The Courtship
by Catherine Coulter, historical (2000)
Jove, $7.50, ISBN 0-515-12721-3


"Are you sure about this book?" Emily whispers from the counter. "It has... discipline. Hey, where are you going?"

You can't see me running fast enough to the check-out with The Courtship tucked under my arm.

Those with a taste for white-bread missionary-positioned romances may have a few qualms or two about this book, but me, I'm somewhat disappointed that there are no whip or leather being bandied about. Still, it's one of the funniest, most enjoyable romp I've ever read from Catherine Coulter. Considering her dismal previous efforts, this is a cause for celebration. The hero Spenser Heatherington is a rogue and is proud of it, while big-boned Helen Mayberry has no problems matching Spenser when it comes to wit, love for life, and everything else. A heroine who has no hesitation in enjoying the hero's presence (that's putting it mildly) and vice versa - now that's fun!

Spenser first meets Helen when she is riding in a park and is struck by her bountiful charms. When he overhears her extolling the virtues of discipline in and out of the bedchamber to her friend Alexandra Sherbrooke, his interest and his John Thomas skyrocketed to the next galaxy. He would bed her by sunset.

If only it is so easy, you rascally Spenser you. Helen wants a partner to help her seek out the mystical King Edwards Lamp. Spenser agrees, of course, as long as he gets the chance to bury his nose in Helen's more-than-generous bosom.

Throw in some hilarious madcap employees in the King Edward's Lamp inn that Helen runs and Helen's befuddled father's eternal quest for the perfect champagne, a horse-race mad vicar, and the result is a laugh-a-minute madcap adventure with great zany lines and great chemistry between Spenser and Helen.

I especially love that fact that these two characters have no regret about their lives or scruples. Maybe this is out of character for their setting, or for a conventional historical, but who am I to complain when I am too busy giggling? Helen is a woman who has no trouble enjoying her sensuality, in fact, she makes no secret of her uhm, Amazonian stature and preferences for shorter men (she still insists that Spenser - two inches taller than he - is the shorter fellow). She can handle men without any aid from anyone. Watch her roar! Girl power!

Then there's charmingly roguish Spenser who has no torture or hidden regret except for this persistent burning in his breeches whenever Helen sashays past him. Heck, he doesn't even apologize for trying to come on to Alexandra Sherbrooke years ago in another novel. This man is truly a rogue, and it takes Helen to keep him on his toes and tied in the bed and... oops, forget the children are around.

Discipline? Well, discipline in his book has nothing to do with spanking or anything - just controlling one's desires until the grand explosion (usually accompanied by Helen's screaming). Nothing pushing the envelope - in fact, this book curiously shies away from any really explicit love scenes - so I don't see what's the fuss about discipline is all about.

I have lots of fun and laughter meeting Helen and Spenser. My only complaint is the sometimes abrupt transitions in point-of-views or jumps from scene to scene that have me blinking, but that's not too bad - The Courtship is still a grand keeper at the end of the day. I will definitely reread this book when I'm in need of a grand, witty, amusing lift.

Rating: 89


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