October 9, 2015
Spoiler: They lived happily ever after...uh, then they died.
Where to begin - where to begin - ponder. Once again I find myself in the minority. I am confessing now, I am one of those people who did not care for The Legend of Lyon Redmond. In fact, when I was finished with this book I was deeply disturbed. We should be able to explore these disturbances because I made a plethora of notes while I was reading.
I will also get this out of the way: I stumbled over a number of typos, in this case words that were missing. I even had an entire page that was not there. So, somewhere, someone wasn't watching-editing-whatever or doing their job. Did I call customer service? No. I really don't have time to deal with the person on the other end. But my electronic copy was a careless representation of an author's hard work.
Now, back to The Legend of Lyon Redmond. I confess, I confess! I wanted John, Lord Lansdowne to get the girl. Of course, I knew that the author probably would never go in that direction. I was anticipating that with this book I would be presented with a very very good reason for Lyon and Olivia being together besides the fact that was what the original outline said. Sometimes an author's initial intentions at the beginning of a series doesn't always work when that series ends. Characters and dynamics take over occasionally and the direction of the story changes. The path originally intended is lost and a new one begins - but then the author still goes down the old path. For me, going down the old path of Olivia and Lyon being together didn't work.
The Legend of Lyon Redmond is partly told through the use of flashbacks. I have nothing against flashbacks, sometimes they work sometimes they don't. In this case they sort of work because we get to see a very young Lyon and an even younger Olivia falling in teenage love/lust. It overwhelms them. I was unable to find anything in their relationship but the lust part. I was never able to comprehend any insight into why they love each other or, for that matter why they like each other. While we do get to see how Olivia thinks, we hardly ever get to see Lyon's introspective. Maybe if I had been able to see more of Lyon's thought process I would have liked it better, but he was pretty much a closed book.
So, anyway Lyon and Olivia fall in love/lust at a dance. They are bowled over. They cannot think about anyone or thing but each other. They are also very young. It is Tony and Maria at the dance, only there aren't any Jets and Sharks to do the tap dancing. Then we get to see more of Ton...ur...Lyon and Olivia meeting in secret and the relationship moves from touching each others hands to touching other things. But never the final binga-bang. Lyon decides to tell his father, Isaiah, that he intends to marry Olivia. Isaiah, being Isaiah, says if you do, I will cease all monetary support. Lyon walks out on his father, stalks over to Olivia's place, throws pebbles at her window, and then proposes. Contrary to what he believes will happen, Olivia starts asking question -wayyyyy beyond her years by the way. Questions such as: What will we live on? What will we eat? Where will we live? Who will be our friends? What about our families? Well, evidently that isn't the response Lyon wanted and he becomes really enraged. He stomps off and out of Olivia life in a fit of spoiled-boy temper-tantrum. In the next five years he becomes many things: a pirate, a privateer, an owner of a plantation, a spy, an owner of an estate in Cadiz - he becomes wealthy. Does he attempt to contact Olivia through the years? Does he remain faithful to Olivia? Does he expect her to remain faithful to him? No, no and yes. What a guy.
I never understood why he would hold a grudge for so long. Especially over something so mundane, so logical. And, because I was never given the ability to follow Lyon and his exploits through those five years I was not inclined to like him. I will say this though - I was not upset that he couldn't keep his Mr. Toad inside of his trousers through those five years. I think it's unrealistic to expect a person to remain celibate for five years, especially when supposedly they have moved on. But, what irritated me was that our heroine, Olivia mooned, daydreamed, withdrew, didn't so much as glance at another guy through that time period. Then when she finally breaks free of her boo-hoo-I-cannot-live-without-Lyon mood and became engaged to John and dares to "kiss" him, Lyon lashes out. Lyon makes his grand entrance and has the nerve to berate her for "kissing" her fiancé once...once! Uhggggg, I did not like Lyon.
What is love all about? At no time in this story did I ever discover just why Lyon and Olivia loved each other. Oh sure, I understood the mad crazy lust hormone part, but love...nah. Didn't see it. I especially didn't see Lyon as loveable, he was actually quite a bonehead.
Cadiz. Lyon kidnaps Olivia and takes her to his big old house in Cadiz where there are waterfalls, beaches and swimming holes. You can run naked in all that water, sand and rocks. You can have mad passionate crazy whankee-roo there! Who cares if you’re engaged to someone else? Who cares if that someone else is the nicest person ever? Not Olivia, that's for sure. She does occasionally feel bad, 'cause she knows what it's like to be hurt and she would never ever ever want to do that to someone else. But who can resist Lyon in the water hole? Not Olivia. Of course, there is a fly in the ointment. After weeks and weeks of humping and bumping in the water Lyon tells Olivia he is sending her back to England. Without him. If she really really really wants him she must fight for him. Fight for him! OMG, is there a ringing in my ears? Why should she! You remember her, Olivia, the girl you left behind. You know the one you didn't say boo to for five long years! She has to fight for you! AAAAkkkk! Why!
By the way, did anybody do anything to prevent any kind of disease or baby-boo-hoo during Cadiz? I don’t remember any Lyon spills on the sacred stomach.
John. Now Olivia has returned to England after her little water escapade. John is one of the nicest secondary characters we've been introduced to in Romanceland. He could have been a wonderful hero. But since he's so nice, I guess it's ok to just step all over him. If Olivia had told John as soon as she saw him that she needed to break their engagement I wouldn't have been so revolted. But that isn't what she did. She waited until she is in front of everyone in Pennyroyal, after John has said yes he will take this woman to be his wife, to drop her bomb shell. I cannot tell you how much I detested this part of the book. If I hadn't been so close to the end, this book would have hit the wall. But the damage had already been done, and this horribly painful book moment will join some other memorable horrible-feel-bad book moments in by brain. This left an unpleasant taste in my mouth, but there was more to come.
The epilogue. Yes, there was an epilogue in The Legend of Lyon Redmond. It takes place in the future and we have a contemporary woman visiting England finding her roots - in the cemetery. She is descended from the Redmonds, she also meets a man who is descended from them and through their conversation we get to hear about what happened to all of the characters we had grown to love in Pennyroyal - well almost all of them - not John. Anyway, it seems they all die. Who would have thunk it? A HEA doesn't mean people die, it means they just fade away...like Douglas MacArthur. Not only do all the Pennyroyal heroes and heroines die but we also find out that one of the main secondary characters has been murdered at some point in the past. What? Why? What? I sputter. I thought epilogues were supposed to resolve everything.
To say I was disappointed in this book, the last of the Pennyroyal series is an understatement. I was disturbed by Olivia's callus treatment of John. I didn't find anything redeeming about either Lyon or Olivia. The ending was distasteful to me in so many ways. While I enjoyed most of the books in this series, for me this final story wasn’t on par with the rest of them. While others may be happy that Lyon and Olivia are finally back in each others arms; for me, there were just too many backs that were stabbed on the way to those arms. I found this book distressing.
Time/Place: 1820s England