by Colleen Hitchcock, historical (2006)
Pocket, $14.00, ISBN 1-4165-0951-8
Men are dying all over Europe. They were found dead with big smiles on their faces and bigger, er, flagpoles, if you know what I mean. And one woman is responsible for their deaths: teenage heroine Nicollette Caron! She literally screws her lovers to death! But she doesn't mean it! All she wants is love! Two men vie for her deadly Crotch of Doom: the best detective in England, Jackson Lang, and the most handsome Lord Baston! When Queen Victoria decides that she wants to see the hussy's head roll (literally) for the things Nicollette is doing to the pious men of England, what will happen next?
If you think that this story sounds like something straight out of a cable softporn movie, well, Rabbit Heart is actually not an erotica. In fact, Ms Hitchcock is friends with authors like Bryce Courtenay so this book is published as mainstream fiction, complete with the requisite ending where everything has to hint at despair to prevent us susceptible readers from falling into the trap of believing that life doesn't suck.
The thing about this story is, it's a mess. Colleen Hitchcock doesn't seem to know whether she wants her characters to be likable or all postmodern in that pretentiously emo way so she often goes from one end to the other depending on the chapter. Nicollette is constantly moaning that all she wants is true love from a man who hopefully will live past the first ten minutes of coitus with her. Ms Hitchcock portrays Nicollette more and more as some kind of victim of her own passions as the story progresses because Nicollette apparently can't say no to the attractive men she meets. Sometimes the author hints that Nicollette enjoys sex even if it means it will kill her partners while most of the time she's trying to pass Nicollette off as a victim of her passions. Ms Hitchcock doesn't seem to know what she wants to do with her heroine.
Likewise, Lord Baston starts off being a cold-hearted user of women since he takes in desperate women and streetwalkers for sex only to ditch them without a care once he sees any imperfections in them (his treatment of a cocaine-addicted prostitute is so cold and even cruel, I flinch when he ends up being the Prince Charming in this book). But once he and Nicollette fall in love in the space of, oh, three or four pages, he's suddenly written as this gallant gentleman who will do anything to save Nicollette. Huh? And then there's Jackson who is all about duty and justice who also ditches all his principles for Nicollette.
This books is so superficially written that the characters are flat, hence the extent the two men go for Nicollette's sake is bewildering. Apparently Nicollette is so beautiful in this story that every man wants to have sex with her. I have no idea why because Nicollette in this book is so self-absorbed, basking in adulation while giving little back, that she suffers from the Nymphomaniac Anita Blake syndrome: she is just there, apparently so beautiful a Crotch of Doom that she magically attracts every straight man to her Mary Sue vagina just by existing.
Then there's the reason behind Nicollette's Crotch of Doom affliction which is very closely tied to the title of this book. I won't go into this since this matter can be considered a spoiler but this matter is so badly developed that when the author starts mentioning apparently magic rabbits pulling a Baloo and Bagheera on poor Nicollette (who has of course a terribly sad and tragic childhood to make her Crotch of Doom affliction more sympathetic) I have to go "What on earth?" because the author just drops that development on me out of the blue. Nicollette is also haunted by the ghosts of the men who are Crotched to their doom but like the whole Why The Crotch Can Doom You angle of the plot, this aspect of the plot is introduced without much attempt to develop it. Therefore, Rabbit Heart is a mess. The author mentions ghosts here, rabbits there, a fortune teller with spooky eyes here, but all these elements don't really gel together. They're like random events that pop up in this story.
Poor characterization, poor plot development, and too much Mary Sue aspects to the heroine make what could have been an interesting story a flat and half-baked one instead. This story is like a jigsaw puzzle with many pieces missing. The dramatic events towards the end of the story make no sense because Ms Hitchcock has Jackson Lang who has no reason to go that far do just that for Nicollette, a woman he has barely spoken to for more than ten pages or so in the entire story. Unless I'm to count the "Nicollette is SO HOT, every man can see what a MISUNDERSTOOD VICTIM she is and fall in love with her!" Mary Sue gag-inducing thing this book is drowning in towards the last hundred or so pages, that is.
One good thing about this book is the superficial yet interesting depictions of forensic procedurals in late 19th century England, which is something I don't encounter much in my fiction. Of course, then Ms Hitchcock happily assassinates Jackson Lang's character in the last few chapters because every man is supposed to fall for the Crotch of Doom so there's that, I suppose.
A little bit more depth to the story would have done wonders to Rabbit Heart. In its current form, this story has some interesting ideas and some really delightfully gruesome scenes of cold and nonchalant cruelty but eventually everything good in this story is buried away by the author who eventually becomes more interested in making all the men in her story fall in love and do crazy unexplained things for Nicollette because she is so, so, so beautiful, helpless, misunderstood, dainty, and beautiful. Did I mention beautiful?
Give me a break, really, from Nicollette's oh-so-beautiful and lovable Crotch of Doom. I am hoping for something interesting in this book but what I get instead is a Mary Sue fantasy. This book is such a letdown since it's neither a decent mystery, horror story, romance, nor erotica, just an expensive trade paperback novel with a nice cover but not much else. Replace the "heart" in the title with a word that rhymes with it and you'll get a succint picture of how I really feel about splurging out $14.00 for this half-baked book.
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