Very Truly Yours
by Julie Beard, historical (2001)
Jove, $6.99, ISBN 0-515-13039-7

This review is pretty ugly, if the rating hasn't warned you. Please stop reading if you are sensitive to this sort of things.

Now, with the obligatory public service message out of the way, let's move on to the paper-shredding. Julie Beard's Very Truly Yours will thrill fans of the ultra, uber-dumb romance heroines who will kamikaze themselves for the sake of mommy and daddy and granny and the family dog. I'm not just talking about stripping naked to get a rake to give back her ancestral home. I'm talking about emotional and possibly actual suicide here by marriage of not only love-free, but marriage to a potentially abusive jerk.

And she wants to do that so that Mom will be happy and lil' sis will be able to marry well. And marrying the hero, an untitled fellow, inconveniently, is a no-no. It must be to the Bastard Scum, and marriage it will be. Good grief, Liza Crapshaw, sorry, Cranshaw is so enamored with the idea of playing Regency Joan of Arc that she takes the prize in being the Kamikaze Bimbo of the Year.

Jack Fairchild is a decent hero, if a bit too flippant for my liking. He inherits a bankrupt company after his daddy blew his head off with a gun. Forced to cut down on his lifestyle and - gasp - to head off to the country to actually work as a lawyer, he nonetheless puts on a good face. Nothing gets happy-go-lucky Jack Fairchild down. I say, you go, buster! Just what I need - a whine-free, selfpity-free hero. I settle back on my seat and expect a good read.

Pui! Then comes the heroine. Oh, her intended has deliberately boinked a maid in front of her. (She fires the maid - hussy! Heaven forbid a woman actually enjoying such a disgusting deed.) He also leers at her, manhandles her, promises her a brutal wedding night and an even more jolly marriage, and he will no doubt run through her dowry and more with his profligate lifestyle.

"Are you happy?" Jack asks.

"Never happier," she answers.

For sister, for mother, she will willingly go into this farce of a marriage. All the while I'm told she has no other suitors even though she's gorgeous. Her parents seem to dote on her, and they will probably call off the engagement if she tells them about the scumbag's behavior, but she wouldn't. Doesn't want to disappoint them and sister, right?

Lucky for this retard, our hero knows of her predicament. When a postman - or whatever you call those mail-delivery guys in those times - passes a letter with an undecipherable address to him, he realizes that it is from Liz to a friend in London, telling the friend of her upcoming nupitals. And he, the gentleman he is, must stop this madness. Liz, he knows, is marrying a brutal pig!

The rest of the story has our hero wasting his time trying to convince Retard Lizzie that her silence is madness. And Lizzie snaps - she actually does - "Stop trying to stifle my independence! Who do you think you are! I am a strong, intelligent woman who can make decisions for myself!" Uhm, who are you trying to fool?

Liz wants to marry for love. No, she doesn't want to marry. Why? Because once, long ago, she danced with Jack in a party. And it seems, the dance overpowers her completely, penetrating her aural hymen. She will never be the same again. If she can't have a man like Jack, she will rather marry for duty! Okay, so now Jack is back. But oh, she must marry for duty! Oh, and Liz practically wets her panties when she discovers that he used to play lawyer for free in the name of charity. Isn't it wonderful, a heroine who actually gets her orgasms from hearing tales of charity and goodness?

Earth calling Ground Control: Too Stupid To Live Sugar-Laden Dumb Barbie on the loose. Search, snare, and exterminate completely. You know what, give me the machine gun and I'll blow a hole in the book myself.

I can't take it. I can barely finish this book without stabbing a knife through it. It is so bloody exasperating to see Liz stubbornly determined to be a martyr for her family. For what? A friggin' title? I can forgive and understand if it's for the cure of cancer, world peace, or pots and pots and pots of money. But this! A frigging TITLE for goodness sake! This is martyr heroines at the lowest and ugliest, because it's so stupid and unnecessary.

I like Jack, I really do, even if he wrote the corniest back cover thingie I have ever read ("Gentle reader, I know I have committed an unpardonable act..." oh god, I'm going to throw up). But Liz is like a broken sewer pipe - she spills so much smelly sewerage and noxious fumes of stupidity whenever she's in a scene that she makes me nauseous. And unfortunately, she's always in a scene.

Does a story about a man trying to stop a mad fool woman from ruining her own life sound good to you? Then help yourself to this book. Reading Very Truly Yours is like watching two trains moving in slow motion towards an inevitable collision. Horrifying and yet I can't avert my eyes. It's very truly ghastly. What is the author thinking? This book may as well be a black mark in the history of romance novels - a ghastly showcase of what happens when an author takes the "heroine having sex out of duty" notion way too far. This book is beyond surreal - I actually want the heroine to die in this story, a slow excruciating death, were not for my suspicion that she would actually enjoy her agony. Martyrs - bah freakin' humbug.

Rating: 09

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