A Perfect Hero
Okay, I’m telling myself that I must not rant about annoying pretentious heroines, but after reading A Perfect Hero I certainly want to. Little can affect my reading enjoyment more than an immature, self-centered, demanding heroine. Unfortunately Lady Julianna Sterling falls into this category and possesses such limited communication skills that much of her conversing with the hero is reduced to one sentence exclamations.
“Don’t you dare!”
“There is no need to swear!”
“Do not mock me!”
Well, you get the idea – I thought this type of heroine had been left behind with other 1980s romance clichés and…I guess I am ranting.
Lady Julianna Sterling is quite the independent lady after being left at the altar at age 23. The humiliation was unbearable for a proud sort such as she and, therefore, Julianna is determined to never suffer like that again. (“She was forever changed. Forever shamed.”) Now, four years later, she has thoroughly convinced herself that sacrificing her desire for children is preferable to ever giving another man the opportunity to mistreat her. She lives a privileged life on a generous stipend from her brother, owns her London home, and has just purchased a second home in Bath.
Dane Quincy Granville, aka Magpie, is an infamous highwayman of dignity, honor, and purpose. I kept referring to the back cover for those last facts as I attempted to weed through his criminal behavior. The answer to his mystery is rather obvious, but I found him a mildly interesting character nonetheless and, despite Julianna’s complaints noted earlier, he is actually a really nice guy. Yeah, I am describing the hero as nice and interesting – not sexy and handsome. He was written as such, but overall his character didn’t seem real enough to pull off any genuine sex appeal.
On the road to Bath, Dane, or should I say Magpie, robs the public coach in which Julianna travels without a chaperone and, in the confusion, the vehicle overturns and renders her unconscious. Unable to ascertain the extent of her injuries, Dane knows he can’t leave this beautiful woman in an overturned coach with a dead driver and irrationally decides to take her to his cottage deep in the woods. Concern for Julianna’s injuries soon turns into a case of kidnapping as Dane realizes he can’t just treat and release her since she could now compromise his well laid plans. Oh, but will he be sorry!
Now it’s time for Julianna to begin blustering and Dane to placate her. She is his captive but that doesn’t mean he is in charge. From their first minutes in the cabin, it is obvious to the reader that Dane is a good man with gentlemanly overtones only attempting to intimidate Julianna enough to stay put. Although Julianna’s fears were justified initially, I soon lost any sympathy for her – don’t make the mistake of thinking Julianna is trod upon. She establishes a pattern of relentless anger (that remains throughout the book) only to flip into sweetness before jumping back into anger with her very next comment. To say her erratic nature is tiresome is certainly an understatement.
I kept thinking that Dane must be wondering why he deserved to have such a termagant on his hands even if he did kidnap her. But, no, he spends a lot of time contemplating her kind and giving nature and how she was made to be a wife and mother and even calling her Kitten. Although the author spends a good bit of time telling the reader about Julianna’s gentle nature, I saw little evidence. Please don’t tell me how kind she is – show me through her actions and speech.
Formulistic scenarios abound – in the first half of the book alone we are presented with a carriage accident, unconsciousness, robbery, near death, mad dog, kidnapping, failed escape, gunshot wound, false identity, murdered pets, and an abandoned child. Add to that jerky dialogue with stale comebacks and a forced story line with uneven pacing and you have one of the most unoriginal and uninspiring historical romances I have read in ages.
This is the third and final book of the Sterling family trilogy. A Perfect Bride was the first featuring Sebastian Sterling, the Marquess of Thurston and the second, A Perfect Groom, belonged to Justin Sterling. It is not necessary to read either of the previous books to understand the ongoing narrative.
Thank goodness the days are long gone when a posturing, pouting woman deserved the dignified, honorable man. But I am afraid it has returned in The Perfect Hero. And I’m thinking it should be more along the lines of The Perfect Hero for the Perfect Brat.