EXCELLENT ARTICLE ON BODICE RIPPERS

ONLY FOR LOVE by Elaine Barbieri

PUBLISHER: Zebra, 8/1994
GENRE: Fiction/Historical Romance
SETTING: Jamaica, 1772
BODICE RIPPER? Yes, mild
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: B-

FROM PUBLISHER: When Gillian Haige’s father dies, his only legacy is a mountain of debts. But never does the eighteen-year-old English beauty dream she’ll end up in the dank hold of a ship bound for the Colonies…as an indentured servant! And now her gentle twin lies desperately ill, and will surely perish unless Gillian takes one daring, irrevocable step.

It is a wild scheme, yet from the moment she meets Captain Derek Andrews and feels desire ignite between them, Gillian sees the bargain she can strike: her innocence in exchange for her sister’s life. But on a journey that carries Gillian from the shores of America to a new life on a storm-swept island, she will be forced to choose once again…to fight for her freedom or to surrender to the man who has possessed her-body and soul-with his liberating passion…

MY THOUGHTS: Gillian, the heroine, is twenty, as stated on page 48, not eighteen, as the synopsis states. This story begins in England, then in Jamaica. Saying that they’re headed for the Colonies made me assume they were talking about the British Colonies in the United States but that’s not what they meant.

We got zero background on Derek and weren’t even told his age or where he’s from. He must have been in his late twenties, at least, since he’d spent some time in prison and is captain of his own ship, Colonial Dawn. He’s rude and possessive of Gillian but not verbally, physically, or sexually abusive towards her. He doesn’t seem too friendly either.

Gillian is feisty and stands up for herself, which I really like in a heroine. I didn’t see the need for her to have a sister since the sister was a pretty weak character and served no purpose to the storyline, as far as I could tell.

I really liked the two main villains: Derek’s ex-lover, red-haired and green-eyed Emmaline Dorcett. She was obsessed with having him though she was married to an older man. She was peppered throughout the story but I wanted more of her. I found her to be very interesting and wanted to see what damage she could have done. I really wanted some background on her but we got none, including her age. Her husband Robert said she was very young to his 50+ so I’m guessing she’s in her twenties.

John Barrett, who’s an agent for the London Transport Company, was in charge of all the indentured servants aboard Derek’s ship. He became obsessed with Gillian and hatched a plan to have her. Gillian hated him with a passion and that ate at him and intensified his obsession with having her. John once called Gillian Madame Uppity Bitch!

Another villain early on was an older prostitute named Maggie, who was always called a ‘vicious whore’ by Jon Barrett. The verbal sparring between them was great! She too became obsessed with Gillian on the ship but I don’t understand why she hated her so much. I thought she was going to do harm to her but that didn’t happen.

This was published in 1994 but it felt like one older. The heroine had a backbone, the hero was rude, there were terrible villains. Though there’s no abuse towards the heroine, I consider this a mild bodice ripper.

The negatives- I wish over half this story didn’t take place on a ship. I wish Maggie’s character had lasted longer and I wish Emmaline and John had teamed up to do some harm. You wouldn’t know by the cover that this is historical and the hero/heroine’s hair color isn’t quite right.

 

MIDNIGHT FIRES by Andrea Layton

PUBLISHER: Playboy Paperbacks, 1/1979
GENRE: Fiction/Historical Romance
SETTING: New York & Massachusetts, USA 1770’s
BODICE RIPPER: Yes
RAPE? Multiple
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: D

FROM PUBLISHER: Ravished by a cruel, merciless stranger…loved by the passionate man she might never see again…Carolyn Salford flees the brutal wilderness for aristocratic Boston and the arms of her fiancé.

Stalked by danger, vulnerable to the turbulent desires tormenting her, she is haunted by the memory of a man she dare not love but cannot forget.


SPOILER SUMMARY: Carolyn is eighteen years old. She and her family are traveling from New York to Boston, but they’re travelling separately. Along the way she runs into George Nelson, a man two years older than her, who’s in love with her. He rapes her once then it turns consentual. She goes on her merry way and is kidnapped and raped several times by some random Frenchman named Jean Lemelle. He gets what he’s had coming to him and she’s once again on her way. Not much else happens until the last fifty pages, when she meets up with her fiancé, William. William only wants to marry her because of the fortune she’s to inherit soon from her British mothers family. He rapes her several times, including once anally, and holds her prisoner in his home and verbally abuses her constantly. He’s keeping her drugged with laudanum and they set sail on a ship bound for London. She thinks he plans to killer her once they’re married. She escapes, meets back up with George, who she’s now in love with, and they get married.

MY THOUGHTS: This is truly one of the most boring books I’ve ever read. Luckily it was barely over 300 pages. The first 150 pages or so was Carolyn traveling, mostly by herself via horseback, to Boston. The plot was mostly talk of war and I got so sick of it. The only interesting part was the last fifty-some pages or so, when William came on the scene. William’s a character I’d have liked to have known more about. Not even his age was given. Him coming into the story is what kept this from getting an F rating from me.

BOUND BY THE HEART by Marsha Canham

PUBLISHER: Avon, 10/1984
GENRE: Fiction/Historical Romance
SETTING: Caribbean & Barbados, 1811/12
BODICE RIPPER? Yes
PURCHASE: link
AUTHOR SITE: link
MY GRADE: D

FROM PUBLISHER: Rescued from the stormy waters of the Caribbean, Summer Cambridge, daughter of the British governor of Barbados faced a new threat aboard the American ship Chimera. Captain Morgan Wade, the notorious buccaneer, brazenly ordered the young beauty to his cabin to be held for his own pleasure!

Summer fought him with the ferocity of a wildcat, but held by his insistent passion, she was swept by waves of desire she had never known, and was powerless to resist him.

Even as she returned to Barbados and the marriage that had been arranged for her, she still trembled with memories of those days and nights of forbidden passions, and of the man whose love would forever hold her heart captive.

MY THOUGHTS: I’m reviewing the out of print paperback from 1984, not the rewritten e-book, which has the rape scene removed.

