Gallant Waif
by Anne Gracie, historical (2001)
Harlequin Historical, $4.99, ISBN 0-373-29157-4


Ah, the pain of not being a cultured connoisseur of romance novels. Everyone wax rhapsodies about Gallant Waif. But not even two jugs of root beer and too many chocolates can make me not see heroine Kate Farleigh as a tenacious but rather dim pomeranian. Or that while Gallant Waif may have a wonderful (if stereotypical) hero, the story is a nice patchwork of the bad C word (clichés, my dear, not the more exciting other C word, unfortunately).

What is wrong with me? Why can't I view Karen Farleigh's refusal to accept "charity" despite starving for days as a Gesture of Great Courage? (You don't want to know what I think.) Why can't I accept that Kate's being a hellion and all who automatically weeps at the memory of Useless, Dead Father whom she loves the most as a Great Woman of Virtue? Why can't I laud her amazing ability to take the blame of all the sins on her comely shoulders? Why can't I sigh at her inability to relax and have fun?

I am so evil. I don't know a virtuous heroine when I see one.

I mean, why can't I call the portrayal of the hero a work of genius? So he's a war hero, but dude - he's damaged in one leg, and he has a scar! It's the Sentimental Handicap thing. And our hero Jack Carstairs drowns his sorrows in alcohol when his lying, faithless money-hungry girlfriend breaks it off with him (but she keeps the ring, that smart, I mean EVIL BITCH). Why can't I be more sympathetic?

Why can't I cry with happiness when Jack keeps getting amused by Kate's show of sacrifice of her own well-being for everyone's? Damn if I don't keep thinking that you are amused by a puppy, you are amused by how puppy runs and fetches the stick you throw. I am such a perverse woman. I must have bestiality fetishes in me. I'll check in for confession the first thing this Sunday.

I mean, I know this book is well-written. I love parts of this story, when Kate is not in it, and when Jack is not all getting "amused" by our heroine's stereotypical "You first, you next, who cares about me? Let me die a martyr!" act.

Why didn't I weep when the author skilfully utilizes "The secret letter, hidden until the last moment, that exposes lots of things" closure device?

I am such a jerk. I am such a moron. I don't know a good book if it hits me. And shame on me, I am such a lowbrow peasant. First Jo Beverley, and now Anne Gracie - great authors destined for great things, and here I am, wondering why their books just aren't it.

I'm off to wash my hair now.

Rating: 71

PS: Oh I forgot. The plot of the story is this: penniless heroine taken in by hero's grandmother in Granny's matchmaking attempts. Hero hates his father and his ex-girlfriend. Father gets vindicated as a Misunderstood Man in the end, while ex-girlfriend burns in Regency Romance Purgatory. It's tough having a vagina in a romance novel, I tell you.


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