by Shirlee Busbee, historical (2000)
Warner, $6.99, ISBN 0-446-60807-6
Ugh, At Long Last reads like a clumsy, laborious dinosaur romance from the early 80's. Long in words and flowery descriptions, but alas, ALL lacks substance despite its heavy-duty verbal barrage.
And yes, it is also one of those "Where have I read this stuff before?" candid camera moments too. Arabella Montgomery, the lovely forlorn genteel lady of Natchez, is shocked when her spoiled stepbrother announces that he has lost their entire estate in a gambling session gone awry. Worse, the estates are now in the hands of Tony Daggett, whom she loves with all her life but a Big Misunderstanding drove them apart. Oh, what to do, what to do?
Tony offers her a choice: be his mistress or sleep on the streets. Naturally, their hearts and loins still throb in perfect synchrony at the sight of each other. What can Arabella do but to disrobe in an air of martyred resignation? Judge her not, readers, she is having orgasms for the sake of mankind.
The tragedy. Women's lot is so sad indeed, alas.
Bella thinks that Tony may have killed his first two wives (but we all know better - those wives are no good bi- er, am I spoiling the story?). Tony could've cleared matters to her in a long talk, but no, instead, he blames her for not trusting him in the first place.
There's some evil brewing even as our lovebirds stomp and pout prettily, but really, this whole story is old. It relies on miscommunication, clumsy external dangers, and many, many grandiose adjectives to carry the story. Bella and Tony are like pretty, perfect porcelain dolls, devoid of any personality apart from perfection and a dubious way of communicating with each other.
Not that this book is as bad as, say, Kathleen E Woodiwiss's recent outputs. There is still some semblance of readability in this really predictable by-the-book rehash of an old storyline, but just not enough to make it worth a second reread. I could barely finish the first reading.
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