy Greenwood is a nitwit. Her brother and his much older mistress - Oliver's aunt - are in love but our Mrs Robinson here has ditched the Graduate. Ivy knows that those two are destined forever and forever, so she has a plan. She will pretend to elope with Oliver and send those two chasing after them. That will make the aunt and her boyfriend realize how much they are in love!

This is what happens when you don't fiddle with your own magic buttons. Your brain rots and you can't even blame it on Alzheimer's disease.

Still, Ivy may be a brainspiked nitwit, but Oliver is so sexy that I wish he'll find a real intelligent woman to show him how to play with his magic joystick. Ivy is charming and she flirts - wow, a bluestockingy heroine that flirts, can you imagine? - so she's okay too, if she isn't as dumb as a rack of smelly turnips.

Nonetheless, this one is still readable.

Then comes Nicola Cornick's The Rake's Bride and I can't shriek in disgust loud enough.

A heroine who has to marry or she and her family will be homeless. Why homeless? Blame it on that wonderful man we call Daddy, who is so smart and scholarly, he doesn't bother with things like money. We love our Daddies for that. Screw you, Daddy, burn in hell.

Theodosia Shaw, however, wants to marry for love. She learns this from her intelligent, bluestocking mother. In romance novels, that Wallstonecraft woman isn't advocating freelove as much as she is advocating that we women marry for house, Daddy, or lil' brother. I love these revisionist histories by Ms Cornick, who claims to be a history scholar and an university administrator. I don't think I'll let my kids go to that university.

So our heroine is guilt-ridden because she is like, oh, marrying for money. Oh, I feel so blue for her. I understand too. If she doesn't marry, who will pay for lil' Clara's harp lessons? The boys just have to go to Oxford or Eton! Lil' sisters must have their coming out!

I guess selling all of those annoying, useless parasites to a life of eternal servitude is out of the question?

But while heaven forbid our heroine to have a single independent thought in her empty head, let our hero be a Slut! A rake! A cheap floozy with conquests uncountable! Who cares where he has stuck that much-abused piece of meat into? He's a rake. He's a catch.

That boring brother of the hero who offers to marry our heroine? What a nice man! What a kind man! Die, loser! Die, die, die! Let our virtuous heroine marry that male slut and live happily ever after.

Besides, the Slut, the Marquis of Merlin (don't lau - bwahahahahaha!), has a bigger house and much more money. Not that our heroine cares, of course, Ms Cornick will assure you on almost every single page, every paragraph, every word.

The double-standards in this story are so amazing and the author seems so obtusely unaware of them that this story, bloated with Heyeristic wannabeisms, is a lumbering, ponderous bahemoth of boredom bloated with misguided self-importance. At least Deborah Hale knows that her heroine is a nitwit, but Ms Cornick writes as if the brainsucked Theodora is out to change the world by suffering unnecessarily in some twisted quest for self-crucification or something.

So die, Thea, you nitwit, and take that Merlin Slut with you.

People wanting to experience what it's like to be sucked into quicksand, where every passing second sees your life becoming more hopeless and desolate, hey, pick up this anthology. You may decide to stick to bungee-jumping after this ordeal.

Rating: 61


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