My Philipe
by Barbara Miller, historical (2000)
Sonnet, $6.50, ISBN 0-671-77453-0


Very beautiful cover, this book has. A glorious golden hunk who looks like Pierce Brosnan on a bad peroxide day (still gorgeous nonetheless) riding on a horse. Ooh. Only when I got home and eagerly turn to page one do I remember the headache that is the author's last book, Dearest Max.

Never mind, maybe My Philipe (aw, what a romantic title) will be different. 'Fraid not, however. Reading My Philipe is like watching Cinderella catering to her evil stepmother and stepsisters in a Springeresque update. This time around, the Prince Charming joins in the doormat game too. Why do wimps like Philipe Armitage and his consort Bella McFarlane get such a lovely cover I will never know. Wait, I know. It's like a bait thing, right?

Once, Bella and Philipe have a very mad affair. They promise to wait, she clinging to the memories of his touch as he fades from her view, carried by the winds of war - Oh! My heart, my heart!. Then come horrifying news - Philipe is dead! "Nooooo!" screams Bella, and swoons. She marries Philipe's cousin Edwin, has a lousy marriage (she should've read romance novels more to know that marrying someone else before Chapter 1 is more often than not sexual suicide), and has a child named Jamie.

Now, Philipe rides back like a golden hero. Edwin conveniently cocked his toes so as to not clutter the story (smart man, leaving a sinking ship while he can). But Bella is so worn out like a waifish Cinderella, tired of the excesses of celibacy and sulkiness, that she is putting a distance between them both. Never mind, Philipe decides to escort Bella and Jamie to Edwin's country home instead. Maybe he can get lucky somewhere during the journey.

No luck. Bella sulks, pouts, blames herself and everyone for every single sin in the world since Noah forgot to squash the two surviving mosquitoes on his ark. Then they reach dead Edwin's home, where I am subjected to a myriad of dysfunctional, nasty people that can make Jerry Springer genuinely orgasmic. There's, oh, nasty mommas, evil women, greedy men, stupid ugly fat slobby men, devious Jezebels... but worse has to be that boy Jamie who has to be the most irritating thing since some moron put a microphone in Aaron Carter's hands. How old is he? One moment he is acting ga-ga cute, then he's an eloquent crybaby hypothyroidic dwarf.

And it is nerve-wracking to see Bella catering to these horrible people. "Yes, ma'am. Step on my back, sir. Kick me in the guts, miss. Call me names, sir. Pity me, please." And Philipe? He's no better, standing in the shadows like a misguided tragic hero. I dearly wanted to knock the heads of these two people together. Get a spine and tell those twits off! Don't let them trample all over you! GET A CLUE!

Maybe someone would find delightful such impassive inertia and a misguided, almost masochistic desire to just stand there and endure all brickbats from nasty people, all in the name of Justice, Love, and Righteousness. Me, I can only wish I'm living in that story. I need someone to clean the fridge.

Rating: 38


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