So there I was, happily reading a biography about Adam Worth (Macintyre, Napoleon of Crime, 1998), and being fairly good at my resolution not to read five books (or more) at once. (There were only two others I was reading besides the Worth book. That's a low number for me.) Then in chapter 20 the author starts to recount the plot of a 1945 novel by Rosamond Marshall that (Macintyre says) was based on the life of Kitty Flynn (Worth's lover), only with the plot nowhere near the historical facts. And it was a romance novel (p 212): "...written in the first person and comes complete with heaving breasts, ripped silk, tight corsets, showers of kisses, and in obedience to some immutable rule of romantic writing, euphemism-laden sexual congress at least once every fifteen pages."The author was very eyeroll-ish (I've decided that's a word) over the book and I decided that I should test the description for accuracy, especially the bit about a euphemism every 15 pages, because that sounded humorous at least. For film buffs - yes, there was a movie made out of the book, called Kitty (1945), with Paulette Goddard and Ray Milland. Three sentences worth of plot summary at that link.Anyway, for a giggle I check the internet to see if there's a used copy anywhere, wondering about prices, but not meaning to actually buy anything. And then (thank you, Google) I find myself at Open Library where there's a digital copy (here) I can sign up (it's free) and read online - immediately. So now I'm reading yet another book. (I blame the "free" and "immediate" parts of all that for sucking me in.)We'll see if I can find any amusing quotes. But first - ALERT, ALERT!!! I will spoil some chunks of plot, though I've been vague, so make your choice to stop at this point. You have been warned.[Spoiler free hint of the outcome of the read: note the number of stars.]Quotes and commentary to follow:The opening pages have photos from the film of Goddard and Milland - nice costume work. (There are other photos later in the book.)...Not only is it in first person, it's also in cockney-esque. Or at least I suppose that's supposed to be cockney. "Wot if I arsked fur a bob, would ye guv it me?" - and that's on the first page....Some of this sounds possibly historically accurate (p. 5-6):"...I had often run with a gang of buckle thieves, up and down St. James, when I was a mere, chit, so this was familiar ground. A dozen or twenty of us would wait, shivering in our rags, blue-fingered and sniveling, near the entrance of clubs or playhouses. When the fine folk drove up in their coaches, and their lackeys gripped wrists to make a seat to lift their masters and ladies across the reeking gutters, we would close in like a dog-pack, pull the shoes from the dangled feet of some feathered dame, or ruffled gent; and make off before the footman or link-boys could lay hands on us."I remember reading somewhere about buckle thieves and their methods, but can't remember where....p. 7 - wait, she happily washes? Perhaps it's a trope but it's more common to have the waifs unwilling or afraid to wash, in fiction anyway. And in the wash basin - usually for just hands I thought, she washes all her body and then her hair. ...She thinks the gentleman has brought her home for a quite different reason (p. 8-9): "...I could not bring myself to put on my gown, the stench of it sickened me. Naked, I walked out of the cabinet....I gulped hard before I could stammer, "Where...where d'ye want me to lie down?"Later he told me he had thought me a child until he saw my full breasts, and the ruddy triangle that revealed the woman. Even so he was shocked, and annoyed at his own embarrassment when he realized my lack of self-consciousness."Get into your clothes, slut!" he shouted."And she refuses, even when he offers something clean, "not till yer pay me."And of course it's a misunderstanding. Spoiler, he's a painter and wants her to sit for him. In theory - by which I mean "details here aren't all factual and we're in historical fiction territory" - he's Thomas Gainsborough....Kitty mistakes the painting of Blue Boy for a real person. Salting in those historic painting references! And in this book his name is Brett Harwood. I sense we'll hear that name again. But mostly because Macintyre's book has tipped me off to this fact....So far it's not true about the "every fifteen pages" thing. It took until at least p. 22 for Kitty to fall into bed with Sir Hugh. And speaking of numbers, apparently she's either 14 or 15 years old, she's not sure. She lives with a "baud mistress" who she "bitches for," and lost her virginity at age eight. Nothing amusing here. ...I'll add that Sir Hugh is Brett Harwood's cousin. Foooooooreshadowing.......For the most part, this isn't at all bad - or at least not as bad as I was expecting. I think Macintyre just hasn't read much romance. Especially bad