Summer is blond with gray-green eyes. Her age was never given so I’ll assume she’s in her early twenties. She’s a typical, slightly boring heroine. Not very feisty like I prefer, especially in these older books.

The American hero, Morgan, is thirty-four years old and has long black hair and blue eyes. He buys cargo and guns legally then sells them to the French, then transports them to America. In typical bodice ripper fashion, he rapes Summer aboard his ship once or twice (page 35 of print book) and makes no apologies for it. That’s pretty much where his abuse of her ends.

I liked her terrible husband Bennett Winfield. He lost interest in her right after they married. He suspected her of harboring feelings for Morgan and a secret, and forbade her ever seeing him again and threatened to ruin her and her family if she did. He’s shown violence towards her too. I like him much more than I do Morgan.

The story spans about a little over a year, beginning in June 1811. This just wasn’t a good story at all. It fits my criteria of a mild bodice ripper; it had the typical arrogant hero, rape, a decent amount of time apart from each other (over a year), and evil secondary characters and lots of action involving ships.

Morgan’s slightly younger half brother, Stuart Roarke was just pointless in this story.

I liked the first 119 pages when Summer and her ten year old brother Michael were on Morgan’s ship then island, Bounty Key, but once she returned home about a third of the way into the story, boring throughout the rest of the novel. The last fifty pages or so was nothing but one ship fighting against another and I truly forced myself to finish the book. It majority was so uninteresting to me. I really feel like this historical romance turned into purely historical fiction. The only good thing I can say about this is that I love the cover.

Same review here.

 

JEMMA by Beverly Byrne

PUB. INFO: Fawcett, Dec. 1980
BODICE RIPPER? Yes

From Publisher: Barmaid, society’s darling, social reformer, spy and the notorious Madam X. Jemma was all these women. And more…

Jemma’s tale is an extraordinary adventure sprawling with life and overflowing with richly realized characters. Her adoring stepmother, Phoebe, and Phoebe’s cruel and lustful husband, Amos. Milly, the devoted servant who would do anything to preserve Jemma’s happiness. The dashingly handsome Englishman, Garth Winters, who, overnight, transformed Jemma from a girl to a woman. And England’s most eligible bachelor, Lord Peter Ramsdale.

Lord Ramsdale wed her, made her the reigning queen of Mayfair society, but could not give Jemma the love she so desperately needed. Until the night Jemma discovered his terrible secret… and changed her life forever.

I must say this is a unique book. Wouldn’t call it romance, for sure. It’s got a heroine that is raped by men at different times but is also raped by a woman, has female masturbation twice, whippings, a severe beating, some erotic moments, suicide, you name it! So hold on to your hats folks, it’s a dark, warped ride.

SPOILER SYNOPSIS: This books prologue starts in Massachusetts, April 18, 1841 with Jemma’s birth. Jemma’s pregnant mother, Eugenie Lalour de Crevens is from France. She’s traveling to Vermont to be with the father of her child, Martin Murdock. His real last name is Marleduc but he changed it to sound more American, since he likes America so much. Eugenie is married to a man named Jacques, who’s gay, so they don’t sleep together. She’s had an affair with childhood friend Martin. He’s traveled to America and has asked Eugenie to come with him. Six months later, she decided to leave her husband in France and travel to America. She goes into labor in the coach. The coach arrives at an inn called ‘Kettle of Fish’ and is run by 55 year old Phoebe and her 40 year old husband, Amos. Eugenie died immediately after the baby was born. She didn’t speak English so when Phoebe was asking her questions, she couldn’t answer her. There was a piece of paper in Eugenie’s pocket that had Martin’s name and address on it. Phoebe named the baby, “This here’s a little jewel of a baby. Her name’s going to be Jemma. Jemma Murdock.” Phoebe wrote a letter to Martin, telling him about Jemma and the mother’s death. Martin left for Kansas two days after Jemma’s birth so he never got the letter Phoebe sent him. Phoebe told Amos that she wanted to raise the baby.

Chapter one starts in Salem, Mass., 1858. Jemma is seventeen years old. She works and lives at the inn. She has black curly hair and green eyes, like her mother. Chaper begins with a doctor telling Jemma and Amos that Phoebe’s heart is weakening. She’s 72. Then she dies right then. Amos, who’s never liked Jemma but has been attracted to her, arrives back at the inn after having been away for a while. He yells at Jemma and tells her the place is a mess. He raises his belt to hit her but hears their maid Milly,who’s been there since Jemma was 7, coming, so he leaves without having hit her, though he has smacked her in the past. January 4, 1859, Garth Winters arrives at the inn. He’s from England and is a spy. He has ‘red-gold/blond’ hair, dark brown eyes. At the inn, Jemma and Garth flirt with each other. Amos doesn’t like it one bit. One night he goes into Jemma’s bedroom, gives her and ugly, uncomfortable, stiff, skintight dress to wear and takes all of her clothes. The next day, Amos comes into her room, kicks her in the stomach and rapes her. She runs away the next day. She’s walking in a blizzard and Garth, who just happens to be riding by, stops to help her. She gets in and they find an abandoned house to stay in until the snow stops. While there, they become lovers and she tells him that Amos raped her. They traveled to a hotel a while later. Garth bought Jemma clothes and jewelry. Garth had to be somewhere so he left Jemma sleeping. In the hotel lobby, he wrote Jemma a note saying where he was and when he’d be back. He put the note in an envelope along with some money. Amos, who’d been looking for Jemma since the day she left, saw Garth in the lobby telling a little boy to deliver the envelope to Jemma’s room. Garth left and Amos stole the money, and note, from the boy. Jemma never got the note and thought that Garth had abandoned her. She had no money, couldn’t pay the hotel bill, so she sold some emerald jewelry Garth had given her. She paid the bill and bought herself and Milly passage on a ship bound for England.

