by Samantha James, historical (2004)
Avon, $6.99, ISBN 0-06-050279-7
Meet Justin Sterling. He's a rake who thinks he is unlovable. Why? It's all his slut mommy's fault, of course, she ran away with some guy and died in the process. His father took out his anger and bitterness on Justin, apparently because Justin looks like his late unlamented mother. His mother is either a very manly woman or Justin is a womanly man, hmmm.
Arabella thinks she is plain because she is tall and has red hair. Heaven forbids a woman to change her hair color if she thinks the current color doesn't suit the current fad. But the author insists in the same breath that Arabella is so beautiful that she has titian red tresses, luscious lips, supermodel height, and everything else to completes the package, well, maybe except a functional brain. When will authors like Ms James learn that heroines who are beautiful but spend the whole book whining they are not will come off as terminally braindead? In Arabella's Season, everyone wants to marry her. But she knows that they just want her money. She knows that no man will love her. Why should they? Remember, she's a cow in her own mind. But in the same breath, Ms James insists that Arabella is holding out for love. So which is which, Ms James? I tell you, if these romance heroines have enough brains to sort out what they really want in life, their stories would be imminently more enjoyable.
The two pits-for-brain nitwits know each other since childhood when he was eighteen and she was ten and they actually got into a fight (teeth biting and punching and all). Yes, it seems ridiculous that an eighteen-year old boy will waste time arguing with a ten year old girl but considering how the rest of the story is, let's just move on. Kiddie dislike turns to manly full-blown engorged desire (ahem), on his part, that is, when he sees her in London and realizes that the gangly girl he disliked has turned into hot stuff. How convenient that he and his fellow sequel-bait buddies have wagered on who will be the first to boink the "Unattainable" Arabella without Justin being aware of who the Unattainable is when he made that bet. Arabella, when she looks at Justin, finally experiences puberty - and just in time too before she starts to sit on the shelf, phew. But he is a rake! How disgusting!
Their love-hate courtship culminates in a kiss which leads to marriage when they are discovered in that compromising position. Now these two have some variation of the same old broken record to sing to each other. He doesn't deserve love and now he doesn't deserve her because he has saddled himself to her, oh the pain! She doesn't deserve love but she loves him so yes, she doesn't deserve him because it is her fault that he is saddled with her as a wife when he could have had any woman hotter and prettier than she is!
What happens next?
Well, it is either:
A. Mrs Giggles forces Arabella to look into a mirror and when that nitwit still insists that she is plain, buys her some glasses, and when even that fails, breaks the mirror over Arabella's head. Mrs Giggles then proceeds to sit Justin down and points out reasonably that perhaps the reason why nobody loves him is because he does stupid things like wagering on women's virtue and whining non-stop about what a clod he is. When that fails, Mrs Giggles takes her umbrella and puts it to good use to ensure that the clod will never have to worry about having troublesome erections ever again, or
B. These two go on and on, round and round, with each taking turns at rejecting each other, until finally some convenient instant-true-love resolution comes in and those two start popping out brats like rabbits during mating season.
What do you think is the answer? (Hint: if you choose A, please love yourself and don't even consider picking up this boring and predictable book.)
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