an IDKlassic (It’s Dreadful)
originally published on November 27, 2000
While reading Rainbow’s End by Rebecca Brandewyne, I mentally played a little game called “Who Would I Throttle?” Would it be the hero, who seems not to be able to perform sexually unless he threatens and dominates the heroine? Or would it be the heroine, who (to her mortification) loves him?
Someone has been sabotaging a Colorado gold mine called Rainbow’s End. Red O’Rourke one of the mine’s four owners, suspects his three partners. When one of the partners is apparently murdered, Red devises a brilliant plan. He draws up a very unusual will, then fakes his own murder.
Josselyn O’Rourke, Red’s daughter, is a convent-raised maiden who plans to become a nun. She comes to Colorado for the reading of her dear Da’s will. The will says that Josselyn will inherit his shares in the mine – if she marries one of the two remaining partners. Since Red suspected that one of his two partners was a murderer, throwing his daughter between them like a steak between two dogs struck me as a truly nasty thing to do. Red explains that he did it because he doesn’t think Josselyn is suited to life as a nun. Oh, that explains it, then.
In case you’re wondering, Red won “Who Would I Throttle?” by a mile. On top of everything else, his Irish brogue drove me nuts.
Red’s two partners are Wylie Gresham, a smooth-talking Southern feller, and our hero, Durango de Navarre (I love his name), a hard-drinking, gun-toting desperado. Josselyn immediately suspects Durango of being the murderer, since Wylie is so nice. Durango suspects that Red is still alive, and that Red and Josselyn are in cahoots to murder him and Wylie so that Red can have the mine all to himself. He treats Josselyn as a scheming whore.
Naturally, since Josselyn and Durango suspect each other of being killers, love blossoms. Their love takes the form of several forced seduction scenes, in which Josselyn does a lot of pleading, “Don’t! No! Stop!” while Durango ignores her cries. They continue to suspect one another almost until the end of the book, but everything wraps itself up tidily in a climactic scene which implies that everyone, including the villain, will live happily ever after.
As a writer, I would use the word “verbose” to describe Brandewyne. Maybe “extremely verbose.” The first dialogue in this book occurs on page 25; everything before that is description. Characters don’t have conversations, they make speeches, while the other characters politely wait to make their speeches in turn.
You’ve heard that Brandewyne’s love scenes are full of purple prose? Forget purple prose. Oh, there are cinnabar portals and questing thorns of manhood, but Brandewyne goes way, way beyond conventional purpleness. Here is a single sentence from a love scene between Josselyn and Durango:
Where they were was a place far beyond ken, a place of legend, older than heaven and hell and the Trinity, from which he had first taken her, old as the dawn of time, dark and arcane, a place of oaken forests long with shadows and stalked by fantastical beasts, of granite megaliths and dolmens where bodies tattooed with blue-woad symbols danced in naked celebration and coupled with unbridled lust beneath a mist-ringed moon, of deep crystal pools and heavy silver goblets spilling silver water and rich red wine, of powdered herbs and carved-stone talismans, of gilded harps and melodious bardsong, of cardinal witchery and burnt offerings to appease the voracious demon-gods, while far away, the earth quaked with the hoofbeats of a thousand caparisoned steeds, shook with the wheels of a thousand winged chariots, and resounded with the march of a thousand armored men fashioned in the image of those who had made them and to whom they paid homage; and sweet was the taste of victory.
I just couldn’t give Rainbow’s End an F. Don’t get me wrong – I think it’s bad. But it’s bad in such an original way, and its plot twists are so ludicrously surprising, that I was endlessly entertained. It’s not easy to give a grade to a so-bad-it’s-good book, so take my D with a grain of salt. This book is bad; but it’s lots of fun, too.