The Cowboy’s Princess Wife by Mysty McPartland

  • The Cowboy's Princess Wife by Mysty McPartlandTitle: The Cowboy’s Princess Wife
  • Author: Mysty McPartland
  • Series: N/A
  • Genre(s): Historical
  • Publisher: Secret Cravings Publishing, January 2012
  • Source: Amazon, $4.99
  • Trope(s): Virgins, Alpha Males, Cowboys, Mystery Marriage, I Hate You Except When We Kiss
  • Quick blurb: Scottish Princess shows up on doorstep of Cowboy Earl claiming proxy marriage.
  • Quick review: I can’t decide which was worse – the bad history or the bad editing.
  • Grade: F

In the interests of fairness, and to prove that I’m an Equal Opportunity Crank, I decided to try out another title from the publishing house that signed Sable “Hell Yeah!” Hunter.

I chose The Cowboy’s Princess Wife because of the bodice-ripping title, the author’s stripper-rific first name and the blurb:

Even though she made a promise to her dying grandfather, Carlin only intends to deliver the letter to the Earl and leave. When he refuses to let her go she takes time to contemplate the situation and being attracted to him decides to give their marriage a chance.  Her husband was so annoying at times she re-thinks her situation and once again makes plans to leave.

Surprised at finding two beautiful women in his parlor Haydon cannot deny the overwhelming attraction he feels towards one of them. He is shocked senseless when he finds out his father has married him to the woman he desires. Bound by duty and honor he can never let her go. However, it doesn’t take him long to become irritated with her and all the crap she fill his house with. What makes him furious though was all the deception.

Can Haydon keep his princess wife safe? Can their love for one another over come all the obstacles?

Verb tense disagreement, missing commas and a house full of crap in the blurb? Wheee, let’s get started!

But before we get carried away….

Let’s take a look at the dedication page:

Author Dedication page - The Cowboy's Princess Wife

Reason #1 Why Secret Cravings Publishing Is Collectively Smoking Crack

The opening scene….

With her heart beating wildly in her chest, her stomach twisted in a knot of nervous tension, Carlin thought she just might be sick.

Oooh, barfing in the first sentence! But if this is a historical, shouldn’t she be casting up her accounts?

Her eyes wide open, she kept sweeping the area with fearful apprehension. Dear Lord, what had her sweet grandfather forced her into she silently asked?

All righty. So that’s the way it’s going to be. Thanks for the early warning.

Lord, she didn’t want to do this, did not want to be here, well she couldn’t do anything about it now since she already arrived, she despondently told herself.

I’m silently telling myself despondently that I don’t really want to read this but I paid $5 for it because I’m trying to prove a point so I’m damn well going to finish it.

“Och, Carlin, it dinna look too bad.” Layla tried to reassure her cousin….

Fake Scottish brogue and historically improbable character names. The WTF list is growing and we’re only on the fourth paragraph.

She definitely could feel herself becoming annoyed.

Well, we wouldn’t want her to waffle about it, so it’s a good thing she’s definitely definite.

The plot….

Carlin, our heroine, shows up on the doorstep of a Montana ranch. She introduces herself to the ranch owner, formerly known as the Earl of Huxley (or maybe it’s Huntley, it’s hard to tell), as his wife. You know, by proxy.

“Because ye father owed my grandfather a great debt. My grandfather asked one of his sons marry me. Ye were chosen, and ye eldest brother Kyle stood in for ye at the ceremony.”

Yes, the “ye” thing continues throughout the entire book. But only when the heroine needs to sound Scottish. You know, like a Kevin Costner fake accent.

The “great debt” involves something about “family honor” which is never disclosed but is very important to the hero because nothing is more important than honor except running away from the responsibilities of the nobility to play cowboy.

The hero, known by all, including his elderly butler and valet, as Haydon, responds to his Instant Wife with an Instant Boner, which means he is a Real Man because Real Men have no control over their Manly Appendages. He’s also a Real Man because his name is Haydon and no nancy-boy is ever named Haydon, especially not a Cowboy of the Nobility.

Anyway, in between endless rounds of inane arguments and mental lusting, we learn that our heroine is honest-and-for-true royalty because she’s cousin to King George and 945th in line for the throne. King George wanted her to marry Cousin Tavis or Cousin Jamie instead, but her cousins are Villainous Villains, so of course one of them tracks her across the Atlantic and 2/3 of the way across an unfamiliar country. By himself. Because he needs money.

But never fear! Heroic Haydon is at the ready to beat the shit out of the traveling Villainous Villain. The other one he disposes of by telegraph three months later. It was very exciting.

There was a bunch of other muck in the book but none of it really mattered.

Our heroine….

Carlin is a Scottish Hoyden. We know this because this phrase is repeated approximately 1700 times. It’s also blindingly obvious because all she does is shriek and screech about anything and everything.

