“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

“Seducing an Angel”, by Mary Balogh

Part of my problem with doing these is that I rarely manage to remember names very well. Honestly, in my head I’m thinking “that dude” and “hot chick”, more or less.

So! Seducing an angel: Is it fun? Does god smite thee? What do you do with the wings?

Okay so there’s no literal angel in the book, more’s the pity. I guess I could just find some Castiel slash-fic to fill that void.

….

Sorry kind of drifted away there for a minute (How is he so hot? I don’t know. It even overcomes his perma-chapped lips.).

Ummmmmmm so more historical romancin’. Cassandra sets out for London towing a servant with an illegitimate child, a dog with one eye and three legs (or two eyes and three legs and 1.5 ears, something like that), and a former governess. They’re all just hanging around because they ❤ Cassandra, even though she has no money.

Why does she have no money? She is an AXE MURDERER! The gossip is that she murdered her husband. Ooooo scandalous. She’s decided that she’s going to get a rich dude on the hook as his mistress for a while, til she has enough money to pack them all up again and have a nice quiet life in the country.

That’s where ~the angel~ comes in — the Earl of Merkin Merton. Perfect curly blond blue-eyed perfection, natch. Oh, and Cassandra is red-headed curvy perfection. You’d think that for escapist fantasy, it’d be more fun having not-spectacular women get it on with conventionally hot dudes. As a not-spectacular woman, *I* usually fantasize more about being desired first for my SPARKLING PERSONALITY DAMMIT along with my short lumpy body.

But oh well. Beautiful people: it’s too fictional without them.

So Cassandra gloms on to Stephen The Angelic Earl as her pick and seduces him at a party she crashes. Interesting choice here: he does her in about 5 minutes and falls asleep. That’s a novel way to go for a romance, jeez.

When he wakes up, she’s like OKAY NAO PAY ME and he’s like WAT U PRO?

She’s not super happy to be his mistress because self-respect, but dammit she’ll take one for the rag-tag team. And he’s like AWWW PITIFUL and gives her money. He’s also like, dag, yo — I’m not doing you unless you actually want to be there. But she’s weird and stubborn and DAMMIT YOU WILL FUCK ME AND LIKE IT.

He does have sex with her one more time, thinking to himself that he will try to suck less at it: which leads to THE WORST thing ever, which is about 5 repetitions of Cassandra feeling the “pain that is not pain”. No seriously. SERIOUSLY. Ughhhhhhhhhhhq38odhs8Yeroh&#85Y

Again, stubborn, so she refuses to orgasm just through sheer willpower. Haha what kind of romance is this? They’re supposed to be WILDLY ON FIRE for each other, leading them to reconsider their mercenary relationship!

Instead, they just falls in loves with each other because love. Well, he is a perfect angel, the perfectest perfection that ever perfected. So that is reasonable.

I kind of enjoy the historical fiction that uses thoroughly modern characters in an ostensibly historical setting. I love me Ms. Austen, and I think her dudes are pretty decent folk — but they are genuinely 19th century people and as such their concerns are not so much my concerns (BUT LYDIA). All that to say, Stephen is a pretty feminist guy. He is unrelentingly nice, and is super concerned that Cassandra be independent and self-sufficient so she doesn’t have to marry him if she doesn’t want to. He’ll even be happy for her if she does leave for the country. Awwwwwwww.

But, love. So mostly the plot ends up being I LOVE HIM BUT I CAN’T MARRY HIM and I LOVE HER SO I WANT TO MARRY HER. There’s legit no reason she can’t marry him! She explicitly says that to herself in the book.

I kind of want to write one where there is never at any point any reason why the protagonists can’t get together, and where they are in lurve and want to be together, but they just won’t get together. But then I clearly have an odd sense of humour.

I forgot, in regards to Stephen: He spends a lot of the book hoping for a woman who will love him for him….not just his astonishing good looks and moneybags. This is annoying. I totally have sympathy for pretty people; I know it brings its own problems, being hot (or so I can imagine). I do get it!

…But the rest of us living under bridges still don’t really want to hear it. Awww you’re just too hot and rich! WOE. Sure, life is great for us fugly lumpy poor people. Whatever dude. Just get someone to smash you in the face with a shovel or set your head on fire. That’ll weed out the superficial chicks.

Where was I? Oh, I guess the only semi-legit reason for Cassandra to not want to marry Stephen The Hottest Earl is that she feels bad about how it all started. Fair enough! It makes for an unusual how-we-met story. But once the two of you are totes in love and not even having MIND FOGGING SEXXORS, you know…just get over it already.

Despite thinking she’s barren after her abusive dead husband, she ends up knocked up from the first couple of times of ~seduction~, so you know, she I guess gives up and marries him. Her former governess and the servant are both married off happily too, because sure. Oh yes, and we find out that Evil Drunken Husband actually shot himself, not his son (Who knocked up the servant and then married the servant, making Evil Drunken Husband NOT HAPPY. Cassandra didn’t believe former governess that that’s what happened and thought she was protecting Not Evil Son.).

So, married. Then after a brief mention of his HOT HOT ANGEL MARBLE BODY we fade to black on their wedding night, although we hear that now that they’re in lurve it is TEH AWESOMEST. What a fun, sexy time for you.

That was a pretty big rip-off. The only sex in the book is paid sex that isn’t very good? So weird.

Grade: P for boy it’s hard being pretty

(Now one of the books I’m waiting on from the library includes the phrase “immortal Carpathian hunter”. I have high hopes for that one.)