by Linda Needham, historical (2005)
Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-06-051414-0
The heroine in this book professes to be a feminist in 1853 London but if she is alive today, she'd be tossed in jail after a trial that will make Heidi Fleiss green with envy. Linda Needham must have gotten confused a little - maybe from watching too much TV? - and mistook the entry under the dictionary for "procuress" for that of "feminist". Either way, this book is so over-the-top that it is ridiculous in a bad and not-at-all campy manner.
Elizabeth Dunaway is a self-professed feminist who not only arranges for women to keep bank accounts under false identities, she also gets herself thrown in jail and arranges "bachelor auctions" where women bid on men that they will then spend the night with. If that's not enough, Elizabeth also drops her pants in public (to reveal harem pants, not bare buttocks, though) and sells "harem dances" in the name of charity. But because genteel romance reader will no doubt die from shock if the heroine actually turns out to be some hard-time shag-expert who has circled the block, Ms Needham isn't afraid to cripple the credibility of her story by having Elizabeth advocate sexual freedom and adventurousness to married women only (although she of course will be glad to teach these women these tricks of the marriage bed, in a non-lesbian way that is). This contradicts her bachelor auction which is opened to both single and married women but I have this feeling that logic takes a backseat to the need of having the heroine remain untainted as much as possible by the sexual freedom she gives lip service to.
Dragged into Elizabeth's insane crusades is Ross Carrington, the Earl of Blackstone. He is a progressive man, or so the author tells me, and he is attracted to Elizabeth's zeal. But as Elizabeth drags him in and out of yet another insane and poorly-planned mess, he soon becomes more and more like a tenacious bulldog determined to trap Elizabeth into marrying him - for her own good, naturally.
Perhaps the inadvertent lampoon of the feminist movement is a good thing as, by being unable to take Elizabeth seriously as a feminist, I won't be worked up into rabid fury by the heroine's inconsistent and often contradictory stances and actions. Unfortunately, that still leaves Marry The Man Today wide open as a story of an utterly idiotic crazy-ass moron heroine and that dumbass brain-damaged enough to want to marry her for the rest of his life. Fans of high-octane tomfoolery may find this book enjoyable but everyone else has better get some aspirins ready just in case before they open this book.
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