A Christmas Promise

It’s Christmas Eve! Happy Christmas Eve! Also, Merry Christmas Eve! More Capital Letters!!!!

Instead of putting up a quick excuse about how there’s no new post today, I figured I would share with you a very special Christmas Episode of Romance Recap. Also, this little Christmas-themed novel gave Mary Balogh the chance to make up for her dreadful Novel That We Won’t Discuss from last week. Is Mary Balogh destined to become the second name on my Romance Authors To Avoid list? Or is she actually a nice lady and just had a rough novel?

In the spirit of Christmas, let’s read her book and judge the shit out of it!

So here’s the deal: Randall, Count or Earl or Duke of Whatever, gets a visit from a strange man. This strange man wants ol’ Randy to marry his daughter and in turn he (the strange man) will forgive all of his (Randy’s) debts, which he (the man) now owns. Because Randy’s cousin, the former count, frittered all their money away, he doesn’t have a whole lot of high ground even though this guy is, ugh, one of the merchant class, ugh, and probably his daughter is ugly and dumb. Also, the dude is sick and going to die ASAP so he wants to see his daughter hitched right away. Nothing says Christmas like manipulation and guilt, right???? Randy is UGH WHATEVER FINE, and so he marries the dude’s daughter, Ellie, like the next day. Ellie is neither ugly nor dumb, but she’s also not super thrilled with getting married off to some asshole count who can’t keep a handle on his money. Ellie sucks it up and marries him but she’ll be damned if she’s going to enjoy it so instead she acts cold and heartless and waits for him to insult her so she can demonstrate exactly how little she cares about his opinions (which is hilarious, because earlier she complained about stupid men and their stupid pride). Meanwhile, Randy is like, this lady is perhaps a sociopath? She seems to have no emotions? That’s creepy? Well, I agree, Randy. It’s weird. Her dad dies and she doesn’t even cry! SHE DOESN’T EVEN CRY!!!!!

Then Randy breaks up with his mistress (what a guy) and tells his new bride that they’re going to the countryside for Christmas and she can invite some friends if she wants. He’s inviting some of his bachelor dude friends, at least one of whom treated Ellie in a not-so-gentlemanly manner the last time their paths crossed. Cad!!! Then Randy and Ellie get mad at each other for whatever dumb reason, so Ellie invites TWENTY people to their country Christmas hoping to piss off Randy – which it does, but also he’s so polite and well-mannered that he treats everyone just fine even while Ellie is like, “so do you hate them? Do you have them or what? You totally do, right? You hate them?” and Randy is like, “did I say that? Did I complain, even one time? Even when they all started calling me Randy? Did I punch anyone? Did I?” and Ellie is like, “well fuck you anyway!” Look, this whole divide between them is tiresome and I want it stop. Both of you shut up and get over it, jeez.

So Ellie’s enormous magical no-drama family is like a damn Christmas miracle, spreading cheer and shit. They love each other! They have snow ball fights! They go sledding! They throw big parties! And when Ellie stops being so uptight and self-conscious, she’s kind of cool chick and Randy kind of likes her too. This book is hard to recap, because you know from page 1 exactly what’s going to happen and so nothing is exciting and there’s no real tension and mostly you read this book and wish they would get their damn acts together already because the constant bickering and hurt feelings crap is getting really old and really stupid. Guess what! They fall in love, guys! It only takes, like, a week! They wish upon a star and roll around in the snow and kiss under the mistletoe and have absolutely no more problems ever again, amen. They also have this weird sex that starts kind of rapey (ughhhh Randy you’re killing me here) but then becomes more like consensual, having-a-good-time sex, thank goodness. But it’s like…I don’t know. It’s fine. Everything is just fine. Them getting to know each other is fine. Them fighting and then having make up sex is fine. Them realizing they love each is fine. Randy chilling out and having fun is fine, Ellie finally crying and mourning her dad is fine. Randy is fine and Ellie is fine and together they’re just fine. Nothing in this book is great, and nothing’s particularly bad. It’s just…fine. (Although, honestly, after the last Balogh I recapped…yikes. I’ll take fine! Fine is fine! Fine is great! PLEASE WRITE MORE FINE BOOKS AND FEWER DISGUSTING HORRIFYING MISOGYNISTIC CRAP HEAPS!) They aren’t very memorable characters, but they also aren’t offensive. I mean, mostly. Ellie was kind of obnoxious, but I can even understand that. When you’re the poor kid, you find things to be obsessively proud about and you wait to be slighted and it makes you act like a jerk whether or not the situation calls for it. I’ve totally been there! But also my life is not a romance novel, so…fine?

I sort of feel like Mary Balogh phoned it in with this one. Her publisher was like, “yo Mary! Christmas is coming or whatever! We need to sell some books and build up our pile of money. Got any Christmas stories?” and Mary was like, “yeah yeah yeah, coming right up, bah humbug, fuck you.” Mary, I get it. And it’s fine. You won’t get put on the Naughty List.

NOT YET ANYWAY. But listen up, lady, you are on THIN ICE! Don’t think I’ve forgotten about that OTHER ONE you wrote – you wrote it! you put your name on it! WHY MARY WHY? – and if you pull any shit like that with me again I will put you on my Naughty List so fast your head will spin and your underpants will fall off. Got it? Good. Now go have a Merry Christmas and we’ll talk more in 2012.

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