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REVIEW: His Rebel Bride by Helen Dickson

Dear Ms. Dickson,

dickson-hrbride-drm.jpgI should have loved this book. It’s about one of my favorite times in history. Seventeenth century England. Cavaliers. Derring do. A time when history turned on a dime. And maybe 10 or 20 years ago I probably would have enjoyed it. But instead I found it boring, filled with little history lectures, overdramatic and peopled by characters I felt no sympathy for.

The heroine is young and is forced into a marriage by her father with a man she’s never even seen before the ceremony. She’s upset that she can’t marry the man she feels she loves and takes it out on Marcus. I have no problem with that. I do have a problem with her continued stupid actions that last throughout the entire book. The twit doesn’t learn. She stamps her feet and acts with no thought at all beyond twitting Marcus. He actually treats her very well considering the fact that after the marriage she hauls ass to Holland with a man not her husband or a relative then gets mad with Marcus for coming after her! Even though she admits to her maid that he probably will follow her! And what’s her grand plan? Nothing! Getting away from Marcus was it. Later she wants to get back with Marcus yet keeps pleading for him to help save Harry, her first love. Doesn’t seem to faze her that she’s risking her life, Marcus’s life, the lives of everyone involved with the cover up and that the estate could be confiscated because they’re hiding an escaped rebel after the Battle of Sedgemoor. Oh, no that doesn’t matter — Harry must be saved. I cheered Marcus when he called her stupid. But no she’s not stupid, she’s FEISTY! Oh Lord help me I despise this type of heroine.

I liked Marcus better than Catherine but not by much. He claims to be so infuriated by the murder of his father yet is willing to wait fourteen months to discover who dunnit. And in that time, he never once visits his estates? Yes, he’s in the army but let’s face it, England isn’t that large. Surely in that amount of time he could go home once and see what a monster he’d left as his steward. Marcus is so blind to Fenton or Felton or whatever his name is. He chastises Catherine for supporting Monmouth’s cause which I understand as she now bears his name and what she does affects the family. But when she flat out tells Marcus that his steward is not only against King James but also doesn’t want any king, that he’s a republican for God’s sake, Marcus does what? NOTHING. He ask Fenton to behave honorably then does nothing. Shesh! He tells Catherine that he can’t just sack the man. Why? He’s the estate owner. Would Ye Olde Stewards Union protest it? I doubt it. Catherine is young and stupid in her support of Monmouth but Fenton is older and much more likely to be an actual threat to the King whom Marcus has sworn an oath as an army officer to support. His inaction just made no sense to me.

Two-thirds of the way through the book I began skimming to finish it. With two leads I didn’t care for, frequent full stops in the action to impart historical data and a passel of Big Misunderstandings, there wasn’t much to lure me back into liking it. I wish that I’d not bought the ebook. At least I could have taken a paperback back for credit. D

~Jayne

available as mass market paperback or ebook

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

13 Comments

  1. Sybil
    Nov 07, 2007 @ 06:13:22

    Oh good I kept looking at this one and decided to pass on it the last time I was there. Now I feel better, I had added it to the cart and taken it out about three times.

    Sorry about the disappointing read but thanks. Doesn’t sound like one I would enjoy either.

  2. heather (errantdreams)
    Nov 07, 2007 @ 06:20:11

    But instead I found it boring, filled with little history lectures, overdramatic and peopled by characters I felt no sympathy for.

    Wow. I might be able to forgive overdramatic if the rest was good, but…

    And I HATE HATE HATE books that show us stupid selfish women and call them ‘feisty’ and ‘strong.’ That is NOT a strong woman. ARGH! Makes me wonder if ‘Helen Dickson’ is a pen name for a male author. Not that you wouldn’t see that kind of characterization from a female author; I’m just much more used to it from the guys. Reminds me of an SF novel I read once where we’re told a young woman is extremely smart and independent, but throughout the whole book she’s stupid and stubborn and gets condescended to and coddled by the males (but that’s okay because they’re caring for her, y’know?). UGH. *shudder*

    Okay, got that rant out of my system now…

  3. Jayne
    Nov 07, 2007 @ 06:23:46

    Sybil, I was soooo deeply disappointed with this book. It could have been great. It should have been readable at the very least. I read it shortly after the Juliet Landon one and the contrast was marked. Oh well, one good, one not….

