The Runaway Princess by Christina Dodd
Avon, 1st printing, 1999
Genre: Historical romance, Regency romance, nonsense
Jacket Copy: Masquerade
English orphan Miss Evangeline Scoffield has spent her life contenting herself with dreams. But with an unforseen inheritance, she can afford one perfect summer–a summer she will spend the rest of her life remembering. She buys herself expensive clothes, travels abroad, and presents herself as a lady of mystery.
But she quickly discovers her mistake, for a darkly handsome man appears at her bedroom door, claiming to be a Crown Prince–and her fiance.
Or the Ever After of Her Dreams?
One look into her eyes, and the prince recognizes her. She is his betrothed, the runaway Princess of Serephinia. All her denials cannot change that, or alter the passion that burgeons between them. To fullfil their destinies, the prince will do anything–abduct her, coerce her, or, best of all seduce his reluctant bride into his royal world of peril, promise and passion.
Book Report: Some of the earliest adult books I read were trashy romance novels. For some reason, I found them endlessly fascinating in elementary school, perhaps in part due to the displeasure expressed by adults who caught me reading them. Forbidden fruit, and all that sort of thing. When my sister Malia would take me to work with her at Jelly’s, I’d hang out at the book counter helping out Shirley the Book Lady–and reading trashy romances (Captive Bride was one of those I read at Jelly’s!). I eventually lost interest in them, until just after high school, when I had a sort of nervous breakdown. Not that being mental was a requirement for reading romance novels, those were just my circumstances. My eldest sister Heather introduced me to Jude Deveraux, who she read voraciously, as well as Catherine Coulter, Amanda Quick, Judith McNaught, and others, and I found them pretty entertaining. But again, I pretty much lost interest again after a year or so, and went on to other things. But hey, every once in a while, I’ll feel like reading one; the trick, though, is to find one that I’ll enjoy. But the same goes for any book, really. Why does any of that matter? Because I want you to understand when I call a romance novel total crap, it’s not because I dislike romance novels in general, or think that they’re total crap, or that I think their readers are total idiots, but that that particular romance novel is in fact, total crap. And that’s pretty much how I feel about The Runaway Princess. Read the rest of this entry »
Rhett Butler’s People by Donald Craig
St. Martin’s Press, 1st edition, 2007
Genre: historical fiction, romance, parallel novel, cashing in, total crap
Synopsis & Review: I’m not going to explain the entire plot of Gone with the Wind here (which is one of my all-time favorite books, and with good reason), but this is a prequel/sequel/parallel novel to that. It starts during Rhett Butler’s childhood, and ends slightly after Gone with the Wind does. And it’s a travesty. Here is the jacket copy:
Rhett Butler’s People is the long-awaited novel based on the great American novel Gone With the Wind. Twelve years in the making, Rhett Butler’s People marks a major and historic cultural event for millions of Gone With the Wind readers, complementing and adding new dimensions to its timeless story.
Through the storytelling mastery of award-winning writer Donald McCaig, the life and times of the enigmatic Rhett Butler unfold. Meet Rhett as a boy, a free spirit who loved the marshes and tidewaters of the Low Country, and learn of the ruthlessness of his father, whose desire for control resulted in unspeakable tragedy. Through Rhett’s eyes, you will also meet the people who shaped him in other ways: the Overseer’s daughter, Belle Watling; Rhett’s brave and determined sister, Rosemary; Tunis Bonneau, the son of freed slaves — Rhett’s childhood friend who understood him like no one else; Jack Ravanel, whose name became inextricably linked to heartbreak.
And then, of course, there is Scarlett. Katie Scarlett O’Hara, the headstrong, passionate woman whose life is entwined with Rhett’s: more like him than she cares to admit, more in love with him than she’ll ever know.
Rhett Butler’s People, brought to vivid and authentic life by the hand of a master, fulfills the dreams of those whose imaginations have been indelibly marked by Gone With the Wind.
MY ASS. One major tip-off that something will suck: The protagonist repeatedly refers to themselves in laughable terms. In the case of McCraig’s Rhett Butler, it’s the term “renegade.” As in, “I’m a renegade.” Can anyone say that with a straight face? Could anyone ever?
