Strip the Willow and Rip the Bodice

Because everyone needs a hobby …

Take it with a Pinch of Twatlight June 30, 2010

Let’s let Ned sum up how I felt about the two main characters, Isidore and Cosway:

Yeah, um. No.

Let’s put aside the … secondary plot? with Jemma and Villiers and look at Isidore and Cosway just for now. Their story is pretty simple.

Isidore was married to Cosway by proxy when she was twelve or something, she never met him before. Now twenty-three, she wants him to come back, thus she goes to Lord Strange’s house (which, at the time, is known for it’s sleaziness) to get a rise out of him. It works, he returns, and then rest of the book deals with balancing tempers and learning how to have sex (both of them).

I kid you not. We hear more about how Cosway’s house is cleaned of poop (that’s not a joke either) than we do actual plot between Isidore and Cosway.

You know, even if it’s ignored most of the time, a plot usually does exist for the main protagonists. As it is, the plot here is just … well, nonexistent as best. I mean, arguing over power isn’t much of a plot but then … oh wait this all looks terribly familiar.

Twatlight! That’s where I’ve seen this before. Look at it! No plot, incoherent fights about passion and love and sex and all – it makes you want to tear your hair out! Even a controlling husband/boyfriend! Ah! If Meyer can make as much money as she did out of a crap book, a book like this should be made of gold!

It just isn’t. Maybe it’s because Cosway relinquishes his desire of control by the end of the book – that don’t fly with Meyer: she wants her female Mary Sue protagonists to be docile and well … without brains under the control of a man who sparkles.

But I digress. Then again, the digression is good, you can see where my mind instantly went while reading this particular novel. I was annoyed at Cosway’s constant hounding of wanting to have control of Isidore. In the end, that power is reduced to a sex joke – of which I suppose I could approve.

(at this point, I actually took a nap for a few hours, woke up, and turned on the first Harry Potter movie because I was feeling nostalgic thanks to the new DH trailer. It’s going to be a long week with this book – thank you, wisdom tooth)

So, let’s hear Cosway ramble on about his desire for control – or what he expected Isidore to be:

“‘I’m worried that unless we have a system of command set up, such as I had with my men, this marriage will founder or, worse, in a moment of crisis, I won’t be able to save us.’ …

… He smiled ‘We have to know where the ultimate authority lies.’

Isidore didn’t like the sound of that. ‘If it’s not a moment of immediate physical danger, I would most biddably listen to the reasons behind the advice you’re offering.’

It was his turn to scowl. ‘I have to know that you’re mine, Isidore.'” p.300

Obviously, this doesn’t fly with Isidore but she lets him make up a ‘sign’ that means she’s supposed to listen. It’s some word for ‘lord of her bedchamber.’ Notice though – that the conversation above happens on page 300. The book is only 373 pages long. So we literally go through 300 pages of ‘this is the plot – oh and here’s some house cleaning’.

My main point, I guess, is that fighting over control in a relationship isn’t a fun basis for a story. It’s that whole saying ‘a leopard doesn’t change its spots.’ Sure, changing the man is a big part of these novels but this is a different sort of change. A change that actually resonates with the other side-story couple in the book, Jemma and Villiers (and the subject of marriage – more on that later).

It’s silly to dwell on this subject more because in terms of plot, this is all that exists. You can guess the end. I’d hardly even say there was an ‘impediment’ to get in the way like usual texts of this type. Now you can see why this book was tiring. As much as I’m not a fan of the genre … something has to happen besides a battle of wits over control.

I’m now grateful for the random plots such as those in Viking in Love and A Highlander’s Homecoming – it at least gave the characters a little more … umph – even if you didn’t completely pay attention to it. There was more in the world, I suppose is what I’m getting at.

Anyway, in my opinion, this book was more about Jemma and Villiers anyway.

Now – back to watching Harry Potter and bemoaning my sore jaw.

I've been pretty much rolling around like Draco from AVPM

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Reference

James, Eloisa. When the Duke Returns. New York: Avon Books, 2008.

