Revenge Wears Rubies
by Renee Bernard, historical (2010)
Berkley, $7.99, ISBN 978-0425233375


Revenge Wears Rubies is the first book in a series called Jaded Gentlemen, where we have eight men who became blood brothers in a heterosexual manner after they were kidnapped and given the best hospitality a Bengali dungeon had to offer. Hey, didn't Karin Tabke have a series with a somewhat similar premise? At any rate, these guys eventually escaped and they returned to England to form a "secret club" of sorts called the Jaded. I don't know how it can be a "secret" club if everyone seems to know about it, but there you go. Apparently being imprisoned and tortured makes you merely "jaded", snort, but then again, we are talking about "a sullen group of impossible men too handsome for their own good", so maybe they are exceptions to the rule.

I'm not sure why these men were imprisoned in the first place, but I do know that they managed to escape with some treasure in their pockets, and the fact that someone wants the treasure back will become the underlying thread tying the series together.

This is Galen Hawke's story. His prison buddy John died in Galen's arms during their grand escape, and now Galen is enraged when he realizes that John's girlfriend Haley Moreland is going to marry Herbert Tremble. It's about two years since Haley last saw John, but Galen is enraged because Haley dares to marry another man after John's death! How dare she? Galen decides to take revenge on behalf of John. He will seduce Haley and then laugh when he breaks her heart because, clearly, that woman is a faithless hussy who must be punished for dishonoring the memory of John. Stupid Bengali prison people - they killed the wrong man, I tell you.

Haley, of course, is no mercenary lady. You see, she has to marry the wealthy Herbert (who displays no quality that makes him any competition for Haley's affections) because her father is an alcoholic and her eccentric aunt is old and... you know the rest of the story, I'm sure. Haley is one of those enlightened democratic noble ladies who will be content to spend their lives doing honest work (in Hailey's case, making pretty clothes). When she meets Galen, she doesn't like him, but when he slips his hand up her skirt, she experiences desire and therefore, like any sensible heroine, she must sleep with him, regardless of the consequences.

Revenge Wears Rubies is a tired string of clichés tossed together and stirred hastily, with the author hoping that the end result will impress fans of Stephanie Laurens into buying the book. The thing is, the whole story is such an uninspired and dreary read. Galen is an asshole, with the author attempting to pile on the tedious angst as a justification for his nonsense. Haley is a familiar bland self-sacrificing heroine who gives away the milk for free in the name of dumb love. The secondary characters are just as predictable, and let's not forget the half-baked suspense thing to give this story some drama later on.

Revenge Wears Rubies is just worn out and totally played out. How about mixing things up even a little the next time around, Ms Bernard?

Rating: 49


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