Review: A Past Revenge

A Past Revenge by Carole Mortimer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

REVENGE!! There’s nothing quite like revenge when it goes off without a hitch… but that’s not what happens here. And she would have gotten away with it too, if it hadn’t been for those meddling feelings! Oh man, I haven’t had so much fun reading such angst-filled drama since… my last Carole Mortimer, I guess. I laughed, cried, barfed, cried again… it was better than Cats.

SPOILERS GALORE, you silly rabbits.

Once upon a time, a silly nineteen-year-old girl named Ellie Smith, straight out of finishing school and all, attended a grown-up society party of a rich girlfriend related to a very wealthy man called Nicholas Andracas, an embittered Greek man who had just received divorce papers from his whorish, devilish soon-to-be ex-wife and was currently indulging himself in the process of hating all women and girls. Because Nicholas Andracas was Greek and foreign and therefore Tall, Dark, Mysterious, and handsome, all the silly girls at the party were giggling about him, but most especially Ellie, who took one look at him and felt tingly all over. When he looked in her direction in that brooding, inscrutable way that Tall, Dark, and Mysterious Strangers™ have, she just about swooned. Emboldened by some teasing girlfriends and a little too much champagne, Ellie approaches the man to say hello. He gives her a thorough once-over with a smirk and says, “Yeah, babe, let’s book it back to my place.” Oh, the stuff of Robert Browning, I tells ya.

Poor little Ellie is deeply, hopelessly entranced with this Tall, Dark, Handsome Man™, so when he takes her to bed with no regard for her pleasure or no consideration for her comfort, she doesn’t know any better because she had never been with anyone before. After the ravishment and deflowering, he gets out of bed, throws two hundred pounds at her, tells her to take a cab, and goes off to take a shower, without giving her a second glance.

This wanker gave her two hundred pounds after sex because he thought she was a ho. WHO AUTOMATICALLY ASSUMES SHIT LIKE THAT ABOUT PEOPLE?

Seven years later, Danielle a.k.a. Ellie Smith is a successful portrait painter in London who has put her past behind her. She casually dates, but has never been seriously involved with anyone because of the incident with Nicholas Andracas several years ago. She feels burned in a way that no one has been able to affect her the way Nick did. She’s been making a good living as an artist, though, and her work has received enough acclaim that she is commissioned to do a portrait for a famous English actress called Audra, who is so very hot in the theater scene right now. The catch? She is also the current mistress of Nicholas Andracas, her once and only lover. She doesn’t want to take the work, but her agent convinces her to do it and Danielle accepts, hoping it would finally help exorcise Nick’s ghost from her memories.

NOT. Nick sees Danielle and he’s all of a sudden on Harlequin Presents Hero Hormonal Attack Mode. Do not Pass GO. Do not Collect £200. WANTWANTWANTWANT. MINEMINEMINEMINE. The guy doesn’t even wait until his current main squeeze is out of the room until he starts making a pass at Danielle. What a sleazebag! Danielle sees his super obvious interest and she’s like nopenopenope Ice Queen Mode, get the fuck out of here. Meanwhile, Audra the current mistress is like, um, HI I’M RIGHT HERE, ASSHOLES. THERE ARE NO SEXUAL UNDERTONES, THEY ARE OVER AND SIDE TO SIDE AND HITTING ME RIGHT IN THE FACE. Instead of getting the hose and spraying Nick down with water like the dirty dog that he is, the ladies eye each other with strong dislike and hiss, instead.

And Nick is unrelenting. This dude is like a Mack truck. I bet if our world leaders had Nick’s persistence, resilience, and determination to solve our world’s problems (especially climate change) instead of boning Danielle, we’d all be living in a Star Trek socialist utopia right now. Dude is like the T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Dude is like… that new Mexican-looking Terminator in that new Terminator movie. He just keeps coming and coming. Danielle’s all, “Nah, mate, I’m all set-like” and he’s all, “You will be mine, my English rose. Mwahahaha!” It is because of this stubborn pursuit of Danielle that our intrepid heroine begins to formulate the devious plan that will finally bring about the great humiliation and heartbreak of Nicholas Andracas. She figures because he’s so horny and willing to do anything to sleep with her, she’ll just pump him up a little more so that when she finally throws him a bone, he’d be so grateful and in love with her and then, only then, will she give him back his stupid-ass two hundred pounds that she never spent, and say, “Hasta la vista, bitch!”