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Oh Blah, Eloisa James, Very Blah On You! June 29, 2010

Yep – I decided that, for this week, I would do another novel by Eloisa James – more specifically the ‘next’ novel that follows Duchess by Night to see what a ‘continuation’ was like.¬†And that novel is … slight drumroll …

'When the Duke Returns' - Eloisa James

I have to admit – I was a bit excited. Out of all the novels I’ve so far read, Duchess by Night has really been my favorite. Obviously, I had high expectations for the next novel, even if it dealt with the whiny Isidore and her husband, who returns to take her away from Lord Strange’s house (revisit the Duchess by Night posts if you need a refresher). Anyway – here’s where we last left Isidore in the green book:

“It was as if everything was happening in slow motion. The greatcoat was gone, and the hat was gone. Harriet had hardly time to see a great tumble of inky black hair, un-powdered and not even tied back, before he turned …

…There was a moment of utter silence in the anteroom. The duke was looking only at Isidore.

Just as Harriet was about to say something – some sort of introduction! – he swept into a extraordinarily deep bow. Her eyes fixed on his face, Isidore sank into a deep curtsy. Still without saying a word, she held out her hand.

‘My duchess, I presume,’ he said, carrying the hand up to his lips. His voice was dark and foreign, like that of a man used to speaking strange languages.” p.282

And it goes on for a bit, Isidore leaves with Cosway (the Duke) and that’s that for Duchess by Night. Now, the pink book.

“‘My duchess, I presume,’ he said catching her hand and kissing it,

Isidore managed to pull herself together enough to introduce him to Harriet, but her mind was reeling, Somehow in all her imaginings, she’d forgotten to imagine – a man.” p.9

This also goes on, but obviously we’re in Isidore’s pov, not Harriet’s anymore. I thought it was fun, the intertwining of the stories – so I really was eager to read this – just to see how that unfolded, but also the build up for the next book.

So – little did I know I wasn’t going to be a big fan of the subject of the next book. Or really a subject of this book in itself.

The obvious question is – why?

(and before I go on – I’m keeping this short – my mouth is making me really uncomfortable so I plan on sleeping most of the day away until it goes back to normal)

Anyway – why.

1. I didn’t like the relationship between Isidore and Cosway (also known as Simeon). Maybe it was because she was whiney. Maybe it because he was rather … simple. And controlling. Granted, Cosway was interesting in other ways – he himself was a virgin so new stuff there. But I wasn’t really a fan of their relationship – even in the usual happy ending.

2. It seems like the author wasn’t a huge fan either. About a third of the book doesn’t concern Isidore and Cosway at all – but instead Jemma, Elijah, and Villiers. Oh yeah – Villiers – I was really excited about seeing him again.

3. More tension was built up in the side characters, than the main characters. That is, Jemma and Villiers and Jemma and Elijah (her husband who cheated on her early in their marriage). And here’s the aspect where I really started disliking the books.

4. The subject of marriage. I’m going to make a marriage post this week, I think. While reading this book, I paid the most attention to Jemma and Villiers since there was little plot actually happening with Isidore and Cosway – there was no real ‘impediment’ to keep them apart but I’ll get to that in structure. But the subject of marriage … humph. See, when I started the book, I was very surprised to see that I was rooting for Jemma and Villiers – they had a real connection. I loved it. But then, there was this about face where Jemma decided she was falling in love with her husband Elijah (the cheater – granted, Villiers has bastard children, but there’s something charming about him). Really, I was like huh? That makes no sense. So, I pulled up the summary of the next book and found out … well, she goes get back with Elijah.

Crap.

So – is this the sanctity of marriage suddenly appearing in these novels? And why am I’m more invested in this side characters (even when talking about Duchess by Night, I remember saying that I was drawn more to Villiers than most of the characters)? Did my high expectations ruin everything?

Is there something in the formula I’m missing when it comes to marriage?

Needless to say, I was putt-off when I finished this book. I’m glad I chose it so I could talk about why I was put-off, but also disappointed that it didn’t match the craft (and it really didn’t) that was it’s predecessor.

So – things that will be talked about (in no specific order): craft and structure, the idea of marriage, the idea of impediments, and canon with ending. Believe me – it will (hopefully) all make sense once I get to it.

But – as for right now, I’m going to go get a pillow and blanket, make myself comfy and watch a film or something.

If you've never watched 'Spaced' - I completely recommend that you do.

Tomorrow … maybe two posts? Maybe one – we’ll see!

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References

James, Eloisa. Duchess By Night. New York: Avon Books, 2008.

James, Eloisa. When the Duke Returns. New York: Avon Books, 2008.