On the ship, she met an attractive forty year old man named Lord Peter Ramsdale. He showed interest in her so before they arrived in England, he asked her to marry him. She said yes, so they married soon after. Peter never wanted to have sex with her. A lady she met told her it’s rumored that Peter visits brothels and even has some of them visit his home, where Jemma lives. Jemma didn’t believe her. Jemma discovered a housekeeper was stealing money from them so Peter fired her. The lady left the keyring behind so Jemma took it and snooped in Peter’s room, where she’d never been before. In the room she found a staircase that lead outside. That’s the door prostitues would use to come to his room. Sometime after that, she saw Garth at the theater. She was told he was married. He saw her too but they didn’t speak. He didn’t know that his letter to her never got to her and she just thought he left her high and dry, so there’s a big misunderstanding between the two that they’re unaware of.

One night Jemma went into Peter’s room and asked him why he didn’t want to have sex with her. He led her into another room that had whips hanging on the wall. He took her gown off, layed her face down on the bench and whipped her butt twelve times. “Jemma only moaned when the first three fell, but she was screaming by the fourth. Later she would realize that she had screamed more in terror and rage than in pain.” Later, “At some point he (Peter, husband) had losed the buttons of his breeches and his engorged tool was fully evident. Without any preamble he spread her legs by forcing himself between them and he plunged his organ deep within her. The acts of whipping her were not separate; they were as one, a single unified deed of punishment and mastery. His thrusts were as rhythmic and forceful as the blows he had dealt her earlier. They built to a wild crescendo in which, head thrown back and teeth bared, he emptied himself into her, moaning and shuttering.”

He apologized to her for what had just happened and told her that’s why he visits ‘trollops.” He said he wouldn’t see them any more, would only be with her and that what had happened was, for him, “the only kind of passion there is.” She asked him why he married her and he said that in his own peculiar way, he loved her. The next day, Peter fired Milly. I guess he did it because he didn’t want Jemma telling here about their warped relationship. Their sexual relationship continued. Jemma asked their old maid Jenny why Peter was like that. Jenny knows about what’s going on because she see’s Jemma’s bruises. Jenny also tends to the prostitues he brings home. He whips them too. Jenny told her that when Peter was seven, he caught his mom in bed with a man. Though she was married, she had men come to the house. I think they may have been paying her for sex but I’m not 100% sure. There relationship was bad from then on and when he was 20, he didn’t go to her funeral. A year later, his father died. The father had been in serious debt and spent all the families money. Peter won a lot of money in a card game right after his father’s death. He bought a mill with the money and became wealthy.

Jemma’s whippings by Peter grew more violent. “When finally he was finished with whiping her he would throw himself on her in a mindless rage, sometimes not even bothering to unhorse (untie) her first. On those occasions he would grasp her bloodied, burning flesh in both hands, stretch it apart as far as it would go and thrust himself gasping and moaning into the tight aperture (anus) thus revealed.”

She found out that all of his mill workers were dirt poor and lived in absolutely poverty. A 20 year old mill worker told Jemma that she was once beaten and raped by Peter. Jemma wanted to come up with a plan to help out all the workers. She decided that she could no longer live with Peter. She was 20 years old and had been married for almost 2 years. She discoverd she was pregnant and that she couldn’t leave him now. One night Peter led Jemma in to his room and made her strip to her undergarments. He asked her why she’d been meddling in his affairs. He smacked her then ripped off her chemise and underwear. “He was pummeling her with both hands now. Open-handed slaps first, followed by three vicious, closed first punches to the belly,which dropped her, moaning and retching to the floor. Then he was kneeling astride her prone figure and forcing her into a position that left her buttocks and back exposed for his punishing hands. The laps rained down like firery hiailstones. On and on and on, until there was no inch of her flesh that wasn’t bloodies or bruised.” While he was raping her, she found the strength to throw him off of her. “Now her husband lay at her feet, his pulsing male organ spilling its seed on the carpet beneath him.” She told him she was pregnant and that if he ever came near her again or tried to have sex with her, she’d tell everyone all about him. She was “bloodied and bruised from head to foot.” Him punching her in the stomach while pregnant will come back to haunt him, and I don’t mean in the form of a miscarriage.

Peter stayed away from her from then on. The baby was born, a girl named Ellen Phoebe. The baby never really moved much and never talked. The doctor told Jemma that it was probably caused by a fall in the early stages of pregnancy. Jemma knew the baby didn’t develope properly because of the punches to the stomach. When the baby was two months old, Peter, who didn’t live at the house with Jemma, finally came to see her. He could tell by looking at her in the crib, just laying there, that something was wrong. Privately, he asked Jemma what was wrong with the baby. She told him it was his fault for punching her in the stomach while she was pregnant. She started hitting him and he raped her. She told him he shouldn’t have done that, that she was going to spill the beans about how he is. He told her not to do that, that he would leave and she and the baby would never have to see him again.

Garth Winters is on a ship somewhere doing whatever it is he does, lol. A man was talking to him about a prostitute named Tanya. She showed up, started flirting with Garth but he wasn’t interested since he’s still married. In front of all the men on deck, Tanya stripped down and started dancing. The men were clapping their hands while she danced and she started masturbating in front of them all. After she ‘climaxed’, the men carried her off to have sex.

Are you ready for this?! Peter is at his home walking from room to room. He walked into his old nursery, got a valise he’d put there a few days before and took out a pistol. He walked into his mothers old room, remembered seeing her have sex with a man who wasn’t his father, pointed the gun at the bed…………..then put the gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. So that’s the end of him. Good ridance, wouldn’t you say? His funeral was four days later.The solicitor told Jemma that Peter had been bankrupt and owed sixty-thousand pounds. He told Jemma to go home to America, leave his debt behind, but she said no, the she’d pay the debt off sooner or later.

She got back into contact with her old maid Milly, whom she hadn’t seen since Peter fired her. Milly told her she’d bought an old building and turned it into a whorehouse! Jemma, who needed money real bad, got an idea to go into business with Milly. Jemma wanted to turn it into a high class brothel that catered to the wealthy. She’s recruiting girls from the mill to work there but won’t hire virgins. One day while walking through the whorehouse, she see’s a naked 17 year old Sybil rolling around on the bed. She starts to masturbate. When she finishes, she speaks to Jemma, whom she knew was watching, saying she knows it’s wrong to do what she did but sometimes she has to when there isn’t a man around. Jemma told her it wasn’t wrong. That night, for the first time ever, Jemma ‘experiments’ with herself, at the ripe old age of 21.

