by Jenni Licata, historical (1999)
Leisure, $4.99, ISBN 0-8439-4542-7
I was reading this book in-between a rerun of a David Copperfield magic show on TV. The climax of the show is that magician levitating and floating off the Grand Canyon while Bonnie Tyler croons Holding Out For A Hero with gusto. Honey, I would too. After that hour-long magic show, a thought struck me: as heroes go, Alexandre in Unveiled isn't bad. But if we ladies are all holding out for a hero, we're shortchanged. Ladies, a wonderful hero has eluded us to fall for a really unworthy heroine.
The Wynter siblings are some of the most annoying people I've ever read. Lil' bro Charles is running off with a bunch of rakes/terrorists-in-the-making called "The Mohocks". He gets drunk, conked out half the time, and had fun trying to contract as many venereal diseases as any idiot possibly could. But Dumb Charlie is 16, after all. Big Sis Victoria spends her time dressing up as a boy to follow her brother in what is supposed to be sisterly concern. I say feh - she just wants to indulge her voyeuristic tendencies. Vicky darling, as Big sis, I strongly recommend you cutting off your Bro's purse strings and throwing that idiot off to the country home. After all, a supposedly spunky lady like you should have no problem telling the drunken oaf off.
Alex has a more noble reason to exist in this story. His mother is French, and at a time when England and France aren't exactly bosom buddies (this is the era of Queen Anne, circa early 1700's), his loyalty to the Crown is called to question. Poor Alex. When Queen Anne sets him to infiltrate the Mohocks, he is not blind to the fact that the mission is also a test of his loyalty. Alex is repulsed by the mission, but he has to carry it out.
Of course, he stumbles upon Vicky in disguise in a ball. Vicky is in her "La Fantome" disguise, and gossips abound speculate that she is a French spy and murderess out to take revenge on a faithless lover while moonlighting as a pirate queen (I'm not making this up). He stumbles upon her standing over the dead body of a Queen's messenger, and from here onwards the fun begins. Alex pretends to act dissipated, Vicky runs off for more dangerous fun in her Look Ma, I'm a boy outfit and needs rescuing all the time, and they stumble upon a Plot To Off The Old Biddy On The Throne.
It can be fun, it can be exciting. If Vicky has shown some common sense that balances Alex's torn feelings between duty and heart's desire. Or if someone has administered the blistering set-down and the Hickory Switch treatment that idiot Charles clearly deserves. I admit Victoria and Alexandre are quite fun together, and the chemistry between them is pretty good and just right, but really, the plot is like a leaky, creaky, aged boiler. It needs a lot of tightening, bolting, and hammering. Everywhere.
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