Come What May
by Leslie LaFoy, historical (2002)
Bantam, $6.50, ISBN 0-553-58314-X


Leslie LaFoy's Come What May is a nice example of how not to write a drama. You don't write pair up a jerk hero and a desperate heroine and then use the "instantaneous attraction" thing as some excuse for her and he to keep pawing and then hissing at each other, and you definitely shouldn't use external conflicts as an excuse to avoid addressing any pertinent issues about trust and respect. Frankly, I personally find the heroine Claire Curran and the hero Devon Rivard go together like water and oil, because Ms LaFoy never successfully convinced me of the happily ever after.

Claire Curran, in the grand tradition of too many heroines who travel a long way across 1700s America, takes a long trip from London to Virginia - without having enough money for a return ticket. Personally, I won't even leave the house if I don't have enough cash for the bus or the cab, but I guess that's why I'm not a romance heroine. She delivers a sealed missive to her uncle's lawyer, who then tells her the lovely news: Devon's brother is heavily in debt with her uncle, and if Devon marries her, the debt will be cancelled.

And since she has no money to go home (cue Desperate Dingbat theme song)... at this point I sigh and proceed to brain myself with a frying pan until my hubby has to physically restrain me.

He has a better reason to marry her - he badly needs the money. He treats her rudely, but I can see why: his mother and her sister are complete bitches, his brother is a moron, his girlfriend is of one kind (the wrong kind), his wife is another kind; no wonder Devon snaps around like a mad bullmastiff. Personally I will burn the house down and claim the insurance money, but then again, I'm never the romance heroine, always the bitching reader.

While he is always snarling and gritting his teeth, she is so chirpy, doing her housekeeping thing and being attracted to him despite all the nonsense he puts her through. Is this what Come What May means? He can drag her down the bumpy muddy road and steamroller her, but she will always love him because Come What May? That's kinda... pathetic.

The resolution of the drama? After the bad guy is out of the way (see below), it's, naturally, Let's Send Her Away time. Cue lots of pouting and sighing. It's a very original plot twist, really.

Have I mentioned the Noble Black Slaves who call our heroine endearments like "Child" and offer sage love advice? Just once I'd love to see the slaves, after having to work for two nasty bitches, one idiot, and one snarling bulldog of a family, rebel and accidentally poison the food like they used to back in the jolly old days, but no, Scarlet O'Hara here needs some Minority Comfort Marm. Lovely.

This book needs a long, shouting match. No, wait, this book needs a more dramatic ending. See, someone wants to kill Claire at some point in this story, and the killer-wannabe will naturally face off our hero and heroine at gun point at the end to blab about his plot. At this point, I'd heartily recommend an ending where the killer-wannabe opens fire, our bitch mother stands there, too stupid to move, her sister jumps to shield her, the girlfriend dashes to protect her, our hero jumps to protect her, and our heroine jumps to protect him. Phow! Bang! Thud! Kerpow! Force is the product of mass and acceleration, and in this case, the bullet is traveling so fast, it has enough force to pierce through five bodies, and who wants skewered barbecued meat for dinner?

Hmm, I think I gave away the identity of the killer-wannabe in the above paragraph. Oops.

Rating: 53


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