Jemma contacted a Frenchwoman whoms she’d seen recently. She’d been told the 60 year old woman, in her younger days, used to train prostitutes. Jemma wanted the woman, who’s name I can’t remember and I never bothered to write down, to ‘train’ her five prostitutes. The lady came over, was in a room with the ‘tarts’, had them lay down one at a time to pratice tightening their vaginal muscles, I kid you not! One of the girls looked younger than she was. The French woman told her that some men would like that she looks young. She had the girl lay down and in front of everyone, she waxed the girls pubic hair in what is known as a Brazillian bikini wax. While all this is going on, Jemma was spying on them through a peephole in the next room.

Later on Jemma was talking with the Frenchwoman. The lady told Jemma that she’d taught the girls all she could. Jemma started to get real drowsy. The lady had drugged her drink with laudanum. She wanted to get a look at Jemma without her mask. Jemma always wore a mask that completely covered her face and went by the name “Madame X” while at the brothel. The lady had first seen Jemma not too long ago and thought she must be the daugher of Eugenie since she looked just like her. When at the brothel, Jemma hides her idenity with a mask so she can keep her two worlds separate from each other. So to get a look at her face, she drugs her. Jemma’s out of it, the lady lays her on the floor, takes the mask off, takes her dress off and starts to massage oil into her breasts. She turns Jemma over and…..masturbates her until she has several orgasms. She puts the mask and dress back on her and leaves. Jemma wakes up thinking she must have passed out. When she takes her dress off, she sees the oil on her and knows that something happened, but she doesn’t remember what.

The story starts just over a year later in 1864 in London with Garth Winters discussing business with someone. Back at the whorehouse, it was to be a special night for all. The prostitues, I think there are only 5, are going to put on a show for all the customers and Jemma. One girl pretended to be the headmistress and the other girls were to be spanked by her with a stick. So the girls took their underwear off and got spanked for being bad. The lights went out, it was pitch black, then in total darkness, the girls orgasms could be heard. It had been Jemma’s idea to do that with the lights out. Jemma was aroused so when a Russian man she’d met there, Prince Dimitri, wanted to have sex with her, she took him upstairs. That was the first time she’s had sex with anyone other than Garth years ago, and Peter.

A few weeks later Jemma was walking alone one night and was attacked by three me. One raped her and before the other one could rape her, the gag had fallen off and she screamed. Coincidentally, Garth and another man were walking near by and heard the scream. They got to her and the man who was with Garth ran to look for the attackers. Garth realized it was Jemma, who had passed out. The man came back, told Garth he couldn’t find the men, then left. Garth hired a cab to take Jemma home. While in the cab, with Jemma still passed out, he RAPED HER, knowing she’d just been raped. “He covered her whiteness with his big frame and took her in a mindless act of both revenge and need. Her thighs were still wet with the leavings of the rapist who had had her moments before when Garth plunged himself inside that body lying so still beneath him. Jemma regained her senses just when he was shuttering with the last tremors of passion. Instantly she remembered everything that had happened and yet she could not make herself believe this last act. She could accept the vicious rape of thugs and murderers; such things happened everday to those as careless as she had been. But her brain refused to accept that now Garth lay above her in the back of a speeding cab, taking her while she was helpless to either agree or refuse. That he of all men alive should use her so was a horror beyond her ability to comprehend.” What a guy, huh?

Jemma’s invalid daughter Ellen came down with a fever and died two months before her third birthday. She wasn’t burried in the same cemetary as her father. Jemma was talking to Milly about selling the brothel and moving back to America. She read in the paper that Garth’s wife died from an illness, leaving him with their four year old twins, a boy and girl. Even though he’d raped her, all she could think about when she read that was how happy she was that he was free. At this point, she’d been in England almost six years and was 23 years old. The civil war was now over, but they still wanted her to be a spy for them. She agreed.

They sent her to France to meet with another spy. Garth was in France too on spy business. They saw each other in the same hotel. Garth wanted to talk to her so they went to her room. They worked out their big misunderstanding, which was that Garth didn’t abandon her years ago. While he was sleeping, she, like he’d done years before, left him a note on his pillow telling him she didn’t love him. She did that because she didn’t want to have to tell him she was a spy and had been the madam of a whorehouse. He heard her leave and followed her, without her knowing. She went to see the spy she’d been sent there to see. He thought she looked like Eugenie and recogonized a locket she was wearing. That locket had been in her mothers trunk when she died. Inside, it had a photo of Eugenie in it. Turns out the man was Martin Murdock, Jemma’s father. Jemma left and Garth, who’d been spying, pulled a gun on Martin and forced him inside the room. He made Martin tell him who he was, so he did.

Jemma sold the brothel and she and Milly went to live elsewhere. Garth asked Jemma’s friend Edward, the teenage boy who does errands for her, where she was. He wouldn’t tell her but then finally did. He went to where Jemma was staying. They all, Jemma, Milly, Garth, his twins and a few other people, sailed to America. It was early 1865.

The End!

STORMFIRE by Christine Monson- With Author Photo and Obituary

PUBLISHING INFO: Avon, 1984 and 1985
LOCATION: England/Ireland, 1798
TIMESPAN: About 8 years
HEROINE: Catherine Enderly, 17
HERO: Sean Culhane, 20
BODICE RIPPER? Yes
RAPE? Lots by hero only
VIRGIN HEROINE? Yes
GRADE: A+

PRISONER OF VENGEANCE … CAPTIVE OF LOVE

Abducted on her way to boarding school, a terrified Cathrine Enderly was brought from England to the coast of Ireland, the prisoner of the angry and powerful young Sean Culhane — a man sworn to vengeance against her family.