 

And I make … four June 28, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Liz @ 7:10 pm

I already read the book for this week so I am going to post on it – either tomorrow or the day after, though, as today … today, I had a tooth pulled.

I have a fear of dentists and this was the first time in years I had gone thanks to an awkwardly growing wisdom tooth. Long story short – everything is fine but the tooth needed to go.

So it went – I can’t feel half of my face – and I’m watching the new HP trailer over and over again because it’s epic.

And you’ll hear all about Doctor Who soon, too.

Just have to regain some feeling …

I’m the fourth person I know now who, in the span of these two months have had to go in for something done to their teeth. I thought it was the law of three? Or is that only death? Ah well …

 

Rank & Title & Family – Oh My! June 24, 2010

It's. Almost. HERE!

If you’ve been living on another planet … or just not reading my blog, which I couldn’t blame you for, you know that the Doctor Who season finale is coming up – which is also why the final post for The Seduction is coming on a Thursday instead of the usual Friday.

I’m getting into complete Doctor Who mode.

Exhibit A - Fourth Doctor Scarf is unpacked and being worn around the house

I just have to unpack my sonic screwdriver … wherever it is – a sentence that worries me. No thank you, college packing. Then put on my TARDIS t-shirt that I got at the Doctor Who exhibit in Glasgow, then maybe get out my little TARDIS and little dalek and make myself comfy.

None of that you needed to know – but only goes to prove my absolute geek-ness when it comes to Doctor Who. A season finale is an event – one that needs preparation and proper stanning (stanning: being a huge fan of something).

Anyway! Putting Doctor Who to the side at the moment – let’s get back to The Seduction but also back to the subject of Rank, Title, and, of course, Family.

So you’re not shocked, guess what Vanessa and Damien decide to do come the end of the novel?

I’ll give you a moment to guess. Here’s the quote once you’re finished – which you should be.

“His lips grazed her temple as his hand slid lower to caress her abdomen. ‘We should find something to keep you from being lonely while I’m occupied with mundane governmental affairs.’

‘You don’t find them mundane in the least,’ she replied with amusement. ‘I know very well that you relish your new challenge, spinning gold from dross for the good of the country.’

‘Quite so. But perhaps you need a new challenge as well, now that you’ve succeeded in taming a wicked rake. Would a child or two fit the bill, I wonder?’

Her heart welling at the thought, Vanessa turned to gaze up at Damien. Moonlight poured through the window, highlighting the sculpted contours of his face. ‘Having your child is the only thing that could make me happier than I am at this moment.'” p.345

I know. You’re surprised, aren’t you?

S0 – let’s just take the family bit as a given. Everything ends happily ever after. Olivia marries Vanessa’s brother. Vanessa obviously marries Damien. The end.

But back to title and rank … if WordPress will be so kind to let me make a post about this. In the past five books I have read, we have encountered female protagonists that have two things 1. they are period (that is, they’re in period fiction) and 2. they have some sort of rank and title that plays very much into their role in the novel.

The first is important because I plan on, soon, embarking on reading texts that take place in a more contemporary setting – that was my main focus in my last B&N trip beyond two … other … things that will remain to be seen in this blog. But know – something contemporary is coming in a few weeks (probably 2 in terms of blog, 3 in terms of actual time). But, anyway, using historical fiction, authors are able to give these characters titles like Duchess and Princess that set them – most of the time – in a place above their male counterpart.

This isn’t always the case though. In fact, in The Seduction, Vanessa’s title/rank is equal, if not a little lower than Damien’s – but it is enough to provide her cover.

What do I mean by cover?

Well, take you Duchess and Princess as hyperbolic examples: they have their title to protect them from huge scandal. That is, they have a looser lead. You may not think so – but if it was a simply country farm girl, situations could be different. The farm girl doesn’t have the power to say ‘this didn’t happen’ or brush something under the table. Sure, the ones in power don’t escape rumour – but they have rumour rather on their side. It’s not great, but unless they’re caught – let ’em talk.

In Vanessa’s case, it’s similar. She just needs to concoct a cover rather than having one already. That cover – or rather title/rank – is companion to Damien’s sister Olivia. There’s her out. She’s not there as his mistress, or there because she running from a murder she and her sisters committed, or there because she’s helping out a friend bring her husband home – nope, she’s just there as a companion (previous examples from other books, of course).

