Sunday, 10 December 2006

Virginia Henley - Bold Conquest

Grade: F

All right, this book defenitely earns the title "worst roamance of the year". Unfortunately I was already half through the story when it started to get really disgusting - and I just couldn't put it away. So I suffered through a number of demeaning scenes I decided gracefully to "share" with you.

The blurb:

HE CONQUERED HER LAND, BUT WAS FORCED TO FIGHT FOR HIS HEART When Guy de Montgomery's Norman army swept across the countryside, claiming all in its path, the fairest prize of war was the lovely Lillyth of Godstone Hall. But the gallant lord was so captivated by the green-eyed beauty with the flaming red hair, he knew he had to win her heart. He was challenged by both friend and foe for the enchanting Lillyth. And Lillyth could not help but fall in love with the fiery lord who protected her from the brutality of others. In the warmth of his embrace she discovered the exquisite beauty of love's passion. Even as the lingering hostilities threatened to keep them apart, Lillyth knew that her heart had been won more surely than the land. And the conqueror, too, had become the hopeless captive of a woman's love.

This story was first published in 1983 - my copy is a reprint from 1993. I can't even believe that this horrible rape scenario got reprinted, not to speak of the fact that it's still available through Amazon! I have just checked. Brenda Joyce's Conqueror first got published in 1990. Lucky me the whipping scenes started right away so I didn't feel bad about breaking it up. I am quite sure that Bold Conquest, Henley's second romance novel, was the inspiration for many more such humiliating romance novels.

Ok, what happened?

Isn't there a proverb that says "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me" ? Well, in this case it should say: "Rape me once, shame on you, rape me twice, stupid me, rape me thrice, please just kill me" - or some such thing.

The first time our feisty heroine Lillyth gets raped is during the marriage night by her first husband. Of course this husband has in reality a penchant for young boys, so he saves her precious maidenhead and sodomizes her. (The heroine kills him later, of course).

The second time she is raped by the hero himself. Guy has claimed Lillyth for himself and thinks she gives her favours to everyone but him. Enraged he throws her onto the bed and puts his "lance" into her - realizes she is still a virgin and becomes all contrite. Of course, our feisty heroine has fallen in love with him, forgives him, enter the flowery, lusty love scenes à la Henley.

What else happens? I admit, I skipped some pages, so I don't know if I've missed some gory details.

At one time they have a dispute, I think because Lillyth was jealous of a strumpet, she then provoked Guy by flirting with the king's brother. Guy is furious and hits her across the face, heavily. After a period of a collective "not talking to each other" - they are riding out. Lillyth behaves like a nitwit without two braincells, Guy of course doesn't want to be provoked. He takes her horse away and lets her walk home - about four or five miles. During this "cleansing" walk Lillyth's anger towards Guy leaves and turns against herself. When he comes to her she falls at his knees and cries for forgiveness.

One day Lillyth and Guy decide to get married. Of course the fair Lillyth doesn't know that Guy is already married and has a wife and two children. All comfortably tucked away in Normandy. Lillyth becomes pregnant, she finds out about his marriage and her mother gives her some berries to abort the child.
After a time of not talking to each other (sounds familiar?), Guy can't hold his manly lustful thoughts in check and more or less forcefully seduces Lillyth. Her body reacts to him, but her mind tries to resist - it ends with Guy's sophisticated shout "that all women are bitches!"

Lillyth flees, becomes the Mistress of the king's brother (of course she doesn't climax with him, because he treats her too nice and she is accustomed to Guy's forceful "uh" eroticism).

Tadadatadatada - after shipping around for about nine month, Lillyth bears Guy's child and decides she still loves her husband and goes home. Meanwhile Guy fortunately remembered that he has a wife and two daughters, therefore he decides to fulfill his fatherly duties, yadadadadada

The ending is sappy, full of sweet talk and love. ARGGGGG. I have read some other rape novels, but except for two Woodiwiss (in German) I never finished one. I can't believe that such a book ever got published!

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Saturday, 9 December 2006

Me tooooo ;-)

After all this talk about blogs, reading journals and its merrits I started my own blog. I am not sure I will be able to post about every book I read, but it's an interesting way of at least trying it *g*.



