My Dangerous Duke
Once upon a time, there was an author who told original, heartfelt stories and told them well. This author became an automatic read for many, including this reader, and was known throughout the land for her passionate tales. Then the fire died in the reader, for she considered the author’s later efforts inferior imitations of previous successes. So in a last-ditch effort to bolster her fading hopes, the reader asked to review the author’s most recent work.
This is the reader’s judgment: Adios, chica.
Five-sixths of the book could politely be termed problematic; I call it bad. It begins with the premise, which pits the ultra-mega, super e-e-e-e-e-evil Prometheus Society (which apparently has been responsible for all the e-e-e-e-e-evil in the Western world) against the Good Guys who fight the Prometheans under the alias of the oversexed, aristocratic Inferno Club but are actually called the Order of St. Michael the Archangel. They’re still oversexed aristocrats though, considering our hero needs to get it at least once every three days. But I get ahead of myself.
Anyway, one of the good guys already had his story (which I couldn’t manage to finish), and now it’s the resident assassin’s turn, Rohan Kilburn, local Beast and Duke of Warrington. Our bro Ro gets paired with Little Miss Feisty Virgin, aka Kate Madsen/Fox, who is delivered to his doorstep by the local Cornish smugglers who hope to appease the Beast. The slash is because our girl Kate is actually the daughter of Rohan’s father’s generation’s Promethean-turned-good-guy’s daughter. Now the bad guys want to entrap Kate’s father (whose real name is Fox, not Madsen, right?), who dumped her in Cornwall to save her, so the bad guys kidnap Kate and deliver her to the Beast (who’s actually a good guy), in the hopes of luring Kate’s father. But wait, you say – I’ve just given two reasons poor Kate was treated like a doorstopper. Well, they’re both true. Confused much? There’s more.
She’s a virgin! He’s done bad things! Her virgin mystique can save him! No it can’t! He gives her orgasms – and since the reader obviously can’t recognize one when it hits us, Rohan can announce it when it happens, the helpful bugger. And the exclamation marks will keep the action pumping!! Not that Rohan needs it, but who cares?!?!!
Not me, that’s for sure; this is not the Gaelen Foley I used to love. Was her prose always this purple and cheesy? Was her plotting always this black and white? And was it always this damn immature? Rohan and Kate are like frickin’ teenagers, especially Rohan, who has the mother of all idiotic hang-ups – he’s a dork, and a stupid one at that. And bloody hell, what with Dartmoor darlings and dangerous dukes, the alliteration is a pain in the ass.
Now, if you’ve managed to hang on this far, you’ll notice I have one-sixth of the book left to cover. This refers to the infinitesimal glimmer of hope, the moments when the writing isn’t over the top and sincerity reigns. This includes the last sixty pages, when Rohan and Kate go to the Orkney Islands on an Indiana Jones treasure hunt, and which are adventurous, thrilling, exciting, and yes, it’s romantic. When Ms. Foley isn’t busting her guts to pepper the modernisms with Regency-speak, or create whirling emotions and artificial sexual tension, it all happens naturally on its own. Moreover, it’s consistent and it works.
All of this can’t save the book, but it is enough to keep a miniscule portion of my ears open in case the old Gaelen Foley ever decides to come back. I’ll make the publisher a deal: When Ms. Foley writes a book entitled My Constipated Commoner or something equally original, then I’ll shut up and read. Until then, I’ve come to the end of the road.