by Madeline Hunter, historical (2009)
Dell, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-440-24396-0
The Sins Of Lord Easterbrook is an example of a well-written dreck. I made sure to look up my dictionary to check whether I am using the word "dreck" correctly here. My trusty dictionary says that "dreck" means "shoddy or inferior merchandise", which makes it exactly the word I am looking for to describe this book.
Leona Montgomery arrives in London from Macao, supposedly to attend to some business matters of behalf of the trading house that she helps manage with her brother. She also has an agenda related to the death of her father and the illegal opium trade that led to his demise, and this agenda leads her back to an old flame. Only, the man she knew back then as Edmund is actually Christian, the Lord Easterbrook of the book title. The rest of the story is basically Leona pretending to be Miss Independent as she rushes into a sequence of birdbrained antics, which would have led to some painful end were not for Christian's convenient meddling.
Now, Madeline Hunter specializes in stories where the hero holds absolute power over the heroine, to the point where the heroine is completely dependent on his mercy. Now, imagine such hero given the ability to read one's emotions. My god, that would make Christian an insufferable weenie who thinks he's an alpha male, right? I was initially encouraged by the fact that the heroine is apparently immune to his emotion-sensing abilities to give this story a go, because Leona's immunity means that she can stand up to him, right?
Wrong. Leona is, to put it bluntly, easy. All Christian has to do here is to touch her once and she's pretty much lying on the floor begging him to take her everywhere and anywhere. Leona makes a big case of how she won't submit to him or give out to him, but the moment he lays a finger on her, she turns into an embarrassing hormonal weak-willed fool incapable of resisting even the most obvious manipulations from him. It is a good thing that Christian isn't a complete villain or this woman would have met with a most undignified end, used and deserted for the second time by a man she knows she can't trust but is too weak to say no to.
As for Christian, my goodness, what a weenie. He is an ass here, kidnapping the heroine and giving her instructions as if she's his dog while high-handedly deciding what is best for her. Alas, Leona's behavior here justifies his high-handed behavior - the author has Leona always behaving stupidly so that Christian can save Leona and further put Leona under his power. On top of that, Christian keeps moaning and groaning in a pity party for one, acting as if the world revolves around him. He finally tries to get his act together late in the story, but by then, it's way too late for me to care.
The heroine is a twit who has no spine where the hero is concerned, and the hero naturally takes advantage of her pathetic buffoonery. I spend my time rolling up my eyes more than anything else as I am reading this story because the author is so transparent here with her machinations. Step one, has the heroine gives plenty of talk about wanting to be independent and having nothing to do with the hero. Step two, have the hero tell the heroine that the day is nigh when he's going to boink her sideways and more, and have the heroine shudder with delight even as she stomps away from him. Step three, has the heroine run stupidly into trouble and have her be rescued by the hero. Step four, have the hero touch her and have the heroine all but scream at the hero to take her now and take her fast. Repeat and rinse.
It's hard to care for a story where the relationship between the hero and the heroine seems more akin to that of a spoiled and selfish man stripping away the heroine's dignity slowly but surely until I don't know where to look anymore. I don't know who I feel more embarrassed for at the end of the day: the hero for being an overgrown emo brat or the heroine for being so easy that the guy doesn't have to try even a little to get into her pants. The only reason this book gets a score above 50 is because it's well-written and easy to read.
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