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?!
In Something Wonderful, first and foremost, Judith McNaught gives us an awesome introduction to our characters: Jordan is a duke who hates women (they do what they’re told and get married and have babies WHAT IDIOTS) but loves to sex them. He’s also “tall, dark and fatally handsome,” true quote, and generally irresistible to the women he distains – HA those idiot women don’t even realize how much he hates them WHAT IDIOTS am I right? Alex(andra) is the daughter of a poopface dude who seduced her young mother and then went off to London without them and had another family with another lady, leaving Alex and her mom with her grandfather who educates her and generally adores her. Then her dad and her grandfather die and Alex becomes like a boy, running the house and hunting and riding horses and being smart and non-lady shit (AM I RIGHT?) because her dad left them penniless and I guess her mom has a big idiot ladybrain and can’t handle running a household?
When they’re introduced, Jordan is 18 and Alex is 13, but then when they meet Jordan is 27 and Alex 17. ROMANCE NOVEL MATH IS THE BEST. But it’s fine, because for real if Alex was 20 when Jordan met her she’d be all independent and opiniony and gross instead of fresh faced and optimistic with huge (HUGE) blue eyes and then he never would have loved her ever. They meet when Alex comes upon Jordan being attacked so she saves him from bandits but is injured (and also wearing body armor, plus she’s sooooo petite, so he figures she’s a little boy) and then he takes her back to the inn to check her for injuries and he’s like, you have boobs! They’re tiny but I felt them with my hands! And they laugh about it, hahaha boobs. And she quotes Buddha and he’s SUPER impressed.
So Jordan takes her home and she introduces him to her mom and uncle and the servants and also a local semi-rich family that her mom is trying to marry her off to, only once they see Jordan they’re like, deal’s off lady. Her mom flies into a HUGE RAGE because she remembers how THAT MAN treated her and ruined her rep and was forced to marry her and then never loved her and only came to see them twice a year and loved his other family instead and then died and left her nothing, which is JUST LIKE A MAN, am I right? So Mom’s like, I know how to solve this! I’m going to force you to marry Duke Jordan! DONE AND DONE!
So Momma drags Alex off to Jordan’s granny’s estate to demand money. And Mom’s all, YOU HAVE TO MARRY MY DAUGHTER, and Granny’s all, SCREW OFF YOU NASTY COMMONER, and Alex is all, MOM YOU’RE SO EMBARRASSING GOD, and Jordan is all, YOU’RE 17?! I THOUGHT YOU WERE 12! HOT! So Alex and Jordan get a minute alone to talk and they’re both on the same page about not wanting to marry the other, only Jordan is like…but we have to. And Alex says, but what about this alternative! Or this one! Or this one! But Jordan shoots them all down, sorry kid, totes impossible, guess we’ll have to get hitched, oh shucks darn. So her family leaves and Alex stays at the estate till the Big Day and Jordan’s cousin adores her but his granny is all, GROSS YOU SMELL LIKE POVERTY.
So Alex’s pretty but dumb friend comes to visit and tells her guys looooove it when girls say I Love You asap, so when the duke kisses her she says it and he’s like…thanks? Then they get married and get in the carriage to go to London and he buys her a puppy and they sleep together and he teaches her where babies come from, and the whole time it’s sort of disgusting because she’s so slim and “underdeveloped” that he THINKS of her as A CHILD. A sexy child that he can’t keep his hands off of. That is gross. So his plan for her is to basically dump her at his Devon estate with his granny so granny can teach her how to be a Duchess and not a ragamuffin, while he continues on with his mistress in London and whatever. THEN HE GETS KIDNAPPED. And put on a boat. And then the boat sinks. So the widow is super sad but decides she’s going to make him proud by being everything he wants her to be, not knowing that his plans for her involved being dumped at Devon while he diddled a ballerina. So granny gives her all kinds of advice over the next year and she has her big society debut and everyone hates her. Then this guy who used to hate her but decided she was actually OK helps her and everyone loves her. THEN the dead husband’s cousin tells her that she’s making a fool out of herself by being so enamored with her dead hubby and everyone else is laughing behind her back because he was SUCH a cad. So she decides, well fine then I’m going to have some g.d. FUN and she does and everyone wants to marry her. Oh, and by the way, over this year she’s really GROWN UP, if you know what I mean (boobs), and since she’s a widow everyone assumes she’s experienced so there aren’t the usual social niceties. Then granny is like, this won’t do YOU NEED A HUSBAND, you’ll have to marry your dead husband’s cousin in three weeks. BUT MEANWHILE the dead hubby isn’t dead, he’s just been held prisoner and tortured (for three months, though it’s been a YEAR for her, HOLY CRAP JUDITH LEARN MATH) and only the thought of putting his penis in his child-bride has kept him going. And then he breaks out! And meets up with the British army! AND HE’LL BE HOME IN THREE WEEKS. Since this isn’t my first rodeo, I know to expect him to barge back into the story right in the middle of the wedding.
