The Reluctant Guardian
by Jo Manning, regency (1999)
Regency Press, $4.95, ISBN 1-929085-06-0


Sigh. The Reluctant Guardian is a pretty ordinary regency story with a familiar plot, but the heroine is so unbearably girly that there is no wall high enough for me to driven up. Otherwise, this story is typically filled with stock characters and plot devices like His Evil Mother, The Other Woman, I Miss My Useless Daddy, and I Have Loved Him Even Before Puberty Hits Me.

Mary and Sally Martin's useless father just ups and disappears one day. Isaac "Rainbows All Over My Pantyhose" Reblow is called from his girly chit-chat with his friend (these two, if you ask me, can't be any more gay if you make them wear matching ballet tutus) to take charge of the situation. Mary is delighted because remember, she has loved him since she was still an unfertilized egg in her mother's womb or maybe a little bit later, but dang, he is so bossy and she doesn't like him anymore! Wait, she does, but ooh, he vexes her, she doesn't like him anymore, but he is so cute, and I gave a pained howl at the moon.

Anyway, he sponsors Mary "No Pretty Dresses Please, I'm Virtuous, Don't Call Me Pretty, I'm Humble, I Just Want To Love Him And My Daddy Forever" Martin, much to his Bitch Momma's dismay. After all, Mary "I Come In Three Doormat Colors" Martin and her sister are so easily manipulated into serving Bitch Momma, but with Isaac "Rainbows, Rainbows, Pretty Rainbows in My Pink Panties" Reblow around, Momma's game is up. Damn. Meanwhile, Isaac can't love, because his parents' marriage suck ten lemons and then some more lemondrops, and he doesn't believe in love anymore.

Along the way, subplots come, subplots go, none resolved well come to think of it, and I cringe at Mary's wide-eyed girly-girly infatuation and Isaac's tired protestations against amour.

The prose is lively, although the author's idea of male repartee will make even Oscar Wilde cringe at the whole girlishness of it all. But I find the story, characters, everything so predictable and cloyingly prepubsecent (Mary, I'm looking at you) that I have a hard time keeping awake. If Isaac's The Reluctant Guardian, I feel like Mr Pink "Would You Believe That My Last Name Is Reblow?" Triangle and his girlie's reluctant babysitter.

Rating: 62


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