Strip the Willow and Rip the Bodice

Because everyone needs a hobby …

I made all these posts and the ‘Category’ is still spelt incorrectly July 17, 2010

Yes, I’m very aware that the past few posts have been categorized under the name ‘Powder and Path’ rather than ‘Powder and Patch’ … I’m not sure how to change it for one, and for another … I don’t know why it is but my fingers type ‘path’ instead of ‘patch’ about 80% of the time when talking about this book.

Hm.

Ah well.

So – final post. I usually talk about family here but … strangely that’s missing. Well, maybe not strangely.

The last few words of the book are actually found in the last post where Cleone is talking to Philip about the contents of the locket (aka: she kept his real hair in a locket – shock, awe, surprise, whatevs).

We assume they marry.

Do we assume they have children?

Yeah, probably.

Do we assume they live happily ever after.

Yeah, probably that to.

But we aren’t actually shown it. We aren’t given that’ ‘family’ element that the other books end with. We’re led to just assume. And you know what, I’m fine with that. I’d rather assume that read ten or more extra pages of coddling children and the protagonists saying how lucky they are as they caress each other or have sex. Again.

In the end, the book was refreshing. It ended on a light note just as it began on a light note. As I’ve said many times – this book isn’t around to make you really wonder. The ‘Romance’ is already established, the couple is established, it’s more about the ‘romance’ of appreciating what the one partner really does have to offer the other, when the other is confused over what she wants.

I feel like I’m continuously repeating myself. But, this will be a short post.

I really thought I’d have a lot to write about here concerning structure, but I don’t. Obviously, the internal structure is different. The two protagonists meet but are already in love by the beginning. The impediment really isn’t an impediment of the usual sort (a rival) – it’s a style that’s the impediment and that’s easily overcome. And then we do end happily ever after.

But we’re thankfully spared the details.

I wonder, though, how popular the notion of not actually ‘seeing’ the happily ever after is. I made a choice earlier this year when writing my own novel (that isn’t a romance) of whether or not to show this one scene (this is completely unrelated – but it is worth a pause) because the reader would perhaps want it – but I found it unnecessary. The reader isn’t a child. And I think Heyer is on the same sort of wavelength.

Why write out what the reader knows?

Or, even, if they don’t marry – isn’t it fun to speculate? It’s like … Inception … mwahaha – you thought I could go without mentioning it.

At the moment, I’m more for the ‘let’s think about this’ rather than the ‘oh … happy ending.’ Plus, as I’ve also said many a time, it’s such a change from all those that I have read.

I don’t want to repeat myself anymore but I’m sure you get the idea by now. As for the book next week, I will say we’re doing a time warp. And … that’s all I’m going to say. Surprise surprise.

And just for fun – I love this picture of Gary Oldman:

Look at the GQMF!

Anywho, until next week …

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Reference

Heyer, Georgette. Power and Patch. Naperville: Sourcebooks, Inc., 1930.

 

I never really did like 18th Century Style

Yesterday, I saw Inception. And yesterday, my mind was blown. So, I took the day to sit around, contemplating how awesome that film was and how on earth I can get someone to take me to see it again.

And again.

I love movies that make you think and are sort of puzzles in themselves. And that fight scene? You know the one I’m talking about if you’ve scene the film. I’m adding that to my list of best moments of cinematography.

Don’t ask me what the others are because I’m already wasting too much time blabbing on about this fabulous fantastic movie. But one of them is the chase in the woods from The Piano. There.

Oh, and –

Okay - I'm finished but I want my imagination to think of things like this! (no, the picture doesn't move so don't wait for it to)

Anyway – yesterday I planned on talking about the style that men take on in Powder and Patch. It’s a fair enough topic because, really, the dress that is popular is made to sound incredibly feminine in the book. And before you make the whole ‘that’s period’ argument – I realize that, but the way that it was written, the attention that is brought to the clothing is interesting.

My hypothesis – in a nutshell – is that Philip is more like the romantic hero ‘man’ in the beginning, goes through the transformation into a French … I don’t know what, those were the parts you could skip the dialogue because pages would be spent on stockings and ribbons and fabric … and Cleone realizes that she doesn’t want a little French doll, but the Philip that she knew before – the ‘romantic hero’ with un-powdered hair and what not.

While it’s clear from the beginning (there’s even a proposal of marriage met with the fact that Philip isn’t proper – not that Cleone doesn’t love him), that Philip and Cleone are in love and what not – there is a rival. This rival, Bancroft, represents the ‘change’ that Philip must undergo to have Cleone – hopefully – realize he is fit to marry.

