The Scent of Jasmine
By the hundredth page, I was cursing myself. Why oh why oh why did I ask for this book? Because it’s an American book set in 1799, that’s why, and they’re pretty rare on the ground. And because it’s Jude Deveraux, the author who wrote one of the biggest and most successful tearjerkers of all time, A Knight in Shining Armor. I had to see what she was up to.
The answer, apparently, is the Edilean multi-generational series. The good news is that you don’t need to read the others to understand this one. The bad news is that after reading this one, I’m not going near this series, and probably the rest of Ms. Deveraux’s books, with a ten-foot-pole.
Alex McDowell is on the run. Three weeks ago he was a happy man, looking forward to a lifetime of horse-breeding and marriage to the most beautiful woman on earth. The next day, his bride was found in their marriage bed with her throat slit, and Alex accused of murder. Luckily for him, his friend T.C. Connor is there to help.
Actually, T.C. can’t help him, because T.C. stupidly broke his leg, and therefore can’t ride to the meeting place where he’s supposed to pay off some men, and give his horse to Alex. So T.C. gets his goddaughter Cay to go in his place, resplendent ball gown and all.
Cay goes – of course. Matters go awry – naturally. And she and Alex end up running down the east coast, with her getting smelly (but looking lovely) in her ball gown, and Alex just getting smellier.
How shall I describe the first half? A chore? A Herculean labor? How about an uphill Sisyphean hurdle that I finally overcame six months later after nearly giving myself a hernia? See, the premise sounds interesting. And additionally, when I tell you that Cay and Alex are sensible and practical, you might think, “Ooh, goody, a break from action-packed nonsense!” But it’s so frickin’ slow. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything so arduous in my life, advanced organic chemistry included (and I failed that). Apart, Alex and Cay are pattern cards of perfection. Together, their repressed attraction is as potent as a sea cucumber eying a speck of algae – no offense to sea cucumbers.
Somehow, after re-starting the book three or four times, I reached the midway point, when Alex and Cay reach Florida, join a wildlife expedition, and where Cay signs on as the expedition artist (who was supposed to be T.C.). Um, okay. I won’t complain, because I managed to finish the bloody thing. There are even some humorous scenes, one at a boardinghouse involving hormonal teenagers, and others during the expedition. But mostly it was Alex and Cay finally having sex, which was about as sizzling as earwax, and Alex finally shaving off his beard, which was more interesting than the earwax – sorry, the sex.
I plowed through to the end, wherein Alex’s wife’s murder is resolved in desultory fashion, Cay’s family acts very reasonably, Alex acts nobly, and Cay bears up with the stiffest of upper lips, all before the happy ending. Jolly good show!
The Scent of Jasmine was everything politically correct and fictionally lifeless. Jolly good riddance.