I had completely given up on Catherine Coulter’s recent books, but I couldn’t resist a book bringing back my favorite Coulter family, the Sherbrookes. I really should have known better. Screechy women, rapid-fire dialogue and a very thin plot made this difficult to get through.
Winifrede Levering Bascombe (Freddie) begins her story tied to a chair by her stepfather and then escapes through the window. Freddie runs away to her aunts who take her to stay at the home of Grayson St. Cyre, Lord Cliffe, disguising Freddie as Jack. Gray doesn’t realize that Jack is a woman until she steals his horse, he goes after her, and they get stuck in a cabin in the rain. Oh, and he beats her up and cracks her rib. Quite an auspicious beginning.
See, Jack’s trying to elude her stepfather who wants her to marry the old and disgusting Lord Rye so the stepfather can get some of Jack’s money. Jack wants nothing to do with the old lech. After Jack’s “outing” as a female, she, Gray and the aunts decide that Jack and Gray must marry before the stepfather finds them. After a kidnapping attempt, the marriage is done. The rest of the book is spent trying to get Jack’s half-sister Georgie away from the dad. Interspersed are scenes with the Sherbrookes. Ryder was much the same as I remember from his book, as were Douglas and Sinjun, but I don’t remember Alexandra as being so stupid and screechy and Colin so loud and obnoxious.
Coulter’s style seems to have changed dramatically from her other books. The thing that stands out to me in this book is her dialogue. It’s so fast it makes you dizzy. You can’t have a book without dialogue, but too much doesn’t let you inside the characters’ heads. Also, I don’t know about anyone else, but I rarely address people I’m talking to by their first names, let alone every other sentence. My bookseller hit the nail on the head when I discussed this quirk with her. Coulter’s dialogue is like a technique that salespeople use when when they’re trying to remember someone’s name – they use it constantly. Jack and Gray also ask questions then answer them themselves in the same breath. There’s a yes or a no in just about every sentence. It breaks up the dialogue and makes it very choppy.
Jack and Gray aren’t bad as characters, but they’re nothing outstanding or memorable. Revelations about the death of Gray’s father, and Gray’s relationship with his mother, while perhaps written for dramatic impact, only serve to create a substantial “yuck” factor. To top it all off, Coulter ends the book with a extraneous subplot that does nothing except add a few more pages to the book.
Unfortunately, the Sherbrookes added absolutely nothing to this book except too many extra characters and mass confusion to any scene in which they were all together. Instead of catching up with favorite characters, I ended up shaking my head wondering where my favorite characters went. This has convinced me once and for all that I will never pick up another new Coulter, contemporary or historical. I’ll just reread the Bride trilogy.