Compromised Hearts

This book is SUPER SUPER special to me, because it’s one of the very first romance novels I ever read (thanks Hannah Howell!). It’s the first romance novel I remember reading, although I read a lot of them (thanks, Mom, for having such a large collection for me to steal from!) and I can’t actually remember where this one fell in the chronology of romance novels in my life. Let’s just say that this book is one of the novels that started me down this road to obsession! Also it may have started a bunch of friends down that road, as I definitely passed it all around school. I saw this copy at the Borders (RIP) going out of business sale and it did not even occur to me to restrain the wave of nostalgia. Reader, I bought it.

For a fun comparison, here’s what the cover of the book looked like back in the olden days when I first encountered it:

OH CLOUD OH YES CLOUD TAKE ME YOU BIG HUNK OF MULLETED MAN MEAT!!! Don’t get me wrong, I love the subtlety and the Enrique Iglesias thing that the newer cover has going on, but everyone know that mullets and romance novel covers go together like peanut butter and jelly beans! It’s in the Bible, people!

SO!!! Emily is a high-born Boston lady whose wagon train or stagecoach or whatever has been attacked by bad Indians, leaving only herself and a child (who is 2 or 3, I can’t remember) alive. She is on her way to her brother’s house OUT WEST, nevermind where, and she keeps on truckin’ even in the face of this horrible tragedy. Seriously! Emily! What a lady! Cloud is one-quarter Indian and swarthy and hot and he comes across Emily stumbling along, spies on her for awhile, and then says he’ll take her safely to her brother if she agrees to have sex with him a bunch of times on the way. The nerve…! Emily agrees because Cloud says things like “little lady” and “darlin’” and “much obliged!” so she (and we, us too) knows that he is a Genuine Cowboy and she figures, hey, how many Genuine Cowboys am I going to get to boink? Right? Also because she doesn’t want to die, but probably that was a secondary concern. SO THEY HAVE SEX! And it’s amazing (thanks Hannah Howell!). Well, at first it’s not amazing, because Cloud assumes that the kid is Emily’s (he’s not!) and that she’s not a virgin (she is!) so he tries to start right away with the jackhammering and she’s like, SWEET SALTY SASSAFRAS I do not enjoy this! Miscommunication is a big theme with these two, so don’t expect things to improve.

Anyway, they hit the road! They git along like little doggies! They hump like jackalopes! Along the way they pick up Cloud’s buddy James and also they meet Cloud’s former lovers in, like, every single little podunk town along the way. You guys? Cloud is kind of a slut. This is hard for Emily, but she’s a special kind of lady with that Eastern pride, so she doesn’t flip out or act a fool or throw punches. Well, except for the times when she does. You didn’t think our girl Em was the type to get into fist fights? Well she is! Surprise! (“Hot.” – Cloud) So, anyway, they skip from little town to little town, until they get set upon by brigands (scoundrels!) and they have to fight for their lives, only Emily is left unsupervised so of course she gets Emilynapped by the scoundrels (brigands!) who want to do all kinds of violent and disfiguring things to her, but they won’t be able to sell her for as much money so they don’t. Which gives Cloud and James time to plot and execute a rescue plan! Also executed are the bad guys. Every single one of them. Whatever, no time to dwell, they press on to their next little cabin and then Emily finally lets Cloud schtupp her again and then the kid gets sick and Cloud can’t handle Emily paying attention to not-him for more than ten seconds, so he drags her away and forces her to rest and be with him, only him, and then eventually the kid gets better. Yay (thanks Hannah Howell)! Umm…what else…oh, Cloud takes Emily to a whorehouse for the night because they have nice clean rooms and she’s like, this is gross!, and he’s like, don’t be a prude!, and she’s like, am I safe here?, and he’s like, totally!, and then a drunk guy breaks into her room and tries to have sex with her. Whoops! Don’t worry, Cloud sits the gentleman down and explains to him that he’s made a mistake, and also he should give serious thought to his future treatment of women and sex workers and sex workers who are women, and then they share a mug of tea and part ways like old friends.

