Hard Day's Knight
by Katie MacAlister, contemporary (2005)
Onyx, $6.99, ISBN 0-451-21386-6


This time around, Katie MacAlister focuses on getting yet another birdbrained heroine shackled to an English dude, this time someone who is supposedly a champion jouster in Renaissance fairs, in her contemporary romance Hard Day's Knight. Maybe in a later book, it will be revealed all these birdbrained nitwits are actually part of an American masterplan to ruin the social foundations of Great Britain by introducing plenty of feeble genes in the British gene pool, upon which I will throw myself at Katie MacAlister's feet and proclaim her a genius. You think? Nah, I don't so either.

Pepper Marsh has a tendency to do the wrong things and say equally wrong things at the wrong time, which is why she wants to get married. That way, when she drops the baby into a working washing machine and starts breastfeeding a bag of diapers, she can easily plead insanity before the judge, I suppose. Pepper is unemployed (gee, I wonder why), another good reason to want to find a boyfriend. She is sick of the usual geeks attending sci-fi conventions, so she decides to seek out more erudite males by attending her cousin CJ's Renaissance Faire. There is nothing more enjoyable than watching grown men in tin cans poking long phallic sticks at each other, after all. Yep, beats a guy in a Klingon mask anytime.

When Pepper is nearly tramped by a horse (go, horses!), she is saved by the British hunk with the most respectable British name ever, Walker MacPhail. He's the coach and the leader of the Three Dog Knight troupe. She thinks that Walker is her knight in shining armor. He's not interested in her. Okay, he wants to shag her but he doesn't seem interested in her in any other way. Or is he?

Filled with twittering secondary characters, I believe that the combined IQ of the main characters and the secondary characters will come up to double digits. The cat may be the smartest character, come to think of it. Pepper is appropriately a walking social disaster and intellectual tragedy, Walker is... well, Walker, their relationship consists of childish spats and Pepper throwing spoiled temper tantrums left and right because Walker doesn't act like she's the focus of his world the way he is the focus of her tiny, barren world - this book is exactly the same as the author's previous contemporary romances when it comes to the emotional maturity and intellectual capabilities of her characters.

Well, at least the setting is interesting. However, Pepper's imbecility and the ridiculous levels of scatological slapstick tomfoolery overshadow the story and what little plot it has. Like most of this author's books, the potential of the premise is there. The setting is interesting and it's obvious that Ms MacAlister has done some research on the subject matter. But she spends so little time actually developing the characters and plots that they remain nothing more than published first drafts that reek of amateurism and self-indulgence taken too far.

Rating: 51


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