Whirlwind Courtship, by Jayne Ann Krentz (writing as Jayne Taylor)

>> Monday, August 30, 2004

Last week I read Whirlwind Courtship, by Jayne Ann Krentz, writing as Jayne Taylor.

When Phoebe Hampton arrived quite by accident on the doorstep of Hrlan Garland's mountain cabin, he was less than pleased. Convinced that she was another marriage-minded female sent by his matchmaking aunt, Harlan would gladly have thrown her out. But Phoebe was a damsel in distress, and an attractive one at that, so against Harlan's better judgment he let her stay.

As for Phoebe, she was practically engaged to be married to someone else, and Harlan was as different from Richard as two men could be. If Phoebe hadn't needed help evading some unsavory characters who were pursuing her, she never would have agreed to spend the weekend in his hideaway. Grudging host and grudging guest would just have to put up with each other for a few days until the coast was clear. After that, they'd never see each other again - or would they?
I wanted to read one from my pile of JAK's backlist, and I specifically chose Whirlwind Courtship because I wanted a relatively recent book, one in which I wouldn't have to worry about domineering heros and only having the heroine's POV. Thanks to the kind people at LoveSpell, who decided to reissue this one with a 1993 copyright, when it was first published in 1979. , that's exactly what I ended up with. It was also such a horrible book that it deserves a D-.

I started to smell something fishy when pages kept passing with no hero POV. Then I came to a scene in which Harlan physically forced Phoebe to clean a fish, something which she didn't want to do because it turned her stomach. This reminded me unpleasantly of the scenes in those old bodice rippers in which the "heros" forced the heroines to performed unpleasant / disgusting / humiliating chores just to punish them... punish them for idiotic reasons like making them want them, or for things they obviously hadn't done. Or rather, they'd make the heroines do these things as a way of showing them who was in charge. This was exactly what this "fish" scene was like. It had a "man enforcing his mastery over rebelious woman and putting her in her (submissive) place" kind of feel.Yech!

No sooner had I finished the scene, that I was running for my computer to check on the copyright, and that's when I discovered LoveSpell's perfidy.

Well, I did keep reading (though it took me quite a few days to finish), and I wish I'd just chucked it to begin with. It was truly, truly awful. There was something good buried in all the crap, the character of Phoebe, who was a good humoured, sensible sort (the only reason I'm not giving this a big fat F), but Harlan was such a disgusting jackass, that reading this book made me suffer. He spent 90% of his time with Phoebe lecturing to her, telling her she was his and ordering her around. He told her her a woman like her, who had got spoilt by having no man managing her, needed a man strong enough to keep her in line. He threw jealous fits whenever she spoke to a man and yet, when an "evil other woman" started interfering in their relationship, he refused to make any explanations beyond the fact that he and this Cindy were over.

By the end of the book, I'd lost all my original positive feelings for Phoebe and despised her for not standing up for herself and for letting Harlan dominate her and *reveling* in his domination. Disgusting.

I was reading this in the car, on our way to Punta del Este, and I very, very nearly threw the book out the window... THAT's how much I hated it!


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