The Lover's Knot
I go into each book I read with high hopes. I know every book can’t be perfect and I don’t expect perfection, but I do have standards: a good plot and characters I can like. Unfortunately The Lover’s Knot met neither standard.
It starts off with our heroine, Mariah, wishing her lover would hurry up and climax so she can go home. The story goes downhill from there. How bad can it get? Let me count the ways…
1. The Horny Ghost. Mariah walks into her room at a Yorkshire inn and finds a man in 18th century garb who insists she’s his lover, Bess. He beds her within the hour – no wasting time with things like names and introductions. They share three passionate nights, then Mariah sees a man dressed similarly in the courtyard and walks up and kisses him, only to find he’s someone else. Charles Edward, a scholar, explains to Mariah she’s been boffing the 200-year-old ghost of highwayman Andrew Domine. Following tradition, he says that Mariah will relive Bess’s futile suicide to save Domine, only to wake in the morning to watch his murder. So Mariah decides to sleep with Charles to drive Domine’s ghost away. Domine interrupts them, cuts Mariah with his sword, and curses her to a life without love. Domine later tells Charles that he knew all along Mariah wasn’t Bess. It’s a game he plays to get women into bed with him. Being dead gets lonely.
Poor Mariah, spoiled by a ghost for all other men, decides to settle in London rather than go back to her lover in New York.
2. The So-Called Hero. Andrew Domine Clare is the six-times-great-grandson of the ghost, as well as a connoisseur of hookers and whiskey. He has been a regular at the best brothels in the world ever since his mother had the upstairs maid deflower him at 15 and teach him sexual ethics: always wear a condom. He was engaged once to Juliet, an evil black-haired two-timing pretend-virgin wench from hell, and that made him despise all women with black hair because they must be evil too. Did I mention Mariah has black hair?
3. The Lovers Meet. Mariah is mourning her ghostly lover in London when a friend decides that she’d be perfect for another friend’s brother. So Mariah is packed off to weekend party at a manor in Dartmoor. There, Clare and a shady business associate, Victor, make a bet: the first man to bed Mariah that weekend wins a hundred quid. Clare is interested enough in her curvy body to ignore his “no women with black hair” rule. Mariah walks over to mingle and Victor tells her about the bet. Mariah counters with a bet of her own – they’ll have to write checks to her favorite charity if neither beds her. Victor gets ticked and Clare worries he’ll have to spend the weekend keeping Victor from raping Mariah just to win the wager.
4. The Romantic Consummation. Day two of the party and Clare is trying to escape the grasp of a marriage-minded-mama who sent her daughter to his bed. Clare drags Mariah upstairs with him as a witness that he didn’t deflower the girl. After he runs the scared child off he invites Mariah in and she sees the portrait of his ancestor on the mantle above the fireplace. She crawls up on the mantle and tells the portrait how much she loves him and misses him. Clare notices her skirt is on fire and yanks her down, causing her to hit her head on the floor. Dazed, Mariah confuses Clare for his ancestor Domine and begs for sex. Clare obliges, despite the fact Mariah’s head wound is bleeding, she has a concussion, and he thinks she’s out of her mind. But sex is sex, right?
5. The Baby. When you have women bleeding and begging for sex, who can remember a little thing like a condom? Mariah immediately gets pregnant. Clare, who celebrated sex with Mariah by having a four-day bender with two hookers in London, thinks she’s trying to trap him in marriage and demands a paternity test. Mariah thinks he’s a pig – she didn’t remember having sex until she turned up pregnant. After much fighting they confirm the baby is his. She goes to his house to yell at him some more and miscarries. Both feel guilty. Mariah tries to starve herself to death and Clare stops seeing hookers (this is a sign of his bereavement). Eventually they speak to each other and tell each other it’s not the other’s fault and agree to be friends.
7. The Revenge. Someone tries to get Clare to go to China, where he’ll be arrested as a British spy and thrown in prison for life. Mariah gets wind of this nefarious plot and stops him from going. Clare is grateful. Soon after, someone tries to murder Mariah and frame Clare. She knows he is innocent, but agrees to keep it secret so the real villain will think his plan is working. She goes into hiding in the north, where she finds out that she is Bess’s descendant and that Bess isn’t buried where Domine’s ghost is hanging around. Then she is attacked by another ghost of the man who died in Domine’s place, Pally. Domine visits Mariah and apologizes for his curse. She decides to go back to Clare.
8. The Happy Ending. Mariah declares her love for Clare. He promises to never sleep with a hooker again. She also tells him that they’re paying for the mess started by Domine, Bess, and Pally, so they need to bring Bess’s body to be buried next to Domine for everyone to have peace. Then Pally’s descendent shows to up to get revenge on them both. But good triumphs. Also the ghosts of Bess and Domine are reunited and go on to have sex in every bedroom of the manor house. No, I’m not kidding: it’s in the book.
So there you have it. A heroine who will sleep with anyone on moment’s notice; a hero who has sex with her when she’s injured and incoherent; a ghost who is amazingly corporeal; and a villain whose only real reason for being mean is that his ancestor was mean.
To call The Lover’s Knot disappointing would be an understatement. There are too many wonderful books out there waiting to be read to waste your time on this mess.