The Devil's Due
by Melanie George, historical (2001)
Zebra, $5.99, ISBN 0-8217-7010-1


Gray Sinclair - or "The Magician" to the ladies on the account of, er, how he uses his wand - is in deep trouble. He is accused of a murder he isn't exactly certain he committed or not. See, he wakes up with a big hangover and finds himself in jail with no clear recollection of the last few hours. While about to be lynched by a mob, he still have time to ogle seventeen-year old Bonnie MacTavish in her clingy-tight white shirt.

Of course, he will escape, kidnap Bonnie, sleeps with this jailbait babe, and solve the murder. The end. Of course, Bonnie will be "impetuous, independent, and courageous" (read: romance novel talk for completely reckless, brain-flown-solo heroines). Of course, all it takes to convince her of his innocence is her guilt of wounding him and he being so hot ("Oh, Mr Suspected Murderer, I hurt you... oh, what an idiot I am, let me believe you because you are so cute, and you kiss me soooo hot... ooh..."). Smart heroines in romance novels think with their heart, don't you know. I believe they call this shut-down-your-brain-and-go-all-visceral thing "romantic". Anyone have statistics on annual romance heroine roadkill?

The prologue is interesting: Granpa Gary is telling his grandkids this story. Since the story has rather naughty sex scenes and jailbait lusting, I guess the family must be a very liberal one. Don't worry - or do feel disappointed - because at the epilogue it is revealed that Bonnie is still alive. She's only 47 at 1910, after all. How old is Gray at 1910? Probably in his sixties, I think.

The cradle-snatching fun in this story gradually transforms into a genuinely moving romance late - almost too late - in the story. Unfortunately, grand moving declarations and emotional maturity are pretty much on Gray's side. Bonnie remains... well, Bonnie. Her jugs are real, but her love is forever girly. She sees, she got kissed like crazy, got shagged up and down, and for her, that is enough. Her emotional development never goes beyond the perforation of her hymen, and after that it's either blind trust or mistrust (depending on the plot). Girly heroines are so passé, I tell you, and cradle snatching is so tedious.

The Devil's Due will please fans of innocent, impetuous girls, where love means it's either black or white with no shades of emotion in between. I find it tedious and too insubstantial a bite. There must be a way to smite out all these annoying wenches, surely. They are ruining my mood.

Rating: 65


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