romance, of the "free ebook on Amazon" "surprise, you're now reading painfully-bad writing and plotting" type of bad romance. I mean, we're definitely in the "guttersnipe to a swan" trope here, but it could be sooooo much worse. However! There are indeed moments more giggleworthy, like p. 54:"..."Kitty! Kitty! Let lady Pinchnose teach you the conventions, I'll teach you love; a passion-wise mistress is worth a dozen blue stockings!"My senses were warmed by Hugh's fire. Often when he held me, thrilling and trembling, I would fight him off that I might retain some reserve against his blandishments. He would freeze into a stillness that left us both throbbing and breathless, then he forced me to yield with greater abandon. "Little gutter-rag! You please me," he whispered in a transport, as he caught the tip of my ear with his teeth, "if ever you try to find a better man, I'll cut you to pieces!" "Ok the cutting up part not so funny, but the gutter-rag as an endearment, yes....From p. 55:"Now, Kitty, read that last sentence again," Lady Susan prodded. "H...ero, H...eard, the H...ound H...owling. Be careful of your h's! Read it again!I'll note here that Shaw's Pygmalion, which was adapted into My Fair Lady, was written in 1912. Of course the Greek myth itself is ancient, and Shaw was apparently inspired by Gilbert's Pygmalion and Galatea from 1871. But the teaching sections here definitely recall My Fair Lady.No one's called Kitty a (draggle-tailed) guttersnipe yet. Waiting for it......Kitty remains fascinated with her memory of the Blue Boy painting, p. 69: "Even Hugh could not guess how often I conjured up the vision of those pensive eyes and lips serenely folded." - Wait what, folded lips?!...Somehow I'm finding it more easy to spot humorous quotes. Pg 71:"Enjoying creature comforts and Hugh's amorous love-making, womanhood flowered in my full busts, my firm clear skin. The natural, the untrammeled, were Hugh's standards of feminine beauty. He told me, with wrinkling nose, "I've slept with women who did not remove their underclothes once a year! You must be like the Greek maidens, your body free and flexible."First, busts is indeed what is in the book. Second, I wonder if after a year the underclothes would become inflexible. No, I think they'd just disintegrate. ...Apparently the important point of Hugh's speech is that Kitty isn't allowed to wear stays. Which we all know is the sign of a loose woman. (Chortle.)...And apparently it's Kitty we have to thank for actually naming Gainsborough's painting Blue Boy. (The book keeps calling it Blueboy - all one word.)...Gainsborough on Kitty's beauty, p 107:"That satin skin of yours is pulled over a framework of tempered steel, that melting flesh is as sturdy as a young bulldog's. The pink, the blue, the gold of you, is but a mist of illusion that veils the adamant beneath!"...Ah ha, here's some old school romance, with a dude hitting a woman. p 113:"Are you two plotting to make me marry [removed due to spoilers though you're clued in on this way early on]? ...What if I won't?""I'll break your head," Hugh said quietly.I leaped backward to dodge his raised hand - the sight of that threatening hand enraged me, "Maybe I will marry him!" I shrieked.The hand struck a blow on my head that stunned me."And of course she lets him back into her bedroom the next night anyway. There's no apology.....I do love weird hairdos. p 116"...Towering masses of powdered hair topped their heads, this mass was bedecked with laces, feathers, stuffed birds, flowers, and jewels; many were made more vivid by vegetables from the green-grocer's cart - carrots and radishes being the most in favor."...and on p. 167-168 we get a husband beating his wife. For many paragraphs. Ugh. More tragedy afterwards....Ugh, Sir Hugh's nickname for her. p. 173 "Brute! ...I thought you were sad because I married [the "not really a spoiler" guy from earlier]!""I was, kitten-cat.""Only because it wasn't [this other dude].""Well," he looked at me inquiringly, "Wouldn't you be said if the man of your heart were to marry another?""But now," I gasped, "you would marry me off to [this other dude]!"And yeah, he kinda would. So really, why DO you like Sir Hugh? Because everyone else in the book knows he's a weasel....She gets a sable fur sent to her from [this other dude], which she puts on while she's in bed with Sir Hugh. p 175 "The velvet caress of the skins was like a million lips on my naked body. Hugh wrapped me in the folds and smoothed his hands down the lush padded curves.There were little drops of moisture on his upper lip.I leaned toward him. He backed me against the bed. Lying amidst the downy furs was almost like floating upon a cloud. He parted the deep folds and gazed at me and slowly traveled one finger from breast to navel, murmuring, "God! you're beautiful, Kit!"Um, ew, thanks to several phrases in