Not Quite Married
by Betina Krahn, historical (2004)
Bantam, $6.99, ISBN 0-553-57518-X


Please take note that Not Quite Married is previously published as Rapture's Ransom way back in 1983. The story has been rewritten and the hero's name has been changed from Allen Stuart into Aaron Durham, which is something more, I presume, authentic to the eighteenth century setting. But despite the cosmetic doctoring performed on it, Not Quite Married is a textbook example of why romance heroines can be the biggest imbeciles on earth. You can give them a billion dollars but they will still find a way to lose everything in five seconds.

If Brien Weston has even one single braincell, this story would be only ten pages long. But no, our Miss Thing here has to act like a braindead hoyden instead. I should have known that she's braindead and drop this book when she wonders, early on in the story, that while she may be very rich, surely no man will want to marry her because she's a tomboyish hoyden. Why, she can't think of any reason why a man would want her! Her father ignores her and Brien runs wild, running the country estate of Byron Place. When she clashes with a cruel overseer when the latter beats a kid she has more or less adopted, her father decides to marry her off. Brien is horrified. She can't be married! Because apart from her delectable beauty and her pots of money, there is absolutely no reason why she believes that a man would want her so she refuse to marry. She will only marry for love!

So she lets herself be ruined by Aaron Durham, a self-made man with a huge chip on his shoulders, in a bizarro plan where she pays him to marry her and then leave her be. When she learns of what she believes to be his less-than-sanguine reasons for deflowering her, she cherishes the memory of his Potent Lovemaking to her heart because she is sure that she will never experience another Potent Power like that again. After getting kidnapped by her future husband (gotta love Daddy for wanting to make up for the years of neglect by arranging for his daughter to marry a monster!) and have to be rescued by you-know-who, Brien finds herself married to an Other Man who is devoted to her, puts her on a pedestal, and grants her everything she can ever want. But one more look at Aaron and she's willing to throw everything for that man. In the name of True Love, of course. Give me a freaking break.

I've lost count in this story of how many men Brien married or got kidnapped or assaulted by. This book is like a joke, The Perilous Adventures of Brien and the Evil Men Who Want A Piece Of Her - How Will She Remain Pure Only For Aaron, Oh Oh Oh! or something. Characters have moodswings depending on the author's whims, especially Brien's father who is either a negligent jerk or an abusive asshole depending on what day of the week it is. What Ms Krahn wants to pass off as "moral" ends up as "spineless" or "idiotic" instead, such as Aaron not wanting his title, being a self-made egalitarian and all that, but refusing to relinquish it nonetheless because he doesn't want to get cut off by Daddy even when all he wants to do in life is to flee his responsibilities and be a sailor. How selfish of Daddy to assume that his heir should take up some responsibilities! How mean! Well, at least Aaron and Brien can bitch about their Daddies on weekends, I guess, so their relationship isn't a complete flop. May they never have children of their own that will grow up to hate them beyond reason.

Not Quite Married is a truly irritating story about a heroine who, in the name of True Love, acts like a total too-stupid-to-live imbecile. This is a story about "moral" characters who are just plain dumb instead as they put bizarre priorities on lip service, bouts of tedious self-flagellation to make up for their lack of discipline where their hormones are concerned, and vague notions of true love when it's obvious that they won't know love even if it comes up to them and bitchsmack them from Sunday to Friday like they deserve to be smacked. I guess I'm too old to put up with the immature behavior of these fools in romance novels.

Rating: 44


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