By Love Unveiled
by Sabrina Jeffries, historical (2013)
Pocket, $5.99, ISBN 978-1-4516-9838-1


By Love Unveiled was first published under the name Deborah Martin by Topaz in 1993. According to the author's foreword, this edition has been revised and tightened up, so I guess it's safe to say that it may be more readable than the original version. Also, take note that, unlike the author's books written as Sabrina Jeffries, this book is set in the Restoration era and the whole thing is not as light in tone as those books.

Okay, the plot is a bit of tangle, so bear with me. Garett Lockwood did some secret agent stuff for Charles II, so when Charles II puts his rear end on the throne, Garett has his lands returned back to him. You see, his nasty uncle seized control of his lands when Garett was thought to be dead, and even when Garett lets the man know that he's alive, that man continues to act like Garett is dead. So, anyway, the uncle is also implicated as someone who will work against Charles II, but there is no proof to be had so Garett can only scowl at that man. Now that he's no longer a secret agent fellow, he needs something to occupy his time after all.

Okay, the land had actually been sold by the evil uncle to Marianne Winchilsea's father. Garett has his land back because Marianne's father was accused of trying to kill Charles II and is now apparently dead. With nowhere to go, Marianne pretends to be a gypsy, tagging along with her aunt as she scowls and wags her finger at Garett. With no home and no purpose in life now that she has no father to please, she also needs something to occupy her time.

Of course, she's not a heroine unless she claims to be a healer, so Marianne is all about healing the sick and the helpless even if she has never actually tended to anything serious before. Garett gets wounded now and then, which is a good excuse to get her close enough for him to slobber and paw all over her. It's a pretty predictable story from there, as cardboard evil villains scheme and plot and cackle while our hero wonders whether the woman he is boinking is out to betray him.

This story is an unintentionally hilarious showcase of how wrong a heroine can be in the space of about 370 pages. As it turns out, Marianne is a clown school all by herself. If there is a wrong conclusion within distince, she will cheerfully leap into it without any second thought. She is also cheerfully judgmental and frankly, she comes off like a first class snob, judging the hero to be of awful character and letting him know without any care.

Also, Marianne aspires to be a special snowflake, so she can't help but to drop everything and bend over without any care in the world. If you want to sleep with her, just tell her you will kick a puppy if she doesn't lift her skirts - she'd do so in a heartbeat, while wailing loudly that she can't help it, she's doing this for the greater good. Marianne doesn't care for herself - she has no self-preservation instincts, only a personal moral code so twisted that it makes it way too easy for Garett to manipulate her. It's a good thing that Garett decides late in the story that she's an innocent and therefore, he has to make things right by marrying her. Otherwise, our heroine would be a tragic martyr, to go down in history as the patron saint of unicorns and sick babies or something.

As for Garett, while, he holds the cards in this story because Marianne makes it too easy for him to be in charge. He's pretty silly in that he actually believes that this neurotic mess is capable of anything resembling treason, and it's hard to get invested in the "romance" because it's basically him playing her like a puppet master while she can't get a hold on her hormones. For all her protestations of first class impeccable virtue, this wench spreads for a stranger pretty easily, but I guess that's how it always is with those who claim the loudest to be the most perfect people in the world, heh.

As I've said, the plot is pretty predictable if I can pull away the convoluted tangles. Don't worry about that, by the way. The plot may be a tangle, but it's pretty easy to follow things as the characters in this story all have a habit of explaining everything in detail, usually several times over several scenes, to another person who should already know those things.

At the end of the day, I manage to finish By Love Unveiled by treating it like a comedy. If I take a drink every time the heroine makes a fool of herself, I'd end up financing the year-end vacations of the bigwigs at Guinness. There's fun to be had here, but it's probably not the kind of fun you are looking for, heh.

Rating: 48


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