“The Apparition [Bancroft] wore a coat of palest apricot cloth, with a flowered vest of fine brocade, and startling white small-clothes. Red-heeled shoes were on his feet, and his stockings were adorned by sprawling golden clocks. He carried an amber-clouded can and a jewelled snuff-box, while ever and anon he raised a cobwebby handkerchief to his aristocratic nose. He minced down the street towards the market-place, followed by the awe-stricken glances of an amazed population.” p. 23

In contrast – this is Philip:

“Philip’s coat was made for comfort; he would have scored the stockings of Matthew Trelawney. He even refused to buy a wig, but wore his ownbrown hair brushed back from his face and tied loosely at his neck with a piece of black ribbon. No powder, no curls, unpolished nails, and unpainted face – guiltless, too, of even the smallest patch – it was, thought Cleone, enough to make one weep. Nevertheless, she did not weep, because, for one thing, it would have made her eyes red, and another, it would be of very little use. Philip must be reformed, since she – well, since she did not dislike him.” p. 15

Heh – I like the last line there. It makes the narrator endearing – and the character of Cleone easy to understand. I like clever little lines like that.

Anyway, you can obviously see the contrast between the two men. Bancroft, is, as we will learn with Philip, educated in French design. Philip ends up, after all, going to France to get his … ‘education’ I guess we’ll call it.

Oh, and for reference – a patch was a bit of fabric used to hide pock marks on the face and whatnot – if my research is somewhat reliable. See – this is why I like my 19th century. Sure, they were crazy in themselves … all those hair broaches and such … but patches? Huh.

Anyway – Philip’s aim is pretty much to become Bancroft. So he goes to France, learns how to dress and talk in a really very annoying manner and returns. Of course, inside, Philip hasn’t changed – he just wants to make Cleone ‘realize’ what she’s asking of him and what she really does want.

Here’s a bit of Philip’s transformation:

“Under his deft hands Philip squirmed and screwed up his face. He complained that the haresfoot tickled him, and he winced when the Marquis pressed two patched on his face. When Francois dusted his cheeks with powder he sneezed, and when a single sapphire ear-ring was placed in his left ear he scowled and muttered direfully.” p. 55

Yeah … give me the other male protagonists any day. We, as readers, are let in to what Cleone’s gotten wrong. I think that’s key into how this fashion is portrayed. Sure, it’s the rage, but it doesn’t fit Philip – and it doesn’t fit Cleone.

And how to we know this? The final ‘revelation’ so to say – the locket Cleone keeps (that we learn of only in the last two chapters of course) contain something:

“‘Is it not? Ah, Cleone! Tell me, my dearest, what is in your locket?’

‘Something I meant to burn,’ she murmured.

‘But did not?’

‘No – I could not.’ She fumbled at her bosom and drew out the trinket. ‘See for yourself, Philip.’

He opened it. A rolled lock of brown hair fell out and a town scrap of parchment. Philip turned it over.

‘Yours till death, Philip,’ he read. ‘Cleone, my love.’

She buried her face on his shoulder.

‘Your – hair – your poor hair!’ she said.” p.183

So – simple enough. She wants the old Philip back. He teases her of course saying that it is all cut off (yeah, but it will grow back the reader fills in) and that he’s going to write a sonnet about her eyes (that has to be a joke, too, since he’s back to being Philip-Philip).

So it’s pretty much – change for me, oh wait, I liked you better before, why did I ask you to change, that’s what I really wanted and was too blind to realize it.

But it’s also interesting to see that the change is a highly feminine one – one that could easily fit into the whole ‘Romance genre’ – the well built men and what not. Could you imagine someone like … the male protagonist of Viking in Love dressing up like this? No, of course not.

There’s some sort of male ideal at work here. One that’s not as prevalent in the other novels as much as it is here – it’s something we sort of take for granted in those books. The men are already built up as these paragons of masculinity, ready to ravish his love at any minute (I say his ‘love’ because I’m going on a search where the female role – or even the male role – is played by the same sex – plus, it will give me a good fuel to let me rant on about why we need to allow same sex marriage – the fact that it is only allowed in a few states is absolutely ridiculous – love is love be it between a man and a man or a woman and a woman – it’s no one’s place to say that’s wrong – ANYWAY! Save that for that time …).

So – Philip, we’re to assume I believe, goes back to his usual ‘country’ ways that make him more appealing to Cleone. He’s dipped into a sort of feminine sexuality but Cleone saw that damage that did – she wants a man and in the end – well, I think we should believe that that’s what she gets.

Just like every other heroine we’ve read so far.

Huh. Look at that.

So ... is this why it's a 'Romance Novel'

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Reference

Heyer, Georgette. Power and Patch. Naperville: Sourcebooks, Inc., 1930.

