Love is complicated. You know what else is complicated? Complications. I finished this doozy of a romance novel more than a week ago and it’s taken me until now to recover. I think Patricia Hagan had an idea for five or six novels and then decided just to shove them all into one. Her publisher made the brilliant decision to con people like me into buying this twisty turn maze of sex and violence with this seemly innocuous blurb:
After her father’s death, Julie Marshal vowed to save the family plantation, even if it meant marrying a man she knew she could never love. But duty would soon give way to desire in the arms of Derek Arnhardt, a rugged ship’s captain whose mistress was the sea – until he saw the green-eyed beauty. Then, nothing could come between him and his ultimate goal – to possess Julie body and soul.
Pirate romance! Sounds hot, right? Sounds totally normal, right? Pirate! Romance! Innocuous! Sexy! Holy canola, it took a hard left, like, right away.
I was browsing the Romance section of Half Price Books recently, looking for some good pirate fiction (I wish I knew how to quit you, romance novels). I found a few, but what really caught my eye was a Nora Roberts western. The blurb began: “Half Apache and all man.” OH REALLY? Later I giggled about to my friend Bee who said she recognized the phrase – and wait, wasn’t that novel among the bunch she’d mailed to me? I rushed home to check and she was right. Nora Roberts’ Half Apache All Man hero was already living on my bookshelf.
Let’s begin, shall we?
In between Something Wonderful and this one, I actually picked up another romance. It was a contemporary-set novel and usually I don’t care for those at all, but it was pretty enjoyable. The hero and the heroine were super hot for each other, they cared about each other, they were mature and respectful and loving, she had her own life and so did he, and so on. And you know what? They were such good people that it was difficult to Recap. Difficult and noticeably absent of disgust and horrified amusement.
Luckily for me, there are plenty of other books like this one for me to be horrified and insulted and creeped out by. Thank goodness, it got scary for a minute.
Joe, at times, is unintentionally hilarious. Recently he asked me if all these romance novels I’ve been reading lately have soured me against him, or led me to expect more in the romance department that he was delivering. Once I stopped laughing and dried my eyes, I assured him that, no, I was pretty happy with the way things were between us – you know, based on mutual respect and genuine fondness despite (or because of?) our mystical, chemical attraction. Also I don’t think I’ve ever thought about murdering Joe.
In short: holy crap on a stick, Joe, have you read the sort of “romance” that goes on in these novels?!
This book started off strong, it really did. I was pretty excited about it: a heroine with actual interests in things that are not babies and husbands, a marriage that grows into a romance instead of the other way around, even a hero that wasn’t the usual beefcake. Sadly for My Darling Caroline – and especially sad for me, as the one reading it – all those good intentions promptly turned to poop.