She’s a True Scotswoman, because she carries a knife:

“…let me go before I put my dirk through ye black heart.”

…She wanted to bury her dirk in his black heart for doing this to her.

…“I’ll tell ye how I feel, ye perverted scoundrel. I want to take my dirk and plunge it into ye corrupt black heart.”

“…if ye have suddenly come to regret what we have just done I will put my dirk through ye black heart.”

That last one was after her deflowering.

Carlin’s favorite insult is “looby.” We know this because she calls Heroic Haydon a looby 10 times. But he’s in exalted company, because King George is a looby too.

Our hero….

The main thing you need to know about Heroic Haydon is that his Manhood is Man-Sized. It’s a source not of pride, but of Angsty Torment:

Suddenly, it dawned on him just how small and delicate she was. He unexpectedly came to the realization if he made love to her, he could perhaps actually hurt her. He shuddered at the thought. He also realized there was no way in hell she could ever accommodate all of his size. It was a bitter realization and one he would have to reflect upon before things between them went any further. It would be torture for both of them if they spent the rest of their lives in a marriage without any intimacy. But God damn it, he didn’t want to give her up. Raking his fingers through his hair in miserable frustration, he turned away. He wasn’t going to make any rash decisions. He would ponder the matter further. If she couldn’t accommodate all of him, it wouldn’t be so bad would it? And if he made sure he was nothing but gentle with her, he was positive they could still share a full and happy life.

You should also know that his internal monologues alternate between first- and third-person voice:

Damn it, get a hold of yourself. He might be married to her and she might be my wife, but he didn’t dare bed her in case he could find some way out of the appalling situation.

We’ll call that quote Collective Crack Smoking Reason #2.

Heroic Haydon mostly just stomps around shirtless bellowing “You’re my wife, dammit!” approximately five times a chapter, until the end when he’s called up to beat the shit out of the Villainous Villain.

The bad editing….

Or, 99 More Reasons Why Secret Cravings Publishing Is Collectively Smoking Crack.

The publisher of The Cowboy’s Princess Wife claims to have more than two dozen people on staff as editors and proofreaders. I don’t think any of them have actually read this book. If they have, they should be fired immediately.

But that won’t happen because more than half of the editorial staffers are listed as authors. That place is more inbred than the House of Hapsburg.

So, what are they missing? Point of view bounces around randomly. Stock characters pop up out of nowhere for a single line of dialogue, then disappear, never to be heard from again. Secondary characters lucky enough to stick around are unlucky enough to have their names changed from one chapter to the next (Daniel/Drake) or even within the same chapter (Alfred/Albert). The hero’s earldom changes from Huxley to Huntley.

If those narrative complaints are too high-brow, maybe we could nitpick about the atrocious punctuation and run-on sentences…

…It was well kept just as the other buildings spaced around the immediate area, an indication, she supposed, of a man who respected his property and a man of that nature couldn’t be too bad.

…He’d been lucky so far and avoided all the traps she set up, well until to now and it was his own bloody father that had caught him.

…Lord help her, she wondered how could she possibly take any more of this exquisite torture, she vaguely thought, but she did and she wanted everything that he could give her.

…Not only did the King want her back in England so she could lend him money, he wanted her to choose a husband between her second cousins Jamie and Tavis and he frowned knowing that he had heard the names before.

…When silence fell between the two women on noiseless feet, he went back to the kitchen and waved for Albert to join him.

…“It’s despicable to have not two cousins lusting after her and three of them trying to steal her money, but to have them taking the matter to the King and have him order her home?”

…Cursing a blue streak, Haydon found his trousers, swiped them off the floor, he drew them up his legs and once they were over his hips, fumbling he buttoned them up as he raced out of the room.

Or the missing, extraneous or misplaced words…

…She was surprised when the door flew open and at the man staring at her in stunned silence.

…he saw the fear quickly show in her eyes, before she replaced with her anger again.

…“I know of one certain stallion, I’m sure would be perfect. His wily devil but is magnificent.”

…Haydon’s face went hard with displeasure and mounting irritation waited for the rest of the volatile scene to unfold.

…She couldn’t get the wicked pictures that had been painted in her mind from Haydon’s description of how they could make love.”

Or the spelling and homophone errors…

…She let out a soft sigh of satisfaction and keeping her eyes closed let herself drift on the after math of rhapsody.

…Now though she liked having his hands sooth over her back….

…she lifted her hips and let out a low, keeling moan when she became swamped in rapture.

…she was far more fourth coming with them than she would be with him.

…He could feel the vice around him tighten even more.

…She became a little nervous when she saw his face darken and a tick start at the corner of his mouth.

…It seemed as if she was shining and he had to shake his head over the ridicules thought.

Or the subject/verb and verb tense agreement problems…

…What she didn’t understand is just how she came to find herself in this position in the first place and also what else might have happened.