I’m not saying title can be something that excuses everything – of course it isn’t – look at Breanne and Caedmon – when they’re caught ‘in the act’ – Breanne’s father pretty much makes them marry (though neither really have complaints about that). Title just gives a little extra protect to the female – not to mention sometimes a step above the men – especially with the Duchess … but probably more on her later.

Now – for the more … metaphorical side of title and rank. I know I addressed this before in my nutshell ‘title and rank’ post last week – but it’s still relevant like I thought it would be here.

Vanessa’s other title includes ‘inexperience’ and let’s just throw ‘virgin’ in there as well because – even though she’s had sex – she’s still a ‘virgin’ to the experience of pleasure, which is what Damien’s out to do.

Of course, he just thinks he has the power in this situation – the power to teach Vanessa ‘pleasure.’ In fact, some of the novel is just that – Damien teaching her how to please a man because Vanessa is convinced that after she leaves Damien when the summer is up, that the only way to support her family will be through becoming a whore. Why this is – I really don’t know. I think it was just an excuse for more sex to throw in the book because really, I couldn’t make much sense of it. Seeing that Damien’s promise was to give back the land, if she was his mistress for the summer – why she would need to sell herself is beyond me still.

Then again, I read it on Sunday and it’s Thursday now – not that I forget things that easily, but these novels’ particulars don’t stick in the mind – especially if it’s the secondary plot that’s pretending it’s the main plot when … not one really cares about it.

What am I missing?

Anyway – Damien thinks he’s teaching her. That’s where most of the sex scenes lie, in fact. I didn’t actually make a ‘sex post’ for this book since it’s unneeded (but I’ll tag this as a sex post nonetheless) – there’s nothing really stand-out about them – beyond this idea of ‘teaching.’

Damien is giving her these tools – he thinks he’s in control. But looking again at Vanessa’s unsaid ‘title’ of ‘virgin’ and ‘inexperienced’ – he’s not in control, he’s handing the control over to her more so. She already has that power over him in her inexperience that she can dangle over him (since he said he wouldn’t take her until she agreed to share his bed – blah blah – Damien’s dialogue was really just … blah). But now, Damien has upped her title from ‘inexperienced’ to ‘experienced’ – which now she can really dangle over him.

She’s experienced and is going to go out and find another man, who will care for her financially in return for her favours. Now she has tricks up her sleeve to make Damien want her even more – she’s holding even more power now – power that he inadvertently gave her. Sure, he may have given her financial freedom at the end of the book – but that’s all monetary.

This is very much ‘in the mind’ – so to say. Damien now knows her knew ‘rank’ in the … I guess, let’s call it the ‘sexual world.’ And that rank is tempting to him. That rank also gives Vanessa another cover like Princess and Duchess – this is now her apparent or wanted (well, unwanted) occupation. There’s her cover – she’s just a whore.

Rank and title play huge roles in these novels – metaphorical and literal. But what’s always interesting is that the ball always seems to end up or even start in the woman’s court.

But then … are we surprised?

WordPress, you better not erase this post … I’ll … well, I’ll be very angry if you do.

So off to eat lunch then dig out my sonic screwdriver.

Bits and bobs and I CAN'T WAIT FOR THE SEASON FINALE!

Until next week – where there’s a pretty decent surprise waiting in terms of what I’m reading. I maybe hinted at it … once. Somewhere. I forget.

But – until next week!

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Reference

Jordan, Nicole. The Seduction. New York: Ballantine Books, 2000.

 

The Norton Anthology Has Arrived June 23, 2010

Drumroll …

The Norton Anthology of English Literature - Volume 2 - Eighth Edition - aka: MY LOVER

So, in The Seduction there are several references to contemporary texts. The first mentioned is easy enough to explain away.

One could even say it’s really annoying because it’s just … seriously? Like, we get that you know the period but don’t be so obvious.

Anyway, here’s the quote:

“Vanessa eyed Damien curiously. ‘The books I saw in your library seemed to have been well perused. Did your secretary read them all?’

‘No, I am the culprit, I’m afraid. I tend to read great deal here. There is little else to do.’

‘You actually read Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Women?’

‘Yes. Have you?’

‘Yes.’ Her chin rose somewhat defiantly. Mary Wollstonecraft’s publication arguing against the subjection of women by men was considered seditious among the noble class. ‘And I found myself in accord with a number of her convictions regarding marriage. Especially those refuting the divine rights of husbands.’