Frightened but defiant, the young countess met her captor with a strength that belied her fragile loveliness. But even as Sean vowed to have his revenge on Catherine, with each encounter he became more attracted to her. Her fiery innocence was a seduction that lured the passions of long smoldering hostility into a blazing inferno of desire.

Locked in a love-hate duel, he did not suspect that the captivating beauty who fought him with such tenacity was struggling desperately against her own awakened desires, and that his touch had become the burning reminder that the fierce hatred she felt for him had become an all-consuming love.

This is Christine Monson’s first book. She won the Best New Historical Author Award from ROMANTIC TIMES for this very book. She later received the Romantic Times Best Romantic Adventure Award for her book SURRENDER THE NIGHT. Below is my handcrafted summary of the novel, compiled from 27 pages of handwritten notes. This certainly was a labor of love.

This is the tale of two people; 17 year old English Catherine Enderly, who has long black hair, blue eyes, is fine boned, and Irish Sean Culhane. He’s somewhere around 20 and has short dark hair and green eyes. He’s a smuggler of currency, art and spies. His mother took him away from her home at Shelan when he was born. Shelan is where Sean now lives.

The book opens up with Catherine at home a week after Christmas Eve, 1798. She’s there on vacation from school at The Gentlewoman’s Academy in Bath, where she’s been going since her mother’s death five years before. Her maid wakes her up by yelling at her, asking who the man was who’d left her bedchamber the night before. That man was Frenchman Colonel Raoul Louis d’Amauri. We’ll learn more about him later in the book. One week later, Catherine is traveling back to school by coach. She noticed the coach was being followed by a horsemen so they stopped, she jumped out and started running. Three men started chasing her. She ran into a saloon to escape and was caught by Sean’s brother, Liam, who’s older by two years. They have the same mother, Megan. No one knows for sure if Brendan Culhane is Sean’s father.

Sean sent Liam to abduct Catherine because, according to what Sean later tells Catherine, her father John ‘owes me a debt’. John, who later turns out to NOT be Catherine’s father, used to be a commandar who had lead a raid in Kenlo, Ireland. Sean and Liam’s mother Megan was murdered in that raid but Sean survived. When Liam was two years old and his father had been in prison for two years for trying to attack the Dublin Armory, their mother Megan ran away with Sean, who she’d given birth to recently. Liam must have been a baby or wasn’t born yet when Brendan went to prision.

Catherine is carried aboard Sean’s ship. She wakes up on the floor to find Sean staring at her and to find that they are in Ireland, where Sean and Liam live. Sean told Catherine that as long as she’s there, she’s his to do what he wants with. She then made a terrible mistake by spitting on him. Sean backhanded her, cutting her lip and blooding her nose. She fell when he hit her, he picked her up and carried to his room and sat her in a chair. He helped clean her face up. Then he sat on his bed and made her take is boots off. He told her to take her dress off but she refused. She turned around and threatened to kill him with a candlestick. He ripped her dress off, make her get on the bed, then raped her. He then took her underwear, rubbed her crotch on them then wrapped them in paper to mail to her father. He collected the shreds of her undergarments and wiped them with the mingling of her blood and his seed.” She got the package away from him. He told her not to throw it into the fire because it wasn’t worth dying for. She threw it into the fire anyway. “Blackness clouded in Sean, the packet conjuring up the image of Megan’s oil soaked, blazing corpse.” Sean knocked Catherine to the floor as she tried to block his way to retrieve the burning package. We later find out he did send the package to her father.

Catherine became kitchen help and had to serve Sean and all the men their food. Once while serving him cobbler, she purposely let the cream run off the plate onto his lap. He made her go without food for the rest of the day. She got dizzy and sagged to the floor. Sean said she’d have to go without food the next day too. She told him if she wasn’t going to get to eat, she’d not do her work.

One day she was snooping in his desk drawer and found a map with her father’s estate marked off. She stole a horse to escape but was found by Sean and his men when they realized she was missing. Sean tied her wrists together, tied them to the horse’s tail and made her walk the rest of the way home. When she got home, Sean told Peg, the servant, to bathe Catherine, wash her mouth out with soap, which Peg did, and feed her. She slept on the floor. Catherine awoke to the sound of Flannery, the doctor there and Sean’s friend, attaching a leg iron to her ankle and to the floor. It had a ten pound ball attached to it. An iron was attached to her neck too. Later on, Sean raped her again then attached her neck iron to the headboard to keep her there. He raped her yet again. He told her she was to knock on his door every night and if he answered, she was to come in. If he didn’t answer, she was to leave. One time Sean wasn’t there but Peg’s daugher Moora told Catherine she was to wait in the room for him, so she chained Catherine to the floor to await him. Sean came home, put a sleeping Catherine in his bed and went to sleep. Catherine awoke to Sean raping her.

A few days later, Sean and his men traveled to England and burned down the woods on Catherine’s fathers property. Her father saw the blaze then went over to his desk and took out the package Sean had sent him of Catherine’s dirty underwear. He knew Sean was responsible for the fire.

Sean didn’t like that Liam and Catherine spent time together so he sent Liam to America for a month, telling him he’d come back a new man. He acted as ‘first officer’ of the Silvie, Sean’s ship. Two weeks later, Catherine was lying in bed next to a sleeping Sean. She got up, got a brass letter opener out of the desk drawer, stood over him and almost stabbed him but lost her nerve and didn’t stab him. He said to her, “Flannery was right; you haven’t the grit for murder.” He knew she was attempting to stab him and hadn’t tried to stop her. He pulled back the sheet so she could see his arousal then made her crawl into bed with him.

Later, after her work cleaning fish outside, she went inside the blockhouse. There, she found several rows of muskets. They had saltwater on them so she thinks they must have come in by boat at night since she hadn’t seen any activity at all during the day. She thinks maybe Sean is shipping arms all over Ireland. At this time Sean is at his lover Fiona’s cottage. She’s two years younger than him. As he was leaving Fiona to sail back home, he told her he wouldn’t be back to see her anymore. The next day, Catherine was once again washing her hands in the pond because she’d been cleaning fish, when Maude, as servant, tried to drown her. A boy ran to get help while Sean was there so he came running to help her. He did CPR on her then gave her a bath. During dinner she was a bit drunk and tried to seduce him. He said ‘no’. The next day he said to Catherine he’d ‘make love to you again only at your desire”. She then shared his bed willingly every night from then on. He also removed the iron band from around her neck.