  4. Jayne
    Nov 07, 2007 @ 06:31:01

    Heather, the sad thing is that at times Marcus admires Catherine for her spirit and bravery. I just didn’t see it. There’s one scene when rebels appear at Marcus’s country estate while he’s away. They start banging on the door, are obviously low-lifes, the house has only women and old male servants in it and what does Catherine do? Has a servant open the door so she can confront them. Of course they storm the house, threaten the servants, ransack the place and refuse her bleating demands that they leave. Well, why should they? They’re in control there. I read the scene and shouted out loud, “You stupid idiot!” Which startled my cat and my dog. And it takes a lot to startle the dog, believe me.

    And no, Helen Dickson is a woman according to the author’s note.

  5. Jane A.
    Nov 07, 2007 @ 09:52:41

    Ugh. I’m always looking for books set during this time, what an exciting period in England’s history. I’m surprised that more author’s don’t take advantage of the potential there. Yet based on your review I wouldn’t touch this one with a ten foot pole. I hate every single aspect of the heroine (and hero for that matter) that you’ve touched upon. Thank you for suffering in order to spare us!

  6. M.
    Nov 07, 2007 @ 10:25:09

    Sounds like a classic case of TSTL heroine syndrome. Thanks for the warning, I just can’t STAND them.

  7. sula
    Nov 07, 2007 @ 11:05:30

    Echoing others with the thanks for the warning. This kind of heroine is the kind that makes me pull out my hair in frustration and has me throwing the book against the wall. It’s a shame too because that time period can be so interesting if the characters are worth hanging out with. Why oh why does “feisty” have to equal pig-headed stupid obstinacy? grrr.

  8. Ann Bruce
    Nov 07, 2007 @ 13:58:34

    I read the scene and shouted out loud, “You stupid idiot!” Which startled my cat and my dog.

    Good to know I’m not the only one who yells at inanimate objects.

    And doesn’t it kill you to know there are still women writers who make their female characters so stupid?

  9. Jayne
    Nov 07, 2007 @ 20:36:40

    Ann, I don’t mind if characters make mistakes because they don’t know something, some plot point that we know or if they’re in a learning curve. We all do stupid things. But I want to see characters learn from what they’ve seen and done and had done to them. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice….do something stupid, well I’m learning, keep doing foolish things and I’m an idiot.

  10. Ann Bruce
    Nov 07, 2007 @ 20:49:53

    Okay, I should tack on the following to my statement (I really need to wait a day before making comments):

    “and don’t evolve.”

    I just find it frustrating sometimes because heroes in romance novels usually start off with intelligence and common sense. I can’t recall too many books where the heroes grow throughout the story. I guess it’s not too sexy at any point to have your hero do idiotic things.

    In romance, it’s all too common to have heroes evolve emotionally, but not intellectually (unless he did stupid things in the distant past when he was still in short pants) because he should already be of superior intelligence.

    Heroines, on the other hand, can start off TSTL and remain TSTL–and that appears to be acceptable.

  11. merry
    May 03, 2010 @ 13:06:31

    I rather liked it, with respect to your opinion Jane. I mean if authors were to take critics such as you seriously I am sure they would be too despirited to write again, however I am pleased to note that neither Dickson nor her considerable fan base have been affected by your rather blunt/brutal and maybe accurate assessment!

  12. Jayne
    May 03, 2010 @ 17:44:59

    @merry: I hope you and Ms. Dickson’s considerable fan base continue to enjoy her books.

  13. merry
    May 05, 2010 @ 07:14:05

    @Jayne: we will thank you…

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