Philip Hawksbury, the Earl of Rothermere, obeying his father’s dying wish, hies himself to Scotland to offer for one of the daughters of Alexander Kilbracken, the Earl of Ruthven.
Frances Kilbracken, informed of the earl’s arrival and his mission, disguises herself as a bespectacled dowd so she won’t be the one selected by the young earl. But choose her he does, and for all the wrong reasons.
The newly married couple return to England, together but not at all happy. Philip dumps Frances at Desborough Hall, his ancestral estate, and heads back to his old life in London. Ah, but Desborough has a stud farm and racing stable, and Frances is magic with horses.
When the earl returns to his home, driven by guilt, he discovers the woman he married has grossly deceived him. What follows is a battle of the sexes that will have you chuckling, maybe even howling with laughter…
This is probably the worst romance novel I ever read. Or at least the most memorably bad one. It was originally published in 1981 which explains some of this horribleness since the book is full of the things that the 70’s and 80’s era of romance novels are full of-women being subjected to horrible abuse and alpha douche heros.
I really don’t like calling them heros. In fact, I’m going to be referring to the so called hero (Phillip) as a rapist because that is fucking what he is. A fucking rapist and abuser.
While I discuss what’s wrong with this book-fucking everything-I am going to occasionally mention some changes that should’ve been made to it.
Before I do that though, I’ll talk about how I originally found this turd of a book. It was in my mom’s stash of goodies. It’s funny that my mom actually bought this sort of shit. She’s a tough cookie and has always been one to tell me to tell a misogynist idiot to fuck off. And trust me, there are a lot of misogynist jerks out there, one is even running for president. Anyway, to get back on topic this book is a lot of misogyny and then some. I haven’t talked to her about it, because when I first read it I wasn’t supposed to be reading it being her impressionable teenage daughter. Now, I doubt she’d even realize what book I was referring to since her reading these days tends to focus on gardening books and books about Pembroke Welsh Corgis.
Problem 1: Frances
I felt sympathy for the main character throughout the book but that doesn’t mean I like her. For one thing her plan dressing like a complete frump is completely stupid and sort of pointless, especially since she is playing Peeping Tom on her husband. And as fearless and tenacious as this MC is described, it shocks me that she did not even attempt to fight back or runaway.
You know what I would’ve liked well I’m going to tell you I wanted Coulter to fucking write that Frances leaves the Rapist. Why can’t there be one of these fucking books where the heroine leaves an abusive relationship? Is it too much to ask? Again, I know this book is in the 80’s, but still. Frances didn’t deserve to be with the Rapist even though she was completely stupid and sort of creepy herself.
Problem 2: The Rapist
I could just repeat that phrase and it would not be near enough times how many times I wanted to tell the Rapist (Phillip/Hawk) this. Frances is plain creepy, but Phillip is just disgusting and needs to be castrated.
He feels like he has every right to have sex with Frances anytime he wants. He doesn’t give a crap what she feels. He justifies the fact that he is forcing her to have sex with him because he uses cream so that it won’t be too rough on her-spoiler alert, we’re subjected to one scene where he forgets to use said cream and the results end up being disgustingly graphic.
Long story short, cream or no cream-and I feel mildly disgusting saying that-rape is rape. It’s sad when the only remotely decent love scene is with his fucking mistress.
Yes, he has a fucking mistress AFTER he married the heroine and she gives him love advice.
Oh, fuck me.
See anytime I start talking about this fucking rapist, my vocabulary converts into Gordon Ramsay vocabulary since the only word I want to say is FUCK after reading this drivel.
If I was Coulter I would’ve killed the Rapist off when he was having sex with his mistress perhaps he gets shot by the mistress herself or maybe by one of her lovers, or I’d have Frances’s father wake up to what sort of scum he sold his daughter off too for all that money and realizes-hey, I fucked up. Someone though need to shut that mother fucking rapist up.
Again, fuck this guy. Coulter, you can do better.
Problem 3: The Plot
It was just fucking stupid.
So, Frances disguises herself as a frump so that the Rapist will ignore her. Obviously, it doesn’t work but their not married right then and there. Why doesn’t she show her real self there? Would’ve taken care of the fucking problem. Or run the fuck away.
Again, this character has no fucking sense of self preservation. This problem stays throughout the rest of the novel where Frances had opportunities to get away from the rapist and doesn’t do anything. Yes, she ditches the frump look but she sits there waiting for the Rapist to come back rather than stealing one of his horses and running off. Again, this could’ve been great if she would’ve escaped and found a non-jerky guy and then wanted to marry him but couldn’t because of the Rapist.
And the whole thing why they get married….because of the Rapist’s near dead daddy who ends up being the picture of health and faking the whole thing to get the Rapist married.
I get that medicine was sort of piss poor back then, but surely you’d realize that someone who is the picture of health isn’t exactly on his death bed.
And the fact that the marquess acts like he pulled a prank on his rapist’s son and that he should be happy that he married a girl he didn’t even wants makes the book even more painful to read.
By the way, the book is pitched as a comedy. It’s not. Honestly, I only think sadists share Coulter’s humor but I’m digressing…
Back to the plot, so we have two idiots who didn’t want to get married-one who should’ve had some sense of self preservation and the other who should’ve gotten shot, hang, quartered, or something awful should’ve happened to him are sort of thrown together. The Rapist leaves for a bit, but like I said got some advice from his mistress and decides that maybe if he takes all of Frances’s clothes off when he
rapes puts cream (and no, I’m not going to make a joke about the cream, but let’s just say I got some nasty imagery my head) and promptly forces breeds with her (and yes, the word breed is used frequently) she’ll look hot.
But Gosh darn it, she looks hot with clothes on since she ditched those nasty glasses and ugly cap and gown. Oh, yeah, and now she apparently has a rack on her that he didn’t notice.
He of courses gets mad that she kept her so called hotness from him and promptly rapes her again, but somehow Frances is eventually turned on by all this crap and there’s some weird shit with the horses where the audience has to painfully read about and then I think there’s a random bad guy at the end.
Honestly, by the fourth or fifth rape, I just started to tune out when I reread the thing so that I could write about the worst romance novel I ever read I only made it to the 60% mark before all the weird horse sex started.
It’s not a very well put together book, folks.
Overall Rating: Fucking F. Thank God, rapists heroes aren’t an in thing anymore. And God knows they never fucking should’ve been. This book is disgusting. One day I am going to have an honest discussion with my mom about this. I hope she was as disgusted with it as I was. I know that a lot of people-myself included-like reading Coulter occasionally for camp but this title and some of her older titles make my skin crawl.