The Scandalous Miss Howard
by Nan Ryan, historical (2002)
MIRA, $6.50, ISBN 1-55166-893-9


Ah, the American Civil-War. From Nan Ryan's The Scandalous Miss Howard, I'd have thought the war was nothing more than a Boy Scout mock watergun fight. This book seems like the start of a series of ex-Confederate soldiers trying to rebuild their lives after the war. I wonder - why is there never any story about people from the other side of the war? We all agree that slavery is bad, but why then are we writing stories of progressive Confederate groupies?

Anyway, I could have had fun with this ridiculously plotted story, but I'm rather numbed from the whole nonsense. So sorry, Ms Ryan, if I'm not in the mood for campy lurid stuff. I just want my $6.50 back so that I can buy an icepick and lobotomize myself.

Long, long ago, Ladd Dasheroon - you have to be kidding - and Laurette Howard are stupid teenagers in lurve. But then Laddie goes to war, and Laurette - the scatterbrained Miss Howard in question - learns from a Northern soldier named Jimmy that Laddie is dead. Oh, oh, wail! Laurette, taking the role of Mercedes, marries Jimmy while Laddie of Monte Cristo here languishes in a nasty, nasty castle called Devil's Castle (creative, those Abe Lincoln groupies, eh?).

Years later, Laddie of Monte Cristo is free. Probably after reading Alexandre Dumbass' book, he decides to call himself Sutton Vane - from Dasheroon to Vane, nice - and come back all grand, pompous, and glorious. He wants revenge! He wants revenge and he, er, he just wants to seduce the Mercedes Iguanodon Howard woman. Mercedes Iguanodon naturally has no clue whatsoever, even though her heart beats thum-pum-pum because Laddie Monte Cristo here looks so much like Laddie Monte Cristo. Oh blimey, he is slipping his finger up her knickers! Oh, oh, oh, what is a genteel dumbass woman to do?

The romance is pretty much a love-hate-love-hate rollercoaster ride, Laddie Monte Cristo is a rude, stupid, and insufferable jerk and Mercedes Iguanodon Howard is a fruitcake. My final impression of this story is that everyone here should've been locked up in an asylum for his or her own good. A waste of time in every way that counts - even swatting flies on a hot day can offer me a better time than reading this badly-written and ill-conceived story.

Rating: 37


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