…WHICH HE DOES. But first, he comes home to his house and he’s just SO worried about his poor little wifey who FOR SURE has just wasted away without him around and is probably in serious danger of dying from grief and then he hears his cousin is marrying her and he’s like, OMG it’s worse than I thought! She’s so pitiful my cousin had to marry her! And of course when he sees her, he’s like WHO IS THIS BIG-TITTY TROLLOP AND WHY AREN’T YOU ALL MORE SAD? So he acts like an incredible asshole to her and everyone else and basically orders her not to leave the house and tells her to wait until he’s READY to deal with her. Ugh. Meanwhile, her Society friend (who’s supposed to be another Smart Girl, but I wonder) is like, I know! We’ll have the local gossip tell him all the news about what you’ve been up to! That will TOTALLY calm him down! Only it doesn’t. So she wants a divorce and he wants to rape her to death or else shut her up in a country house until she has a dozen or so little sons and her “smart friend” is like, we just have to make him fall in love with you! PERFECT!
But he’s still sooo mad at her for being so likeable and pretty (THE NERVE) and she goes to a ball even though it’s FORBIDDEN by him, but before she does she places this bet against him (everyone is all a-twitter over whether she’ll tie her ribbon on him at this race and bets are being taken, she bets NO RIBBON). BUT when she gets to the ball everyone knows about the bet and they are SCANDALIZED and the men are like, I would beat my wife to death before I let her shame me in this horrible way! and the women are like, we can’t be friends anymore, my husband might beat me to death. So he shows up at the ball and they pretend like everything’s cool but later he challenges her to ANOTHER bet: live with me as my “obedient” wife for 3 months while I sex you every night and try to get you preggers and I’ll sort of try to be not terrible and if after 3 months you still hate me, you can leave and I’ll give you half a million pounds. She agrees and then they go to his country house and he’s a terrible moody beast but is occasionally not awful to her so of course that plants seeds of love in her heart. And they have lots of hot hot sex which she even kind of likes, but she still needs to know WHY he is how he is. So she sneaks out AGAIN to see his cousin to find out why he’s such a grump and it turns out Daddy never loved him and Mommy was a big slutty whore. And that OF COURSE makes her soften towards him and she tries to get him to loosen up by doing awesome things like going fishing and having picnics. But meanwhile he’s hired a detective to see if his cousin is the one who tried to kill him and since she lied about going to see his cousin the detective now wonders if she’s in on it and the duke is like, of course she’s not in on it…OR IS SHE?! And then he thinks about murdering her again, which, seriously, he does about every other page. It’s so creepy and weird and not-romantic.
After their super sexy picnic, it’s revealed that someone tried to poison the duke via his super special wine that only he likes (because he’s such a manly man). The private investigator pretty much convinces the duke that his wifey is behind the whole thing, so the duke spends the next few days ignoring her or, when he’s not ignoring her, being a dukely douche. AND he doesn’t sex her, that cad. So finally she lures him away to this forest grove and he’s all prepared to have to kill her to save himself, but…it’s a surprise birthday party. Actually a whole big festival in his honor. He’s not ready to let her off the hook yet, so he continues to ignore her/be a jerk. Then someone tries to take him to this little cottage at gunpoint. OMG, it’s his aunt! SHE’S the one who’s been trying to kill him, not his cousin or his wife! But then of course the wife comes along, and then of course there’s shooting, and then of course she jumps in front of him. And apparently suffers a head wound? Yikes. AND NOW SHE’S IN A COMA AND WILL PROBABLY DIE.
…Except he brings her back to life by weeping over her body and telling her he’s sorry for being such a jerk, he didn’t mean it, and when he did mean it, he didn’t mean to mean it, and when he DID mean to mean it…well…he’s an asshole, what do you want. And, btw, he loves her. Like, LOVES her loves her. So after she wakes up and he explains everything to her (she’s like, “THAT’S the evidence you had against me? You decided you hated me over THAT ridiculous little shred of nonsense? I thought you were smart!”) and offers to still give her the cash and let her leave. But she’s in looooooooove with him too and how could she possibly leave him EVER?! And then they have a son. The end.
Gosh, you know, I really should have a talk with Joe about how he never orders me around like a slave or makes me feel bad about myself or is a total jerkoff to me during one of his man-baby tantrums or manipulates me into having sex with him. IT’S LIKE WE’RE NOT EVEN IN LOVE AT ALL! Guess there will never be a romance novel written about us. Aw, shucks.