I thought I’d bring back another review, this time from 2005. I’m reasonably certain it’s Amanda Quick’s Lie By Moonlight. The original version of this had far more profanity with no title or character names. Jayne Ann Krentz / Amanda Quick / Jayne Castle / Jayne Taylor / Jayne Bentley / Stephanie James / Amanda Glass is a difficult author for me. I want to like her books. I almost never do. Her protagonists are self involved twits who stumble through life assured that they are utterly correct. They never get the sharp smack in the nose I long for. Instead they are rewarded by finding people who consider them amazing snowflakes to be emulated in every way, right down to the moralizing.
Amanda Quick’s latest (and my last) has a tiny gem of a decent story idea – a small sparkle of originality buried in an avalanche of excess. It still annoyed me to the bitter end. The dire plot unfolded, the dastardly wrong doers were uncovered, the final mustache twirled – the hero turned to the heroine to say “They went wrong when they hired you – when they hired you they got a teacher!” Then this woman, this heroine, this Teacher, picks up her Vanza symbol embroidered parasol and leads oppressed girls into sunlight. Why not? Nailing her to a cross and calling her Jesus wouldn’t fit the conventions of genre fiction. There’s no top to go over in this one. Let’s totally spoil the book for you so you never have to read it. It opens with the teacher and her four orphan students fleeing a castle they just blew up. They blew it up because there is a Nefarious Plot and they are In Fear Of Their Lives so they find a book about blowing shit up (apparently) sew some fuses and let it go. It’s okay because everyone there is Evil and Deserves It. Teacher has a plan, and no matter how balls up everything goes, anyone with a plan will be just fine. Make a plan and you can be as idiotic as you want. Evil people with plans will always fail, because evil plans are obviously not good plans. Duh.
Teacher and students then fall in with Vanza Man. Vanza is some sort of hybrid secret society spiritual organization that Quick uses as a shortcut to actual character building. The best thing you can do (besides have a plan) is mouth off as often as possible about women’s capabilities before latching on the nearest man for a free ride. If you think about it, that’s a plan too. Vanza takes her back to his place where he is delighted to learn that homosexuality doesn’t shock her. She decides that he is gay, so she can later have the “oh my!'” moment and he can chuckle at his adorable little kitten who is so, so misguided even though she is also an infallible saint. (Don’t try to connect the reality threads). Having recently foiled a Nefarious Plot run by White Slavers (so much worse than the regular kind!) she decides to totally trust Vanza Man because instincts. Great judgement. Will go far. Let’s review – she’s living in the house of some guy she doesn’t know, who admits he doesn’t own the house, taking clothes and gifts for her beautiful young orphans (all four of whom are also reality challenged) while he tries to locate the white slavers. She decides to draw up a menu of fresh fruits and vegetables she would like the cook to start serving. Bitch, it’s not your house. It’s not even his house. You aren’t paying for the food. You don’t know how you and your four almost slave teenagers will be asked to pay for the food. Yet you’re comfortable telling the cook, whom you don’t employ, how to do her job? I’m sorry, I forgot. Mary Sue is always right. Anyway, let’s skip ahead of a lot of stuff that will make my eyes bleed.
The tiny little gem of an original story is that the white slavers have not abducted the girls for your standard reasons. They are going to sell the girls into marriage because all of the girls are heiresses. How can the girls not know they are heiresses? We’ll tell you right after this attempted rape, because Men Are Bad unless they live in communes or are gay or practice Vanza. Also, our heroine (whose parents ran off from their spouses to form a free love commune) learns that if you wear a maid’s uniform someone who saw you face to face five minutes ago will not recognize you as the same person. (SCOOBY DOO THEORY!) The concept of the men locating heiress they can sell to the highest bidder requires that they first orphan the girls, then make deals with the guardians to murder the girls so the family can have all the money. After sending these girls to their “deaths” the Bad Men secretly locate appropriate buyers. Cue the girls reappearing (to the shock and consternation of their dastardly relatives) with husbands ready to claim the assets wrongfully appropriated. The Bad Men are actually Good Men in the end. Except for the dead parents.
Please ignore the giant plot holes that occur with the reaction these nefarious heirs will then have, the fact that none of the girls realize they are heiresses, or any other massive loose ends. If the Bad Guys didn’t eat meat and lived in communes, then they would have had a better plan, wouldn’t they? I don’t know why this doesn’t make more sense. I don’t know why this is so convoluted. Of course, just when All Is Solved one of the girls decides to do something massively boneheaded. Our Teacher narrowly escapes death only through her own quick reflexes and dumb luck (in a bit of unintended irony, I’m sure). Vanza Man saves the day. We discover that the entire plot was devised by a woman. (Whaaaaat?) Because women are smart and have the best plans. (I can’t go on). Everyone embraces Vanza and the world continues to turn.
Note from 2014 – it took me years to read another Jayne Ann Krentz book. I’ve got a few people have given me stacked up in the Closet Of Shame (aka the Gift TBR) but I never crack the covers. Krentz frequently catches my interest through publicity or social media, yet I find her heroines intolerable. If I’m wrong about which book this was let me know but I’m fairly certain I’ve correctly matched the review and the title. I’ll give it a D because I finished it, remembered it, and didn’t light it on fire.
Final Assessment: Convoluted plotting makes this a mistorical I’d miss. D.
Source: 2005 review reprint, origin uncertain, ask again later.