Strip the Willow and Rip the Bodice

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I never really did like 18th Century Style July 17, 2010

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.

 

Period Period Fiction July 12, 2010

As promised in the last vlog, a picture of this week’s book – Georgette Heyer’s Powder and Patch – on the shelf with the other novels of this genre:

see the difference?

There was a lot that that attracted me to this book beyond the difference in shape – the cover, as I also mentioned in my vlog, was different.

'Powder and Patch' by Georgette Heyer

There was no Fabio-type man clutching a woman on the cover. The length was odd. And, more importantly, when I flipped through Powder and Patches I found it missing.

‘It’ being sex.

The quick answer to the last point – the absence of sex – can be easily marked off by the ‘period period fiction.’ Powder and Patch was a novel originally published in 1930. Not that the time period is the excuse, but the Author’s bio provides more insight into why the ‘usual’ aspect of these types of novels was missing:

“Author of over fifty book, Georgette Heyer is one of the best-known and best-loved of all historical novelists, making the regency period her own Her first novel, The Black Moth, published in 1921, was written at the age of fifteen to amuse her convalescent brother; her last was My Lord John. Although famous for her historical novels, she also wrote twelve detective stories. Georgette Heyer died in 1974 at the age of seventy-one.” p.185

First of all, the author was still quite young when writing this novel but also – there was no formula yet – was there? Plus, if she continued to write from the air she took when writing for her brother – there’s no need for sex at all. Secondly (and this enforces the former, I suppose), her first novel was written for entertainment – I like that. Thus – Heyer seems to be writing to entertain – but in her way.

And then there’s that third thing: she’s a historical novelist. It’s stressed not only in the biography but throughout the book – this is historical fiction.

When I finished the novel I asked myself: why the heck was this in the romance section? As I predicted in my vlog, this was very much a comedy of manners. A … Wodehousian sort of romp of the mid-eighteenth century. In fact, so little is actual romance, that I’m still trying to figure out why it was marketed as such.

The story is insanely simple (I read the back cover in my vlog – and nothing at all strays) – the characters are two-dimensional, but in a good way, and there’s no fussing about anything other than the simple, black and white plot that had these little 2D characters tripping over each other and laughing about it.

As I said – I liked this novel (not the best thing I’ve ever written – especially since there was no translation to the French some of the characters speak – FOOTNOTES PLEASE!) – but why wasn’t it put in plain fiction?

My guess is that was what it was placed in when originally published (I’ll have to do a little research into that, of course – but it still brings up the question about Wodehouse … but more on Wodehouse later). Beyond that – I’m clueless. I certainly wouldn’t have placed it in the Romance section.

Now, it’s not because I’m biased – because I liked the novel, because it didn’t follow the formula, because it was a comedy of manners. It’s not like I want to ‘rescue’ this book from it’s place in B&N – I’m just wondering why it’s there.

So – this week, I’m going to try and figure that out … with the text. I think structure will be interesting to talk about as well – but looking at why this novel is sold under ‘Romance’ look be interesting to look at.

Breaking it down … nah – I’ll just surprise you in the next few days.

And if you couldn’t tell – yes, I’m quite drowsy. Enjoy this cat and dog .gif.

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Reference

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

 

I must really not have liked this book … July 3, 2010

I ended up falling asleep again yesterday … yeah. And then I went to first night here and had some free wine so … things happen, ya know?

But I was thinking – I really must not like this book. It isn’t even bad in a ‘it’s so bad it’s good’ way. It’s just … blah. I really want not that much to do with it. I still have posts to do though and damn it all – I’m going to write them.

Plus, my reward will be my week off – yay!

Wahoo!

So – rereading what I wrote the other day, I’m supposed to talk about sexuality in the novel. I will say that I remember some time ago writing that the sex usually comes in around page 200 give or take – this book proved to be an exception. Not only in that it took place later with only ‘hot and heavy’ kisses leading up, but that the first ‘encounter’ was a dud.

“But he was kissing her, deep boneless kisses, the kind that made her wind her arms around the neck, and pull his body down onto hers.

Her hands slid down his back and onto his bottom, curved over warm muscles, slipped between his legs. ‘You -‘ His voice was pained. He arched his back. ‘Oh God, Isidore, that feels so good.’

She started laughing and his mouth came down on hers with desperation. And then he pressed against her. It was extremely odd. Like a door opening, Isidore though. First there was only herself, and then somehow there was room enough for him as well.

He made a rough sound, low in his throat and pressed deeper. Isidore waited for the pain that was supposed to come, but nothing happened.

Well, that was good.

He pulled back and then thrust forward again.

It felt good. It did. Well, perhaps it didn’t feel that good. There was a little fulling feeling that she didn’t care for all that much. Isidore tried to push away that disloyal though. He was supposed to do whatever, and she could just do what she wished …

… He did that thrusting thing.

The trust was, she really didn’t care for it that much.” p.262-263

It sounds like what the dentist told me when I was getting my tooth pulled – ‘you’ll feel the pulling, but you shouldn’t feel pain.’ Yeah yuck.

Afterwards, Isidore tells him that:

“‘It’s not something I would want to do every day,’ she continued, ‘but from what I hear, people don’t do it all that often anyway.'” p.266

Yeah …

Credit where credit is due though – this is the first ‘dud’ I’ve come across in six books. Granted, of course it all gets better. But in a strange way. Cosway (Simeon) is all ‘I want to show you how my body works’ and it’s just … blah. You pretty much know sex gets better once they figure it out. The whole book would be a dud in the genre if it didn’t. So that wasn’t shocking at all.

