Once a Mistress
Grade : F

It's been a while since I've read a book that I disliked as much as this one. Its only redeeming quality - and this is really stretching it - is that it is rife with pathetically humorous purple prose.

Diana Covington, beautiful, young, and nubile, is attacked during a party at her father's house by an acquaintance who doesn't want to take no for an answer. Alex Rawnsley, the Earl of Rothstone - who lives a secret life as the pirate, El Moreno - comes to her rescue. He is masquerading as a pirate in order to find the man who murdered his brother. A couple of scenes later, Diana is kidnapped from her bed by the evil pirate, Marcus, who plans to use Diana in one of his elaborate rape-domination scenarios. It's Alex to the rescue again. Predictably, Alex and Diana strike sparks off of each other and, in the process, a romance is born.

The romance itself is rather shallow and extremely uninspiring, mostly because the principle players are not characters with a lot of depth. Diana is extremely juvenile. She is a whiny, spoiled brat who is so intent on proving that she can do it all - and that she doesn't need any man in her life - that she treats Alex like dirt, even though he rescues her twice.

For the most part, Alex is really no better. After he rescues Diana from the clutches of the evil Marcus, he takes her to his ship and asks her if she would like to be his mistress (he is attracted to her after all). Diana, whiny as usual but showing a little gumption, refuses. Alex, using a line straight out of the Handbook of Purple Prose, tells her, "Twas not an offer but a command. You are mine." It is hard to take Alex seriously at all, since earlier in the book, he is described as a swashbuckling hero with . . . earbobs??? Yes, this is true. Whatever happened to the wonderfully dashing and piratical golden hoop, or the small diamond stud? One can only hope that the earbobs didn't clash overmuch with Alex's shoulders, which were apparently so impressive that they looked as though they could support a cask of rum each. What a man . . . with earbobs?

The only thing this book has going for it - and that shows promise for future books by this author - is that the sex scenes are nice and toasty.

This book was both defined and ruined by awful purple prose, thereby preventing Alex and Diana from truly interacting as two people in love. They didn't seem real because their relationship, like their dialogue, was all on the surface. Once A Mistress escaped a wall-banging only because I was honor-bound to finish reading it to do this review.

Reviewed by Anne Ritter
Grade : F

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : February 12, 1999

Publication Date: 1998

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