Sean left Catherine a note saying he’d be gone for three weeks. He traveled to Norfolk, Ireland and met with some men, one or more had been friends with Sean’s father, Brendan. While Sean was away, Catherine spent a lot of time with Liam, allowing him to draw her. She asked him if he was in love with her and he said yes. He asked her to marry him but she didn’t give him an answer. They were about to have sex but she changed her mind. Sean arrived home and brough her her horse from England. They went riding together every afternoon after that. During one of their rides, Catherine told Sean that when she was twelve, she was out riding with her mother. Her mother tried to jump the wall on her horse but she and her horse landed on it. The fence pierced their bodies. Catherine shot the horse to put it out of it’s misery. Her mother begged her to shoot her too, so Catherine did. Her father locked her in her room for “weeks or months”, she couldn’t remember which, and she wasn’t allowed to go to the funeral. That’s when she was sent away to school.

They were out on a boat, near shore and Catherine jumped out to escape Sean. She swam to shore and hid in an abandoned house but he found her. She just happened to be hiding in the very house where Sean and his mother Megan lived. It’s were they were when Megan was raped and gutted by Catherine’s father John’s men. Sean witnessed it. Then when Sean was seventeen, he found the man who raped her and he gutted him. Sean and Catherine were back on the ship and Catherine tried to escape again. Sean said to her, “I’ll never let you go girl. Not while I breathe. If you don’t kill me, I’m going to take you and go on taking you. I may even give you a child. And if you run away from me, I’ll bring you back. If you want to be rid of me, it’s now or never.” He was telling her to stab him. She had the knife poised to stab him then lunged, lightly stabbing him. She looked into his eyes and couldn’t kill him. She dropped the knife, he grabbed her and kissed her. Then they had sex.

After they arrived back home, Liam asked her again if she’d marry him. She agreed only so she could escape Sean. She planned to not consumate the marriage so that she could get an annulment. Catherine and Liam escaped together. Sean found them and made Catherine leave with him. When they got home, Sean locked her in a room for weeks. She was allowed to eat. Later after Catherine and Sean argued about her running away, he cut her clothes off, forced her to her knees and cut all of her hair off, then raped her. He fell asleep and raped her again after he woke up.

The next morning, he put a negligee on her, put makeup on her, dragged her down stairs into the mess hall and said to the five men there, “I’ve a fresh wench for you lads. Who’ll be first to top the English whore?” He then pulled the negligee down to her waist, fondled her beasts then pushed her clothes down to the floor, leaving her naked. He pushed her toward the men and before he could turn around to leave, three men where dragging her down to the floor. He left her there, then went riding on his horse. Catherine was NOT raped by the men. The horse threw him to the ground, so he slept there. When he woke up he started thinking about what he’d done to Catherine and began running home. Tim O’Rourke tried to talk the men out of raping her. One of the men tried to shoot him, so someone shot and killed him. Catherine was put back into her cell.

After being locked up for two weeks, Sean’s ex-lover Fiona brought Catherine her meal and told her that she’d be bringing the meals from now on. Fiona is once again sleeping with Sean. Catherine started noticing that her meals were getting smaller and smaller. She noticed too that she was pregnant. Once Fiona took over, Catherine stopped receiving a new candle when hers burned out. So she was left in the dark in her windowless cell. After not seeing Catherine for three months, Sean went to her cell and found her huddled in the corner. She’d lost a lot of weight. Sean carried her to his room. Evil Fiona came to his room to visit and saw Catherine in there with him. Sean told her to leave, then knocked her to the floor. He told her that if he ever saw her again he’d put a bullet through her “murderous heart.” Sean had a new room set up for Catherine with a barred window. By then, she was six months pregnant but no one could tell since the baby was ‘undersize’.

Sean had a dinner party and allowed Catherine to attend. Sean had his lover Ellen there. The next day Sean told Catherine she was to be examined by Dr. Flynn because she looked unwell, they argued, he called her a ‘reformed whore’ and she said, “You dare call me slut! When that dyed creature you were pasting yourself against last night is nothing but a celebrated whore?” Sean struck her and she fell into the corner of the desk. She’d cracked three ribs and cracked her lip. Soon after Catherine is made to go horseback riding with Sean and Ellen. No one knows about her broken ribs but Catherine. Catherine is riding very slow because of the pain. Sean tells Ellen that she’d just going slow to get sympathy. Sean told Catherine then that he’s sick of her whining and that the site of her alive sickens him. He said he’s ‘weary of maintaing her carcass.’ She tried to make her horse jump the fence but it couldn’t make it. Catherine fell off and landed on her face. Sean went over to her and she told him she couldn’t breathe. He said, “Hush baby, don’t try to talk anymore.” Her ribs had broken through the skin. Sean carried her home so the doctor could perform surgery on her. He yelled at Sean for making her ride a horse when she had broken ribs, but Sean hadn’t known that. Sean was drining with the doctor, Flynn, and Flynn told him, “she lost the baby on the table.” Told him then that it was a boy fetus who was about four months old and had died inside her two months previous, likely due to malnourishment, thanks to Fiona starving her. Peg wrapped the baby in something and told Sean to bury him. That was near the end of 1799.

