25 August, 2011
Review: The Many Sins of Lord Cameron by Jennifer Ashley
I waited a few weeks to review The Many Sins of Lord Cameron because explaining my negative feelings about it requires spoiling some key plot elements. I should probably wait a bit longer (fans of the book will suggest forever) but I'm going to take the plunge. I'll tell you when we get to the spoilery bits. River Song is really... (no, I'm just kidding).
Right, so Dr. Who references aside, here is what I loved about The Many Sins of Lord Cameron. In Ainsley we have a very original heroine. She's doing the whole friend of the Queen thing, but she's doing it for money instead of love. Ainsley is the widow of a much older husband whom she both respected and slept with (is that a spoiler or just a shocker?) and now she runs sensitive errands for Queen Victoria. Ainsley is interesting. She's also a bit inconsistently drawn, but only a bit. If the whole book hung on my feelings about Ainsley we'd be sitting pretty right now. Cameron carries over well from his previous appearances. He's still treating women like Kleenex while haphazardly single parenting an overly precocious son. (Bonus points for the way said son tries to parent his father. That rings true and shows he's got some tightly packed baggage of his own.) So, consistent Cameron and appealing Ainsley should make a perfect evening, right? Here comes the plot revealing part of this. Meaning now. Duly warned!
It's Scottish Romance meets Telenovela. Cameron's dead wife wasn't just crazy. She was maniacal played by Jack Nicholson we'll sell you the whole seat but you only need the edge crazy. Cameron in an abusive relationship? Sure. His wife being manic, or bipolar, or suffering from postpartum depression? I'm right there with you. A completely unhinged sexually voracious suicidal murderess who sodomizes him with a poker? Um, make up your mind? Cameron is afraid to sleep with women because his wife repeatedly attacked him despite his attempts to confine her or protect himself. It's the repeatedly that gets you. Sure, she shoved a poker up my ass, maybe even a few times, but that's no reason to lock her up away from the kid and me, is it? Sure, she's crazy as all hell and sleeps around when she's not lying to my face, but I have to keep her close just in case she's having my kid! My crazy dad was still alive, so my options were limited! It's a bit much to ask of the reader. Yes, there are people that crazy and there are people that live with them, but I wasn't willing to believe it of this group.
Adding to that, you've got what borders on a bad case of Magical Romney. Why can't people just have met? Why does someone have to have saved someone's life? Why does one side of the equation have to be servile (yet appropriately disrespectful) to the other? Then you've got the mustache twirling bad guy who lives only for profit, unless that profit is made from a a Scottish purse, in which case he'd rather try to... I couldn't even follow it. There's this horse, right? And this crazy dude wants to race it so he bullies Cameron into training it. Horse doesn't win, guy ramps up the bullying, but Cameron is just training the horse because he likes it. Guy won't sell the horse because Cameron is Scottish. Guy wants the horse to win so he can sell it. Cameron says name your price and the guy refuses because, again, no doing business with a Scotsman that you're already doing business with. Guy isn't just mean to horses and a bad businessman, he's a bigot! Because no one in this book ever says "Eh, WTF, let's find something else to worry about." No, they have Epic And Unsolveable Problems. Of course, it's Ainsley who makes the shocking realization that someone else could buy the horse. Someone who (wait for it) isn't Scottish! You can see why the Queen trusts her to deal with blackmailers and stuff.
Victoria is her own issue. Depending on the needs of the plot Ainsley is either entirely at her beck and call or able to freely leave her side. When the queen is utterly displeased with Ainsley and sends her away, Ainsley responds by making physical contact with the queen and speaking freely. You know, as you do with a boss you just totally pissed off. You give them a smooch and a few words of advice while they're firing your ass. (I don't think Ainsley is going to be eligible for rehire). I didn't hate The Many Sins of Lord Cameron, but I struggled to finish it. The flaws were not enough to put me off the series. I'll be back for the next chapter. I hope it's a bit calmer than this one. I'm an old(ish) woman. I can only take so much drama without a nice lie-down.