A Thousand Roses, by Bethany Campbell

>> Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I quite liked the first Bethany Campbell book I read, Child's Play, so I went out looking for more. A Thousand Roses was the one I chose to read next, even though it wasn't a mystery romance, as Child's Play was.

'When the going gets tough--get tougher!' That's what Perdita Nordstrand had learned growing up on the wrestling circuit with celebrities like Ravishing Ricky and Hugo the Horrible. So she wasn't about to be intimidated by a miserly Scrooge from Boston who was trying to claim her New Hampshire home at Christmas.

But when she came face-to-face with the tall, darkly handsome Ebenezer Squires, she actually felt frightened. Not because he came from a world of power and breeding so distant from hers.

It was the strange tantalizing force drawing them together that unnerved her..."
Since people seemed to like my review of Kiss of the Highlander, I'll use the same format here. So follow me along, as I read about Perdita and Ben!

page 24 - The situation has been set up, and it sounds intriguing. It's almost Christmas, and the sale of Perdita's house, which seemed like a done deal, has been delayed, since there is a little problem with the titles and her purchaser won't budge until that's solved. She's already sent on most of her belongings to Cloverdale, Indiana, which is where she plans to open an fabric shop and settle down, but now she hasn't got the money from the sale of the house, so she can't buy, which means she's stuck in New Hampshire for the moment.

To make matters worse, the buyer had wanted to be in the house by Christmas, come hell or high water, so they'd signed a rent deal, contingent on the purchase. Since the purchase hasn't really fallen through yet, the rent deal is still on. So Ebenezer Squires moves in, and since Perdita has nowhere to go, she doesn't move out.

I'm liking Perdita very much. Her background certainly feels unique. She grew up following the Mid-West professional wrestler circuit, raised by her big, scarred, wrestler father and his manager and manager's wife, both midgets, who became surrogate parents to her. She seems to be a strong, proud woman, and I like her! And her reasons for wanting to move to Cloverdale, sight unseen, are touching.

page 73 - Uh-oh! Not as good as I was hoping for. It definitely has some of the hallmarks of bad, old categories, hero-wise. Ben's constant, belittling comments about Perdita obviously being an easy woman (she obviously has received her jewelry from an "admirer", she dresses the way she does to tempt him, she doesn't care about her reputation, since she's allowing him to stay at her house) are dated and offensive, and one of the things that used to be so typical of romance novels and I'm so glad are now considered to be old-fashioned.

I've just read this gem:

"If you're so respectable, why are you staying here, at the house? You obviously don't care two cents for your reputation -letting a strange man move in with you. And you certainly haven't gone out of your way to be unattractive. What's a poor, proper Bostonian to think, except that he's dealing with a woman of easy virtue?"

He's apparently trying to be funny and trying to keep from laughing as he says this (having some scenes from his POV might help, but there have been none so far), but still, what a creep!

page 88 - Ben has improved, showed he can be nice. But Perdita's trying my patience now. What an absurdly inept woman! What seemed endearing at first is just plain stupid now. And her "you're a man, aren't you? Can't you fix that furnace?" comment? Ugh. Just as offensive as a guy saying "you're a woman, aren't you? Can't you cook a five-course meal?".

page 102. God, can there be anthing that's more of a cliché than that scene I just read, with Perdita eavesdropping on Ben's phone conversation about a certain wedding? Hasn't she read any romance novels, that she can't guess it was obviously his sister on the phone, not a fiancée? And her constant harping on whether she's a good girl is getting on my nerves. Oh, and those outfits! The crimson silk lounging pajamas with the pitchforked devils and the plunging cleavage was bad enough, but the gold, belted sweater and the black cossack pants... ugh! I just hate 80s fashion.

Not a good sign that I'm writing here every so few pages, is it?

page 148 - I'm not having a good time at all! Perdy's still hung up on the misunderstanding with Ben's "wedding", and I'm finding her more and more irritating. Boring book.

page 158 - "I want you to be my mistress". I WANT YOU TO BE MY MISTRESS??? What the hell? Argh. Damned stupid book. And it's unbelievable, but Perdita keeps getting stupider and stupider. I didn't think she could do that.

The only positive I can see (if you can call it that) is that the author is very aware of Perdita's flaws. She even says it perfectly, by calling what she does "engaging in magical thinking". True, true, true. The thing is, I despise this. Someone close to me does it all the time, and it makes me want to kill her. I guess you could say it's a hot button of mine.

the end - I'm a bitch. Ben's sob story left me cold. All I could think was "could you get any more clichéd than this?". And the final big, supposedly romantic gesture that gives this story its title? Big yawn.

Verdict? Ugh. I really hoped I'd like this one, but I didn't, not at all. I disliked the characters, I disliked the plot and I hated the schmaltz. A D+.


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