by Nicole Jordan, historical (2007)
Zebra, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-345-49459-7
Full of rampant foolishness and ridiculous nonsense, To Pleasure A Lady is as fun to read as it is enjoyable to eat a ten-course badly-cooked meal at gunpoint while suffering from a painful toothache. Nicole Jordan doesn't hold back when it comes to shoving down my throat as many historical romance clichés as she can think of, but she's throwing together all these clichés nilly-willy without any rhyme or reason.
Our manslut hero Marcus Pierce becomes the new guardian to Arabella Loring and her two sisters. But before he can do anything more than to moan about his newfound responsibility to his two friends - they always come in three, I tell you - Arabella shows up at his place, alone, to demand that he, er, stop becoming her guardian, I suppose. I don't know what she hopes to achieve by meeting Marcus and telling him to stop trying to marry her or her sisters off. Maybe she wants to drive home to Marcus and to me that she and her sisters are clichés that pay lip service to independence when we all know that all they really want in life is a well-hung manslut husband.
It doesn't make sense, really. Arabella and her sisters are supposedly ruined by their father's terribly indiscreet antics which are public knowledge, so I don't know why Arabella feels this need to tell Marcus off about how she and her sisters want to be independent spinsters. Why be afraid of something that is supposed to be no longer possible? The Loring sisters run an academy for daughters of wealthy working-class merchants, but I have no idea how they can do this successfully when their reputations and social standing are supposedly ruined by their father's nonsense. I've just mentioned some of the fundamental illogical nonsense in the story, mind you. There are more to be discovered as the story clumsily unfurls in Ms Jordan's increasingly detoriating prose that makes her stories harder to tell apart from Connie Mason's.
The story is as long as it is because the main characters have turnips for brains. Marcus decides that he finds Arabella too sexy and too "original" so he must marry her. Of course, instead of wooing her with flowers and wine, he pretty much tells her that he's marrying her no matter what when he's not threatening to shut down the Loring sisters' academy. You can imagine how she reacts, I'm sure. Marcus also misses the point completely as he assumes that his wealth will soothe any pain Arabella will feel at losing her independence despite the fact that Arabella again and again lets him know loudly and shrilly that she is too noble to be swayed by money. Of course, she is not too noble to be swayed by that thing hanging between Marcus' legs. Therefore, the premise of this story is that Marcus will shag our silly bint into saying yes. By the end of two weeks, if she can withstand his sexy mojo, he will then call off his proposal and the Loring sisters are free to fly kites, chase kittens, and do whatever else that these morons think they are born to do.
The combination of clunky and painful prose and silly characters running wild makes To Pleasure A Lady more like To Torment A Reader. The story is full of illogical contradictions and the characters seem to relish behaving in the most ridiculous and foolish manner possible. As for the erotic sex scenes, I personally feel that any eroticism in this story is rendered null and void by my intense desire to see the characters brained to death for being so utterly and insufferably annoying. Reading this book has been a most painful chore and I can only be relieved when I finally reach the last page.
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