The title: Yankee Mistress*
The author: Ashley Snow
Publication: Zebra, 1989
Got it from: Freemont's Used Books, downtown St. Catharines
This review is dedicated to the fine psychic dude who said that in my last life, I was a cranky Southern Belle, forever embittered by my Confederate officer fiance jilting me. This one's for you!**
I've gone through thousands of books in my lifetime, and I can safely say that this is the worst book I've ever read. Ever. This book is so hideous, if it were some kind of animal it would be a hairy tarantula-like creature that would make me jump up on the couch and whack it with a broom over and over and it would still be alive. ALIVE! And I would keep whacking it and it would still keep limping on, until finally it rolled over onto its back and gasped for breath for several minutes until its wriggly, hairy legs finally ceased moving. And I would throw it out the window, but then three days later it would be back. Because it's alive. ALIVE! Forever tormenting me!
This book insults me on so many levels, and not just as a woman. It insults me because I'm a human being and this book leaves no stereotype, racist remark, sexist utterance and sheer lack of decency unturned. I actually, at one point, felt physically ill reading this. I swear, I could feel my last meal churning within me. I had to look at a lot of pictures of Tyrone Power to feel better.
Why? Why did it have to be this way? The premise of the book, it is so good. A woman becomes a Union spy and is captured and seduced by a Confederate officer: that's hot. This book: so not. Oh God, where do I even begin? I only have to tell you the plot before you'll begin to see why this book is so painful.
So the story starts out, and we meet our "patriotic wench" (from the back cover), Selene Sprague, toiling in her uncle's tavern in Virginia one hot summer day. She goes to the well, is harassed by a bunch of Confederate soldiers (one of whom turns out to be the hero) and goes inside again. Then she meets Creepy Union Dude, who was a friend of her dad's, and he asks her to be a spy for the Union. She agrees.
This takes us to page 14. Oh, how I wish the story had ended here. Oh, how I wish it. But no. After page 14, that's when the story gets bad.
So Selene, the Patriotic Wench, spies on the Confederate jackasses, among them Jerkface McJerkington, the "hero" of this sorry piece of crap. And hears (what else?) secret Confederate plans that she must immediately take to the Federal lines. But oh noes! The hero sees her riding off on her horse and decides to go after her. After an easy capture, he debates whether to turn her over to the authorities but decides to keep her with him because her breasts are all sweaty and they're making him horny.
So they're headed to meet the Confederate army and they have to camp overnight. As Jerkface McJerkington is taking a leak in the bushes, Selene decides to make a break for it. This of course makes Jerkface really mad because nothing's worse than having to stop mid-pee to catch some "foxy, sassy" (also from the back cover) Yankee woman. So what does he do? Rape the ever-living snot out of her, of course! Nothing could be more romantic. Of course, the rape wasn't bad because her body, it rebelled! Oh how she hated his cause, but yearned for his touch! (From the front cover). And she comes all over him, so it's not really rape. Afterwards, Jerkface feels some remorse, and vows that next time, he's going to be more gentle.***
At this point, I would have taken a cleaver and castrated him. But what do I know? I'm not a foxy, sassy Yankee wench.
So they meet up with the Confederate army, and Jerkface decides that instead of turning her over to the authorities, on account of the perma-boner she's given him, he's going to stick her with the field surgeon while he goes to fight. So Selene helps there for awhile (OMG miraculously knowing exactly what to do even though she's never had any medical experience ever). Then our patriotic wench wisely decides to make a break for it. But oh noes! The men she thought were Union soldiers were actually Confederate spies! Then Selene faints and wakes up back home.
This probably should have been a good time to end the book.
Jerkface McJerkington, even though he hates Selene, decides that having a sex doll is even better and forces her to come with him, saying that she's just too dangerous to his mission. After an attempted rape in his carriage, they arrive at some port and Selene finds an old friend named Mattie and begs Jerkface to bring her along. So they all go off on a ship to Barbados, because he's meeting with secret English delegates who may save the Confederacy. In Barbados. For some reason. While on the ship, he forces Selene to marry him because then all his rape is justified, and he also physically and verbally abuses her friend Mattie. Selene, meanwhile, treats Mattie like her slave and orders her around. (Note: Mattie acts like a servile, simpering slave the entire time, constantly being abused by everyone, including Selene. In fact, she pretty much spends the whole book crying and being slapped around.)
But our Selene is a true foxy, sassy, wench, and whilst their ship is being bombarded by the Union, she decides her only chance to get free is to set fire to the ship. Of course, Jerkface is absolutely furious, but watching her dance around the flames like a madwoman also turns him on.
"A satisfied smile touched his shapely lips. Taming her was going to be a pleasure now that he had the time. She was his prisoner and his wife. There was leisure and time to take on the task of breaking her. And he intended to enjoy every minute of it." (p. 105).
