by Patricia Potter, historical (2001)
Jove, $6.99, ISBN 0-515-13098-2
There's nothing more exasperating than following two passive-agressive people together in a plot that could have been solved if they would just sit down and open their big mouths and say something - anything. Neil Forbes, sadist gung-ho specializing in self-pity, blank stares, and whiny petulance, just won't talk. He learns that he will most likely sire mad kiddies, so he breaks off his engagement to Janet Leslie, even though they think they will be together forever amen. Of course, he must let Janet think the worst of him. It's for her own good. Oh, the pain Neil must go through. Ah indeed.
Now, today, Janet, a new widow after her abusive, sadistic, rapist, brutal et cetera husband (who married her for her money, of course, and not love) dies, is in trouble. Her mother-in-law is telling everyone who listens that Janet has laced her husband's (final) drink with poison. Her kids (there are quite a few, mostly stepkids, but don't worry, they don't overpower the story) and her home are in danger of falling into the wrong hands. Never mind, here's Neil. Hallelujah!
Neil, of course, is sad. Remember, it hurts him more than it hurts her that he can't be with her, y'know. It just kills him to see her married to such a lousy a-hole - oh, that poor pathetic moron indeed. And he, of course, can't help Janet. He just can't! He just tells her that her mother-in-law is up to no good and then goes out of her life again. He doesn't - I don't know, remember, there's mad genes in his blood, hence he must sacrifice his nobility so that Janet will be homeless and hey, at least she will never bear mad kiddies.
What a noble man. Oh, I'm touched. I mean, I'm touching the trigger of my bazooka. Someone is going to D-I-E.
Janet writes some letters. And somehow Neil ends up married to Janet. So now what? Janet, rationally, decides that since Neil is a no-good jerk who loves and then dumps her like a bag of wet coal, he must be up to no good. He marries her for... gasp! The money! The land! Whatever!
Can Neil come out and reassure her that he is a good man? Are you kidding? He gives her this sad, puppy-eyed look: "Oh, I'm hurting! You have no idea how much it hurts me to live this way, Janet! Why can't you understand? Why can't the world understand that I HAVE MADNESS IN MY SPERM AND THIS IS A BIG PROBLEM INDEED!"
Naturally, she wonders why he isn't boinking her, thus reaffirming her suspicions that he will never love her, et cetera, and he will give her this blank look when she yells at him to talk to her, please, say something, anything, ANYTHING! She could have better luck screaming at the goats to dance the can-can.
And yeah, some bad guy lurks around for some obligatory action towards the end. And late, late, late into this story when Neil finally has the truth dragged out from his stupid butt, that he has this unhealthy obsession about the state of his testicles, that this story offers a glimpse of what it could have been: two people in love, working together for a brand new start in life. But for too long, the misunderstanding and miscommunication just drags on and on and on, thanks to the hero's disgusting self-absorbed silence and self-pity and the heroine's inability to shatter a vase over his thick head.
The Heart Queen could have been great. But it just vexes and exasperates me instead of entertaining me like it should. A communication seminar will do wonders for the two characters in this story, that's for sure.
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