Captive Bride by Carol Finch
Zebra Books, 1st printing, 1987
Genre: Historical romance, total crap
Synopsis & Review: I’m going to have to just lift the back copy for this one, pardon me (read it aloud for the greatest effect) …
Impetuous Rozalyn DuBois would have had nothing to do with that rogue Dominic Baudlair had she not sworn to her grandmother she had a fiance. Now, caught in a scheme of her own making, the feisty beauty had to pretend affection for the virile stranger. She truly detested how his sinewy arms embraced her and how he possessively pressed her close. In fact, the blue-eyed hellion hated him so much that she planned revenge on the domineering rakehell by deciding to trick him into falling madly in love with her–then to drop him cold!
Jet-haired Dominic couldn’t believe his fortune when that saucy minx begged him to act as her betrothed. it was even better luck that she didn’t know he was her father’s greatest rival in the fur trade. He’d delightedly plunder the provocative chit’s ample charms, undermining his enemy with each arousing caress. The warm and tender feelings that surged through him could never be more than desire. The cunning scoundrel vowed he’d be the richest trapper in the territory through Rozalyn … even if it meant first making her his sensual slave, and then claiming her as his
The fiery brilliance, vibrant colors, and radiant glow of the Zebra Hologram Heart was a shimmering reflection of Zebra’s guarantee to publish novels of consistent quality. I don’t know what level of quality those books were supposed to be, but Captive Bride leads me to believe that it was the quality of total crap. Because you see, this book is bad. It is terrible. It’s bad even for cheesy Eighties romance novels–which can get pretty terrible. Shoots, the other two historical romances I remember reading in elementary school (Devil’s Daughter by Catherine Coulter and Crimson Obsession by Deanna James–another Zebra, even) were nowhere near this terrible. After the first page, I looked at Eli and said, “I don’t think I can finish this.” I barely survived it.
What is so terrible, you may wonder. Well, Captive Bride was written by someone with a thesaurus on hyperdrive, and as many adjectives and adverbs thrown in as possible. The prose isn’t purple, it’s ultraviolet. Our heroine is never simply a girl or a young woman–she’s a vixen! A minx! A hellion! A hoyden! A temptress! A chit! A nymph! God help us, even a mermaid. Every sentence is metaphor, simile, and cliche-ridden, overwhelming readers’ sensibilities with phrases like,
His words sizzled across her skin like lightning streaking across a night sky.
Rozalyn was a wild, beautiful bird who thrived on freedom.
Like summer rain [her lips] melted beneath his kiss …
Her eyes locked with his fathomless green pools …
It gets particularly bad in the lovemaking scenes. Now, I was pretty young when I started reading these–and when my sister Malia caught me with Devil’s Daughter, she promptly confiscated it, but I was clever and managed to get around the prohibition–but honestly, if they were all like this, I wouldn’t have had any idea what was going on. Captive Bride isn’t explicit, it’s retarded and overwritten:
His hands and lips were weaving a spell that was filling her with ineffable pleasure, preparing her for the ecstatic moments to come. Her body arched toward his as she reveled in the rapture of his touch, sighing softly as streams of sweet agony spilled over her.
WHAT IS GOING ON THERE?
And I cannot forget this passage:
And her heart stampeded around in her chest like a runaway stallion when his caress glided over her thigh, taunting, arousing, driving her mad with a craving that beaver stew and hoecake could never appease.
Haha, beaver stew.
Okay, besides all that, I took umbrage at the racism, the ridiculous “plot,” and Carol Finch’s earnest desire to have her cake and eat it, too. Dominic is not just Hawk, half-breed mountain man, but also scion of an old and illustrious St Louis family–but he’s also democratic, and champions the cause of both Indians and trappers alike, for higher wages, even. Rozalyn is the delicate yet feisty daughter of an aristocratic French family, yet she rides untamed stallions and shoots better than most men. (By the way, Rozalyn is an appalling creature who thinks nothing of destroying other people’s possessions during her tantrums, especially those of people who have been nothing but nice to her.) She also is democratic, preferring the company of thieves and cardsharps to her wealthy peers–and of course the hoodlums all worship her. And she handily learns to sew, cook, and survive in the wilderness over a few months. Of course she does.
Puerile trash. I can’t get rid of it fast enough.
Cover: Classic Eighties bodice-ripping style! The artist made the models look somewhat like the heroine and hero, but the background seems more appropriate to the Deep South than St Louis and then the “whispering Wind River Mountains.” And her outfit is more suitable to a mall expedition or a party circa 1986 than to being a Captive Bride.
18 August – 19 August