July 8, 2015
There are flashbacks and then there are flashbacks.
When I first read The Memoirs of a Scandalous Red Dress in 2009 I had a big problem with
the hero, and I was hoping that rereading the story in close proximity to the others in the series might change my belief that Dashwell was a irredeemable hero. Sorry to say I couldn't find it in myself to like this guy and the story is also the first book in the series which I didn't care for. The reread didn't change my mind, only cemented my feelings.
Flashbacks. I'm normally a big fan of the flashback in books - if they are there to support the main story. However, in the case of this tale, they didn't support. They were just a continual interruption to the flow of the storytelling. The flashbacks were written with just tooooo much jumping back and forth between the time periods, which by the way was a period of over 20 years. Every time something good would happen in one period, there would be a startling jump to the other time. This created a feel that there were two different couples in this book, the young Dash and Pippen and the older Dash and Pippen. In both cases Dash was a bonehead hero. I had a hard time liking him and keep wondering just what Pippen saw in him, other than his big...thighs.
Dash. A big time loser bonehead hero. As a young hero, Dash doesn't seem to have too many scruples. When he first steals a kiss from Pippen, she is just a girl of 15 and easily manipulated. Over the years, Dash continues an unscrupulous seduction game with starry-eyed Pippen and this game set my creep-o-meter off. When Pippen "sacrifices" herself for his freedom, the anger he exhibited was waaay over the top. On the other hand, the older Dash is just an unlikeable drunk, wallowing in self-pity. Why he turned to the dark side I never quite figured out. I guess it was because Pippen left him - but really, for twenty years you are going to live in the dark bottom of a bottle, moaning and groaning. While his efforts to reform his drunken state were realistic, Dash comes off as being a weak man with no redeeming features.
The nice guy husband. Every time I read a book, I have a tendency to think "if I had written this book I would have done such and such." Well this story just screamed out to me to do a rewrite my way. Spoilers: The young Pippen is pregnant with Dash's child - which he doesn't know about. That child is one of the reason's she sacrifices herself. Well, there is this really nice guy, Lord Gossett, who is in love with Pippen. He also suspects she is pregnant. He helps Dash escape, he marries Pippen; gives her children his name (twins), gives her son a title, helps raise her children, is a wonderful, loving man - and pretty good in the sack. But when this story begins he is dead, leaving the path for Pippen to once again take up with Dash. I liked Lord Gossett a lot but like so many nice guys in romance novels he gets the short end of the stick in favor of the rakish so-called hero. Well, here's what I would have done. I wouldn't have killed Lord Gossett off. I would have had Dash come back and reenter Pippen and Lord Gossett's life. Sure there would be tension, lots of tension. I would have had Lord Gossett fighting for Pippen's love and Pippen realizing that her true love was Lord Gossett. I would have had Pippen realize that Dash was a bonehead; at which time he would have sailed off into the sunset, sans bottle, to find another girl - maybe in a novella. But that's my rewrite, and it wasn't to be. Why do nice guys mostly lose in romance novels?
Bottom line - rereading The Memoirs of a Scandalous Red Dress didn't change my mind from the last time. The jumpy flashbacks were irritating and the hero was despicable. For me, despicable Dash was never able to redeem himself. So far, this is my least favorite book in the Bachelor Chronicles. It doesn't really seem to fit.
Time/Place: 1810-1837 England/Ocean/all over the space-time continuum