The Orphan
by Stella Cameron, historical/paranormal (2002)
MIRA, $6.99, ISBN 1-55166-883-1


There's this really macabre "Epilogue, Part 2" at the end of The Orphan, where Stella Cameron goes all "Hail, Sir Septimus! All hail the ghost!" as if she has just experienced a revelation from kingdom come. It's beyond creepy - an author praising her own character for being so "surprising" and "compassionate" (the ghost leads the main character to a church in time of need or something like that) - this is either shameless hubris in display or it's probably true, those rumors that say Ms Cameron write her historical romances using an Ouija board directed by ghosts with really bad sense of humor and worse writing skills.

The Orphan isn't as bad as this author's recent books, but it's still bad nonetheless. The romance is rushed and simply thrown in as if an afterthought, and in the meantime the author is keen on dazzling me with her wit and contrived-to-be-"smart" scenes. Catherine Coulter is bitter lemonade when she goes on a peanut-on-my-nose seal antics, and Ms Cameron doesn't come off any better, sad to say.

Latimer More is a criminally negligent nerd brother of the heroine in More And More. He gets his own story in The Orphan, and the loser has turned into England's "Most Daring Lover" in the space of three books. I tell you, Viagra and steroids in one yummy cocktail has nothing on this new drug Ms Cameron is administering on Loser More. Can my hubby have some? ("Hey! You wait. I'll make my own website and then you'll see!" - Mr G.)

Meanwhile, we have the usual Scottish Ye Hapless Dummy Jenny McBride. Dummy McBride is in more trouble than you can tell - evil lecherous landlord (Loser is different - Loser is pretty and cute), eviction, rape, alien abduction, oral sex - you name it, she'll be threatened by it. Loser, who has this Control Freak complex, immediately demands that Jenny marry him to save herself, and while Jenny may protest ("I am in danger of being raped by a mutant brute from hell and I am too stupid to save myself but I'll be DANGED if I let anybody help me because I am a woman and I don't need to be helped - HEEELLLPPP ME!!!"), she will need his help.

The story could have ended here, but no, we have that idiot ghost Septimus Septic Tank Spleeeurghy creature rambling and mutilating Shakespeare and dazzling Ms Cameron with his wit and compassion. I hope Ms Cameron has a wonderful time getting orgasms from her own writing, because someone sure ought to, or all this self-indulgent ramblings and writings in The Orphan would have gone to waste. There're also other losers and clowns that populate the apartment block that this book and the previous books (More And More, All Smiles, and 7B) are set in, eating up space and dazzling Ms Cameron, no doubt, with their virtuoso inanity. In fact, I swear that some time around page 285, I hear a banshee screaming, "Ooh!" as if she is having the time of her life, if you know what I mean. Is that you, Ms Cameron? Or maybe that's just me, hearing voices now in my head as a result of all this tomfoolery.

Rating: 47


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