by Nicole Jordan, historical (2006)
Ivy, $6.99, ISBN 0-345-46787-6
I would be very interested to know whether Fever Dreams is an intentional joke on the author's part. While the love scenes drip purple most lovingly like the mouth of a vampire that has just feasted on Barney the Dinosaur, the plot of this story is full of howlers to the point that this book is a hoot to read for all the wrong reasons.
Every Nicole Jordan book must open with a gigantic volcanic eruption from our omnipotent hero and Fever Dreams is no different. Our hero Alex Ryder has been in love with our heroine Eve Seymour since he was sixteen and she was eleven. Not to be mean or anything, but Ms Jordan does know what the word "pedophilia" means, right? And that it's not a good thing at all? Anyway, like he is at the start of the story, Alex always dreams of boinking Eve ten thousand ways from the top of her head to her toes and up again. Never underestimate the power of boyhood passion, after all! You see, when they were living in the island of Cyrene, sixteen-year old Alex was so impressed with eleven-year old Eve's kindness and sweetness and all that. It's true love! Don't laugh, people, or the heterosexual equivalent of NAMBLA - NAMGLA, perhaps? - will frown and tell Ms Jordan about your callous insensitivity.
Now, where we were? Ah yes, anyway, Alex and Eve aren't meant to be, and not because one of them hasn't even experienced puberty yet. Eve is eventually sent off to an arranged marriage with a caricature of a nobleman (she's doing it for her siblings of course - SHE'S DOING IT FOR THE KIDS!) and Alex has to be content with the memory of a chaste goodbye kiss with Eve to warm his heart at night when he writhes, humps the pillow, and accidentally spears the ceiling with his, you know, during his nightly dream skin theater.
Today, Sir Alex Ryder is one of the Guardians of the Sword, a bunch of guys who vow to do good to people everywhere, and he comes to Eve's rescue when he learns from Eve's siblings that she is now a widow, clearly legal, and about to die unless someone is there to protect that braindead woman from whoever it is that wants her dead. Is love in the air for our two lovebirds?
Eve is like a cardboard character with all the familiar stereotypes of a weak and stupid heroine scrawled all over the cardboard that is her personality. She is, of course, terrified of sex thanks to her cartoon evil dead husband but at the same time she is also pretty clueless about sex or how Alex pretty much threatens to explode out of his pants whenever he's near her because Ms Jordan apparently believes that it ain't erotic unless the heroine has cotton stuffed inside where her brain should be. Eve is also a happy martyr to her unpleasant aunts. In short, Eve isn't a character as much as a blow-up doll that is there solely to get Alex to act like the kindest, sweetest, and most sensitive hero in the world who is there to do everything for Eve except to hold Eve's hand when she attempts to cross the street.
The plot also doesn't make sense, like why would Eve's dead husband would want to marry the daughter of a heavily debt-ridden earl, and Eve's objections to marrying again are so shoddily developed in this story that they come off like flimsy token conflicts introduced to make sure that the book doesn't end after 20 pages of non-stop energetic love scenes.
There are two camps of readers who read Nicole Jordan's books. One camp consists of readers who are Deadly Serious about those books and will frown on anyone who dares to suggest that those books rely more on sex than story to get through the word count. The other camp of readers find pleasure in the campy mishaps of the stupid characters, the ridiculous and comical plot absurdities, and the sometimes howlingly funny purple prose. With nearly nonexistent characterization and all kinds of plot absurdities driven by cartoon villains and a heroine who will stare wide-eyed at an incoming truck rather than to run for cover, Fever Dreams is already a potential winner with both camps. Add in the fact that the romance of this story is rooted on the infatuation of a sixteen-year old pervert on an oblivious eleven-year old girl and we have a winner, ding ding ding. I'm sure the readers of the former camp will be reassured that Alex loves eleven-year old Eve for her kindness and character while readers of the latter camp will be equally reassured to know that Eve sometimes demonstrates that mentally, she is still that eleven-year old girl. Let's finish burying completely Nicole Jordan's credibility as a Serious Good Writer and just enjoy the train ride, shall we?
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