His Wicked Promise
by Samantha James, historical (2000)
Avon, $6.50, ISBN 0-380-80587-1


Sigh. When I realize this is yet another one of the zillion Highland-arranged-marriage thingie, I really let loose a long, deep sigh. Oh well. There's nothing to watch on TV anyway. With little expectations, I turn to page one.

His Wicked Promise isn't a bad book. The storytelling is skilfully done, and I do hang on to every word despite the staleness of the whole plot. Glenda MacKay is a widow who needs a man to protect her holdings. Egan MacBain fancies himself in love with her but can't tell her but heck, he marries her anyway. Glenda needs the protection but damn if she will let Egan has his midnight choo-choo train games. The rest of the story follows the same old downtrodden, overused trail, complete with the same ol' passel of secondary characters.

But hey, it's entertaining. At first, that is.

Then Glenda starts showing her case of No-naygitis. No matter how good she feels Egan is treating her (I don't know, all Egan does is to toss orders at her), she keeps saying no. No to pumpies, no to kissies, no to choo-choos. At the same time she agonizes over the delight of those succulent MacBain lips and fingers. Then she feels guilty because her heart is supposed to belong to Niall, her late hubby. At the same time that she expresses gratitude to Egan (to herself, that is), she still denies him in all the ways that matter.

Finally I give up. "Yes! No! Yes! No!" can only be interesting for a chapter, not twenty. The skillful storytelling succeeds in drowning the heavy feel of deja vu when I read His Wicked Promise, but the heroine drives me crazy with her passivity and reluctance to say anything but no. This is a great read, but only up to a certain point before my irritation turns ugly. Maybe this book should be better off retitled Her Irritating Denials.

Rating: 79


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