My Own Private Hero
As regular visitors to AAR know, an ever-growing chorus of readers are continually complaining that far too many historical romances these days are far too formulaic. Anyone reading My Own Private Hero would certainly be hard pressed to argue with that.
Frankly, you can read this one with about half your brain engaged and, lest you tax yourself too far, the author flat out tells you everything about her characters and their feelings – succinctly and clearly. That might make for an easy to read romance, but it certainly doesn’t make for a subtle or challenging one.
American heiress Adele Wilson is the practical and “good” sister of the Wilson family (To Marry The Duke and An Affair Most Wicked), and the last to figure in her own book. Reluctant to enter London society and determined to live a quiet life in the country, the book’s opening chapter finds Adele traveling to England to marry the English Lord she met briefly in America. Though their acquaintance is slight, Adele is convinced that the shy and scientifically inclined Harold, Lord Osulton, will be the perfect husband with whom she can live a calm and productive life.
Adele’s plans are abruptly interrupted when she is kidnapped and held for three days by a mysterious captor. Instead of the ransom he demands, however, the villain is assisted in shuffling off this mortal coil when Damien Renshaw, Baron Alcester, appears in true heroic fashion to rescue the woman his beloved cousin Harold is to marry.
Traveling together to Harold’s country estate, the proper Miss Wilson and the anything-but-proper Damien (are you surprised that he’s an infamous Rake?) find themselves hopelessly attracted to each other. But both owe loyalty to Harold – a loyalty that stands in the way of their growing feelings.
Neither Damien nor Adele are anything out of the ordinary – you’ve met these characters many times before – and they are made even less interesting than most because of the extreme “See Sally Run” nature of the prose. Clearly, the author doesn’t trust her reader to make any assumptions, inferences, or judgments about their actions or feelings as illustrated by these examples:
Adele on Harold: “I don’t think he really sees me, not the inner me. He talks, but he doesn’t listen. I feel rather invisible when I’m with him. I feel like a shell of a person whose only purpose is to nod and smile and agree with his opinions.”
Adele on Damien, Harold, and her childhood journey from a simple life in Wisconsin to a wealthy one in New York City: “Ever since I met Damien, I’ve been questioning who I am, and I think I understand it now. I wasn’t happy when we moved to the city. Our way of life was so strange to me, I didn’t know what to do with myself, so I just did what people told me to do. I clung to rules and tried not to think about my life before. I couldn’t bear the longing. And when mother introduced me to Harold, I was content to marry him because I had begun to forget the person I was when we lived in Wisconsin. But then I met Damien and I became attracted to the wildness in him.”
Well, who needs Dr. Melfi or Dr. Phil? Why waste time puzzling about the keys to a character? It’s much faster and easier this way, don’t you think?
Sadly, considering the formulaic plot, two dimensional characterizations, and the less than subtle prose, I can’t think of a single reason to recommend My Own Private Hero – not even to hard-core lovers of historical romance. This one may be a quick and easy read, but it certainly isn’t a good one.