Always
by Lynsay Sands, historical (2000)
Leisure, $5.50, ISBN 0-8439-4736-5


As much as I adore the horse with a flatulence problem in Always, everything else about this slapstick medieval romp makes me feel quite uneasy. Basically, the story is about a woman who puts up with her husband's tantrums - some that border on psychosis - for all the wrong reasons and gets rewarded with a Happily-Ever-After for it.

Robbie with that insecure, neurotic Ally? Every instincts of mine rebel. Dave will get a scanned picture of my middle finger in his fax! I...

Sorry, I got carried away. Back to Always. Rosamunde, King Henry II's illegitimate daughter, is made to marry Aric of Burkhart. Seems the queen has Rosamunde's mother, Henry's favorite hobby, murdered and now Henry wants his beloved daughter protected. And what better than a woman-hating, distrustful, bad-tempered knight like Aric, right? (The mind boggles about the workings of the fictitious male brain).

Here comes the bride, here comes his jealousy. Aric thinks all women are harlots after catching his wife-to-be with someone else. Therefore, Rosamunde must be a harlot too! And what is that harlot doing? She's spending too much time in the stables - oh, she must be boinking someone there! Lock her up! Never let her out of his sight! But all that jealousy doesn't stop Aric from boinking our heroine, no way. What a charmer.

Thing is, if Rosamunde is a harlot, then Aric might be a realistic portrayal of a medieval bastard. This woman, however, is a not-quite-there-upstairs lady who lives for nothing more than to take care of sick animals and people. And unless Aric has a very sick mind about Rosie's amateur vet practices, I can't see what this man is so worked up about. Aric, I'm afraid, comes off a really dumb donkey.

And Rosamunde takes the cake as the silliest martyr of the year, putting up with all of Aric's tantrums with a silly smiling, happy face. Why? Because she promised her beloved Papa to obey hubby always. This time the word always takes on a chilling new meaning, I must say. Then again, maybe she's masochistic, because she tells herself that she loves him even when he's still doing his Tasmanian Devil act.

Maybe I shouldn't be so hasty to frown. Maybe Rosie loves being put on 24-hour surveillance by a man who is so sure her knickers will go flying the moment he looks away. Some women get their jollies being dominated by control freaks, I'm sure. And hey, if they're happy, I'm happy for them too.

I'm just not happy that this book isn't quite as fun as it could be.

Rating: 50


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