by Mardi Ballou, historical (2007)
Samhain Publishing, $3.50, ISBN 1-59998-547-0

Possession is a late 19th-century historical romance set in the English countryside. This story is both marvelously atmospheric (the moors, the fogs) and awkwardly cheesy, such as when the heroine asks the hero, "I want you. I want you to be the one who takes my maidenhood." In fact, I'd go as far as to say that the setting of the story is more interesting than the main characters who never become anything more than cardboard characters. The story has some pretty elegant prose, but egads, the characters are so lacking in brainpower.

Anna Clarke loves the London author Nicholas Durand who drops by looking for a muse to get his writing on the move. However, her father who gets drunk on a regular basis detests Nicholas and insists that Anna marry another fellow. Anna begs Nicholas to take her virginity so that she will be ruined, believing that her father won't go through the arranged marriage thing as a result. Clearly that silly woman has read too many historical romances featuring braindead heroines. Nicholas who wants to marry Anna of course agrees instead of being a real man and dragging Anna off to London so that they can live in peace.

Anna doesn't expect her father to... well, let's just say that he behaves exactly like you would expect a violent drunk would behave and Anna is like, "Oh! But this isn't how things turned out to be in my Avon historical romances!" She then is forced into the arranged marriage with that fellow who turned out to be a brute. Anna suffers and suffers and suffers until she finally rejoins Nicholas, the end.

Since Anna never becomes anything more than a dim-witted girl-child whose actions in this story are designed to make her look very pretty when she's hanging from the cross, Possession is nothing more than a blatantly manipulative sob story that emphasizes the heroine's suffering in the name of love. The problem is, the heroine comes off as pretty dim because she never actually tries to do anything in this story other than to suffer. The one time she tries to defy her father is a move calculated to bring more suffering upon her.

Let's leave this one to fans of sob stories who don't mind that the main characters come off as dumb as a sack of moldy turnips.

Rating: 58

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