“Wooing the Schoolmarm”, Dorothy Clark

Ah ha you guys! Fuckin’ technology, man!

I have a new smartphone, an actually smart phone. I have downloaded WordPress and now I can READ AND TYPE AT THE SAME TIME! This is epic,  dudes. This will make it so much easier to put my thoughts down as I think them.

Or “mentally scream” them, as the case may be.

“Schoolmarm” is about a beautiful, you guessed it, schoolmarm who was ditched by her fiance a couple of days before the wedding. The eligible new pastor has arrived, hijinks ensue etc etc.

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I’m not spoiling the title in the title because it’s too funny

Yes, I was supposed to get to this ages ago. I read it some time ago, and was entirely amused (and horrified), but kept avoiding getting down to this.

Anyhoo. Yes. I do judge books by their covers.

Image

Just take a look at this magnificence. What words can I even use to convey everything that this cover is? We have a dude lounging against a log cabin with his shirt open. We have a fuzzy vaguely-historically-dressed woman photoshopped on top of our Christian Heartthrob, aaaaaaaaaaaand we have a baby photoshopped on top of that, floating along the bottom. In. A. Halloween. Costume. An “Indian” costume.

You know I had to put that in quotes, because I cannot quite bring myself to put the correct terms anywhere near this. Indigenous people do not deserve this . DO NOT WEAR THESE COSTUMES. DO NOT PUT THEM ON YOUR CHILDREN. DO NOT PUT THEM ON YOUR PETS. DO NOT PUT THEM ON BOOK COVERS. DO NOT PUT THEM ON A BOAT WITH A GOAT OR ON A MOUSE IN YOUR HOUSE.

Okay, now that I’ve covered the cover, let’s move on to the actual insides. “A Baby & Onion Fields Along the Oregon Trail” are two short Christian historical romance stories. I guess technically the first one is entitled “Moses Diamond: Baby Left Along The Oregon Trail & Rescued By Christian Pioneers.”

Yes, very catchy. For something that cost me a dollar and comprises a total of about 40 pages, this is going to be a long post, isn’t it? (Yes it is).

Because the first sentence is: “Morning Breeze, or Mary, as she now preferred to be called, little by little dragged herself painfully on one arm and leg over to the deep ruts that marked the Oregon Trail.” She has russet skin, FYI.

And she has a baby! A baby that she abandons to nice white people, because her family will kill both of them. So she tosses the baby at the trail (not really) when she hears wagons a-comin’, then lies back and dies.

Enter BETSY, a sad chick who has been orphaned by an epidemic that took her whole family. WHY GOD WHY. Betsy would like to know.

Also enter MATT DIAMOND, a good Christian dude who thinks Betsey should shut the fuck up and deal, because he would like to marry her (because she has a sturdy body, which will be useful in Oregon) BUT NOT IF SHE’S ALL WHINY AND SELF-ABSORBED. Listen up, ladies. There will be no catching of the men if you don’t keep sweet. Matt’s mom’s dead too, but you don’t see him bitching about it. Oh no, he just takes care of his 4 siblings and father too, dammit. LIKE A BOSS MAN.

Also also, there is Ma and Pa Smith, who got everyone on the road/dirt track to Oregon.

So Matt finds the baby. It appears to be a redskin baby. Yes, really.

Sidebar: Historical accuracy in general is a good thing. I don’t think we need to whitewash (so to speak) history so white people can avoid knowing a little bit of how entrenched racism has been in the past, and how it still appears today and still affects us now. I think most of us could really use a lot more info on that stuff! HOWEVER. I think perhaps we can skip the realism in a historical romance, mmkay? Casual slurs in a little romance book just kinda makes you look racist now. Please stop it.

Matt picks up The Baby and chucks it at Betsy. And lo and behold, she just needed a baby to fix her. Now they need to figure out a way to feed The Baby. Ma suggests Betsy try breastfeeding in the hopes that it’ll start up milk production: “But my breasts are tiny with hardly any nipples to speak of for the baby to suckle on! It’s impossible!” “Nothing is impossible for God, Betsy.”