…Her beautiful eyes were spitting hot flames at him, and their brilliance were nearly blinding.

…When her nails dug into his back and lightly tear through his skin, a growl rumbled through his chest.

…How she yearned to talk to him, mourned at not being able to cuddle up against him and falling asleep and she grieved because she was unable to make love to him.

…He undid the buttons on his pants and pushed them down, when they puddle around his feet, he stepped out of them and slipped on the mattress beside her.

Or maybe just the logic conundrum…

…And worst of all, how could she eagerly welcome his kisses and even worse kiss him back?

Even worse than worst of all??? That’s pretty worse.

The bad history….

Ye gods. This is the new standard in Mistoricals. I don’t even know where to begin.

Well, if we have to start somewhere, let’s kick off with Heroic Haydon, Cowboy of Nobility:

“Being a second son with only a minor title, there wasn’t anything for me except finding some employment.”

Haydon is the Earl of Huntley. Or maybe Huxley. Or both. Who the hell knows, because the author sure doesn’t. Our hero is also described as the “son of Lord of Weymouth and brother of the Marquis of Overton.”

I’m no authority on the English peerage, but even *I* know that (a) an earldom is not a “minor title;” (b) titles were rarely automatically conferred on sons of peers and almost never on younger sons; and (c) a duke would never be referred to as “Lord of Whatever,” especially by a so-called royal like our status-conscious Scottish Princess.

Our Noble Cowboy is so noble that his elderly butler and valet emigrated to America with him. Walter the Butler and Alfred/Albert the Valet call Haydon by his first name. Haydon calls them his “boys.”

But wait – there’s more!

Our story takes place during the reign of “King George.” We don’t know which King George, but we’ll assume it’s George IV, who ruled from 1820 until his death in 1830.

Our Noble Cowboy has been ranching for six years. Visitors to the area stay at the hotel in nearby Granite Peak, Montana, and drink beer in the local saloon. Sounds like a typical Western cowtown, right? Well, it might be typical if it were moved into the future by oh, about 50 years or so. The first permanent settlement in Montana wasn’t founded until 1841. The Territory of Montana wasn’t established until 1864. Montana wasn’t a state until 1889.

Granite Peak also boasts a telegraph office, from which our characters send wires to King George and the Duke of Weymouth. So now we’re at some point after the first transatlantic telegraph cable was laid in 1858. Or more likely sometime after 1866, when the first telegraph office in Montana was established.

So why not choose Queen Victoria? Because she wouldn’t have given a rat’s ass who her 59th cousin thrice-removed married, and that would have blown up the whole plot.

We won’t even go into the fucked-up legalities of a proxy marriage between a Scottish princess and an expatriate English nobleman living in an unincorporated American wilderness.

But wait – there’s more!

Carlin claims to be a cousin of King George and 29th in line for the throne, which apparently makes her a Princess. We know she’s a Princess because the word appears in the book more than 40 times.

We have no idea how Carlin is cousin to George, nor to what degree. No other information about her family is provided, except that her cousin Layla is 34th in line for the line and her second cousins Tavis and Jamie are Villainous Villains.

(Can we talk about character names for a second? The Arabic name “Layla” for a Scottish royal? Really?)

ANYWAY, our royal heroine shows up unannounced in the middle of as-yet-unsettled Montana, accompanied only by her female cousin. Wow, two highborn females traveling unescorted across the Atlantic and thousands of miles deep into the wilds of the American frontier – I know, right??? Bite that, Lewis and Clark.

But that’s just the beginning.

Carlin’s entourage includes four men, six horses and three wagonloads of crap. We know the wagons are full of crap because Heroic Haydon calls it crap. Repeatedly.

What kind of crap, you ask? Well, for starters, four full suits of armor and a massive oak four-post bedstead engraved with frolicking nymphs. Also, swords, sabers and other weaponry. Not to mention heraldic banners, tapestries and carpets.

Yes, our heroine somehow managed to drag 14 metric tons of utter crap across the Atlantic Ocean. Across thousands of miles of uncharted forests, mountains and rivers. To the home of the husband she’s never met. Because she wanted to have “her things” around her for comfort. A girl just can’t live in the middle of nowhere without a matched pair of sterling silver candelabras, now can she?

How did she…? Where in the….? Never mind.

What about her wardrobe, you ask?

Dressed in tight black britches and a black silk shirt that snugly fit around her breasts, she looked so damn sexy, downright seductive and bloody indecent.

What. The. Fuck. Where the hell did that come from? WHY would a so-called princess have britches and a skin-tight black silk shirt in her wardrobe? Did she moonlight as a highwayman before her proxy marriage?

“There is nothing wrong with my outfit, sir, and I take offense to ye attitude and tone.”

So there, ye black-hearted knave. We won’t mention the fact that the word “outfit” wasn’t used in this context until the late 1850s.

