Love With The Proper Husband
by Victoria Alexander, historical (2003)
Avon, $6.99, ISBN 0-06-000145-3

The story begins with a band of evil mothers and dowagers hatching plots to get their kids married and bedded. Don't these women have anything better to do with their lives? Like sleeping with the virile stablehands or something? Why do romance authors portray women this way?

Anyway, this brings us to the nefarious plot that sees a dead man's codicil forcing Gwendolyn Townsend to marry Marcus Holcroft, some earl or the other. He doesn't want to marry but thinks she is hot, she is a woman, when forced into penury, becomes a governess only to marry an Earl and spends her life taking care of her three horrible nieces. No shopping spree, just a woman trying her best to mother, martyr, and muddle. How many ways can one say "tragic"?

Gwen isn't like the other heroines, or so it seems at the start, but eventually, she becomes yet another stereotype. Marcus is a stereotype the moment they open the stable doors and he dashes out whining about love, marriage, and all the usual poisons. Put in matchmaking hee-hee's, and Love With The Proper Husband is its own love affair with dull and familiar archetypes.

Because this book doesn't excite me, I start to notice this author's writing quirks, especially how her prose tends to be a bit on the repetitious side as her characters muddle around in circular psychobabbles for pages and even chapters. There are many situations in this story that could have been solved by Gwen actually showing the backbone everyone and Ms Alexander claim she has and clear matters up with the hero. The three kids, Hope, Charity, Monster, or whatever, are kids that don't come off as anything more than plot devices to keep our heroine forever mommying ungrateful brats even when she has lots of money and can ship those three off to some plantation in America.

Predictable plots and characters made refreshing is one thing, but I find Love With The Proper Formula Husband written rather poorly - too much circular repetitions - and the heroine's inept attempts at hogging unnecessary secrets really get on my nerves. This book seems to be working down its way through a laundry list of popular plot devices than to be telling a story. So it gets a laundry list grade - here you go, a big fat 60.

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