So Wild A Heart
by Candace Camp, historical (2002)
MIRA, $6.50, ISBN 1-55166-877-7


Jeez, this book should come with a warning: "Being bored to death a possible side effect of reading this book." The hero's title - Earl of Ravenscar - is a subtle warning sign I should have heeded. How many Earls are called Ravenscar in Regency England? 4000? Ravenscar is so 1989.

I wish the only fault in Candace Camp's So Wild A Heart is as petty as the hero's spectacularly unoriginal title (yes, I don't care if there is really a title called Ravenscar, I've had enough of Ravens and other Dark, Gothic Imageries in titles). This book gives Derivative a bad name. It is so mired in clichés that it's a "Where's Wally?" when it comes to any entertainment value.

Yes, there will be a wide audience for this spectacularly unoriginal piece of work, I'm sure. But as I stuff tissues up my bleeding nostrils and clutch as my stomach as I double over in agony, I realize, alas, to my dismay as I hang around the near-death point (bored to death, what an undignified way to expire), I am not this audience. I hurt, oh, how I hurt.

The Earl, Davin Ainscourt, is a rake, a womanizer, pui pui pui because his father is a rake too and his mother is a stuck-up prude. Only his sister, some heroine in a previous book, I'm sure, is sweet on him. But after a profitable night's out of pissing away all his money, Davin decides to marry an American heiress to get more money to piss away. Oh, and to placate mommy.

Miranda is a heroine who loves her daddy the mostest and has somewhat ambivalent feelings towards her stepmommy. Still, she meets Davin and wow. Sexy. Dark. Reeking of alcohol and say, do rakes even bath? Never mind, Miranda is a goner. Besides, she's a lovely, virtuous woman who, at 25 (they're always 25, aren't they?), needs a purpose in life, and Rebuilding the Long-Rundown Estates of Davin will be her new mission in life.

Davin wants a marriage in name only, of course, and he plots with his mistress Leona in a PG-13 rated threesome sex. (Quick, how do you know when an author is writing skanky sex just for the sake of skank? When the lesbian foreplay is as real as your Aunt Edna's story of hot sex with Hugh Jackman after last week's Bingo Night.)

But after Pure, Cleansing Sex with Miranda, he immediately turns his back on Leona. Leona, poor Leona, finds herself stuck in the role of Sex-Loving And Hence Evil Ex-Mistress role, shunned by the very man who is enjoying the fake lesbian show she is putting up with a showgirl just to entertain Davin only chapters before. She finds herself castigated for the very actions she and Davin plot gleefully only chapters before. Davin, by the right of the penis, becomes a hero. Leona becomes the bitch.

I so want to throw up.

The story progresses into a whirlpool of clichés that only give me flashbacks of Amanda Quick's glory days of the first few one-worded titles she wrote for Bantam. As the whirlpool just keeps sucking me in, I start feeling excruciating pain in my head as the incessant clichés - characters, plots, dialogs, names, premises, every freaking thing - pound and rip at my consciousness. The crackpot easy blame-it-all-on-bitches psychology only compounded my migraine.

Oh, my head. I think I'm not cut out for cut-and-paste clichés like this. I hope the next two books in this trilogy will have at least a particle of originality. But I also hope that Hugh Jackman will have hot sex with me after Bingo Night, so ho hum, I think I will keep wasting the oxygen in the atmosphere anyway.

Rating: 49


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