The Reluctant Miss Van Helsing
by Minda Webber, historical/paranormal (2006)
LoveSpell, $6.99, ISBN 0-505-52638-7


Whoever that idiot is that compared Ethel Jane Van Helsing to Buffy must die a slow and painful death, preferably through bloodletting with Alvin and the Chipmunks playing in the background in that idiot's final moments. Jane Van Helsing faints at the sight of blood, squeals and acts like a nitwit when she attempts to carry out the family tradition of staking vampires, and lets the men in her life run roughshod over her because she's convinced that she's a plain woman and therefore exempt from having a spine.

Jane, having learned the same addlepated skills of deduction and logic from her friend Clair Frankenstein, decides that our hero Neil Asher is Dracul, the king of vampires, and decides to run off to stake that buddy in the same carefully planned manner that Clair is famous for. Needless to say, Jane stakes Asher in the rear end, although this story stops short from entering gruesome sodomy territory, and I believe I can hear Ms Webber's howls of laughter echoing around the room as she rolls on the floor over how hilarious she must think she is. I don't want to even get into Clair's hairbrained scheme to matchmake Jane with Asher - yeah, get Jane shackled to the king of vampires and let us see how Jane father will love Jane more for that - or how Jane has no brain to do anything on her own or how Jane's actions in this book seem to be motivated solely from an attempt to get the men in her life to love her despite how badly they beat down her self-esteem. I don't want to get into all that because I think my head will explode from trying to make a list of all that is wrong about this book. Besides, I have better things to do in my time than to make long lists of unpleasant matters.

The punnings, the name-droppings, and other things that make The Remarkable Miss Frankenstein a novelty read despite the ghastly stupid romance are present here. The thing is, this is Minda Webber's second book and she no longer has the excuse of being a debut author. But what makes this book less palatable than the previous book is that in the previous book, Ian clearly is amused by Clair and indulges her. Here, Asher treats Jane pretty badly for all kinds of contrived misunderstanding issues and Jane has no spine to stand up to him or to her father. Therefore, unlike Clair who's "merely" a mental cripple, Jane is the real deal vegetable: she's crippled in the spine as well as in the head, so to speak. If you cannot sit through The Remarkable Miss Frankenstein without wanting to weep over the poor trees that died pointlessly to give Ms Webber a chance to show off how much she knows about the old ghoulie tales of yore, be prepared to take a few mood stabilizer pills should you decide to give this book a try.

Rating: 37


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