by Rachel Wilson, historical (2001)
Jove (Love Letters), $5.99, ISBN 0-515-13181-4
by Linda Howard, contemporary (2001, 1985 reissue)
MIRA, $5.99, ISBN 1-55166-861-0
Heaven Sent and Sarah's Child are two very different stories linked by one common theme: male assholes behaving badly and our women actually begging them for forgiveness. It's like all those soap operas I used to watch on daytime TV, like that Japanese series where our heroine was raped by an evil man and she is then abandoned by her husband (who can't take the dishonor, oh the pain, oh, oh, oh... say, who was raped again, he or she?) who then dallied with other women as she slaved, got raped some more, got sacked, got raped some more, got a new job, got raped again, and finally, by the 400th episode, she makes up with the ex-husband and all is well again. I actually contemplated smashing the TV screen then.
Heaven Sent is about our too-dumb heroine Callida Prophet who reads (illegally, of course) the mail of one sweet lil' Becky, who writes to her dead Mom. Callida, the Prophetess of Doom, surely, answers back as "Mom". Now, I don't know what shrinks will say, but I think it is not nice to fuel a child's delusions this way. Anyway, when Becky writes about daddy seeking a nanny, our heroine, who has no life so far to speak of, drops everything and goes off to be the nanny. She discovers hero Aubrey neglecting his daughter because Becky reminds him too much of his dead wife. So he treats Becky like a bag of meat. Callie rips it to him good, calling him a jerk father. I perk up. "Yeah!"
Then Callie discovers Aubrey's letters to his late wife, and since Callie has this thing for reading mail not meant for her, she reads them and falls in love with Aubrey's pretty words. Out the window goes Aubrey's selfish issue: all is understood and forgiven, because he writes so pretty words, ooh, ooh. Instead, now it's Aubrey calling Callie all sort of euphemisms for "prostitute" and Callie going "Yes, I read your mail and all, I'm such a prostitute, compared to you, a lousy, moronic, borderline abusive father but you are so much better than me because you write so pretty words!"
I have nothing to say to that, really.
Now, Sarah's Child. Rome is our hero, Sarah is our heroine. Rome is blue because his family is now playing harps and floating on clouds in the heavens. Sarah, who has loved him for soooooo long, marries him when Rome decides that he wants to boink her. She agrees with him: no babies. Rome can't take any more pain, and the world must bend over backwards so that he must never feel pain again.
But, of course a baby must happen, and now Rome hates Sarah. How can Sarah do this to him? Doesn't she know that he can't take this? He can't be hurt. Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh!
Sarah understands. She toils alone, taking care of her pregnancy on her own. She tries to make Rome see things her way, baby, please, baby, baby, oh, baby, answer me baby, please don't do this baby... baby... baby? In the end, lightning strikes, burning down the trailer Sarah and Rome are living in and its occupants to ashes. No, I made that up. Sarah forgives Rome for leaving her in her time of needs. She understands. She loves him.
Dammit, how did I end up in this backward, smelly trailer park area? Where's the bus stop? I'm leaving for classier places. These two stories are nothing more than contrived stories created to bring out all the eek-eek-eek melodrama of a woman suffering. And suffering for what? There's nothing here that can't be solved by giving those self-absorbed pity-party male twits a kick in the butt. Or ten sleeping pills with their night time coffee.
Rating: 20 for the both of them
Heaven Sent at Amazon.com
Heaven Sent at Amazon UK
Sarah's Child at Amazon.com
Sarah's Child at Amazon UK
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