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Khanh the Killjoy

Once an Heiress - Elizabeth Boyce Actual rating: 1.5It was probably a bad idea to read this book after The Heiress Effect. Two books about heiresses in one week, it figures that I'd strike out with one of them. This is the one to skip. It is definitely jarring, though, to follow up with this one. There could hardly be more of a difference between the two heiresses and their loves. Overall, this was a terrible, insipid book with a foolish, contrary heroine and an immature, gambling-addicted, angry-for-no-good-reason, womanizing asshat of an future Earl. I would give this a one, but bumped it up because my opinion might have been biased negatively towards this book due to my reading of The Heiress Effect. So, 1 added star for benefit of the doubt. Even with the bonus of said benefit of the doubt, I still would not recommend this book to anyone I actually like. I will keep the rest of my review strictly on topic, and on this book alone.Initially, I liked the main character; but that ended with Chapter One. Lily was greatly likeable when we first met her; an heiress with a rumored dowry of £100,000. We initially make her acquaintance as she is shooting down a so-called "Leech." Said Leech is one of the many fortune-hunting gentlemen (usually second or third sons) out for Lily's enormous dowry. She rapidly shoots him down, and I was impressed with her spirit and nature, as well as her intelligence and purpose, since she aims to open up a charity school for less fortunate young women.Suffice it to say, our intrepid, spirited heroine's intelligence went down the crapper as soon as she meets the douchebag that is Lord Ethan Helling. He is a real fucking winner.I've read a lot of Historical Romance about fortune-hunters. They haven't all been nice guys (no shit), but at least their purpose in getting said fortune is somewhat noble. Those guys have inherited crumbling estates in need of repair, they were indebted through no fault of their own, but due to the misbehavior of their predecessors, whose mistakes they have to fix. They have close, beloved relatives and numerous tenants relying on them. They need the money to inject into business ventures or projects to help many others, not just themselves.Not so with Lord Ethan, no sir. We first meet him when he's waking up from a boner-ridden dream of his mistress's luscious tits & ass (well, technically, his best friend's mistress), hung-over as hell from drinking and gambling the night before. And he freaks out over his staff's sudden resignation because they haven't been properly paid in months. How dare they?! They're just servants, and he's a Lord! Ethan is nothing if not dismissing of those of a lower social class, even to Lily and her stinking New Money wealth, which he needs. Generally, if one is in debt from gambling, one stops. But no. Ethan cannot possibly give up gaming."How could he give up gaming? He had no money with which to pay his debts, so he had to make money. To make money, he had to gamble, but doing so inevitably ended with him further in debt."How about you get a fucking job, you idiot?Ethan's noble goal in life is to see his loathsome father dead so he can inherit his estate and entire fortune. His other noble goal in life is to steal away his best friend's mistress, Ghita, who is a stereotypically hot-blooded, bitchy, sensual Italian Venus of a goddess. So really, he needs Lily's fortune so he can win and keep Ghita."Ethan's mind reeled. With a dowry of a hundred thousand for his daughter, Mr. Bachman himself could easily be worth a half-million, or a full million, or more. Ethan could pay off his debts. He could afford Ghita. Hell, he could afford ten Ghitas."Oh, and he takes care of an old aunt suffering from dementia. Well, that came out of nowhere. Sure, that justifies all of his brutish behavior to compromise and win Lily, then! Ethan is supposed to have a sad backstory. You know, typical noble family, no love, cold parents, etc. Get the fuck over it. It does not justify him growing up to be an asshole who is looking to be as deplorable of a man as his father. He supposedly grows to love Lily, even as he woos her for her fortune, but he shows his love in really strange ways. Flowers? Poetry? No. Too old-fashioned. Ethan's love translates to being a coldhearted son of a bitch to his newlywed wife."When he righted himself, he pinned her with a jeering smile. 'You once told me that living in this run-down sty would offend even a bushman. Well, it’s your sty now, princess. Welcome home.'"My positive first impression of Lily ended, as I said, with the first chapter. After she meets and falls into horrifying insta-love with the brutish Ethan, her intelligence seems confined to her freakishly large bosom and how high she can heave them. She becomes disappointed that Ethan's not hunting her for her fortune, then becomes enraged with him when she finds out that he is. Despite the warning of all of her friends and family, all of whom have known about Ethan's proclivities towards gaming and womanizing, Lily falls in love with him. She justifies his behavior, and goes so far as to follow him around as he's walking around town to prove to her friend that he's a good guy. Of course, because everyone conducts their shady business in the light of day, in a bustling shopping district. She tries to point out his normal behavior as he goes around a public street, goes into a jeweler's shop, says hi to friends, goes into a booklender.'"If he's such a blackguard,' Lily reasoned, 'then his character should soon evidence itself.' She skittered to a halt when she spotted him. He stood in front of a shop, examining a pair of Hessians in the window. 'Oh, boots,' she said in a sarcastic tone, 'very shady.'"But she's angry with him. You know the Katy Perry song "Hot & Cold?" Yeah. Lily is like that. She can't make up her freaking mind what she wants. Does she hate Ethan? Does she love him? No clue. She justifies his behavior, then behaves like an ass when he's trying to make amends. She blames herself when he is borderline abusive. I lost my patience with Lily five chapters into the book. Lily is the very definition of devolution, because her character in no way grows or learns from her experience. To the contrary, her love of Ethan makes her a worse person.Do yourself a favor and read something else.