Portia Da Costa - The Tutor

Grade: B-

Ok, my first review :-) The Tutor by Portia Da Costa came to my attention thanks to a review from Rosario's Reading Journal. It sounded interesting and of course I always wanted to try out more Black Lace titles. I normally don't do erotica well, I prefer HEAs, stories that involve monogamous couples (or trios) and a solid plot to give me something more to read than sex scenes. But Black Lace got Emma Holly famous and I adore that woman! I've read another title from this line that has got an A- from me: Out of Bounds by Mandy Dickinson - a sexy ménage à trois with a lovely happy ending. (I am NOT mentioning those approximately ten German translations I have suffered through where one story was worse than the last...).

Here's the blurb:

When Rosalind Howard becomes Julian Hadey's private librarian, she soon finds herself attracted by his persuasive charms and distinguished appearance. He is an unashamed sensualist, a man of wealth and intellect who, together with his libidinous wife, Celeste, has hatched an intriguing challenge for their new employee. As well as cataloguing their extensive archive of erotica, Rosie is expected to educate Celeste's young and beautiful cousin in the arts of erotic love. Having led a sheltered life, the young man is simmering with youthful passion. In luxurious surroundings, they find themselves drawn into increasingly decadent scenarios where experimental sex is on the menu and like minded libertines reap the rewards of unbridled desire.

OK, first to what I really enjoyed.
The characterisation is fabulous. All persons, be it the heroine Rosie, David the gorgeous but nervous 19 year old, the married couple Julian and Celeste or the crazy fitness trainer Ladybird - all were truly likable. A bunch of great people who are sexually liberated, but don't judge those who are more inhibited or insecure (like Rosie for example). I have often experienced that minor characters tend to be portrayed too friendly, stereotype or sweet - like in your average Harlequin publication. But that wasn't the case with this book. Despite their amiable ways they didn't loose any credibility.

Rosie may be your average librarian as we know them from countless other romances, a little voluptuous, insecure and without much self-worth, but as the story continues she gradually moves on and starts to enjoy her own sexuality and discovers that heterosexuality may not the only key to sexual bliss. Except for Emma Holly's f/f scenes this was the first time that I didn't skip love scenes between two women.

I also had a weakness for Julian. Admittedly, I always have a weakness for dark, sophisticated, sexually experienced heroes, who have a certain alpha quality to themselves without being so overly exaggerated as it happens unfortunately too often.

The plot is practically nonexistent, but I didn't mind at all because the sex scenes were totally entertaining and sufficient. No skipping any pages and no getting bored because of the nth "tab a in slot b" scene.

I found myself in a situation where I couldn't put that book away, it was entertaining, captivating and truly sexy ... right up to a sex scene during the 2nd third. Up until then I truly thought I would keep the book and give it a nice place on my shelf besides Emma Holly's Black Lace editions.

I am contemplating if this scene could be considered a spoiler - I am really not sure, because it doesn't actually concern the plot (which isn't very difficult), it's just one more sex scene - one that felt like the proverbial cold shower. But because it happens later on in the story you might want to think about reading on.

Before I start elaborating I want to say that I've read a number of D/s novels, some I enjoyed very much, some appeared as if the author didn't know what he/she was writing about and then there were those who were too extreme for my tastes. I have read BDSM stories about heterosexuals, bisexuals and gay couples - and it didn't make a difference to me, I either liked them or not - because of the love scenes, and nothing else.

During the second third of The Tutor Julian has a short intermezzo with his chauffeur. That Julian I described before as dark, brooding, and dominant but who is also a very adorable guy. I wouldn't have minded to read a D/s scene were Julian simply switched to bottom and cried because of the sexual intensity of the event, but as a female reader I find it a total turn off if the afore mentioned sexy guy becomes a whining, effeminate kind of person I don't recognise and can't stand at all.

Perhaps I am standing alone with this opinion, but after reading that scene I was so disappointed because all those highly erotic scenes that happened between Rosie and Julian appeared fake and played and I just knew that I would never reread this book.

Weeel, nevertheless I am looking forward to my second Portia Da Costa novel, The Stranger, I am currently trading for. First, it has a HEA, always a big plus for me, and I've read some really nice reviews about it....

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Da Costa, Portia - The Tutor [Erotica], Grade B-, December 2006

Henley, Virginia - Bold Conquest [Medieval], Grade F, December 2006