But, as I said, credit where credit’s due – we have a dud!

Wahoo.

Sure, there’s talk of an annulment because Isidore isn’t want Cosway thinks he wants, they get one but end up getting married again because their in ‘luv’ – shock shock, awe!

Why am I so bitter?

I really think I got myself all hyped up after enjoying Duchess by Night then feeling all blah with When the Duke Returns.

But then … then there was the side characters. Jemma and Villiers – perhaps the saving grace (or would be saving grace) of the novel. They’re pretty much fantastic.

Exhibits A & B of many:

“‘So what of our match?’ she asked, surprised by her own keen disappointment in his refusal of chess.

‘One move a day … that match?’

‘Yes, that match,’ she said. ‘Do you have so many outstanding matches that you don’t remember? To bring it to your recollection, I have won one game, and you have won one game. That leaves one game to break the tie.’

‘I do remember now,’ he said, watching her under his eyelids. ‘Let me see … if our match when into a third game, the last one was to be played blindfolded in bed.’

‘Precisely.’ Jemma folded her hands. ‘I’m so happy that’s it’s come back to do you. I have been training my maid, Brigitte, so she can stand next to the bed and move our pieces appropriately.’

‘I did not picture the bedchamber occupied by others than ourselves.’

‘Life is positively full of disappointments.'” p.74

“She looked up at him for a moment, and the edge of her mouth curled up. ‘You’ll play again.’

‘I will trust you to wait for me.’

‘I was never very good at waiting for men.’ Jemma was startled to hear the words come from her mouth. In one sense, she meant her husband. She waited three years for Elijah to fetch her from Paris when they were young, after she had flung herself across the Channel in a rage. He didn’t visit until the fourth year, and by then it was too late. She had found a lover, and put her marriage behind her.

Villiers’s heavy-lidded eyes dropped. ‘I on the other hand, am very good at waiting. For you, Jemma … I would wait quite a long time.'” p.75

Now come on – look at those fantastic conversations? It’s well disappointing that the next book … well, that’s the next post, isn’t it?

I think I’m finding an issue that I’ve never addressed until now in these books. Marriage is all fine and dandy for the main protagonists – but what about these side characters? What if a marriage simply doesn’t work?

Why can’t we have Jemma and Villiers?

Don Draper is waiting for your answer.

So –

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Reference

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

 

Ginger Post: Part 6 July 1, 2010

I just watched the last ten or so minutes of The Assassination of Jessie James and now I want to watch the whole thing. There’s always something about period pieces that get me – but this one looks well filmed … I love really well done cinematography.

But anyway. Ginger Post!

Amy Pond = Awesome

Except not.

There aren’t any – at all – gingers in this novel. Instead – there’s a ‘dark’ woman. What do I mean by a ‘dark’ woman … well, it’s usually the character that’s paired with the light, virtuous woman.

Easy enough to understand. ‘Light’ is what Cosway was going for anyway – he had in his mind some docile and biddable (thanks to this mother who lied and said Isidore was in her letters) girl waiting for him in England. He didn’t expect the ‘dark’ woman he got – the independent, temperamental, gets her own way when she has her mind set on it one.

And, since their both virgins, lest we forget, is there really passion in Isidore to fuel the fire (oh, that was bad, I know – i take full responsibility for that).

As the novels supposed main plot centers around Isidore and Cosway, it seems only right that she’s one of the opposites – a ‘dark’ woman instead of a ‘light’ one. Before anyone cries foul at what particularly makes a woman ‘dark’ or ‘light’ here’s a description of Isidore that should clear it up:

“Isidore glanced at herself in Jemma’s glass. Men had lusted for her ever since she turned sixteen, and the particulars hadn’t changed: black hair, pale skin, generous bosom. In short, something short of Venus, but delectable enough to send most men into a lustful frenzy.” p.12

So – dark haired and curvy is aka the ‘dark’ woman. A ‘light’ woman would have blonde hair, blue eyes – look pretty much fragile. The ‘light’ woman, as I also mentioned, is obedient (in my seminar last semester, we read a lot of period texts that dealt with the light woman in contrast to the disobedient dark woman).

Really, gingers have no place in this novel. The duality alone of a docile ‘light’ woman that Cosway thought awaited him and the ‘dark’ woman that was Isidore that he found, is enough to make a ‘hair color’ post on.

Mind you, a short one.

I don’t know what it is about this book. I should really be jumping at the whole sexuality in it … maybe I’ll do that tomorrow. Sexuality and family then go on to talk about Jemma and Villiers because they’re really the ones I want to focus on.

I’m hardly trying to be lazy but nothing in this novel made me really consider anything new. I was more annoyed. I didn’t very much care that Cosway was a virgin – though it’s a big deal with the woman, it’s not so much with him. When he has sex, he has it. That’s … really it.

Maybe I’m just over-shocked from the epic-ness of the past few days: first the awesome Doctor Who finale … then the new Harry Potter trailer … too much for my brain to handle.

What I’m going to do is re-read parts for when I post again. I don’t want to gip myself out of some good critical thinking. The posts on this book are so short …

Okay: tomorrow definitely dealing with sexuality and the ending with family. Then maybe a sort of mega post on Jemma and Villiers and structure in these novels. That will all make sense … hopefully.

And hopefully this post made sense, too.

At least I passed the 500 words mark ...

Anyway:

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Reference

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

 

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.

 

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.