by Sue-Ellen Welfonder, historical (2003)
Warner, $5.99, ISBN 0-446-61232-4
The hero Marmaduke Strongbow - good grief - of this book has his moments, but everything else about Bride Of The Beast is Generic Scotland Highland Marriage Ghost territory, with the added fun of too many one-sentenced paragraphs, awkwardly phrased purple phraseology (watch out for the love scenes - them purple goo's a-squirtin' everywhere!), and hackneyed psychology. It's like Archie Bunker Gone Medieval.
Lord Marmalade here takes his strongbow to Caterine Keith's Magical La-La-Land Manse that comes complete with a - boo! -ghost (Marmalade's dead wife, and no, don't ask), Evil Englishmen, and all the template secondary characters ever existed in these kinds of books. He does this on the request of Cat's friend and he falls for Cat even as he plots and helps Cat to get out of trouble. In the time, Cat does nothing but to whine and insult Marmalade even as he drives her into another Martyred Orgasm.
I'm not joking. Cat just stands there while poor Marmaduke does all the work. She's like the Template Heroine from Hell: she has been gang-raped in her first marriage and accused of being sexually unattractive by the second evil impotent husband. Cat will never ever love any man until she miraculously experiences a revelation somewhere around the third last chapter. By then, I am beyond caring. She's passive and she whines too much. In the meantime, Marmalade is horrifically scarred but still maintains a good humor. In this, he is a much better man than Cat and I wonder why he's such a sucker for women who spend almost the entire book treating him like smelly stuff. There's a nice touch of unexpected poignancy in Marmalade trying to use a cream to get rid of his scars, but that's all there is to any hint of originality in this story.
The writing is excruciating. This is the author's third Warner book and she's dipped so low that she sounds like an overwrought high school girl trying to write her first romance novel. Heck, maybe that schoolgirl's effort will be more readable. The prose is also purple and brimming with adverb and adjective overkill. I actually wanted to add some choice excerpts here, but I am so spoiled for choices that I finally decide that the entire book is a one-note joke at purple prose parody.
In this case, the author is like Dr Frankenstein. With the combination of lacklustre characterization and bad writing, she has truly created a Bride Of The Beast.
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