So eventually they reach Emily’s brother’s house and Emily is all sad because Cloud is just going to dump her on this dude’s doorstep and disappear, and Cloud is all sad because Emily is acting weird because he hasn’t told her that he wants to “court” her and maybe “marry” her and most definitely “screw” her. Miscommunications abound! So then he does tell her, sort of, and he’s like look I’ll be back for you soon but I have some stuff to take care of first, and Emily’s like oh yes that completely makes sense, and I’m thinking you’re letting this guy wander off unsupervised, this guy who cannot help putting his prairie dog into every home on the range? But whatever. So Emily and the kid go to live with Emily’s brother and his wife (Harper and Dorothy) and those two have terrible secret plans for Emily that involve marrying her off to this banker guy to get rid of their debt, but Emily thinks he looks like a weasel and is boring, but they don’t care about that, but Emily can’t leave because where would she go?, but she doesn’t know that Cloud came to see her and Dorothy said Emily didn’t WANT to see him, but then the kid tells her that, but then how is she supposed to get to him? Is she supposed to walk? Is she supposed to walk and carry this kid? Is she supposed to walk AND carry this kid AND carry the other kid, the kid that she is carrying in her belly, the kid that CLOUD PUT THERE?!

Ah…well…yes. Yes, all of that (thanks Hannah Howell!).

Anyway, eventually Emily gets there and interrupts a very serious Dude Discussion in which the Dudes try to explain to Cloud that he’s being kind of assy and maybe should talk to Emily before making all these assumptions. Miscommunications! See! When he sees Emily and finds out about the deception and finds out about the BABY he’s like, perfect! I’ve been looking for an excuse to throw a wedding! So they go get married. And, I mean, of course there’s objections and punches thrown and hurt feelings and whatever, but the important part is that Emily is preggers and now she is married. Lots is said here about Cloud’s virility, but I did my eye-roll exercises ahead of time and did not reinjure myself. Also, Cloud later says that he’s sooo glad that Emily was a virgin – not that he wouldn’t love her if she had invited other boy scouts into her cave of mystery before him, but it makes a manly man feel mannishly manly to know that he’s the only one to plow his lady’s field! You know?! I do not know. Also: ick (thanks Hannah Howell?).

Stuff happens, blah blah, marital bliss, blah blah, Cloud family reunion, blah blah, Emily’s Scottish friend shows up in the middle of a storm to help with the birthin’ (way back when, this was the first time I had been exposed to characters who said “ken” and “dinnae” and such, obviously paving the way for my Gabaldon obsession – thanks Hannah Howell!) of the babies. Yes, I said babies! Yes, there were multiple babies! Two, in fact! TWINSIES, thanks to Cloud and his epically manly man sperm of ultimate manliness (I picture little sperms with frowny-faces and little fists, ready to kick some egg!). But after all that things are awesome, everyone is soooo happy, life is such fanfuckingtastic, it could not BE any more fanfuckingtastic, not even if a bucket of fanfucking happened to get mixed with a bottle of tastic and was poured all over their lives! NOT EVEN THEN! Until, oh, that banker guy that Emily refused to marry kidnaps her with intentions to rape her and shame her hubby (hmm) while his two lovers – one of whom is Emily’s sis-in-law, Dorothy – act as witnesses (ummmmm), except they didn’t know they were both his lovers! And you know what that means: CAT FIGHT!!!! Haha, me-OW, am I right??? But then Cloud shows up, and then also Dorothy starts shooting people and she aims right at Cloud but then Emily is like NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!! and you guys, Emily gets SHOT with a BULLET from a GUN wielded by her evil SISTER-IN-LAW before she (the SIL) gets knifed in the CHEST by the goofy FRIEND with the Scots ACCENT! YOU GUYS!!!!!! And then she dies. The end.

Haha, totally kidding. Emily lives! Cloud saves her with the manly ferocity of his sweet manly love! And then they amble into the sunset to boink like jackalopes forever and ever amen.

It surprised me how much of this book I remember on re-reading it. I’m talking entire passages, word for word. There was even a typo (“bonnny” instead of “bonny”) that I recognized. Such was the extent of my obsession with this ridiculous, wonderful book! My larger than average-sized obsession! My engorged obsession! My throbbing, virile, shaft of an obsession! YOU GUYS I AM MAKING A PENIS JOKE. I AM TALKING ABOUT PENISES.

This whole blog is a penis joke, and we have Hannah Howell to thank for it. Thanks, Hannah Howell!!!!

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