After Catherine recovered, she’d no longer talk, walk or move. She wouldn’t acknowledge anyone or anything. In the summer of 1800, over six months later, Sean carried Catherine into the water at the beach, ducked her head underwater to get a reaction from her but he got no reaction. Back on the beach, Sean told her he’d never stop loving her. Her hair was shoulder length by now. He’d take her on drives in the carriage but she still wouldn’t speak. One day she finally snapped out of whatever she’d been in and started talking again. Sean took her to the baby’s grave. There, she named him Michael, after Dr. Flynn

In October of 1800, Liam finally showed back up after being gone for over two years. He began accusing Sean and Catherine of being brother and sister and said she was his sister too. He showed Sean a letter their father had given Father Ryan, along with his will. The letter stated that when Brendan was eighteen, he sailed to France, met Catherine’s mother Elise, then later went back home and married their mother Megan. Brendan later saw Elise in Dublin years later. She’d gotten married to Catherine’s father John Enderly years before because she’d been pregnant by Brendan and had given birth to a stillborn child. Her husband John was gay so they never slept together. Elise would come to visit Brendan in prison. She was there trying to gain his release. Megan, Brendan’s wife, saw Elise in his cell, assumed they were having an affair, went home to Shelan then gave birth to Sean a few months later, then fled, abandoning Liam. Liam and Sean agreed that they would never tell Catherine that she was their sister.

Sean told Catherine that he was sending her home after ‘almost three years’. So that would be around 1801. On the eve of Catherine’s return, John, her father, received an anonymous note saying Catherine would return home to England via Liverpool within the week. John had some of his men stake out the docks and inn so that he may capture Sean when he see’s him. His men captured Sean. Sean was stripped down and his hands were tied to a support above his head and his feet were spread apart and tied to support columns. He was whipped with a studded cat-o’-nine-tails until he passed out. John Enderly watched it all from above on the balcony.

Liam was the only one, aside from Sean, who knew Catherine was returning home. So Liam is the one who notified John of Catherine’s return. Liam has always hated Sean, since he showed up at their home when he was about 10, after their mother was murdered by John Enderly’s men. When the book started, Sean had been home at Shelan with Liam for about ten years. So he’s about 20.

Catherine arrived back home and her father asked her where she’d been this whole time. She made up some story about being abducted by Caribbean smugglers, was taken to a Spaniard, Perez, who only let her go because he was getting married. She said he abducted her because Perez held John Enderly responsible for the death of his mother. John asked her if she believed his story and she said no. I can’t even remember why she didn’t tell the truth.

On Catherine’s 21st birthday, she would inherit her mother’s fortune, the Vigny Estates. Her mother is from a very wealthy French family. John thought to himself that Catherine wasn’t yet 21, so he had ‘ nearly two months’ to decide whether she would prove more useful dead or alive!! He was deciding whether or not she should live. Amin, Catherine’s groom, told her about her inheritance and told her she wasn’t really John’s daughter. He went on to tell Catherine that Brendan Culhane, Liam and possibly Sean’s father, was her father too. She tells Amin that she was Sean’s mistress and has been married to Liam for two years. Liam is in fact her real brother. Yes folks, they’ve committed incest!

Back to Sean and his torture. After Sean passed out from his beating, his abuser, Mr. Worth and John Enderly put a bottle of ammonia under his nose to wake him up. Enderly told Sean his refusal to ‘break’ confirms his guilt about abducting Catherine. Sean called John an ‘envious faggot’ when John threatened to cut off Sean’s ‘manhood’. John gave Mr. Worthy the package Sean had sent him of Catherine’s soiled underwear in it. He told Worthy to put Sean’s ‘equiptment’ in it and bring it to him. He intended to ‘present’ the package to Catherine. Mr. Worthy had four men take Sean down from the flogging brace’ and put him, spread-eagle, on an X shaped stone slab and cuffed his limbs to it. Worthy removed one testicle (you only need one anyway, right?) from Sean. John left one testicle and the penis because he thinks Sean will bargain with him to keep what’s left.

Later, John Enderly had Sean put on his hands and knees and beat in the head with the butt of guns. Sean attacked one man, got his gun away from him and shot someone in the face with it. Sean was then shot near his heart by someone. Next thing he knows, he wakes up outside in the snow, lying next to other dead men. Everyone thought Sean was dead so they put him in with the other dead men to await burial. He took a blanket that was covering one of them and covered himself with it. He wrapped rags from one of the corpses on his feet and wandered out into the snow. Three hours later, he came to a house. He knocked but no one answered. He got the door open, then passed out.

While all this was going on, Catherine traveled back to Ireland less than two weeks after her return to England. She ran into Louis, someone she’d met during that dinner party Sean allowed her to attend while she was locked up. Catherine was using Louis to get to his father, Charles Artois. She went to visit Charles. She told him that she would turn 21 on December 23rd and she thought her father murdered her mother by injuring her horse, causing it to fall, to get her mothers fortune. She said he wasn’t really her father and was scared he may try to kill her to to get her fortune. She told him she was now pregnant by Sean, but she didn’t say who the father was. She wanted Charles to “extend Enderly some reassureance of friendship and proof of regard” for her. She’d be protected then and Enderly would think Charles was the father. Charles asked her what she had to wager and she offered herself, thus becoming his mistress in exchange for her safety.

Catherine was back in Liverpool, England, at the office of the commandmant of Liverpool Military Prison. She asked about Sean and they let her talk to the doctor there. He told her that Sean was shot while trying to escape and was buried in a potter’s field. He told Catherine that her father was planning on serving her Sean’s manhood on a platter. He gave her directions to where he was supposedly buried. She asked two gravediggers outside about Sean. They told her that a younger, dark haired man was among the other bodies and that a ‘dead’ man got up bleeding and left. She knew that must have been Sean. Catherine went searching a found the house where Sean was. He was passed out on the floor. His right arm was broken near the wrist and several ribs were caved in. Catherine went back to the gravediggers, got them and the prison doctor to come help Sean. The doctor did performed surgery on him to remove the bullet from his chest. He didn’t remove the bullet. He told Catherine that she was his half sister; they shared the same father, Brendan. She told him that she knew, since Amin had told her after she arrived home. She told Sean that Liam must have already known that when he married her. Catherine told him she was pregnant. The doctor then fixed Sean’s broken nose then gave Catherine two vials of a deadly liquid. He told her that if she and Sean were to be caught, they were to each take a vial to kill themselves.

