Duchess For A Day
by Peggy Waide, historical (1999)
Leisure, $4.99, ISBN 0-8439-4554-0
In the grand tradition of hit-and-misses, this book gets a perfect bullseye when it comes to missed opportunities and wonderful plots ruined by shoddy execution. If this is a movie I'd be demanding my money back. Since this is a book, well, I guess I'd just have to use it as a paperweight. The reason is that because the Big Misunderstanding dramas that make up the second half of the book really raises my blood pressure. I don't think I ought to risk my health in attempting a reread.
Let's see. Wronged, innocent, and of course, aristocratic Mary Jocelyn Garnett is wrongfully imprisoned in the madhouse of St Mary's of Bethlehem Hospital. One day while trying to make her way to freedom, she ends up being forced upon by an attendant. Luckily for her, the patroness Lady Agatha stumbles upon the scene and rescues Mary before any more harm is done.
Upon hearing about Mary's wicked step-uncle and her forced imprisonment, Lady Agatha decides to help Mary. She gives Mary sanctuary at her estates. But since Mary needs a proper cover, Lady Agatha, who has the power of attorney vested to her from her son Reynold "Reyn" Blackburn (Duke of Wilcott), marries Mary to her absent son. Problem solved!
Until Reyn, who is at that time blissfully a-sailing in distant seas and is unaware of his nuptials, comes back one fine day and finds himself shackled. Okay, she is rather pretty, so Reyn has not much of a problem having her around. But darn, that woman is bossing everyone around! Worse, her cat has his vicious, ruthless doggie cowering in fear. He will find out her secrets.
Until this point I have my pom-poms, root beer, party hat, and confetti out in anticipation of a funny, wonderful read. Should've saved those things for another book, for Mary just can't tell Reyn about her evil step-uncle or anything. What an idiot. She's your typical save my love from danger loony who lies and lies to... ahem, protect the hero from her wicked, evil step-uncle who would definitely kill (gasp!) Reyn. Never mind that Reyn can protect himself. Never mind that she's a Duchess now and can kick the uncle into the Thames for all the world would care. No, she must lie, incompetently too, only to give the hero and me a throbbing headache as a result. No wonder she was in an asylum. That woman is irrational.
Then, Reyn has to lower himself to her dumb standards. He, too, starts withholding crucial information that may keep her from danger. Tit for tat? More like Dumb and Dumber. All sorts of nonsense crop up as a result of these two playing childish games, putting everyone's lives at risk. If I'm a violent woman this book would find its way into the paper shredder by now. The only thing stopping me is the fact that, well, I'm feeling mad at having to read this and making myself feeling so miserably cranky as a result - I want someone else to suffer along with me! This book goes to the UBS - let it snare more unwitting victims.
So, by all mean, read this book. Come on, join me in my misery. I'm lonely out here. This book comes highly recommended! Read it!
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