Let Down Your Hair
Based upon the fairy tale “Rapunzel,” Let Down Your Hair took what could have been a charming fairy tale retelling and absolutely ruined it. I’m lucky to have any hair left to let down after pulling out most of mine while I struggled to finish this story for review.
Rachel Sommerville is a sheltered, virginal young miss who has been raised by a stern and proper aunt. Taught only to look pretty and attract the eye of a well-off man, Rachel’s only joy in life is singing for the patrons of her aunt’s hotel. In six weeks she will wed Daniel, a long-time family friend who is charming and handsome, but also dull and fifteen years her senior. Rachel is marrying because her aunt has told her that being taken care of and becoming a mother are the proper things to do. Rachel doesn’t seem to care one way or the other until the day she spots sexy Roland Connor gawking at her while she sings.
Roland is an admitted gambler and con man but manages to charm Rachel with his handsome face, rude stare, and arrogant manner in mere minutes. Rachel, raised in a hotel that manages to attract only kindly old folks (the smarmy, piggy ones apparently stay elsewhere) has never met a man like Roland. He sets her staid world (and her nether regions) all atwitter with new possibilities. After a few short sentences and a hot kiss, Roland asks her to sneak out nightly to join him in a little fun before she ties the knot. Did I mention there’s a serial killer on the prowl who targets loose woman? Or that Rachel’s known Roland for all of a day or so? Nevertheless, hormones override common sense and Rachel eagerly agrees to meet him and winds up getting herself into a world of trouble.
To make matters worse, Roland isn’t just some guy out looking for a good time. He has an ugly ulterior motive for cozying up to Rachel. See, Roland has a major problem with Rachel’s intended husband (it involves his beloved deceased sister) and intends to exact revenge by destroying Rachel’s innocence. His plans include deflowering her and sending her to Daniel’s wedding bed knowing “more bedroom tricks than the most expensive whore in San Francisco” (a direct quote). Hmm, hero or villain? You decide; I’m still not sure. Roland begins to fall in love with the sweet, malleable Rachel, and his well-laid plans get all fouled up.
Boy does my head ache. Still, as unappealing as I find the above plot line, I held out hope that this would become an enjoyable story. Unfortunately, predictable plot twists that become more and more over-the-top as the story progresses, stereotypical secondary characters, and the two totally unsympathetic main characters just about did me in. Rachel is made out to be the epitome of all that is good in the world, but she came across as a helpless ninny and a selfish one to boot. At one point she hopes Roland gets her pregnant so she’ll always have a piece of him with her once he leaves – knowing all the while she’ll have to marry Daniel and pass the child off as his. Oh yeah, a real selfless sweetie-pie. And Roland? Well, he’d be your typical arrogant, revenge-minded guy, only he’s made a career out of lying and piles them on until the story is nearly over.
Had there been an inkling of believable sensitivity in either of these characters I might’ve been able to look past the distasteful conflict and the lame plot. Instead, scenes that might engender sympathy are glossed over and never impact the reader on an emotional level. For example, the reader is told how much Roland loved his beloved deceased sister but never feels that emotional intensity – just the anger he feels about her death. A few flashback scenes with the sister would’ve gone a long way towards fleshing out his character’s motivation. Instead we are left with the big old crocodile tears that run down Rachel’s beautiful face time and again. Had there been just a wee bit of witty banter or a funny situation or two, I might’ve been okay with the lack of emotional connection to the characters. But as it stands I found nothing charming, sympathetic or likable about Rachel, Roland or their so-called “love” story.
If anyone out there enjoys romances steeped in deception and hypocrisy, doesn’t mind a weak-willed, easily manipulated heroine, and just loves those shifty heroes, then by all means give this one a look. But those of us looking for a romantic and enjoyable reworking of a fairy tale are advised to look anywhere but here.