Fiction: “Madame’s Deception” by Renee Bernard

Okay. So look, I’ve been busy. Between one thing and another (and also, sleeping), I haven’t been able to find the time to write the review for this book. I find that to be ridiculous, because I finished this on the same day that I finished Murder Superior. Why has it taken me a whole two weeks to write the review for this dinky little romance novel?

Maybe it’s time for me to acknowledge that I’m attempting to do too much. Between Oscar!Watch!2012, movies Alaina’s never seen, arranging travel for myself for new job training (!!!!) and my friend who’s flying out to Portland at the same time I’m going to be in Annapolis (yeah, that didn’t work), and saying goodbye to good friends I’ve seen almost every day for nine years, and trying to maintain my reputation as a stellar baker … I mean, I have two and a half weeks’ worth of Conan episodes to catch up on.

So now I find myself multitasking. Because right now, if you were to look into my apartment (perv), you’d find me sitting on my bed, writing this review and watching my #9 movie of all time: Anchorman. And if references to this wonderful, super-duper film happen to show up randomly through this review? Well, you’re just gonna have to deal with it.

So what, exactly, is Madame’s Deception about? Well, it’s about a madame … who … deceives? No, not really. Madame’s Deception was the missing second book in the trilogy I mentioned back when I read A Rogue’s Game back in 2010, and again, you don’t have to read them in order to understand the plot. It’s not like needing to watch the Star Wars trilogies in their proper order, I can tell you that much.

The madame in question is Madame DeBourcier, who runs the Crimson Belle House of Ill Repute in London. But you know what? Madame DeBourcier is actually grade-A baloney. Baloney! Because it’s actually just a fake identity for Jocelyn Tolliver, who inherited the Crimson Belle from her mother, who was also called Madame DeBourcier. It’s like … oh god forgive me. *sigh* You know A Princess Bride? And how Wesley became the Dread Pirate Roberts, and how it’s a title that’s inherited and given from the previous Dread Pirate Roberts? Well, Madame DeBourcier is the Dread Pirate Roberts of London whorehouses.

So this duke or whatever, Alex Randall/Lord Colwick (I swear, that’s how those lords and shit should just write their names, because they go by both throughout these novels. Sometimes it’s Alex, sometimes it’s Lord Colwick, and what happens is that I get confused and wish that his name was just Alex Randall Colwick, and that would be a severely awesome name) falls in love with Madame DeBourcier from afar. No, seriously — he saw her from across the room and decided he had to have her, as men do. So he barges into the Crimson Belle and gives the Madame an ultimatum, which boils down to this: “Sleep with me whenever I want, and I’ll pay you tons of money.” And she shrugs and goes, “Okay.”

Meanwhile, other whores ladies of the evening have been murdered, and Jocelyn is worried. Alex Colwick wants to protect her, but Jocelyn doesn’t want to get attached to a lord because he could never friggin’ love her the way she friggin’ loves him.

And look, there’s not a lot of plot in this. Even less than in some of the other historical romances I’ve picked up. (Oh, sidenote: At some point this year [in addition to rereads of Lamb, Gilligan’s Wake, and The Great Gatsby], after I’ve read all those books I just got from the library, I will be reading a romance I picked up from Walmart the other night because apparently, the heroine was a spy. There has to be plot in that!) It pretty much goes like this:

“I’ll pay you money to have sex with you.”
“Okay. Please ignore all the murders that are going on, because I can take care of myself. Unbeknownst to you, I am an educated lady saddled with running a whorehouse. Oh, PS, I’m a virgin.”
“Wow. I had no idea you were a virgin. How are you so skilled in the ways of love?”
“Books! I read books! Look at my library conveniently hidden behind this curtain where my gentleman lover can’t see it! After all, this is nineteenth-century London; we don’t have the internet now.”
“Fascinating. Can we do that one on page 47 again?”
“Not right now. Another girl was murdered. And also, I heard that you are betrothed to some crazy widow’s dumpy daughter.”
“What? Baby, don’t be crazy. Hey look, a beautiful rainbow — do me on it!”
“I can’t, because now one of my girls was murdered, and I suspect it may be the shady pimp down the street.”
“No, it can’t be him, because he’s actually your father.”
“You’re kidding! Oh my god, I’m in a glass case of emotion, and I won’t let you in, because I am a disgrace to society, and you need to marry some dumpy geek who can’t string two words together.”
“No! I need you! I’m a mess without you! I miss you so damn much! I miss being with you. I miss being near you. I miss your laugh! I miss your scent. I miss your musk. When this all gets sorted out, I think you and I should get an apartment together!”
“Goodness! Well, as it turns out the murderer was some cousin of some girl we mentioned a hundred pages ago and not my father, and that I am a cultured lady with an education in things other than sexual ways and means, then okay, let’s get an apartment together!”
“Huzzah!”

And they all lived happily ever after. Thanks for stopping by, and hey — you stay classy, San Diego.

Oh shit.  And I just remembered that, as part of saying goodbye to those good friends, I just gave this website out to a lot of people as a way to keep up with me.  And a lot of those friends are men who have no idea I read this trash … shit.

QUICK ALAINA READ SOMETHING ELSE SOMETHING WITH VIOLENCE

Grade for Madame’s Deception: 2 stars

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