No really. The quotes mean I am legit quoting this thing.

Ma and Betsy go off to smear molasses on her nipples. Betsy finds that a baby sucking on them feels nice.

No really.

They get to Fort Laramie for a few days and Chigger and Big Jaw decide that they are going to rape Betsy. They discuss who gets the first turn with her. I’m just going to leave it at that, because I cannot even. They talk about her boobies.

Meanwhile, Matt’s been mansplaining the bible and god to Betsy. “When they touched, as they inevitably did when they worked over Moses together [yes of course they named the baby Moses], she was aware of feelings not unlike those she had when nursing Moses.”

Earthy.

So one night they’re all woken up by a commotion. An Injun person and the rapists oh noes something something. Pa goes to shoot the Injun (Vanessa Carvo go fuck yourself, BTW), but Ma says he was trying to help!

“I know your name. It is Matt. My name is John, though I was born ‘Running Deer.’ Many days ago, you found a baby beside the trail. I know because I watch but you not see me. That baby my sister’s son. I his uncle.” Thank Cthulhu she doesn’t use “many moons”, christ.

He lets them know that hey, it’s all cool. Morning Breeze/Mary’s family just tried to kill her, her husband, and The Baby because they became Christian. And Running Deer/John just wanted to check and see that The Baby would be okay with Betsy, plus overheard Evil Rapists plotting and stopped them to protect the palefaces. Yes, she does use that one. Yes she does.

“When we started out, I thought we might be killed by redskins. It never crossed my mind we’d owe our lives to one.” Well. Golly.

Then Matt and Betsy get married. The end. Thanks for the mammaries, Vanessa Carvo.

Oh yes, there is a second story in this, “The Onion Fields of God.” Some dude really hates onions, and has to go to Oregon to his uncle’s onion farm. Certainly it has going for it that it has a lot less racism by default. He complains about onions allllll the way through. I think that’s really all you need to know.

Grade: R for whee, racism

Twice Promised, by Maggie Brendan

Twice Promised is set in Colorado, 1888. Cora and Greta travel to Central City to be mail-order brides. Turns out it was actually the brother who wrote to them and got them both to come on false pretenses! Classy!

Eventually the brothers decide to each pick a chick based on the pattern on a cup of tea. OH NO turns out everyone loves the wrong person! Hijinks ensue! Also there is a robber-turned-good-boy (thanks, Christianity!), a sassy grandma, and a dog.

Anyhoo, I’d just finished reading Mansfield Park before reading this, so the comparison was really interesting! In comparison, Christians today seem super insecure and do a lot of insipid talking about how god is totally great and something something bible whatever Corinthians wazza wazza wazza.

Fanny Price is not going around talking about the bible and God’s Plan For Her, even though she IS a total drip and religious. Austen’s ladies have better things to do than spout Christian buzzwords and saccharine crud about how the Lord Is Good. They show instead of tell, you. Whereas, for example — Cora also left her family because of her religion. They’re like “Hey, daughter! Stop doing nice things! Christianity is DUMB, DUMBO!” Sounds likely! Not cartoonish at all!

Also I forgot — Greta was engaged to the 3rd brother, but nobody realized it for some time. Fiance’s dying words were to tell her to marry his brother. Sure! Cool!

Basically the whole driving force of the story is that everyone loves the person they weren’t Officially Courting, and no one wanted to say anything. Okay! Makes sense!

It does fade out on their wedding night, which seems cheap, but I’m sure it was Beautiful And Meaningful. Still, wasn’t that bad, which is more than I can say for some things I’ve read.

In conclusion, this book was not very exciting, but they do all kiss and feel funny in their pants, so I guess that’s something. It’s not like they’re fuckin’ in Austen (aside from Maria or Kitty, of course, but we can’t speak of them in polite society). This book is far less into propriety, actually. Pretty much the Christian bits seemed utterly unnecessary to anything in the book other than letting you feel good about yourself and believe you’re reading something that’s somehow godly instead of just some generic romance (with NO RAPE! I’ll give it that!).

Rating: 1 solid meh, but thanks for the lack of assault, Maggie Brendan!