Strip the Willow and Rip the Bodice

Because everyone needs a hobby …

Reading a Book by Its Cover June 21, 2010

When I finished reaching the book for this week – The Seduction by Nicole Jordan – I sort of had a pause moment about how my strategy of picking out books for this blog has changed since the first.

Walking into Giant weeks ago, my only thoughts were: Fabio on the cover (or something like it) and the words ‘throbbing,’ ‘bud,’ ‘nub,’ and ‘shaft’ – and so on. It just took a flick through and there I went through the self-checkout and so be it.

Then, after reading then, I started to set out looking for books that I thought could help answer the questions I was coming up with. So – If He’s Wild I bought because there was only a man on the cover. Duchess by Night I bought because there was only a woman on it and she was blonde.

And this week, I bought a book with no one on the cover.

No, the Female Protagonist is not a rose, nor is the Male

And no, it wasn’t just the price, either, that caught my eye.

I thought it would be interesting to read a book with no one on the cover. In fact, I didn’t even read the back. I wanted to be completely in the dark when I read this – the only clue I had were on the cover.

I know I took issue with the cover with Duchess by Night – it was ‘misleading’ – well, as misleading as a romantic novel cover could be. I was just put-off by the fact that she was blonde on the cover and brunette in the book. Oh well. Not a huge deal.

But The Seduction – I looked at it as a sort of challenge. I wasn’t surprised to find that it was historical – it takes place in 1810 – and I wasn’t surprised that it followed the same formula as every other novel I’ve read.

That’s not to say it had it’s moments. In fact, after a long monologue to my mater last night about Shakespeare, Wordsworth, and Coleridge (I went on a mini-lit-rant), I said that this book was my favorite after Duchess by Night.


It had two interesting aspects. The first: the male protagonist was very much a rake. In fact, the prologue is made up of him having sex with another woman, only to be interrupted by news that his sister has had an accident. Yes, this all seems part of the formula, but I found it striking that we are given more of a glimpse into the life of this particular rake, Damnien Sinclair (aka Lord Sin – I know, it’s terrible). Sure, we’ve heard of past exploits in the other novels, but in this we actually open with one. It plays with the convention of the ‘one woman’ aspect – and I can’t wait to explore that.

The second this was … hair color again. While the female protagonist, Vanessa, was technically a blonde, her hair was often described as being fire-like.

I thought of using a DIAF .gif for laughs, but this one was just more fun.

So – decide – are you redheaded or are you blonde? And that’s for the ginger post.

I’m getting the feeling that these ‘first posts’ are just outlines of what i plan to do with the book of the week. I’m liking it so I’m keeping it that way.

There are other interesting bits in this book too – I’m going to return to the whole title/rank subject this week, too. Like Duchess by Night it is one of the ‘movers’ of the plot, so to say. Vanessa isn’t very high up socially (she’s nicely put, though) – but the power play she initiates with Damien is worth comparing against the other novels read. Because, hey – they’ve all had some sort of power play, obviously.

I think this week too I’m going to address the use of other literature within these novels – but just the past two. The first three novels made no mention of contemporary texts, but both Duchess by Night and The Seduction have purposely mentioned texts contemporary to their respective time periods. Since I went off on a mini-rant last night I realized, I’m going to have to take a look at this.


Because I don’t think that they’re just put there to say “Hi! Look how period-correct I am!” And, if they are, I’m totally going to be ripping into that. I’m all for allusions or references, but they have to mean something – sloppy references make me rage, let’s just be honest here.

So, subjects to be discussed: 1. the Male Protagonist 2. Hair (of course) 3. Literary References. I’m excited about number 3 – that will be fun and my Norton Anthology upstairs is buzzing with excitement.

Oh, and for your viewing hilarity, a picture of me reading this novel taken by my 5-year-old cousin:

There should be a book called "If You Give a 5-year-old Your iPhone"

Busy week it looks like – and hopefully I’ll get some other reading done that I’ve been neglecting terribly … very terribly.

Until tomorrow a …


(and there is a reason behind all of this RDJ overload – I’ve found that because I become bored with reading this books about 10 pages in, I just slip RDJ’s face onto the guy and I’m fine – I guess that’s the whole escapist thing … actually it’s Restoration‘s fault but if I said that you wouldn’t believe me so I thought I’d lie and say it was the whole escapist thing even though … it isn’t)


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


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