Pride and Petticoats - Shana Galen When the book you're reading starts off with the heroine arriving in London from Charleston, SC with her faithful slave named Addy, who says things like, "Chicken spit. I satisfied with a roof a new shawl. Oh, and I could do with a heap of some simple homecooked food," it's evident that your WTF detector needs to be on red alert.


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But like a brave little soldier, I kept on reading. This isn't something I'm proud of, necessarily, but I paid damn good money for this book and had to give it a fair try. Alas, Pride and Petticoats punished me for my endurance, and now you get to read my delightful review. Dreams DO come true!

SUMMARY:
Charlotte Burton has a money situation. Like any good historical romance heroine, she's totally broke because the men in her family were idiots. Naturally, Charlotte packs up her slave and travels across the Atlantic Ocean to London because her childhood friend Cade Pettigru is there and ... well, he's there, and Charlotte needed to get to London somehow so she could meet the hero. Her meeting with Cade is promptly interrupted by Lord Freddie Dewhurst and his team of super-spies. Cade, the owner of precisely zero balls, abandons Charlotte to the clutches of the British spies, and then all kinds of assumptions are made. Freddie takes Charlotte captive because she's clearly (to him) a top-secret American spy / whore in cahoots with whatever the heck Cade's doing. The only way to draw Cade out of hiding, Freddie reasons, is by faking a marriage with Charlotte and fixing her up for the ton. But she hates Americans and he hates people with slaves who are also whores. Too bad their nether regions mesh super well. Will Charlotte cast aside her stars and stripes to build a London Bridge with Freddie?

Oh, where to begin? Let's start with ...

THE CHARACTERS:
Charlotte, god love her, is pretty awful. She thinks that she, a woman in the early 1800s, has the means to rebuild and run her father's shipping company. I won't even get into the impossible logistics of that goal. For this, she's willing to do anything, including a fake marriage to Dewhurst - a man she despises - for money. Charlotte reads like a Southern belle who recently received a lobotomy. Nothing she does makes much sense, like traveling to England even though she hates the nasty British scum who live there and sexing it up with Freddie even though she knows it could end up validating their marriage and binding her to a man she spends a majority of the book insulting because he has the gall to be a member of the British aristocracy. I'm still not sure why she disliked England so much. Sure, there was the war, and trade relations weren't great at the time, but if that's the case, don't go to their country. She pontificates to anyone within hearing distance about the greatness that is America and the horrors of a monarchy, which is amusing the first time but quickly delves into blatant rudeness. She even refuses to address Freddie as Lord, which shows a great lack of respect. Charlotte is so firmly ensconsed on her high horse that I'm surprised she didn't take off at a gallop through Hyde Park waving the American flag dressed as Paul Revere. I don't think British and American societies were that different at the time, so the culture clash between characters reads as more immature than clever. Oh, and then there's the best (or worst part): In lieu of any actual swear words, Charlotte uses "George Washington" all the freaking time. It isn't cute and got old very fast. And I'm sure George Washington wouldn't appreciate having his name used in vain, Miss America! Charlotte even has the nerve to criticize Freddie's English in his own country in this adorable exchange:

"As my wife and an outsider, your every move, every action will be scrutinized. It falls to me to ensure your introduction is done to a cow's thumb. I do not mean to crow, but I have a reputation as a pink of the ton, and in order to-"

"What language are you speaking?" she asked.

"English," he retorted, frowning.

"It does not sound like any English I have ever heard."


Oh yes, Charlotte, it's so hard to figure out what he's trying to say. God bless America.


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And then there's Freddie. Oh, dash it, Freddie, dashing away the dashed Yankee with her dashed Southern stubborn tendencies. Right. Freddie says "dash" a lot because he's British. While Charlotte is the worst American stereotype ever, Freddie is the worst British stereotype ever. He's rigid about societal rules that are completely foreign to Charlotte and jumps to the worst conclusions about her just because she happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Also: he's a jackass.

"A charming American. An oxymoron to be sure."

"Pray, sir, keep insulting me, and you'll see the barrel of my pistol."

Before he realized what he was about, he'd crossed the tiny cabin, grasped her arm, and wrenched her to her knees. "Don't threaten me, little Yankee hellion."


After that, he kisses her. A man who manhandles an innocent, unarmed woman - every girl's dream come true! In order to hide his super-spy identity from the general public, Freddie plays the part of an English dandy. He's supposed to be charming, I think, but all he does is bully Charlotte and say "dash it." I don't get the appeal. Even worse, Freddie's a terrible spy. James Bond, this man isn't.

ADDY THE WALKING STEREOTYPE:
Okay, so I didn't live 200 years ago and experience first-hand the personality and vocal traits of slaves. But for the love of dashed George Washington, did Addy really have to be a caricature of every "Mammy" we've seen in pop-culture before humanity woke up and realized that minorities are people, too? For a book that's supposedly a light-hearted take on cultures clashing, did it really have to be so insulting? Oh, look at Addy, she's big and worries about her white mistress all the time! Oh, look at Addy with her "thick neck," arguing with the uppity butler! Oh, look at Addy providing the prickly heroine with down-home advice!


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Aside from Freddie and Charlotte trading insults like children protecting their side of the swingset, there isn't much action. The spy plot takes a back seat to the main characters acting like asshats, which is probably a good thing because, as I mentioned before, Freddie is a horrible spy. They have lots of sex, which showcases very little chemistry, so even that was a dud.

I finished the book, but it didn't make me feel happy inside. Instead, I wanted to apologize to The United Kingdom, The United States of America, and African Americans. Dash my dashed guilt, by George!