there ("million lips" and the moisture on his lip - ugh). This is definitely a scene Macintyre was warning about. It's like the script for an old B movie. With a fur monster that has a million lips. ...Actually I now feel Macintyre's jokey warning wasn't warning enough and ended up spurring me into reading all this. And there really, really should be a warning somewhere...At this point I would agree that yes, this IS a bad romance novel. (Becoming one or has always been one? Too far in now, can no longer tell. Send help.) It's not gotten too unreadable, exactly, it's just moving deeper and deeper into the "not at all good" zone. That also has something to do with my VERY low tolerance for men hitting women. There's also enough that's wildly non-historic and unrealistic here for me to deny the (always stupid) "but it really happened in history" argument.But of course now I want to know how much more out there this story can get. Reading on......[This other dude], on their wedding night, gives her a set of emeralds (tiara, necklace, etc. etc.), then removes her nightgown and has her stand there as "He traced the outline of my figure with his hands." Yes, it's the fur scenario, part two, different guy. But, p. 179 (because I know it's important you know the pgs at this pt): "At midnight [this other dude] left me, no more my husband than the clothes-horse on which he left his silk robe hanging." Ok, that's...different... More of the unsexy, same page:"Chafing my bruised arms and pinched shoulders, I arose and bathed my burning cheeks in cold water, and rubbed soothing save into my kiss-bitten lips. How the Duke's old bones had hurt! What agonized strength in those match-stick wrists!"Perhaps she married a giant biting-pinching spider-crab monster. Because this does not sound like human-type sex. Though I suppose we should assume "burning cheeks" are a sign of embarrassment and not that he's set parts of her on fire....And suddenly Hugh's in the scene when he shouldn't be. Again. Also it's annoying how much he knows about [this other dude/spider-crab, who from now on will be called TOD/SC - I know, I should have made it spell something]. I'm going to be disappointed if he doesn't get defenestrated at some point. Er Hugh that is, not [TOD/SC]. (Also I live to use the word defenestrate.)...p. 190:"A child! An heir? The [TOD/SC] line will live!" Weeping real tears, he kissed my hands, my lips, my knees."Kinda random knee kissing there. I think you can figure out what's happening here, heir-wise. And then let there be fireworks and ale for the tenants! And [TOD/SC] makes her stare at the Blue Boy painting so that their son (he assumes) will look as handsome (more assuming!). Because the pregnant Greek women did this and someone said it worked. And she's again digging the dude in the painting....p. 202 "In that flash of time, I realized as never before how complex a heart beat beneath that flowered waistcoat." - snort. Also, Kitty, you're an idiot.....p 233, appearance of [Previously Mentioned Dude from Back in the Foreshadowing Times, or just PMD] who certainly took his time about getting into the plot. And Kitty has a fun time filling him in on the guys she was once hitched to who are now dead. Which you'd think would be a lot more awkward than it is....p. 239 PMD and Kitty meet up and lo, the smarm is strong in these two. "Duty bade me stay away, Madam. Desire brought me here. I could not resist you." Wait, it gets worse."Are you real?" he murmured, "do you eat roast beef, and ...kiss?" Without warning he took me in his arms.""...never were my lips so shy! When, trembling, we drew apart, he wiped my cheek with the soft cushion of his thumb and touched the moisture to his lips."I keep thinking it can't get any goofier. And then it does. Roast beef and thumb cushions....Trope alert, and explained to us almost immediately. It's the old "she has a secret (which we've known as of the first chapter) and it could Spoil Everything Between Them."...ARGHWTFPANCAKES ending. Grrr. Most annoying ending possible.Just when you think all is cleared up and she can marry PMD - she decides that NO, SHE CAN NOT because she can't tell him that Sir Hugh is the true father of her son and she just KNOWS PMD can't accept it. And so - she goes into his bedroom in the inn to sleep with him, knowing she won't marry him in the morning as planned. Sudden end without her actually going into the room and having THE ACTUAL CONVERSATION ABOUT IT. We leave her in the inn hallway, running to the door to PMD's bedroom and about to go in.See? Is that some messed up plot line or what?! There are a couple of Hollywood movies of the same era that end like that too and are just as unsatisfying.One consolation star for all the WTF quotes which did amuse. A big MEH and no stars for the plot. Entirely ridiculous end I wish it were possible to defenestrate.