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 …

PALATE CLEANSER! CLICK ME!

Reference

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

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So … what to write about … July 15, 2010

I find myself strangely stumped at what to write about with this book. I know I’ve set a question for myself – but I’m finding it hard to really … sink my teeth into this text. So, let’s see. I’m going to draw an outline for myself for the next few posts.

Today: The idea of control and power, how it is approached in this novel

Tomorrow: Sexuality and how it is treated through clothing, manners, etc. (this one’s interesting in someways … it will probably also contain ‘gingers!’)

And since tomorrow will be a double post or shoved off to Saturday: The overall structure and does the reader get the same thing out of this book that they do others – and, what is that ‘thing’.

Okay. I feel better now – I have a little more direction.

Oh yeah! Oh yeah! By the way! Finished 'North and South'! Finally!

I should be in a good mood after all – I had my first phone interview today for an actual job and I also get to start a Dickens later (The Old Curiosity Shop – I finished North and South so be on the look out for a mini-review at … some point). So … Yay!

Anyway – power and control … I guess we could stash this under ‘rank and title,’ but I’m not so quick to do so. Why? Because Powder and Patch is more period-ly realistic. It’s not something I’ve ever really talked about before – but since the structure of this novel is different, since the period in which it was written is different, it’s something worth dwelling on.

Yes, title and rank does give leeway to characters in these novels – but it’s not really realistic, is it? I mean, sure there are exceptions – but come on – are you fooled?

Still, though, it’s annoying to read something ‘realistic’ – that’s something I have to admit.

“‘You think that Clo is reasonable-minded, and able to care for herself, needing no master?’

‘I – no, I don’t!’

‘That’s what I say. Goodness me, how blind you are! If you didn’t consider that you had to care for Cleone and guard her from everyone else and herself, you wouldn’t love her. Now don’t be foolish!'” p. 155-6

“‘Take that girl and shake her. Tell her you’ll not be flouted. Tell her she’s a little fool, and kiss her. And if she protests, go on kissing her. Dear me, what things I do say!'” p.156

The second quote is funny – I’ll give Heyer that, but the first is … well, realistic for the 18th century. A woman was to be owned/controlled by her husband, she was property. And, in this novel where the characters are blatantly two dimensional, one cannot see that aspect of the period any clearer.

Cleone is a woman and that is all. Sure, she plots some – but that is with the help of Philip’s father. And her plot falls in on itself for she discovers that what she wants isn’t really what she expected.

Cleone is the epitome of damsel in distress. She does nothing to help herself but faint, cry, and kiss when needed. Her title is simply the country bumpkin. And that’s about as dimensional as Cleone gets.

And, even when she kisses, it’s Philip who goes around and makes things right (meaning, he gets different men (rivals, somewhat) to release her from her engagement.

“Cleone could not speak. She stood where she was, trembling uncontrollably.

‘I have the honour of informing you, mademoiselle, that you are released from your engagements.’

Was there a note of laughter in the prim voice?

‘I – thank you – sir,’ whispered Cleone. Her teeth clenched in an effort to keep back the tears. She was blinded by them, and her bosom was heaving.

There was a slight pause. Why did he not go? DId he wish to see her still more humiliated?

‘I have also to offer, on Sir Deryk’s behalf, his apologies for the happenings of last night, mademoiselle.’

‘Th-thank – you, sir.’

Again the nerve-killing silence. If only he would go before she broke down!

‘Cleone …’ said Philip gently.

The tears were running down her cheeks, but she kept her head turned away.

‘Please – go!’ she begged huskily.

He was coming around the room towards her … Cleone gripped her hands.

‘Cleone … dearest!'” p.180

Now, you’re probably thinking – god, Cleone is the most annoying little thing with no backbone like the other women blah blah blah …

Blah ...

But let’s back up because we can’t really throw Cleone into the same group as Harriet or even – though I’m loath to mention her – Alethea. Cleone is from a whole different school of the ‘Romance’ novel.

She’s just … there. There as a plot device. She is the object our real focus is working towards. The subject doesn’t seem to be Cleone, but change – what can be done to achieve love or realize love. Cleone doesn’t have to gut a pig. She doesn’t have to kill a man. She just has to be in love with Philip for the story to work.

And that’s what she does.

She’s less annoying when you see her through that perspective – yes, this is a Romance novel of sorts – but the romance is in the actions rather than the characters themselves. So – no actual sex either – we don’t need that for this sort of romance.

And I like the change – a good, funny romance novel with obvious characters … that’s light reading to me.

But here’s Betty Draper slapping someone just to give  a little Spice Girls ‘girl power’ to this post (and to remind you that Mad Men returns in 10 days!):

Sterling-Cooper-Draper-Price!

PALATE CLEANSER! CLICK ME!

(and that Palate Cleanser better be epic ’cause it looks like a fantastic cross between Deadwood and Carnivàle … oh god Carnivàle! Why! HBO! Why did you cancel that show!)

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.

 

I must really not have liked this book …

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 –

PALATE CLEANSER! CLICK ME!

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.

 

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.