‘She made some interesting points about the social tyranny exercised by men,’ Damien agreed, ‘but I thought some of her opinions stretched credibility.’ p.100-101

And blah blah blah, right?

I mean, Wollstonecraft is awesome – not saying anything against Wollstonecraft. But using her here is just … cheesy. One of the – I suppose you could say – motifs in this novel are the choices of women. Vanessa is reminding Olivia (Damien’s sister) that she has more choices than Vanessa had when she was younger and had to marry for money.

It comes down to choice – the novel concerns a lot of choices: when to finally succumb to Damien, when to tell the truth about this or that, when to take a lover back – but the one really spoken about is the choice Vanessa never had.

Or … didn’t have before the novel.

“‘Mr. Naysmith,’ Vanessa interrupted with impatience, ‘I have not yet considered where I wish to live once Miss Sinclair becomes mistress here, but that is hardly any of Lord Sinclair’s concern. And certainly fails to explain the reason for his … generosity.’

The solicitor nodded solemnly. ‘To put the matter delicately, my lady, he wished you to be financially independent so that you might be free to choose your own future – particularly whether or not to wed again.'” p.336

“If she understood correctly, she was now independently wealthy, completely free to make her own decisions about her future. Her fate was entirely hers to decide, unlike when Damien had obligated her to become his mistress, or when she had married a reckless rogue to satisfy her father’s debts.

Independence was Damien’s gift to her.” p.337

Again, are we surprised? Damien has finally turned away rom his rakish ways and is making amends where he can – including giving Vanessa the chance to make her own decisions to end the ‘male tyranny’ – to use his own quote there.

Personally, I like to think Wollstonecraft can be used for more than just going ‘yay women!’ There’s a lot more to Vindication – I always feel using it this way, though, is just a cop out. What are you going to do though?

It’s the next literary reference I really take issue with, though – and I’m so happy that I do as I was worried what poem of Wordsworth’s this particular bit came from (I’m not that smart – I knew it was Wordsworth but he’s not a huge favorite of mine so I had to google the line).

First – here’s the quote in the context of the novel (setting: Damien, Olivia, and Vanessa are on a picnic – they brought along Lyrical Ballads with them):

“It had not been an easy task, overcoming her vulnerability, but she was no longer cool and guarded in his presence. Instead, she responded to him with a passion that still startled him.

”In hours of weariness, sensations sweet, felt in the blood, and felt along the heart,” her musical voice intoned softly.

Damien’s brows drew together as he watched her. The blood and the heart, indeed. He’d gotten more than he had bargained for when he demanded she become his mistress to satisfy her brother’s debt. He had intended for her to assuage his physical needs, of course, but he’d never expected her to arouse such fiery hunger in him … or such inexplicable feelings of tenderness.” p.169

Poor Tintern Abbey

Here’s the line in the context of the poem:

“These beauteous forms,

Through a long absense, have not been to me

As is a landscape to a blind man’s eye:

But oft, in lonely rooms, and ‘mid the din

Of towns and cities, I have owed to them

In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,

Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart;

And passing even into my purer mind,

With tranquil restoration: – feelings too

Of unremembered pleasure: such, perhaps,

As have no slight or trivial influence

On that best portion of a good man’s life,

His little, nameless, unremembered, acts

Of kindness and of love.” ll.22-35

Okay – so, first off, this poem is a sort of recollection. It begins “five years have past” – so we’re in a position of reflecting on the past in this present moment in the same spot. Now, if you’re just joining my 19th century mind, Wordsworth’s big thing was nature … obviously. Nature, poetry without form – just a sort of free flow – nothing flowery … blah blah just read Lyrical Ballads.

To go on a small tangent, when I was at St. Andrews a little over a year ago, I was in a tutorial where we were reading the ‘Lucy’ poems (wiki is your friend, and I am not your babysitter). I chose to talk about the poem ‘A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal’ and the following passed between me and my tutor (paraphrased since it was a while ago).

Tutor: I don’t know. I just feel like he’s trying to hard to be simple in the last line: ‘with rocks and stones and trees.’ I mean that’s just my opinion but it sounds forced.

Silence in the room.

Me: No. I completely agree.

Anyway, tangent over. But I also studied Tintern Abbey when I was over there – and using that particular line is … curious. What makes me suspicious about this particular line is that it’s from Tintern Abbey to begin with: it’s one of the more well known poems of Wordsworth’s.

