The Countess Misbehaves
by Nan Ryan, historical (2000)
MIRA, $6.50, ISBN 1-55166-591-3


Ever wonder what happened if that movie Titanic gets a happy ending, i.e. the guy survives and reunites with his woman in America? Well, keep looking, because this book sure isn't it. This story is more of what happens when Titanic falls into the wrong hands and is given a heavy dose of purple prose, ridiculous quagmire of a murder mystery, and lots of unintentional humor. At least that James Cameron movie has a strong heroine. The countess in The Countess Misbehaves is like a female Bart Simpson on a PMS and laundry day.

Countess Madeleine Cavendish is on her way to meet her hubby-to-be in New Orleans. She is a proud member of the Heroines with Crappy Dead Husbands Club, and she is also an active member of the Society for Women Who Think That All Men Are Bastards (Until The Next One Comes Along, That Is). And not only that, she is also a Whiny, Spoilt Rich Woman With More Money and Time On Her Hand Than Brains club member.

On the ship, she meets a man who reminds her of her cheatin', no-good drunkard ex-hubby whom she hates and despises. Naturally, she is attracted to him. And Armand de Chevalier is a no-good, womanizing bastard, but we all know he's a good guy because he has a hot salami between his tree-trunk thighs and he's also Creole. So what if he spends the whole ship voyage to New Orleans making juvenile, clumsy come-on lines to Madeleine. If he's Creole, he's a great catch.

Naturally, the ship hits an iceberg... no wait, it's a storm thing. Madeleine, seeing her life flash before her eyes, finally sees the light and throws off her clothes. "Make love to me! Make me feel like a woman before I die!" she declares passionately to Armand. They manage to get all orgasmic and hands-a-flailing for what seems like hours, but that's okay. The ship thoughtfully stays afloat until Madeleine is made to feel like a Woman for the first time in her life.

And then we see her looking forlornly at Armand staying behind on the sinking ship as she sails away in a lifeboat... (cue: And my heart will go on and on....)

But hey, he isn't dead. They meet in New Orleans for more fun. Her hubby-to-be turns out to be vile (surprise!), people keep dying (an excuse for the unwanted Other Man to be kicked out of the picture), and our two lovebirds keep bickering and boinking. Ooh, you Creole stud! Ooh, you peachy white willowy bosom-mosom Countess! Play that puckering, pulsing thing baby!

Of course, like all badly-written books, there's a surreal fun quality to TCM. It's funny, in fact, it's perfect for an afternoon at Borders, staring wide-eyed at the pages, thinking Oh my God, is that position actually possible? And I sure wish I can live a life of no-plot all sex like these two people! while trying not to choke to death on that delicious slice of cheese cake. Spaghetti romances are never more campy, trashy, and fun.

Rating: 60


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