The Bride's Revenge
by Anne Avery, historical (2002)
Harlequin Historical, $5.25, ISBN 0-373-29218-X

There is a subversive, even seductive charm in The Bride's Revenge. J Randolph Abbott the Third is a hotshot reporter and his wife Caroline is what he believes to be the best wife ever - gorgeous, responsive in bed, dutiful, submissive, and eager to please. What he doesn't know is that Caroline wants to be a reporter herself. In late 19th century America, a female reporter, especially one of genteel birth, is a no-no, but Caroline isn't taking no. When her husband tells her no, however, he finds his underwear sailing out the window, much to the amusement of the neighbors. JR Abbott being caught in a brothel heist (he was there meeting an informant) is the final trigger for Caroline's actions, and now they are estranged.

That's right, this is a story about two silly, childish twits estranged and then meeting together to outwit each other as they both fight for first dibs in a murder case in a mining community. JR are as equally immature as Caroline, and both of them can be exasperating. But at the same time, these two do have their charms. After all, Remington Steele and his girlie, or Scarecrow and Mrs King, the two from Moonlighting - all these couples aren't exactly models of mature behavior either.

What is great is how Ms Avery actually bring out Caroline's exasperation with her husband in a way that you and I may relate to. The husband reading the paper at breakfast table, the way he just doesn't listen in that typically stubborn "I know best" mulishness, all of Caroline's catalog of complains make me cringe a little as I recognize them too well as my own sometimes, even as I giggle loud at her antics. That strawberry jam thing is adorable, and JD's underwear fluttering in the wind like a Jolly Roger has me in stitches. I think I'm a twelve year old girl all over again.

But what exasperates me in the end is Caroline's stupidity. To be fair, she is written as a sheltered, privileged Daddy's girl who has no idea how out of her depths she is until it's too late. While her resourcefulness at times can be applauded, she also does a lot of stupid things while insisting that she doesn't need help. Her refusal to carry a gun even after she has placed herself in danger is the ultimate crap-meet-fan thing where I'm concerned. It's not that Caroline isn't independent that irritates me - Ms Avery isn't making a statement of independence with Caroline after all - but it's Caroline's stupidity that I cannot stand.

Yet, this book still retains its charm to the end. The characters are ninnies, true, but they are cute adorable ninnies. Caroline flounces and stomps her feet, JD pouts and scowls and makes unreasonable demands, but these two are so cute together, Plague and Pestilence on a Honeymoon style, that I actually won't be adverse to seeing a series about their adventures. As long as they grow a brain along the way, that is.

Rating: 76

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