To Please A Lady
by Susan Johnson, historical (1999)
Bantam, $5.99, ISBN 0-553-57866-9


When a romance has the hero sulking in the shadows most of the time while a more intriguing villain takes centerstage in his stead, and the heroine's attraction to the hero just rings dumb, I call it a case of Dead On Arrival. Which is what To Please A Lady is.

When we last saw Roxane Forrestor, Countess of Kilmarnock, she was Johnnie Kerr's discarded mistress in Outlaw finding love with his 18 year old brother, only to have him fleeing to Holland by the end of that book. This book takes place one month after Outlaw.

Frankly, I like Roxane. She's a woman who's not your usual simpering virgin or virtuous widow - she takes lovers on her own terms. But the fact that the author makes Roxane fall head over heels with an 18-year old, immature, impetuous, and downright dumb at times boy makes Roxane as intelligent as a doorknob. When I was 18, I never find boys my age that interesting. When I was 28, Roxane's age, I'd rather be subjected to three hours of Alvin and The Chipmunks than to drool over an 18-year old's butt.

Very well, so if it's true love, I'd accept this implausible relationship. But Robbie Carre never demonstrates any virtue worthy of a world-wise, sexually experienced woman like Roxane, unless you count his stamina and bedroom prowess and his heavy, jutting, tremendous choo-choo. Robbie does a lot of stupid things like sneaking into her bedroom for rumpy-pumpy when he knows that he is a wanted man and his presence could cost Roxane her children and even her life. But he's 18. Roxane, however, should know better, but all she does is offer token protests - Robbie, my children! - before opening her, er, arms.

I find Argyll, Roxane's other suitor, a man of much older 25, much more interesting. Here is a man obsessed with Roxane to a point that he is willing to see Robbie's lands reinstated to him, drive off Roxane's old, annoying windbag of a mother-in-law, and even kill for her. So what if he's married? Does that make him any worse than an 18 year old boy? It's like watching Rose of Titanic choose jolly cheerful but ultimately substance-free Jack over Cal. Boring. Let's compare Argyll and Robbie:

Argyll Robbie
Powerful and has Queen Elizabeth's ear. Roxane, a patriot, can gain much leevage being his mistress. A wanted man, penniless, and could cost her her future and children. Roxane, a Scottish patriot, should know better.
Good in bed. Good in bed.
Gets her land back for her, as well as the Kerr's. Will do anything for Roxane, even to the point of eliminating her enemies. If that's not crazy ga-ga, I don't know what is. Jealous when he sees her with other men. Jealous when he imagines her with other men. Jealous when he sees her dancing with other men. Disappears from Chapters 3 to 5 and I don't even miss him.
Quote: I particularly wish your company. What is it going to take to entice you? Quote: I'm old enough to fuck you.

Sometimes I do wonder about members of my own sex.

Rating: 33


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