Danielle is not just doing this revenge stuff because she’s a sadist who loves watching men suffer or anything—and really, this wanker deserves it more than anyone—because Nick actually has a bigger sin to pay for than his callous treatment of her virginity offering seven years ago. His little wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am shenanigans resulted in…

SPOILER ALERT! THIS IS WHERE I REVEAL EVERYTHING! ...Danielle’s pregnancy. FOR GOD’S SAKE, MAN, if you’re going to bang a “whore,” use a rubber! Are you looking to get syphilis? Because that’s how you get syphilis! No, friends, this is not a Secret Baby™ book. This is a Secret Dead Baby™ book. Danielle had a premature birth and her baby Nicola died, so she carries a little miniature portrait (that she painted) of the baby in a jewelry box along with the two hundred pounds that Nick gave her for sex all of those years ago, just as a reminder of how callous and cold men can be, especially that particular man.

Damn. That’s a downer. Danielle hasn’t been sexually involved with anyone else, but Nick from way back then, but that doesn’t stop him from calling her a whore and implying she has sex like it’s just shaking hands and she spreads her shit around town like it’s the nineties and she’s Sharon Stone. What is with that?!? Probably ‘cause the bloke has sex on the brain 24/7 and it’s easier to keep the feelings out of things or whatever if he’s thinking of Danielle as an anatomically correct blow-up doll, instead of a sentient being with feelings, experiences, and a life before him. Dude needs therapy.

THE EVIL OTHER WOMAN. Dang, why do ladies always gotta attack each other in these books? It’s the men who are low-down dirty dogs, ladies, attack them. Audra, the ex-mistress, comes from the “if I can’t have him, you can’t have him, either” stock, so naturally, she does all that she can to throw a monkey wrench in the works, so she goes to the press and tells them that the new mistress of Nicholas Andracas had a secret baby in the past. Wait, what? Who CARES?!?! Oh, I guess Nick would care because he’s Greek and all and he’d be like, “Eww, you have a kid?” or something. Ha-ha, joke is on you, Audra, because the kid belonged to Nick in the first place. You idiot. Obviously, Nick is all Judgy McJudge-Judge with Danielle and Danielle is like, “Boy, you a dumbass.”

Nick finds out everything and is all sorry and cries and says, “I’m a jerk. I didn’t know. I LOVE YOU, DANIELLE.” And Danielle is like, “I’m also Ellie, you stupid wanker.” And Nick’s like, “Oh, yeah, I remember Ellie. She was nice.” Danielle’s all, eye roll, now you do. Nick continues with the groveling: “I was bitter about my ex-wife because she served me with divorce papers that day and she was divorcing me because she said I couldn’t give her children but it turned out she was a lying, manipulative whore because of course I have virile seed and I was really mad at all women and I was at that party complaining to my niece about how all women are lying whores and then you came over all innocent and pretty and I thought maybe she sent you over as a prank and you were a whore and I’m sorry. I love you. Please forgive me.” (WHAT KIND OF FAMILY PRANKS EACH OTHER LIKE THIS?!!) If I were Danielle, I would have been like, “You small-minded piece of shit, are you serious?” But I’m not Danielle and she forgives him because all this time, she has loved him and wouldn’t have slept with him in the first place if she hadn’t fallen in love with him at first sight. Sigh. Yeah, okay, I get that. Love is dumb.

I was wondering what I would have done if I were 19 and went off with some hot, handsome, wealthy guy who took me back to his place and it was my first time. Then afterward, he gave me two hundred pounds and told me to take a cab home before going off to take a shower without looking back at me a second time. I think I would have been pretty devastated. I would have probably left the money with a note that said, “I’m not a whore, thanks. I hope you get run over by a car being driven by a drunken virgin tomorrow. Bye. P.S. I think I got period blood all over your nice silk sheets. P.P.S. I have AIDS."

All and all, this was a pretty satisfying story. Nick is your usual sexist pig, but he does grovel pretty well at the end, so I did enjoy that. Danielle is a good, smart heroine and was pretty hard-core with the revenge stuff. I don’t think I could have held out the Ice Queen routine all that long, to be honest. She’s definitely a better woman than me. But ugh, Audra… it’s really a good thing I’m not Harlequin Presents heroine. Because I would have gone after that bitch with all of my energy and resources and scalped her bald.

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