The Tea Planter’s Bride (Bad Romance Novel Reviews)
Hundred words or less: An exotic flower from a faraway land, Celia came to London tobecome a proper English rose — a wide-eyed innocent, newly awakened by womanhood’s kiss…yet burning with a sensuous heat inflamed by gypsy blood. To one she is promised — a man of wealth and power and property. Yet another will own her heart. He is Grant Hamilton, a daring and unpredictable American rogue who senses a kindred spirit in the stunning, copper-eyedbeauty whom he has agreed to escort through London’s social whirl. Yet Grant is determined to resist his own secret yearnings for the exuisite enchantress.
Author: Rosemary Rogers
Year Published: 1995
Another month, another romance novel. This month, I give you Tea Planter’s Bride. Not only does the back of this novel proudly proclaim “The Blossoming”, but on the inside cover (surprisingly sparing the front cover) there is the requisite Dashing Heroine Swooning Mightily into the Rock Hard Arms of the Suitably Rakeish Male Pursuer.
We meet Celia, the heroine WILD GYPSY BEAUTY of the story, undergoing a dressing-down by her EVIL aunt. Now, here’s a twist: not only is this aunt REALLY FREAKING EVIL, but she’s also CHRISTIAN. Aunt Evil goes on and on about how horrid Celia is, how very like her dead Gypsy mother with loose morals Celia is. But why is Aunt Evil so mad? Because of course there is the convenient plot twist surprise of Celia escaping the clutches of Aunt Evil by the writ of her (dead) father’s will. It makes her fabulously wealthy, and she is bourne out of the conspiring hands of Aunt Evil by a suddenly appearing Aunt who Celia didn’t even know EXISTED! Not only is this aunt fabulouslywealthy as well, but she brings in tow the HANDSOME AMERICAN STEP SON IN LAW (who also happens to be a dastardly rake – I do so love dastardly rakes).
OF COURSE the handsome step-son in law (Grant) is utterly and completely CAPTIVATED by Celia’s WILD GYPSY BEAUTY. Celia goes on to be the toast of the London Season, even meeting “Prinny” (What kind of name is that for a Prince?) who is also suckered in by her WILD GYPSY BEAUTY, but of course Grant is the object of her secret desires. He kisses her, their lips vacuum-sucked together by mystical forces, but ultimately rejects her because, like Madonna, she’s a VIRGIN, and if he were to compromise her purity, Aunt Wealthy breathing down his neck and well, for a DASTARDLY RAKE of COURSE he has some morals! Just this once!
In fact, Celia has this habit of wandering off scantily clothed alone (because it’s so hard to remember to dress in something other than a flimsy nightgown if you’re a WILD GYPSY BEAUTY) and just-so-happening to run into Grant’s hard, muscled, and conveniently naked body. Oh the virginity! They make out a bunch of times, lips becoming sealed together by mystical forces beyond their control, but of course she retains her virginity, because Grant is a tease. On one of these Half Naked Excursions, Celia meets another man who is a convenient plot twist Gypsy who takes her to her people and reveals her to be a Princess of the Gypsies (we should all be so fortunate) and the Big Momma of the Gypsies reads Celia’s palm and declares that Celia has much evil surrounding her but gives her Celia’s mother’s castanets and sends her out to dance with the rest of the convenient plot twists Gypsies. Celia is found by Grant, their lips become magically sealed together for Grant cannot resist her WILD GYPSY BEAUTY, but he’s a dirty tease and marches her back to Aunt Wealthy anyway.
Eventually it is revealed that Celia, in the midst of her Season, has a fiance! Yes, that’s right- Celia was not born in England, but in tropical Ceylon. Her betrothed (a conveniently Evil Man named Ronnie, who has many perversions with a taste for cocaine on the side) takes care of her Massive Tea Plantation and screws around with multiple women while Just Narrowly Avoiding Syphilis. So of course Grant is Utterly Jealous.
Celia recieves another convenient plot twist letter from said fiance begging Celia to go home to Ceylon. You’d think she would, and the book would end there, she weds the bastardly Fiance and the book can end. But of course not. She must make a scene. “Oh Aunt Willie (seriously) I Must Go to Ronnie! He needs me on that great ol’ tea plantation! I simply must go! No I will not hear your Perfectly Reasonable Excuses! I must go to Ronnie immediately!” So Aunt Wealthy sends along said step-son-in-law secretly to watch over the WILD GYPSY BEAUTY.
Who shows up but Aunt Evil? And Aunt Evil’s protegee, Celia’s ex-best-friend Anthea, goes along as well. Celia meets her balding fiance at the docks. And who shows up but Grant? Fiance of Doom conveniently passes out on a cocaine binge shortly thereafter prompting Celia to run Nakedly Through The Forest to the Hard Waiting Arms of Grant, where their lips become vacuum-sealed together by mystical forces beyond their control again.
So of course Mr. Fiance becomes a bit of a bastard about the whole matter, drugs Celia, and kidnaps her, while blackmailing her family to stay quiet because OMG he took nekkid pictures of her when she was young! The horror! He marries her in a secret ceremony but passes out on a cocaine binge again and forgets to take her virginity. One of Mr. Fiance’s Lovers helps Celia escape, Grant is searching for Celia, they narrowly miss each other, and Mr. Fiance finally wakes up and starts taking pot-shots at Grant presumably with a gun of some sort.
Grant and Mr. Fiance finally come face to face in a clearing, with Celia watching from above because the girl has figured out how to climb a tree. Suddenly, quel horror! A convenient plot twist rogue elephant comes charging into the clearing, tramples the evil Mr. Fiance, Grant finds Celia and their lips become fused together again, they promise never-ending love, and the rampaging plot twist Evil Rogue Elephant is brought down. Cue lights.
By the Numbers:
References to “stolen/misplaced/otherwise lost” virginity: 32
Plot “Twists”: 16
Number of Men Lusting After Heroine: 200,000
Number of Men Lusting After Heroine that Heroine Loves: 2
Number of Mary-Sue Incidents: 0
Number of Fights Over Heroine: 2
Times “Fate” Intervened: 14
Times “Fate” Intervened by about 500 miles: 6/14
Overall grade: D-, for child pornography, rampaging plot twists, stereotypical stepmothers, stupid Gypsies, more rampaging plot twists, and rampant fusing of lips. But Grant is sure a likable fellow, so I’ve got to give credit where credit is due.