All That Glitters, V.C. Andrews (1995)

The third book in the Landry series sees our heroine, dumb as a fence post Ruby, agreeing to marry her wealthy half-brother, Paul Tate. She does this merely for security, but also because she’s an idiot, apparently forgetting she’ll come into an inheritance in a year or so. In a hilariously bad scene that goes on far too long, they play dress-up make-believe one evening. Then they have sex, because Paul thinks it’s cool if they were pretending to be other people.

Beau, back from France, marries Gisselle because she looks like Ruby, and if he can’t have the real thing, boffing her twin will do. Beau and Ruby start sleeping together on the sly, but Paul immediately figures it out.

Both step-mother Daphne and Uncle Jean die off-page because the author’s a hack.

Gisselle contracts encephalitis, and in a plot too ludicrous to believe, Ruby switches places with her comatose sister. Gisselle ends up dying, and Paul, having convinced himself she was really Ruby, drowns in the swamp after going on an extended whiskey-fueled bender.

A big custody battle ensues when Paul’s parents want their ‘granddaughter’ Pearl. It’s really just Paul’s mother sticking it to Ruby, because she knows of the sister swap. All the deception is revealed in court, and only some eleventh hour testimony from Paul’s father saves the day. Pearl is reunited with Beau and Ruby and they get a happily ever after that they don’t fucking deserve, including twin boys a few years later. So happy! So infuriating.

All That Glitters oozes so much trashy tawdriness it almost leaves you speechless. This book was absolutely wretched. Ruby and Beau were self-centered and selfish, willing to stoop to anything to get what they wanted and not caring who they hurt because, true love! Destiny! Fate! Paul needed to pull his head out of his ass and get over his romantic love for his sister. He was selfish, too, so no real sympathy there. Towards the end, Paul’s mother exhibited some uncomfortable mother love, but it could have been the grief. That said, she’s not blameless in any of this either; she went along with the baby buying all those years ago, faked a pregnancy, and never told Paul the truth. Don’t get me started on the ridiculous, implausible plot.

There was one, one, good thing in this. Louis resurfaces, albeit briefly, but even that’s slightly tainted by the author de-aging him by about ten years. Pretty sad that a partial chapter involving a peripheral character is the only freaking bright spot and worthwhile thing in this whole mess.

This book was utter garbage, populated with reprehensible, self-serving people. * out of 5