 

Time and the Narrator July 13, 2010

My Initial Reaction to the Narrator

Now, my overall question is still: why is this a romance novel?

I think starting with the narrator, though, and the narrator’s pace is an important. After all, it’s the narrator who decides how we ‘get’ the story. My initial reaction was – eh. I like when narrators become characters themselves (this happens once and a while – the narrator gets all meta-fiction-y on us and addresses the reader). But, I had written ‘show don’t tell’ in the margins a lot but, in the end, I sort of … understood the narration style.

It was hard to get used to the time jumps:

“He had gone; now he had come back, the business details settled to his satisfaction, but with not wig.” p. 16

“That night he gave a card-party. The play was high and the bottles numerous. He lost some money, won a little, and was put to bed by his valet long after dawn. He awake later with a splitting headache, but he considered himself a man. That was in September.” p.59

Not to mention a play-by-play of a duel stretched over three pages in the form of a sort of soliloquy (pages 90-92).

I was a bit annoyed with the pace. Especially since the exposition was given dialogue, but the real meat of the book was brushed over and just told to the reader in short paragraphs with a little free indirect discourse once in a while when the characters met up. I found myself skipping a lot of the dialogue for it was taken up with talk of fashion and very little scheming – plus, there was little to scheme since the two protagonists were already in love from the beginning (but more on that in another post).

It was hard to adapt to reading this sort of style – but by the end I had an appreciation for it. The story wasn’t a complicated one – so why complicate it with unneeded description and whatnot? The book gives you exactly what it tells you – there are no surprises … at all.

The narrator is straight forward – just like the story.

So how does this lead into the whole ‘why is this in the romance section’? Well, the narrator, in her/his straightforwardness, makes it just about that. It’s the story of a man reforming (or at least pretending to reform to show the woman what she really does want she had all along) for a woman and the silliness that comes with it. There’s no side plot – it’s just that.

While I said in the last post there is very little ‘romance’ itself – that’s true. There’s no need for wooing – we get very very little of it. The girl is wooed from the start – this is more of a story about Philip than Cleone, so to say: Philip becoming a man who wears Powder and Patches.

And, wears them for love of Cleone.

Okay – there’s our romance … I guess. Again, I’m confused. I liked the wittiness of Philip trying to become why Cleone thinks she wants but it didn’t fit ‘romance’ in my mind. It was a comedy of manners, as I’ve said, and, if given the choice, I would have put this novel in just plain ‘fiction’ before ‘romance.’

The narrator revolves around society, not around love. The narrator goes in depth into fashion, into customs, into everything but ‘romance’ – yet, the characters deal with all of these because of romance.

So – is that creaky sentence the reason this novel is considered ‘romance’?

Absolutely no idea. But, I think it may be some sort of a start.

Yay!

Anyway, I think – in keeping with the length of this novel, I’ll follow it in the posts. Concise and quick – plus, the kids were over today and I had twins following me around for a few hours.

And that’s another thing … children … there are no children at the end of this novel. In this novel … but I think that’s for another post, too. The … ‘breaking of structure’ or just ‘a different structure.’

Maybe that’s really why I liked it – it wasn’t like everything else …

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Reference

Heyer, Georgette. Power and Patch. Naperville: Sourcebooks, Inc., 1930.

 

So that thing called ‘Marriage’ July 3, 2010

Pretty much how I communicated my thoughts after I finished reading ...

In the previous post, I gave you a little taste of Jemma and Villiers’ fantastic sort of relationship with each other. I liked Villiers in the last book and I really liked him in this book – as well as Jemma … for a few hundred pages.

There was a strange turn that Jemma’s character takes … and it may have something to do with this:

Say WHAT now?

Jemma and Elijah? Yeah, we get the foreshadowing in this book – but the foreshadowing comes rather … all of a sudden. But wait – let me give you the summary of the next book so you can see where I’m going:

“Wedding bells celebrating the arranged marriage between the lovely Duchess of Beaumont and her staid, imperturbable duke had scarcely fallen silent when a shocking discovery sent Jemma running from the ducal mansion. For the next nine years she cavorted abroad, creating one delicious scandal after another (if one is to believe the rumors).

Elijah, Duke of Beaumont, did believe those rumors.

But the handsome duke needs an heir, so he summons his seductive wife home. Jemma laughs at Elijah’s cool eyes and icy heart—but to her secret shock, she doesn’t share his feelings. In fact, she wants the impossible: her husband’s heart at her feet.

But what manner of seduction will make a man fall desperately in love…with his own wife?”

No … just … no no no.

Let’s recall: Elijah is a cheater. What’s with this sudden – ‘I’m falling in love with my own wife’?

