Dear Impostor
by Nicole Byrd, historical (2001)
Jove, $6.50, ISBN 0-515-13112-1


Unlike Nicole Byrd's more drama-oriented if flawed Jove debut Robert's Lady, Dear Impostor is a more light-hearted Regency historical romance. It's one of those hire-an-actor-to-pose-as-my-boyfriend romance stories, and like, oh, a zillion of the stories done in that formula before, Dear Impostor faithfully follows the plot to a tee. Will it kill authors to create some interesting plot twist, for once, or are we romance readers all doddering octogenarians who will have a fatal heart attack once we read something remotely unpredictable?

And what sort of Regency era daddy would name his daughters Circe and Psyche, two of the most morally dubious women in Greek mythology anyway? This book's heroine, Psyche, is not an enchantress like her namesake, oh no. She needs money, but fear not, Morality Guardians, she just wants the money to give dear sister Circe art lessons, dancing classes, you know, It's All For Her Sister. But she has a problem: see, her father thought it was a great idea to entrust her life and her sister's into the hand of his greedy brother. Greedy uncle now wants to control the ladies' monies by making Psyche marry her cousin brother.

But Psyche, in her sole show of anything closest to intelligence, finds a loophole in her stupid dead daddy's contract with Uncle. If she is engaged, she will get half her trust fund. This will be good to give Circe some decent preparations for her coming out, yeah baby, so all she needs now is a fake boyfriend.

Enters Gabriel Sinclair, the youngest son of some nobleman who wants to prove to his family that he can be responsible. So what he does, in order to be responsible, is to gamble and gamble and gamble until he wins some estate from some other gentleman. Let's just say logic is not this story's strongest point. Anyway, the sore loser hires some thugs to do Gabe in, and Gabe, while fleeing, gets mistaken as Psyche's "intended" and is sent to her family.

Gabe ingratiates himself into Psyche's life - and later, her bloomers, and Psyche is not pleased. Never mind that she plans to have a fake boyfriend, she doesn't want him to kiss her, she doesn't want him to look at her like that, she doesn't want - oh, stop that! Stop that! Ah, ow, ow, ooh, stop that, hee-hee-hee oohhh... And of course, the noble Doin'-It-All-For-Sis Psyche has problems keeping her lies straight - lying is bad, even if it's for your own survival, you know - and soon Gabe is running circles all around her.

I think I'm supposed to be amused.

I am. At the whole silly double-standards of the whole story. Gabriel really doesn't have much ground to go all self-righteous about responsibilities and women's cheating nature in general, because let's face it, Gabe the Bondi Boy here is essentially prostituting himself to Psyche to save his own sexy butt. And of course, don't forget his determination to show his father who's the responsible, sensible boss... after he gambles some more and win something. I guess, when it comes to responsibility, getting a job is out of the question. (Before you start flaming me by saying that "Noble men don't get jobs", let me tell you first - "Responsible people don't bet everything at the turn of a card".)

Likewise, I'm also amused at Psyche's lack of priorities. She actually comes this close to sabotaging her own deception because, ooh, that man dare kiss her! Stop that! STOP THAT! Pig, brute... ooh... STOP THAT, et cetera. Humor here is in the form of our heroine gasping like a dying goldfish as she tries to clam her thighs shut from her estrogen overdrive. Is this funny? Quite, because, ho ho, Psyche is such a ninny and an amusing contradiction between her name and her nature.

Dear Impostor is a lively, amusing romp. Too bad none of the characters come even close to resembling human beings.

Oh, and if you can't figure out by now, Circe is getting her own book next. I can't wait. Seriously.

Rating: 80


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