The Deed by Lynsay Sands

The Bank Ladies
In the building where I work there is a tiny bank branch on the ground floor. The two little old ladies who work there as tellers have noticed that I spend my breaks reading, and one day sent me a bag filled with their gently used books. It was very sweet of them, but through the act I learned that these women have very... singular tastes in literature. Thus, my collection of trashy romance novels grew. Rather than immediately taking them to my local thrift or used book store, I decided I would try to read some of them, Virginia. I try not to be one of those who makes fun of anyone's taste in books, but what works for one might not work for me. We're all allowed to enjoy something and get as much entertainment from making fun of it, too. See TLC reality tv for an example.
This is the one book in the entire bag in which the blurb basically told me right away that this was going to be the kind of cray-cray you can only find in Romancelandia. I knew I had to read. I knew I might need a bottle of aspirin nearby (I did), I knew I'd need to keep a notebook handy in case I had any snark to write down (I did - however I opted to write them directly into the books margins instead, thus "improving" the reading experiences of anyone who came after me). The Deed is what SBTB often refers to as "old skool" romances. There's a degree of "bwha?" and political incorrectness that readers today might not tolerate so lightly, but it was enough that in 1997 Lynsay Sands could build a new career for herself.
Oh yeah, I'm not saying that Romance novels being published new today aren't crazy-town banana-pants. But a Virgin Widow? That's the kind of trope you can only find in old skool romances. (Nowadays, it's gotten to be kind of a cliche in Romancelandia, so it's becoming a rarity.)
Yes, now you know the gimmick that attracted me to this particular book. Virgin Widows - how is that supposed to work? Gentle reader, I was dying to know.
Emma has sought the audience of the king to force her husband into giving her the deed. Not, we can assume, the deed of sale, to like, a car or a mobile home or whatever. Anyway, not long after her husband dies. How does someone remain married to a lady, we are assured, so very fetching but doesn't want to have sex with her, not even once? Romancelandia has an entirely different set of rules from Real Life American Physics, and that's the only thing I can think of to explain it. No one knows. Husbies #1 didn't talk much, and as a matter of fact poor communication, and sometimes a complete lack of communication is a huge issue in this book. Another theory? Maybe he was into the dudes. Just a thought.
Emma isn't allowed to enjoy virgin widowhood for very long, because now that she's caught the king's attention, he's already sent a replacement. New theory: the king is like Apple support or something. Bad theory - toss it out. Anyway, his reasoning is that if Emma doesn't remarry soon, her late husband's cousin will take claim of her and all of her wicked cool stuff. We don't want that. That guy is the worst.
Amaury is a buff, tuff warrior guy who, unlike our heroine, has lots of experience with the ladies. (Just for once I'd like to see the hero of a romance novel be, like, a weasely school teacher or something). They have to get married real fast because Cousin Bertrand is coming 'round. They're not even allowed a quick "How d'ya'do? Cute boots you're wearing." Nope, they have to jump in that bed and giggedy-giggedy. But remember, Emma is a virgin - to the degree that an adult woman should never be reasonably allowed to be. I mean (okay, this is my favorite part) she mistook Amaury's penis for a malformed 3rd leg. A 3RD LEG!!!!!! I mean... I mean... that's the goofiest shit I've seen in a long time. I laughed.
There are all these random near-death scrapes, and stupid misunderstandings that only teenagers who don't communicate - just make-out all the time - have. It was incredibly painful to read - I was grateful for my pet Asprin Bottle. It was so, so over done. I made a prediction: that the climax of the plot would be when Amaury finally admitted to Emma that he thought she was smart and pretty, and guess what I was right. This was far more important than they admit that they were in love with each other, which was an entire fiasco all it's own. (They repeatedly realized that they were falling in love with each other for the first time over and over again - this is why this books are for old ladies. They repeat themselves.)
Oh gosh, and then there was that weird rapey scene. I'm still not sure what to make of it. It came out of nowhere and was such an unpleasant surprise. It was... unconventional, let me say that. It was confusing, uncomfortable, and for the way Sands tried to excuse it, was completely unnecessary. 
"Sounds like bad writing."
Yeah, no kidding?

It was frustrating, insipid, goofy, forgettable, and but good for a laugh. It was like a junk food book - not the best thing I could get, but does in a pinch and it's satisfying for a little while. I guess we all like junk food every once in a while.

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