Bartered Bride

Fortune's Fancy

The Highwayman's Daughter

The Lawman Takes a Wife

Summer Fancy

 
The Bride’s Revenge by Anne Avery
(Harl. Hist. #516, $5.25, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-29218-X
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JR and Caroline are living in Denver in the year 1898. Both come from backgrounds of privilege and luxury. JR is a successful investigative journalist for the Rocky Mountain Tribune, and when Caroline came West from Baltimore hoping to find ‘Adventures’, she found him instead. Now, disenchanted at twenty-one, she’s stuck in a dull cow town with a husband who prefers to go about his own life, not actually speaking to her much. After three months of wedded bliss she is sure she’s missing something more fun than boring ole’ married life.

JR is happy as a clam with his buxom beauty of a wife. Clueless and content, he figures he’ll take advantage of her attributes until the newness wears off, then go back to his single way of life. Keep the little woman at home to see to his comfort, but not take the matter of marriage too seriously. But wait, suddenly Caroline gets an ornery bee in her expensive bonnet. Caroline wants to be a reporter, too!

Caroline goes out and gets a job writing society pieces for the rival Denver Times. Now to break the news to hubby. Hmmm - how about tempting him into mindless sexual oblivion so he will be more amenable? Toward that end, she takes a biscuit and smears jam all over it, letting the excess dribble all over her hand and around her mouth. This mess is intended to turn JR on. It works, too, and soon he is audibly panting. They roll around the breakfast parlor swapping bodily fluids, but when the dust - and jam - settles, the first of the couple’s shout-fests ensues.

JR calls Caroline’s boss and un-volunteers her for the job, but she follows up, calling her boss back and assuring him she’s still on the job. Later, at dinner, JR tells her that it’s all settled, no wife of his needs to work. Caroline reacts with one of her trademark behaviors: the pout, and they suffer through a few weeks of ignoring each other, except for the half-hearted but nightly sex.

A Big Misunderstanding occurs. When JR attempts to explain , Caroline won’t listen, and exhibits another behavior in her repertoire: the tantrum. She shouts, stamps her foot, slams doors and phone receivers; she throws all of his clothes out the window and changes the locks. Baffled and bullied, JR docilely goes away. Then the competition begins. Caroline chases after the same ‘big story’ as JR. They travel to Cripple Creek where they bump into each other in the course of their work, alternately fighting and lusting. By this point I was tired of them both.

These two can’t manage adult behavior. As frivolous and shallow as JR is insufferable, Caroline is not appealing. She kicks her husband out on principle, but he still foots her bills. Her idea of independence is to call her Papa and demand he release her trust fund post haste. The book keeps reminding us that JR loves Caroline because she is so intelligent, but this is the only way we could ever attribute this adjective to her. She fantasizes about him, alternately teases and tortures him and he puts up with all of it, just wondering when he’s gonna get laid. This doesn’t say much for his brain, either. If this is wacky historical-western- comedy behavior, I didn’t care for it.

I know I am not the only romance reader who is bothered when the characters in a historical book act like they are living in the here and now. So why do authors continue to produce books that don’t even try to capture the dialogue and mannerisms of the times? I wouldn’t have been surprised if these people pulled out their cell phones, consulted their palm pilots, tooled around in SUVs and shopped online. They behaved as if they were nearing the end of the 20th century instead of the 19th.

I am not recommending The Bride’s Revenge, but perhaps this sort of story appeals to others. If so, you can have my copy. By the way, the biscuit and jam scene gets a re-play at the end of the book, as if once was not enough.

--Deann Carpenter


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