by Debra Mullins, historical (2004)
Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-06-056166-1
Readers tired of heroines behaving stupidly in the name of Daddy and heroes that respond to these heroines in equally insipid manners are better off staying far, far away from Three Nights....
Aveline Stoddard, when realizing that her father has lost a lot of money on the gambling tables and is now engaged in a duel because the idiot accused his opponent of cheating, realizes that she has no choice but to submit her precious vee-vee for this opponent Lucien DuFeron (good grief, what a name - is this a tribute to Ye Mighty Avon Editor gone awry? or a sly reference that Ye Mighty Avon Editor is the devil herself?) for three nights. Abeline decides to have a great time Losing It in the Name of Duty, but of course, at the end of three days she is hopelessly besotted with the man that demands her virtue in exchange for her useless father's life. Likewise, Luke is impressed by her courage - what a noble sacrifice she made! - and is taken with her. Dude, you should've just courted her like normal people would. But they just cannot speak, and the usual morning-after Guilt and Recriminations force them to part ways.
Later, she realizes that she is pregnant. Oh no, who would've anticipated that development in this story? But usual standard misroutings of letters result in she not realizing that he is currently incarcerated at sea (don't ask) while he is too busy trying to work up at being tortured and melodramatically broody. Then five years later he is back. He is convinced that Aveline's father is behind his recent Sinbad the Sailor adventures and charges to the Stoddard household only to learn that he's a father and Aveline's father is now crippled after a stroke. He marries Aveline but Aveline, outraged at her husband's refusal to love her daddy forever and ever, plunges the story into further moments of insipid tomfoolery.
Aveline, pre-defloration, isn't too bad a heroine as she is mad at her father and comes off as vaguely human. But the sex must have vaporized the few braincells she cannot afford to lose because subsequently she behaves like a ranting, petulant imbecile. Likewise, Luke starts off as a vaguely charming but standard outcast titled hero, but his actions become more and more ridiculous as the story progresses. Both people act in bizarrely stupid ways when the author needs conflicts, and these conflicts are so over-the-top, complete with snarling rabid villains and unnecessary martyr angsts, Three Nights... comes off like a badly-plotted attempt-gone-awry by Debra Mullins in churning out a typical formulaic Avon romance novel.
Three Nights... is a painful throwback to the style and over-the-top brain-free melodrama of author's awful debut Once A Mistress. Compared to the books that came after Once A Mistress, Three Nights... is a complete backslide in Ms Mullins' evolution as an author.
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