The Captain's Bride
by Sara Blayne, historical (2002)
Zebra, $5.99, ISBN 0-8217-6834-4

Violet Rochelle, the heroine of this book, is the sister of the unreadable An Improper Bride, but she is brainier than the roach-brain El-Freaka or whatever the improper freak heroine of the latter is called. Needless to say, The Captain's Bride is a much more enjoyable read.

There is just one problem: the author uses a thousand words when just ten will suffice, and it's a tough call as to which is more exasperating, sticking a thread through the eye of a needle while blindfolded or tackling around 320 pages of long, long, overflowery prose of slender dreamy-eyed girls whose eyes are described in ten thousand ways of technicolor (and we haven't started on her hair or willowy waist yet) and heroes whose face, torso, hips, and all need equally overly eloquent abuse of adjectives to do them justice. If this book is a fashion statement, it's a garish overkill of overstarched neckcloths, too high collars, too much perfume, and too tight corsets. Sara Blayne's writing is strictly "Old School Regency", but I suspect even hardened dandies will blanch at reading this prose without taking long breaks in between to catch their breath.

If you think the last two paragraphs are just too long, you have seen nothing until you've come to the love scene of this book.

Okay, let's go on with the plot. An Important Somebody is dead. English naval hero Captain Trevor Dane has a score to settle with the now dead Sir Henry, but that's not possible now. So he decides to figure out who wants to kill Sir Henry, and sneaks into a room at a manor where there's a party going on. He stumbles upon Violet - your usual dazzling heroine who believes herself plain and prefers bluestocking arts to the more refined pleasures of life - and steals a kiss. Next thing they know, they meet again at an inn when she misses her carriage and he walks in wounded. Bedside healing and "I spy his wee-wee!" games ensue. At this point it's clear that these two are meant to be, and so they stumble and bumble their way to solving the mystery of the murder, absolution and glory (he), and loss of maidenhead and motherhood (she). If you ask me, he gets a better deal out of this nonsense.

Trevor is strictly the usual Regency type hero: larger-than-life and has a fetish for innocent virgins. Violet is also the typical sort: no survival sense, strictly visceral (she senses that he can be trusted, so he must be trustworthy!), but one thing I like about her: she is crazy. She is one of those psychotic gals who get kissed and then just want to be kissed all day and forever NOW and when she gets debauched, she wants to have sex NOW and FOREVER. It's quite cute, and despite the author's attempt to cover the love scene with a torrent of purple goo, I'm sure she'll be a wildcat in bed.

But ultimately, the marriage in convenience thing, the typical characters, the tedious "I love him but he never tells me he loves me so he must not love me!" nonsense towards the end, the "Now he has married me, when will he shag me?" thing, the "Now he has shagged me, when will he tell me he loves me?", and on and on and on... everything gets really tedious especially when the author is suffering from verbal diarrhea.

Rating: 67

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