The happily ever after….

Get your barf bucket ready:

After a chuckle, Walter kept smiling. “Our boy deserves only the very best.”

Yes indeed, Albert silently agreed, Haydon was a man any father would be proud to claim and both he and Walter were very proud of him. And now they were both eager to help him and his princess raise their children and watch them grow in to fine young adults.

The end. Thank GOD.


More examples of publisher WTFery:

Secret Cravings Publishing - Homepage

Secret Cravings Publishing - Submissions

Love Finds a Way by Molly Daniels

A Brown-Eyed Handsome Man by Sable Hunter

20 thoughts on “The Cowboy’s Princess Wife by Mysty McPartland

  1. OMG, I am laughing so hard – and the “OH NOEZ MY ENORMOUS MANPESTLE WILL CRUSH YOUR DELICATE WOMANFLOWER” conflict is a particularly reviled cliche of mine. Do guys really think like this? Do they not know A BABY COMES OUT OF THERE? Ultimately it’s stupid because it’s a way to give a hero insecurities without, oh I dunno, giving him any ACTUAL FLAWS about which to be insecure! It’s the Hero equivalent of giving the Heroine “ugly fiery red hair” and “disgustingly bee-stung lips and long, coltish limbs.” Blech!

    • I myself get tired of the ‘ENORMOUS MANPESTLE WILL CRUSH….’ thing in general, but in a story set at this time in history, puh-lease. Men were NOT circumcised as babies at that point in history (Georgian – no later than 1830, as stated above, but “prophylactic” circumcision didn’t come into vogue until 1870, and was not standard “operating” procedure until the Cold War in the US) unless they were Jewish, which evidently this Earl-cum-cowboy, no pun intended, is not. Intact men do not typically use their, uh, manpestles violently because it would HURT. The nerve structure is physically different when it hasn’t been severed in infancy and the nerves forced to reconnect as best they can. Add to that an intact frenulum on the underside of the glans – which is *always* destroyed with circumcision – and MISTER MANPESTLE would be more worried about hurting *himself* if he’s not darned gentle.

      I don’t know. Maybe some readers will get a thrill out of his worrying about size. It leaves me cold. Or would, if I could wade through the egregious grammar to get there.

  2. Don’t you hate the fact that you can’t get your money back on e-books?

    Thank you for a really funny review. It sounds like Secret Cravings needs you to go in and rip that crack pipe out of their hands and show them what they are doing badly wrong. Perhaps you could teach their dyslexic cat how to type more accurately? 😀

    • If you buy through Amazon, you can do returns. I know, because I’ve had about 4 ebooks returned through them (yet, ironically, none on B&N – htough I’ve sold 3-5X as many on that site – and I imagine returns are just as possible there).

  3. Darlynne says:

    “How did she…? Where in the….? Never mind.” Truer words. I hope the meds help, Kelly. Another brilliant job on your part.

  4. Elise Andrews says:

    OMG. I think that may have been the most honest, most hysterically funny review I have ever read. Thank you…. no really, thank. you.

  5. If only they had a better grasp of punctuation, the line ‘she was far more “fourth-coming” with them than she would be with him’ could have been a vaguely funny reference to the smexy times those girls had crossing the wild west. (Armour and weaponry as sex props?)

    ‘Even worse than worst of all’ made me laugh so much! Reminds me of a book my brother dictated to Mum when he was about six. A boy was running away from a dingo, and the story went: He ran as fast as he could. And then he ran faster than as fast as he could.

  6. Kelly says:

    I had the exact same thoughts about “wily devil but” and “fourth coming” – I’m soooo glad I’m not the only one whose brain is warped this way.

  7. Elizabeth McCoy says:

    I kind of like the idea of a highwayman and a cowboy… Pity that’s not this book.

    The web-page gaffes horrify me.

  8. beverlydiehl says:

    I needed a morning giggle, and my LARA sisters and bros pointed me here. It’s almost enough to make an author want to stick her dirk in her own heart.

  9. SharonGoldstein says:

    I also found you thru my LARA group. Thank ye Kelly for you’re brillaint review. I’m passing it on to my writting parnter. Apparently the good folks at Secrett Cravings are all in Middle Schul. Its grate that your so fourth coming (or maybe fifth) about this.

  10. SharonGoldstein says:

    This is Sharon Goldstein’s husband, Joe Bays and I have a question.

    “She became a little nervous when she saw his face darken and a tick start at the corner of his mouth.”

    Evidently the tick at the corner of his mouth was HUGE! Usually, one of the blood-sucking insects just attaches itself to wherever it is biting and stays there until it blows up like a watermelon. But, this little beastie was only starting at the corner of the mouth. Where was it planning to go next? No wonder his face darkened. And for her to be “a little nervous” in this situation seems incredibly reasonable.

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