by Penelope Neri, historical (2001)
LoveSpell (Candleglow), $5.99, ISBN 0-505-52416-3
Good grief. Moonshadow is populated by characters who are severely in need of a boost in the IQ, especially the heroines. Since this is a Gothic romance, I can only conclude that maybe there's a mutant brain-sucking vampire in here that has been excised in subsequent revisions probably because it's "too scary". There's no other explanation for the high level of duh-ness in this story.
It's actually two story in one. Madeline is just married to Justin, whom she loves oh the mostest, for she knows they are True Soul Mates because they have known each other forever for, like, two months. And she is smart. She has learned all about sex from books and her 13-year old sister and she is ready to get down to business. Uhm, Ms Neri, if you have to have your heroine learn things from a 13-year old, I doubt you can use "intelligent" in the same sentence with the heroine's name.
So they make love, Justin and Madeline, in prose so purple that I'm sure they are being smothered by Barney the dinosaur in that marriage bed. And then Madeline dreams... (insert some new agey music here)
... Of this woman in the 11th century named Lenore who is so in love oh the mostest to her lord knight, oh oh oh. This Lenore, however, is harrassed by one evil knight called Lord Giles. When Lenore's courageous knight Thane Eydmond is rumored to have been killed in battle, what does Lenore do? Marry Lord Giles, of course, so that her baby can have a name and protection from the very man who once attempted to assault Lenore in her bedroom. And Ms Neri has the temerity to describe Lenore as brainy and courageous.
In a remarkable parallel of stupidity, Madeline knows that Justin's friend Michael is Evil. But she wouldn't tell Justin. Justin knows that Michael is Evil, but since they are friends since schooldays, Justin feels obligated to cover for Michael. And he even lets Michael live under the same roof as his too-stupid-for-words wife. Again, Ms Neri dares call Justin intelligent and noble. Tsk, tsk, really!
Madeline and Lenore are pathetic creatures. Both just couldn't function without their men. Madeline, especially, what a cute, docile creature! Everyone runs all over her, and she weeps, until Justin comes up to her and says "There, there!" even as he boinks her. And then Madeline is happy, because Justin is happy, and when Justin is happy, Madeline must be too! Happy, happy, happy! She makes no decision without getting a get-go from Justin, and when Justin is away, she sleeps and dreams of Lenore while the castle burns to the ground around her. Who did this hideous arsony? She has no idea. Because Justin has no idea. I mean, they have this guest, Michael, who insults Madeline, mocks her, makes sexist innuendos at her, sleeps with her maid (that hussy!), and does everything unsavory and nasty, but nah, he can't be the bad guy. After all, Justin doesn't say that Michael is bad, noooo... so Madeline will have to sleep some more and dream of Lenore.
The only thing Gothic about this masterpiece of lunacy is how the author actually persuaded the editor to keep all those glowing adjectives in the same sentences as the hero and heroine's names. Moonshadow is terrifying and creepy for all the wrong reasons.
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