Sunday, April 12, 2009

His Favorite Mistress by Tracy Anne Warren ***

This is my first book by this author, and I only had this one because it was given to me by a friend. If I had to use 1 word to describe the story, I think I would say Formulaic, with no twists or surprises.

We start with a young (very young: 17) hoyden virgin - illegitimate daughter of some titled fellow and, gasp!, an actress - Gabriella St. George. She's in boy's clothing, with a pistol, ready to shoot her father's arch nemesis who did him in and caused his death, in the man's home. She's waited until all his guests have left - he walks into the room - she confronts him. Ah! It's not him! It's the rakehell, bachelor-til-death, Tony Black! Tony disarms her neatly and then presses a searing kiss to her lips.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. BTDT.

OK, in a few sentences, Tony and the arch nemesis tell Gabriella the truth about her dastardly father, and of course - she gulps and believes them. Wow, talk about change of heart - first she's willing to kill, then she's a kitten in their hands.

And, here's a twist -(not)- the arch nemesis is also somehow her uncle, who now offers to have her live with him and his wife and child. Then Gabby takes a few pages to wail against doing that very thing before giving in.

Tony, the rake, the devil, then grows bored with his latest mistress, one of many married women who've lured him to their beds. He can only think of the young Gabby - but no! He cannot have her! She's too young! She's the niece of his best friend! She's... ahh, she's all he can think about now.

Blah blah, they get caught in a compromising position, and get married. The plot is this: he doesn't realize he loves her, and tells everyone he does not until she finally hears him, and then she moves out until he can convince her he loves her. The End.

So much of the prose is Superlative. Tony's the baddest rakehell, he has the biggest cock, he's the most wonderfully involved duke who treats his tenants and servants better than anyone ever, he's the best lover in all of England - the only one these married women really want - the author tells us all of this over and over. Even when she shows us by his deeds, she has to jump in and remind us it's because he's the best, he's the most, he's the biggest, he's the baddest. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I get it. Just show us, ok, and let us come to our own conclusions, ok?

So: boy and girl meet. Boy and girl kiss. Boy and girl get caught and therefore marry. Girl hears him tell someone they don't love each other, so girl moves out. Boy tries different ways to show her he loves her until finally there's a Grand Gesture, and they live happily ever after. Yawn. Let's see - hoyden virgin, badass rakehell with a heart of gold. Ever heard such an formulaic story before? Yeah, hundreds of them. But that alone doesn't make it average/mediocre because a well-written story can be Cinderella retold and be superb.

That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it. It didn't even fit in any of my regular challenges except the New To Me Authors. Not that I'll never read any more of her books - but maybe not for a long, long time. 3 stars because it wasn't awful, just mediocre. (Oh, and as I suspected, the uncle and his family were the stars of a previous book - so hey, it's a series! and the plot sounds just as overdone and hackneyed as this one.)

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