The Beauty
by Claire Delacroix, historical (2001)
Dell, $6.50, ISBN 0-440-23637-1


Claire Delacroix's latest installment of her Bride Quest II trilogy is a very, very, very tired affair. The plot is old, the characters are one-dimensional and dull, and the relationship between feuding Highland clan members Jacqueline de Crevy and Angus MacGillivray is as exciting as watching water boil. And it's a good thing they don't have SATs for these young folks back in the old days, because I don't think Jackie or Angus will pass at all, much less with flying colors.

That's not to say The Beauty is bad. It's just too dreary predictable and familiar for its own good. Comfort readers, enjoy.

Jackie, one of Eglie's daughters (Eglie is the unrealistic villain-turned heroine of Ms Delacroix's last book The Countess), is on her way to the nunnery when she is mistaken for her four-year old sister and hence is kidnapped by Angus and his men. The rest of the plot deals with Jackie fleeing, falling down, being caught back, fleeing again - watch out for that tree... ouch! - back to the fold, Jackie. And for some reason being manhandled and being told crude things like "Do you have another urge I can fulfill?" make her all shivery-hot inside. To each her own. Anyway, Jackie soon tosses away her cloister robes for the more down-to-earth delights of the boinkums.

Angus, on the other one, comes off a total block of lead. If Jackie is a not too bright woman who just can't shut up even when threatened with kidnap, rape, or worse (and hey she's considered courageous for that!), Angus is a... well, let's just say a man who could mistake Jackie for a girl who was an infant when he left for the Crusades probably need help crossing the highway. His plan is atrociously bad - he really has no idea what he is doing, and all he does, after his half-baked plan of kidnap succeeds, is bluster. I wonder if the author actually has a long-term plot in mind when she writes this story, because Angus' indecision makes him a complete dunderhead.

Oh yes, the relationship. To shut her up, he kisses her early into the story. Which causes her to give the "I wanna pee" excuse and tries to run - watch out for that... oops - and gets caught back by Angus, the usual. It's pretty boring.

By battle or seduction, he vowed to win her defiant heart... says the front cover. Too bad Angus chose his inept form of seduction. An all-out mud brawl between Angus and a shrieking Jackie may liven up things.

Rating: 60


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