May 23, 2013
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar…
And sometimes a plot line is there just so we can have gratuitous sex. In Captain Durant's Countess, Maggie Robinson has introduced a plotline that requires some pretty fancy footwork. Yes, we've seen this set-up before in romance novels. It's just that accepting money for impregnating another man's wife might seem a tad bit sleezy to some. I must admit that it isn't one of my favorite romance themes. It triggers so many of my hot buttons. However, I'm always willing to accept the plot and see how the writer handles the situation.
It seems our heroine Maris isn't too lucky in her choice of a husband. Oh sure, Henry's a nice guy and all. Maris and Henry are friends. Even with the great age difference, Maris has grown to love Henry. You see, Henry has a slight problem. He is no longer able to salute anything, if you get my drift. He wasn't always that way, or at least that’s what we suspect since he had a daughter. The daughter, Jane, is now dead. I'm also assuming he had a wife, although not too much is said about her. Of course, you know, Henry’s problem means that Maris has never experienced any wild whankey-woo. Except, that is, for the occasional hand puppet show performed by Henry, if you get my drift. There is that itsy bitsy affair Maris had with David. “Who is David?” you ask. Well, he is the nefarious villain of the piece. He is also the person who Henry holds responsible for Jane's death. Also, Henry doesn't know about David and Maris. We know that David is evil because he somehow caused Jane's death, he had an affair with Maris, he is blackmailing her and he wants to spend his inheritance, kick the servants out, visit brothels and hang out at Almacks. Henry, who seems to be fairly intelligent, decides the only way to stop this evil nephew is for Maris to have an heir. We all know that Henry's Mr. Toad hasn't been working for a long time. His solution is to hire a good toad deed doer, one he knows is in working order. Ta-dah! Enter our hero, Reyn.
When we first meet Reyn we know right away his Mr. Toad is the inflatable kind. You see, Maris is off on a TSTL journey to find Reyn and ask him why he's not doing what he's promised. Where do you think she finds him? Why in a brothel, of course. Boy o boy, does she get an eye-full. Not only is his Timothy Toad working, but it's humongous and probably angry, aren't they all. Now, we also know that Reyn is a rake, a rogue, immoral and a profligate. Why? Because at the moment Maris barges in on him he is whipping a needy woman's behind. Of course, he is a hero, so he isn't enjoying it. Because he is not the villain, he volunteers to have a medical examination just to make sure that his Mr. Toad hasn't picked up any special little insect. And, let me say this, while I thought Maris insisting he be tested before any foraging was done was humorous, I also thought it was mighty 21st century thinking. Anyway, after some arm twisting, Maris and Reyn are soon embarked on baby making.
In the past, I have enjoyed Maggie Robinson's stories and I was looking forward to reading this one. We all know that no matter how objective we try to be, reviews can be very subjective. I'm saying that because, as I said earlier, this story just happened to push a number of by hot/rant buttons. Let's start with Henry. Even though all of the baby business is Henry's idea, even though he strongly encourages Maris and Reyn in their endeavors, it is still infidelity. I'm not a total stickler with the infidelity issue in romance novels. It all depends on how it is written. Sadly, in this case it had the feel of being sordid. The problem I had with this was neither Maris nor Reyn wanted any part of this idea. Maris especially had some strong moral debates going on inside her head. In the end she is forced to accept the inevitable and, I believe that is what I have the strongest objection too...the forcing. There wasn't anything to balance that struggle, there wasn't any really good reason for Henry to force the issue. What we get are some really hot encounters between Maris and Reyn, however, for me they were uncomfortable.
Aside from that hot button, I also had some problems with circumstances being brought up and never finding out why, who or what. For instance: why are the male servants called John? What is in those treasure boxes? What's with the emerald? Whose jewel is it? Was it stolen? Are there more gems? Why did Henry die so suddenly? Why isn't Reyn’s reading problem explored more? Henry seemed like such an interesting man, I wish his characters backstory had been more fully developed. Finally there is David, the villain. David actually has a wife and child. A wife and child we find out about almost at the end of the story. The resolution to the villain David's story thread was wrapped up too neatly and too quickly. I don't have a problem with numerous threads in stories, if there is a reason for them, if they are developed and if they are tied up at the end. Otherwise, they are just distractions.
While I applaud Ms. Robinson's tackling of the historical-surrogate-child-without-the-baster plotline, I was a little disappointed in Captain Durant's Countess. The story had a bit of a disjointed rushed feel about it. Maris and Reyn had possibilities that were never totally explored and I was expecting more depth to this story. Of course, this doesn't mean I’m giving up on this series, it's just means this particular book didn't work so well for me. Lady Anne's Lover will be coming out in July of 2013 and I will be keeping my fingers crossed.
Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: Hot Hot