To me, at the very first reading (and still a little now), I feel as though the author took the popular poem, found a line that applied and stuck it in. But when you look at the actual poem, it sort of doesn’t make much sense.

I really really had to read into Tintern Abbey and The Seduction to find out why – perhaps – this line was chosen purposefully. One of these reasons stem from Wordworth’s sister – she was with him five years ago, but not when the poem was written. This could be related to Damien and Olivia’s relationship.

Okay. Plausible enough.

The idea of nature. Damien is an excellent rose gardener we learn – in fact, he leaves roses on Vanessa’s pillows and uses them during sex at one point (just go back and look at the cover – roses). So – nature. Covered? A little, I guess … they’re on a picnic, so I guess that adds to it.

But the thing is, Wordsworth is reflecting on ruins. Could this be Damien’s family? I don’t really think so – mostly because he works against them and rights their wrongs in his life (makes his own amends blah blah). Could this be Vanessa’s past life with her husband? I don’t think so either because you could say her ruin was rebuilt by Damien.

In these lines, Wordsworth is reflecting on the ruins and nature – the effects these have on him – the little things – the ‘nameless, unremembered, acts.’ Could you make a case for that with Damien? Maybe. But I feel like everything in The Seduction is overemphasized that using a poem that touches on the sublime, inner feelings nature stirs in the narrator makes everything clash. Tintern Abbey seems delicate put against this novel.

Reading on in this poem, there’s a lot more you could talk about – not just the ruins, but the oncoming industrial revolution that is taking over the countryside – the poem is packed. That’s why I don’t like random quotes from poems – they better be darned researched or I’m going to be picking them apart like this and getting well …

annoyed.

I’ve ranted enough about this, I think. I probably made absolutely no sense and really – this is all up for debate like everything else. But, as a writer myself, when I use quotes or make allusions, I’m careful – I don’t want it to just match the period, I make sure to take account of the whole work before I use it – like many other authors, of course. And I am in no way claiming any sort of superiority. I’m merely saying that there is more to it that just picking a poem that fits the period, may fit the story, and pulling a line from it.

Because people like me will enjoy ripping it apart and screaming: NO! STOP!

Hey, but at least it wasn’t Coleridge – we’d have more of an issue if he was the one quoted.

Yeah ... wouldn't blame you, if you were making a face like Amy's right now ...

Anywho,

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References

The Norton Anthology of English Literature: Eighth Edition, Volume Two. Stephen Greenblatt, ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2006.

Jordan, Nicole. The Seduction. New York: Ballantine Books, 2000.

 

A Ginger Post: Part 5 June 22, 2010

And let us start with the lovely Amy Pond …

from the episode 'Vampires of Venice' - I WANT HER HAIR!

Speaking of vampires though – just really quick side note – I will not be reading any vampire romance fiction. Yes, that may sound like I’m leaving out something that’s really ‘in’ in our culture at the moment, but after suffering through Twilight – I just can’t. Any other supernatural things, though, I’m up for.

Even werewolves – thankfully, I only read the first book for class so I didn’t get to see how Meyer botched them (then turned them in to shape-shifters, if I recall correctly from many a funny recap I have read).

Anyway – yes, it’s the ginger post. Have I read the ginger post yet? No – but I will. I have to order it still (which I should have done at B&N while I was there today replenishing my stock – but, as usual, forgot).

But I’m going to talk about us gingers anyway because – we matter. Have you hugged a ginger lately? If you haven’t – you’re cruel. Get to it.

So – Vanessa is not ginger – but it is incredibly interesting how her hair color is described.

“Those dark eyes of hers were luminous enough to drown in, while her hair was a lustrous sherry color, shimmering with the gold and russets of autumn.” p.33

“His fingers toyed absently with a curl of her darkly burnished hair. Even after sating himself so fiercely, need for her still ran like flame-warmed brandy through his body.” p.194

Vanessa isn’t quite ginger – she has dark hair with bits of fire in it, it’s polished, it shines. There’s gold and russets – but she’s not all ginger.

And you can see that in her demeanor. She doesn’t take on the usual ‘ginger’ role – she falls into the category of ‘inexperienced’ and there’s a bit of fear in her character until Isa or Breanne.

But, her hair plays rather significant roles in terms of sexuality in the book – Damien often focuses on it in an attracted way – not like: oh, she’s a ginger! but, instead, it’s like he’s uncovering the fire hidden in her hair.