After punching her in the face to knock her out, he locks her and Mattie in a cabin. A little while later he comes back, throws Mattie out, and rapes Selene good, but her treacherous body just loves it.
At this point, I would have tried to set fire to him. But what do I know? I'm not a foxy, sassy Yankee wench.
So then they're in Barbados for a good 150 pages. And Selene and Jerkface have sex on the beach a scillion times, and he buys her pretty things to appease her. And things are almost good, except that she falls in love with him for god knows why and he continues to tell her he hates her. Even, one time, grabbing her hair and yanking so hard her neck almost snaps, to tell her how much he hates her.
Then Creepy Union Dude shows up and promises to smuggle Selene to England in exchange for her becoming a spy for him. She agrees and sails off into the moonlight with him and Mattie while Jerkface stands on the shore shaking his fist at them.
Oh yes. I forgot to tell you that Creepy Union Dude is shown to be the Bad Guy because omg he kills the woman Jerkface had hired to stalk Selene all the time. Jerkface must be the hero, because he may beat and slap and rape women and force them to marry him, but god forbid he actually kill them. Creepy Union Dude never rapes or hits Selene (well, not until the end), but he's EEEVVVVILLL because he kills someone.
Then Selene goes to live with Creepy Union Dude in London for something like THREE YEARS and is kept his prisoner because he has all the money and won't send her home, where she desperately wants to go because she's so in looovvveee with Jerkface. Um, hello, all she had to do was bust into Creepy's desk and take the money! What kind of foxy, sassy Yankee wench is she if she can't even do that?
Never mind. The story continues to drag on forever. Creepy Union Dude sets Selene up to be his spy and she becomes the toast of London society. Why? Because she's the heroine, damnit! She catches the eye of Pervy Lord Man, which makes Creepy Union Dude happy, because he wants to bribe him. At one point in the novel, Creepy Union Dude deliberately leaves Selene alone with Pervy Lord Man, who proceeds to rape her good, until she bludgeons him with a lamp and runs screaming out the door where she runs into Jerkface McJerkington. Instead of being all concerned because DUDE, your wife just got raped by another man, he gets angry and tries to rape her again for being such a wanton hussy.
At this point, I would have tried to permanently lower his mizzen-mast. But what do I know? I'm not a foxy, sassy Yankee wench.
Yadda yadda yadda. Jerkface goes back to the States and Selene cries and begs him not to leave, but of course he does. Eventually Selene and Creepy Union Dude get into a fight, and she kills him with a pair of scissors and finally gets back to America.
Then it's half a year later in Washington. Selene meets Actually Nice Guy who agrees to take her across the enemy lines into Virginia so she can find her precious Jerkface. But it turns out Actually Nice Guy is a Confederate spy who used her to smuggle information. It's okay, though, he's still a Nice Guy who lets her live with his family in Virginia. Selene nobly and bravely tends to wounded soldiers until she gets word of her husband. She goes to tell him she loves him, but he tells her to screw off and she goes home crying. Later, Actually Nice Guy's family throws a ball and Jerkface shows up, telling her what a hussy she is for flirting with other men and tries to rape her against a tree but they are interrupted.
At some point, Jerkface gets typhoid. I say let the bastard die, but I'm not a foxy, sassy Yankee wench so what do I know? Of course Selene nurses him back to health and Jerkface thinks maybe she really does love him.
"But Selene, how can you love me? I dragged you away from your home, forced you to marry me, took advantage of you every chance I got. You've every reason to hate me." (p. 356)
No shit! I've been asking myself that the WHOLE BOOK.
Finally, in the end, Selene is somehow stalked by the woman Creepy Union Guy killed. (Look, don't ask me how a dead woman can stalk someone. The book doesn't explain either). And oh look! Creepy Union Dude is also not dead, and has somehow come back to life to seek his revenge on Selene and Jerkface! At the last minute Jerkface comes to Selene's rescue, kills Creepy and the war is over. Jerkface sweeps her into his arms and all is over.
What the freak is this? This book isn't even remotely romantic! The hero HATES the heroine for 99.9% of the book, and she pretty much hates him too until she thinks she adores him because he gives her some McLovin' on the beach, and that makes up for everything. Please!
Also, what's up with all the typos in this book? At one point, the author even spells one of her own character's names wrong!
There are no words to describe how much I hate this book. I wouldn't give it to my worst enemy in hell. F.
*At no point in the book does the heroine ever become the hero's Yankee mistress, or is even asked to be his mistress. Rape victim, yes. Forced wife, check. But not mistress. I'm just sayin'.
**In my life before that, I was apparently an exotic dancer in Caesar's court. So for my next review I'm going to read Slave Girls of Rome.
***Ed's note: HAHAHAHAHA!