And it gets worse. I kid you not. The book about Jemma and Elijah is followed by another about Villiers and some other girl.

Leopold Dautry, the notorious Duke of Villiers, must wed quickly and nobly—and his choices, alas, are few. The Duke of Montague’s daughter, Eleanor, is exquisitely beautiful and fiercely intelligent. Villiers betroths himself to her without further ado.

After all, no other woman really qualifies.

Lisette, the outspoken daughter of the Duke of Gilner, cares nothing for clothing or decorum. She’s engaged to another man, and doesn’t give a fig for status or title. Half the ton believes Lisette mad—and Villiers is inclined to agree.

Torn between logic and passion, between intelligence and the imagination, Villiers finds himself drawn to the very edge of impropriety. But it is not until he’s in a duel to the death, fighting for the reputation of the woman he loves, that Villiers finally realizes that the greatest risk may not be in the dueling field…

But in the bedroom. And the heart.

What? WHAT!

Even the Doctor doesn't approve.

Okay  – right now you’re probably accusing me of just being a sore ‘shipper’ – mad because the characters I actually liked didn’t get together. But that really isn’t it. Granted, maybe it is a little – but I’m looking at through through the lens of structuralism, which I’ve dealt with before.

In summation:

1. protagonists meet

2. protagonists fall in love

3. impediment

4. impediment solved

5. Family! Marriage! Woot!

Or … un-woot here. Jemma returns to Elijah when it’s rather clear in this novel that Villiers is in love with her – and her with him.

Until a dues ex machina or really just a change in the narrator’s tone realizes that this could upset Jemma’s already set marriage.

“Jemma blinked at him. She fully expected him to say that he had to work. To read those documents that he was always reading, even at the supper table. ‘You mean -‘

He held out his arm. ‘I have decided not to work in the evenings. I am at your command, duchess.’

‘Oh,’ Jemma said, rather uncertainly.

They strolled toward the drawing room. ‘I suppose the soiree,’ Jemma said, deciding. ‘I should like to dance.’ She was wearing a new dress, a delicious gown of figured pale yellow satin with a pattern of tiny green leaves. Her skirts were trimmed with double flounces and rather shorter than in the previous year.

Elijah looked down at her with a smile in his eyes.

‘Yes, I am wearing a new gown and I should like to show it off,’ she told him, thinking that there were nice aspects to having been married so long.

‘The hem reveals a delectable bit of your slipper,’ he said gravely.

‘You noticed!’ she stuck out her toe. She wore yelled slippers with very high heels, ornamented with a cunning little rose.

‘Yellow roses,’ he said, ‘are not nearly as rare as a perfect ankle like yours, Jemma.'” p.127

I’m sorry but he sounds like an idiot trying to gain brownie points with a woman who’s obvious emotionally conflicted. I think it’s a little contrived. And it goes on like this until Jemma decides that she does want her husband – but Villiers is still willing to do whatever she asks. And whatever Elijah asks, too, seeing as he seems to be dying.

Now that would have been perfect – kill Elijah and let Villiers and Jemma be happy together. Why not? The characters are both flawed and it really seems like they could ‘fix’ each other, so to say.

But no – for some reason, there has to be a set protection around an already existing marriage – that of Jemma and Elijah. Wouldn’t it be a little more interesting to disrupt the structure a little (I mean, Elijah’s death could easily be an impediment, if you really want to stick with it), and put two compatible characters together, rather than protect an already ruined marriage?

I really think that Jemma is being taken advantage of by Elijah – another thing that disturbed me in the book beyond the ‘impediment’ element being control between Isidore and Cosway. Obviously, Jemma is confused when her husband starts giving her attention – something she’s always wanted. But what if it really isn’t good for her?

I’m sorry, but I cried foul when I read this book. There was nothing romantic about fighting for power in a marriage, or watching a woman who seems happy with someone just as flawed as her become confused due to her cheating husband … who is dying and won’t tell her …

I mean … wtf?

I think this is what really underlines the reason I didn’t care for this book. There were too many things I took issue with on a very base level – control (even if we’re talking period) and emotional stress or even abuse (because I really think that Elijah – while he may love Jemma, sure – is playing off her old hope that he would come and get her) isn’t something I’d want to read.

Is it just because of marriage? Oi.

Again – take it with a pinch of Twatlight.

Oh – and a week off! Yay!

Sorry I was incredibly bitter towards this book – or maybe you preferred it. Who knows?

I shall be back in a week with a rather … unique? book.

lalalalala ...

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Reference (if not linked)

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

 

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.

 

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.

 

One Woman to Rule Them All June 22, 2010

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.