Bad metaphor, I know.

“An easy, contented silence settled between them. Some moments later Damien broke the quiet spell by asking, ‘Do you always plait your hair before sleeping?’

‘Usually.’ She looked wary. ‘Why?’

‘You have lovely hair. I want to see it loose and fanning across my pillow.'” p.101

“Her midnight eyes were huge and questioning as he reached to lift a curling tress from her breast. His fingers rubbed lightly, feeling the rich, silken texture.

‘Your hair is exquisite. I’ve dreamed of having it wrapped around me.'” p.143

“Weakly Damien nuzzled his face in Vanessa’s hair. The bliss that had convulsed his senses was as powerful as anything he’d ever felt, but the fierce emotion that flowed through him was stronger still.” p.345

So what is it about the hair? Is it the fire that’s hidden in the gold and russets? I really like to think so. I really like to think Vanessa’s hair is a metaphor for herself – she’s polished yet complex. She’s skittish but also passionate.

If we look at every ginger post before, there’s a pattern in them. The darker hair (the non-gingers) have a skittishness about them, something to hide or something to fear. But the gingers – they’ll raise hell and high-water and are, or become, very passionate. And – of course – we get all the comments from the men about redheads.

I’m going to leave this ginger post on that note – The Seduction creates a female protagonist that has hair not only portraying her outward fear she needs to overcome, but the passion that Damien is intent on releasing within her. And he does, of course, do that – and he nuzzles (see quote above) in that hair after he does so.

Job well done, I suppose, in Damien’s case.

How could I forget this HBIC??? Fierce.

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Reference

Jordan, Nicole. The Seduction. New York: Ballantine Books, 2000.

 

One Woman to Rule Them All

Yes, I realize that yesterday, my title had a typo in it. I fixed it without someone having to tell me – but I’m still, nonetheless, mortified. Just saying.

Anyway, because of the epic-ness that was the first part of the season finale of Doctor Who I’ve decided to double up on posts each day so I give myself some time to re-watch the series in preparation for part two. Yes – it is really that epic. Of course, it could go the way of bombing in part two but I trust Moffat. I like what he’s done so far with the series.

But I’m rambling. Back to The Seduction.

Expect lots of 'Doctor Who' .gifs - here's the Ninth Doctor & Rose

Checking back with my last post, I went through what I ‘definitely’ wanted to talk about with this book. The first being: the male protagonist.

As I mentioned, it’s a different opening. Unlike the other males we’ve encountered before, we actually see Damien’s rakish behaviour first hand – not through rumour. The entire prologue is made up of his jaunt with an actress (who, coincidentally, is the actress that Vanessa’s husband lost his life for in a duel – insert sad face here I guess, but at least it was more plausible than dying over a chess game *coughDuchessbyNightcough*.

Here are the opening lines of the prologue:

“The silken bonds bit into his wrists with exquisite pressure, heightening the sense of pleasure. A willing captive, Damien Sinclair lay defenseless, his bare arms fastened to the bedposts with scarves of scarlet silk.

He couuld see his reflection in the gilt-framed mirror overhead: his naked, muscled body juxtaposed against the snowy sheets; the full, hard length of his arousal jutting from the curling ebony hair of his groin.” p.1

Yeah, needless to say – not what you expect on page one. Or, at least, not what I expected. I grew used to the ‘pretend rake’ or the ‘rake on a break’ – but Damien is one in full force.

So … yay?

The prologue continues in this way a bracelet in involved at some point and there’s a blonde in the mix (the actress), too. The actress is trying to get Damien to take her on as a mistress since he’s currently without one (though, rake that he is, would he really only be satisfied with one woman? (at this moment?)). The scene ends, as I’ve mentioned before: Damien’s sister is in an accident and he lives the actress in bed.

Through the usual turn of events called ‘coincidence’ – Vanessa’s late husband traveled in the same circles as Damien and she gets him to notice her. Why? Because – also by coincidence – Vanessa’s brother lost the family estate to Damien during a game. And, again by coincidence, her brother happens to be the cause of Damien’s sister’s accident.

Vanessa tries to figure out how she can get her family’s estate back and first offers to be a companion to Damien’s now crippled sister. Damien is against that at first, but then agrees under a condition.

I’ll give you a mo’ to guess that condition.