And that, folks, is exactly the tone of the novel. But it’s not supposed to be funny. Read the rest of this entry »
Nightwalker by Sidney Filson
Onyx, 1st printing, 1989
Genre: Thriller, action-adventure, martial arts, romance, trashy novel
Synopsis & Review: The Nightwalker stalks her prey through beautiful Hawai’i. After tracking him all over the world, she merely awaits the right moment to strike, ending the life of the man who murdered her husband, her unborn child, and her dreams. While she silently waits, she remembers what was …
Grey Coltrane is athletic, beautiful, and from an old family, and at her high school graduation, it seems like she has the world at her feet. But after leaving her sheltered life at the convent school, she discovers that her family has already mapped out her life. To preserve her family fortunes, Grey must marry an old family friend, one she loves dearly, but not romantically. Putting her dreams of romance aside, she accepts the marriage, only to discover herself in a living nightmare, a sham marriage. Luckily, it doesn’t last long, and she’s soon not only young and beautiful, but astoundingly rich.
At the urging of her best friend Llana, she moves to New York, where she meets a the only man she will ever desire: Khan Sun, a martial arts master. She joins his dojo first to interest him, but remains out of her interest in the sport, the way of life. Though she has the world at her feet as a fabulously wealthy and lovely young woman in mid-Seventies Manhattan, all she wants is Khan–and his love and respect. Once they are finally united, it seems they have the world at their feet. Until their happiness is shattered in the jungles of Taiwan.
If I had written a book when I was ten, this would have been it. It is so freaking awesome, in a not great at all kind of way. I totally loved it when I first read it (at age ten), and I had a hard time putting it down upon this re-read. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas, my Aunt Joanie and Uncle Jack would visit Hawai’i, staying with my tutu over the holidays. And every trip, Jack would bring a fresh stack of mass market paperbacks, presumably acquired at the airport for the long flight and hours spent at the beach or just relaxing on the lanai. And when he was done with those books, I’d ferret them out and devour the forbidden trash. This was my introduction to Victoria Holt, Jackie Collins–and Sidney Filson’s Nightwalker. Read the rest of this entry »
Hunger of the Beast by John Driver
Jove, 1st edition, 1991
Genre: horror, total crap, trashy novel
Back cover copy:
It was the perfect hideaway for Dianna’s country weekend.
A place she could be alone.
So private … so secluded …
No one would ever find her there.
Except for Esau.
He lives in the cellar.
And Esau is developing an appetite.
For something soft … something warm …
Now the Wilkinsons have a present for him.
Pleasant dreams, Dianna.
Synopsis & Review: Dianna LaBianca is a theatre producer in New York City. Dissatisfied by her career and a break up with her married lover, she decides to get away from it all by staying in a remote New England inn for a few weeks. After nearly crashing her car on the way, the place where she had reservations is a smoldering ruin when she arrives. She finally finds accommodation at the unprepossessing Wilkinson Inn: four rooms, extensive grounds, stables, and a very unpleasant staff. And then there’s Esau.
Dianna’s stay begins pleasantly; though there is one other guest, he’s affable and attractive, and he and Dianna soon hit it off, quickly becoming lovers. Dianna begins riding again, something she gave up in her youth after a traumatic jump gone awry. And she spends time being alone, exercising her understanding of Zen. Then one morning she wakes up to see a startling confrontation between the inn’s dog Launcelot and a monstrosity.
The monstrosity is Esau, scion of the Wilkinson family. Born hunchbacked, deformed, and colossally retarded, his birth killed his mother, and at age nine he beat his father to death with a baseball bat. But Esau just wants to be booteful, and to love bootefuls and be loved by them. And now Dianna is his chosen booteful.
I found this squalid tome at Kapiolani Hospital when I was waiting for my mother to get off from work sometime during my seventh grade year. (Hospitals are great repositories of shitty books; people waiting there are captives to racks of the worst mass market paperbacks. When my mother was dying, I read a lot of Smithsonians and a singularly awful book called Neanderthal.) Years later all I could really recall were the nipples (oh god, the nipples!), the killer retard, and the climax wherein SPOILER ALERT Read the rest of this entry »
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. Read the rest of this entry »