“Two Wrongs Make a Marriage”, by Christine Merrill

Again, this was not the worst thing I’ve ever read. Which is saying something about my reading habits, but anyway.

I’m starting to notice commonalities in a lot of these books already. First of all, I can understand how a finely-crafted plot is less likely to happen when you’re churning out a million ostensibly different romances — but still “contrived and weirdly ridiculous” is clearly how most of this is going to roll.

I’m still rather confused about the plot, honestly! Actually, only in one spot, and only at the very beginning. Let me elaborate!

First of all, I suspect this was set at the turn of the 19th century, though it never is very clear about that at all, other than a reference to powdering hair 20 years back, which — nerd alert — made my guess a plausible one. And I gotta say, if you can actually get across a time period without any “what the what??” from me: kudos. Kudos to you, Christine Merrill. No, it’s not perfectly Austen, but I didn’t really have any moments of side-eye.

Anyhoo! Jack is an actor who is faking being a big society guy named Renton Spayne, the Earl of Sandwich* or whatever. He’s aiming to trick a rich society lady into marrying him for money, as you do.

So he picks Cynthia, who is a society lady, and he’s going to kidnap her or whatever so she has to marry him. Because respectability.

TWIST! Cynthia pulls a gun on him and tells HIM that he has to marry HER! Because HE’S a big society guy with money, she figures! He’s like, what? Okay sure. So they get married and whoops she doesn’t have money and whoops he doesn’t have money and he’s an ~actor~!

That was the bit where I was (and am) super confused. I still fail to see how pulling a gun on a dude is going to successfully coerce him into marrying anybody. What was the thinking behind this intrigue, Cynthia? Like, you can’t really make good on a threat to shoot him, I’m pretty sure.  It’s not going to get you anywhere.

These plots are always oddly complex in a really stupid way. So it’s like this: Henry de Warde is a big society ass-weasel, and has been siphoning off the money of his elder brother Spayne the elder (What the fuck is his first name?? No idea). Spayne had an heir to the family whatever, but the kid (and his wife) died off in Italy or somesuch. He never told anyone, and just pretended Renton was still alive, just gallivanting around India and stuff for 30 years. But he really needs there to be a Renton, so ass-weasel doesn’t manage to win. That’s where Jack comes in: to act as grown-up Renton, get married to rich lady, pop out another heir, then “die at sea”. Are you bored yet? I kind of am. Sorry.

Meanwhile, ass-weasel snookered Cynthia’s father out of all their money, by selling him an “idol” that would get her mom knocked up with a male heir.

Hmm, today most difficulties can be removed by JESUS JUST MARRY BOTH DUDES, whereas in the past most difficulties can be removed by JESUS WOMEN ARE PEOPLE TOO.

Jack figures out a new plan to swindle money back from the ass-weasel, which is pretty involved and includes the idol and the family jewels. I do like a good outwitting. This is one reason why I’m not totally in love with Sherlock — I don’t really feel like he’s two steps ahead of people the way he is in the stories. It’s no fun if it’s all reacting and not acting! We may also have watched the episode of Arrested Development where Michael and GOB teach George not to orchestrate boyfights, and Buster teaches everyone not to use disabled people as teaching aids. Anyway.

The main problem I’ve been finding with romances so far is the “but I must be randomly an asshole — BUT REALLY I’M SUPER” thing that apparently guys need to be. It seems like it’s used more as a shitty way of creating tension and dragging things out. How do you win with this characterization? Either you say he’s actually a good guy, in which case *I* say JESUSFUCK STOP IT LET’S MOVE ON WITH OUR LIVES or he’s just an asshole but somehow sexy (like the Texan Wedding guy) in which case I say DON’T FUCK THAT LADY! DUDE!

Lord Spayne is like “Hey you two I totally am cool with Jack being Renton forever, why not, I am gay” (though Jack may be his son, blah blah blah) but Jack leaves anyway, because????

Then he’s all, aw dag yo, I guess I should come back from the dead. And he does, and they lurve each other forever, after getting for real married (though if he’s going to be Renton, why that matters I don’t know).

I just noticed there’s basically nothing about Cynthia in this, because who cares. She’s okay I guess. She does come incredibly easily, and possibly about a million times each time they do it, which is vaguely annoying. It seems less fun if you don’t have to put any work into sex, maybe? Is that a weird thought? Probably.

Well, hopefully the next book will be more interestingly stupid. It’s entitled “Seducing an Angel”, so fingers crossed.

 

 

*Not actually the Earl of Sandwich.

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About Maggie
The gourmand metamorphoses into the voluptuary!

One Response to “Two Wrongs Make a Marriage”, by Christine Merrill

  1. Sarah says:

    So you’re saying that I shouldn’t pull a gun to get a dude to marry me? But then how do you trick them?

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