by Sari Robins, historical (2004)
Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-06-057534-4
If Sari Robins is able to make certain major elements in the plot of One Wicked Night convincing to me, the book would be an efficient and digestible if not too edifying light story cobbled together from familiar elements in Regency London historical romances in a fairly ordinary way. But the major event, the One Wicked Night in question, that drives our hero and heroine closer is a big "Huh? What the..." moment and there are as many other fantastically unbelievable moments to accompany that grand scene.
Take our heroine Lillian Kane, for instance. She's a mistress to the Marquis of Beaumont. But this being a safe and inoffensive historical romance, this mistress thing is just a front - Dillon, her protector, is an old friend. Lillian wants to become a "mistress" because she doesn't want to marry - ever - thanks to her mother being treated like a punching bag by her stepfather. How this necessitates her being a mistress is beyond me. Even more perplexing, Lillian spends a lot of time whining that she needs to stay Virtuous and Pure because she has a reputation to maintain. Huh? What reputation? She's a mistress. Everyone knows she's a mistress because she wants them to know. So shouldn't she be more concerned in being fast and easy? Then again, would you be a mistress if you want men to stay away from you? And that's not even factoring in the befuddling ease in which she moves around in parties all over London when she's well-known as a mistress to Dillon. Go figure. The heroine is a big "What the...?" question mark right there.
When Dillon is framed for murder, Lillian seeks the help of the Bow Street Runner Nicholas Redford, a man whom she has a crush on for a while now. He thinks that Dillon is guilty and refuses to help her. Lillian's best buddy, the former actress Fanny Longbottom, has a bright idea: Lillian will trap Nicholas into the same situation Dillon found himself in so that Nicholas will understand how easy it is that Dillon is framed! See, this is what happens when we let stupid romance heroines loose on the world. They come up with Very Dumb Plans. Don't we have an island somewhere that we can ship these silly creatures off to?
Lillian's trap, by the way, involves drugging Nicholas up and then forcing herself on him. It's quite sick when I think of it: this is a heroine who wails incessantly about her Precious Reputation but she has no problems coming up with a plan like this. Naturally, after getting his jollies off, Nicholas becomes more sympathetic to her and offers her his services. Men. And I'm sure any reader who wants to get offended by the messages this book is sending to women everywhere will find plenty of ammunition to fuel their disgust. Me, I won't waste my time - this book is too ridiculous to get that worked up over.
The story spends roughly equal pages focusing on a lame suspense featuring two cardboard villains and some bland want-don't-want lusting between Nicholas and Lillian. The internal conflict between those two is exasperating and tedious because it's all about Lillian whining that she cannot marry ever no, no, no and how she wants to be a simple and pure lady and how Nicholas had a bad childhood so he is afraid to commit to Lillian - oh, whatever. This story takes place in two weeks and the romance takes root under dubious circumstances. Instead of letting the characters whine incessantly as they embark on a romance that never recovers from its contrived beginning, Ms Robins should have spent more time fleshing out her characters and working out the kinks in the logic and historic accuracy in her story. As it is, One Wicked Night has too many implausible and illogical moments to even qualify as a bad book. It's just a book that requires more thought and work to be put into it before it gets published for public consumption.
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