The Golden Maze

Published in September 1972

From the back cover: “Cindy thought she had stepped right into a fairytale when someone left her a castle — a real castle in the beautiful Lake District.

But there were conditions attached to the bequest which slowly but surely began to take all the magic out of the situation…”

So, yeah, this was my first foray into vintage Harlequin land and it required a certain adjustment of expectations. Expectations such as grown-ass women are actual adults and not overgrown children and that, as grown-ass women, they are capable of making their own decisions. Silly, silly me.

Our Heroine: Cindy Prescott is 19 years old…going on 10. Seriously, she whines that life isn’t faaaaaiiiiiirrrrrrr and plays with her hair a lot. Perhaps it’s stretching things a bit to classify her as a grown-ass woman.

Our Hero: Peter Baxter is 33 years old and a complete and utter dick. It is absolutely not stretching things at all to classify him as a dick.

Interacting with Outdated Technology: Not much, really. I think there’s a mention of a pay phone and characters actually, literally mail things.

The Story: We open with Cindy playing with her hair in the lobby of a building, looking for her solicitor’s office and failing horribly because that would require a functioning brain she forgot her glasses. So as a glasses wearing person, I had to wonder how the fuck she managed to drive herself to this building if she can’t even see a sign in front of her face but NEVER MIND! Here’s our hero (only Cindy doesn’t know it yet) to tell Cindy how young and short she is. Thanks Peter!

Cindy finally manages to bumble her way to Keith Ayers’ office and — while immediately falling in love with Cindy —  Keith tells her that someone she met once when she was seven years old has left his not-a-castle to her. But there’s a catch! If the man’s son and rightful heir shows up in the next three weeks, not-a-Castle Caife goes to him instead. Oh NOES! For some reason, Keith thinks it would be a groovy idea for Cindy to visit the not-a-castle for a week.

Cindy dutifully trots into her boss’s office and — while he falls in love with her — she tells him that she needs to go to the Lake District for a week. Ta ta, Boss Who’s Name I’ve Already Forgotten.

Cindy arrives at not-a-Castle Craif and is SHOCKED that the housekeeper, Mrs. Stone, and her son don’t immediately fall in love with her. Don’t worry, though, they’ll be fired shortly. There’s lots of drama with villagers who also stubbornly refuse to fall in love with Cindy, so she plays with her hair and moans that Life Isn’t FAAAIIIRRR for  a while. The villagers can’t really be fired, but don’t worry…they’ll fall in love with Cindy eventually.

We then have the arrival of Peter the Douche-Bag and his girlfriend Yvonne Todd, who you immediately can tell is evil because she wants to make money and be an independent grown-ass woman. Silly Yvonne. That’s not how you get people to immediately fall in love with you. Peter is angry because some weird ass newspaper story has said that Cindy is planning on selling the not-a-castle to an American and — apparently — that Must Not Be.

Anyway, Cindy throws temper tantrums when she thinks that Peter doesn’t believe her about the American but don’t worry…this doesn’t last long. Peter falls in love with Cindy and kicks poor money-hungry Yvonne to the curb. Yay?

The Cats Say: I…I don’t know. This was a very strange experience. Did women really want to be as helpless and unintelligent as Cindy in the 70s? The cover of this is pretty awesome, though.

 

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