“‘Well, you are in luck, sweeting. You find me in an indulgent mood. But I have in mind a more intimate arrangement than the one you envision. I shall make a bargain with you. I will offer you the position of companion – but not to my sister. To me.’

‘I … don’t understand.’

‘Then I shall put it more plainly. I will cancel your brother’s debt if you become my mistress.'” p.37

No need to raise your hand if you saw it coming – but hey, did you see it coming in Chapter Two? That’s what surprised me. My marginal note reads: what the heck happens in the rest of this book?

In Chapter Three, we even get their first kiss (yes, I pay attention to chapters and page numbers – usually sex happens around the 200 range, the kiss is debatable but Chapter Three is a bit surprising – especially at the pace this particular novel moves at in terms of sexuality) – and it’s incredibly sexually charged, as one expects.

“His thumb stroked her jaw, his touch lingering and provocative. She wanted to move, to flee his disturbing nearness, yet she was held captive by the intensity of his gaze, by the raw, powerful sexuality emanating from him.

His knuckles brushed over her moist, parted lips. A frisson of fiery sensation sparked from his fingers to her skin.

‘Your answer, sweet Vanessa?’ He tilted her face up to his. ‘Will you kiss me?’

His voice stroked her senses like velvet, weakening her defenses. The need to protect herself from this man was strong. And yet … she didn’t want him to stop touching her.

‘Yes …’ she murmured, her voice a whisper of sound.

It was enough. His palm cradled her face gently, with infinite tenderness. Vanessa watched, spellbound, as his ebony lashes lower to shadow his sensual eyes. His breath fanned warm against her lips, before his mouth settled on hers with slow, sure pressure of experience.” p.46

And with that: One Woman to Rule Them All.

Surprised?

“What the devil had he gotten himself into? He hadn’t meant for events to unfold as they had. The last thing he needed just now was a mistress to complicate his life. Certainly not the determined, defensive elder sister of the man he’d sworn to destroy.

He had given the lady every chance to refuse his offer, expecting her back down from his outrageous proposal. Yet he had to confess pleasure at the prospect of her fulfilling the wager. Intense pleasure.

Damien shook his head in bemusement. When was the last time he had felt such anticipation? The last time his pulse race at the mere thought of having a woman a woman in his arms, the way it did for Vanessa Wyndham?” p. 54

From this point on, we get back into the usual territory. Damien’s world becomes Vanessa. He becomes possessive, even dueling over her towards the end of the novel (which she leaves him over but then accepts him back, as we also expect).

I think what I found most interesting about Damien is that we do see him change. We see the other guys change, yeah – but Damien goes from having an actress put her bracelet on his penis (yes, that happens in the prologue) to:

“Eighteen was his own sister’s age, Damnien realized grimly as the girl settled on his lap with a dreamlike smile.

When she parted the diaphanous robe and lifted her peaked nipples to his mouth, his host politely rose. ‘I shall leave you to your pleasures then.’

The beauty rubbed the taut buds teasingly against Damien’s mouth. She tasted sweetly of wine, yet rather than becoming around, he had to steel himself against a strange and sudden aversion.

Instead of showing his distaste, though, or denouncing Clune for being a less than satisfactory host, Damien came to an abrupt decision and lifted the girl in his arms leaving the entertainment behind, he carried her upstairs to his bedchamber.

She was half-asleep even before he laid her on the bed, yet she roused herself to give him a confused look when he covered her near nakedness with a quilt and stepped back …

… ‘Go to sleep, sweetheart,’ Damien murmured, keenly aware of the irony in his action: Lord Sin made an unlikely savior of feminine virtue.” p.203

And of course he proposes marriage to Vanessa – once and she rejects him, twice at the end and she accepts – done deal.

I liked this sort of insight into the male world though. For so many of these novels, free indirect discourse is the most we see of the men’s world. Sure, we get glimpses here and there, but this, I think, is the first that really stood out to me as going: wait, there’s another world out there and let’s just take a jaunt into that for a bit.

As for male protagonists as a whole, I can’t say Damien was my favorite. He was cheesy, used awful pet names, and blah blah – but he did give the men their due, in a way. We got to see a little more of that side through him – even if it involved a very misplaced bracelet.

Told you - whole lotta 'Doctor Who' - this one mixed with a little 'Hitchhicker's'

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Reference

Jordan, Nicole. The Seduction. New York: Ballantine Books, 2000.