They headed to the water to steal a boat so they could escape. Catherine sailed them home safely to Sean’s home in Ireland. Flannery greeted them. Catherine removed the bullet from Sean’s chest with a sterilized crochet hook. Later on, Liam showed back up. He forced Catherine at gunpoint to leave with him. He had his gun pointed at Sean so Catherine shot Liam dead. Sean and Catherine were being invaded by Liam’s men, so they escaped outside. They were heading toward the ship so they could sail away. Flannery wouldn’t go with them and ended up getting shot through the heart, killing him. Sean’s home, Shelan, blew up. As they were sailing away, they got caught in a storm. The storm tore up part of their ship causing them to drift out to sea. They assumed they’d end up dying. One of them mentioned then that it was January 21st and that Liam had died two days before. Then they were captured by a French warship. Catherine had turned 21 a month before.

Catherine ended up marrying 27 year old Raoul d’ Amauri, can’t remember why. He only married her for her fortune. After they married, Napoleon gave Catherine papers to sign which made her owner of the Vigny estates. Raoul wanted her to become Napoleon’s mistress to help further his career and when she said no, he slapped her. Later on, Catherine met with Sean and told him Raoul was being transfered to Spain and that she was moving into a convent. She told Sean that when their unborn child was old enought, she’d send him to live with Sean. Sean told her he was sneaking back to Ireland and then they kissed….still believing they’re siblings. That night, Raoel came to her bedroom, told her she knew where Sean was and tried to make her tell him where. She refused and Raoel kept smacking her until she fell to the ground. He was about to kick her in her pregnant stomach but stopped when the maid arrived. Sean went to his mistress Madeleine’s house and asked her to hide Catherine and told her she was his sister. Someone arrived at Madeleine’s right as Sean was leaving throught the window. He told Sean Catherine was in labor. Sean when to Catherine’s and they traveled back to Madeleine’s together. While Catherine was in labor, Raoul and Fourquet were hiding in Madeleine’s garden to see if Sean was there. Sean saw them, aimed his gun at them and they agreed to a dual. Sean killed both men in the dual. A month later, Sean was in Belgium and got word of his son’s birth. Catherine named him Brendan. He’s got green eyes like is father, Sean. Sean’s 37 year old mistress Madeleine figured out the baby was Sean’s, yelled at Catherine for having an incestious relationship with Sean (they didn’t know at the time!) and told her too that Sean was a spy for France’s enemy (England?) and was giving them military secrets. She told her to get out of her house.

Next chapter starts four years later! with Sean visiting Catherine and their son at the convent. Catherine would be about 25, since her son Brendan was born when she was 21, and Sean would be about 28. Sean tells her that he’s a deserter from the Austrian army. She tells him to take their son to America to start a new life. Some man at the convent reads them Brendan’s original will. Brendan had left a copy with someone else too. In the will he says that his wife Megan thought he was having an affair years before with Catherine’s mother Elise, before Catherine was born. Megan was jealous so she had an affair of her own with their friend Lockland Fitzhugh. That man is Sean’s real father, NOT Brendan Culhane, who IS Catherine’s real father. So Catherine and Liam ARE true siblings. Before Liam’s death, he’d forged a copy of his father’s will so that Sean and Catherine would think they were related and would stay away from each other. Liam was jealous of Sean, so that’s why he did it.

THE END!

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Below is the online article from Christine Monson’s obituary that was posted on the Denver Post’s website in September 2003.
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Claire Martin, Denver Post Staff Writer

Historical romance writer Christine Monson published six novels and had finished the draft of another when she died Sept. 11. Greeley author Christine Monson, whose romance novels “Golden Nights” and “Stormfire” were the most successful of her six published books, died Sept. 11 at her former husband’s home in Greeley. She was 57 when she committed suicide.

Monson was slight, with long, curly blond hair, a woman who was as at home reading books as she was writing them. She became an avid reader when she was a child, relying on her imagination to make her forget – for a while – the joyless West Virginia coal camp where she and her brother were raised. She learned to coax the extraordinary out of the ordinary. She knew how to scour the racks at Goodwill stores, plucking Donna Karan and Yves St. Laurent from hangers crowded with more pedestrian labels. She braked for yard sales and once brought home an elegant maple dresser that she bought for $15.

She allowed herself to pay retail for one extravagance – a mink coat she purchased with proceeds from her first book.

When Monson first saw “Romancing the Stone,” she immediately recognized herself in Joan Wilder, the timid romance writer appalled to find herself in the middle of a dangerous adventure. Like the movie character, Monson preferred to live vicariously through the characters she sketched for her books. “She was a romantic who loved adventure, but she loved reading and writing about adventure more than doing it,” said her former husband, Jon Monson, with whom she remained close after their recent divorce. Once, the Monsons took their daughter, Jennifer, then a baby, camping near Aspen. When Jon Monson paused to set up their tent in a forest clearing, Christine shook her head. She chose a site high on some bluffs overlooking the valley, envisioning the dramatic sunset. However, she failed to foresee the relentless wind that buffeted their camp and dangerously fanned the flames of their campfire. They quenched the fire and rolled diaper wipes into earplugs to muffle the sound of their tent snapping in the gusty night. Christine Monson used the image of fire in several book titles – “Flame Run Wild” and “This Fiery Splendor,” along with “Stormfire,” her debut novel.

Her historical romances were colloquially known as bodice-rippers – novels that pitted a strong-willed woman against a headstrong man who behaves extremely badly for much of the story. Sometimes, even her fans thought her male characters got carried away. “The hero is too violent and cruel” in “Stormfire,” one anonymous reader commented in a review on Amazon.com. The same reviewer went on to praise “Rangoon,” Monson’s second novel, “as wonderfully written” and to applaud Monson’s ability to “take you to another time, another place where you can see the temples, feel the rain” in Burma.
Fan Alyssa Maizan wrote that “Rangoon” was “definitely tied for the very best romance novel ever written (along with ‘The Wildflower’).”

“But in later years, Christine was somewhat embarrassed by her romance writing,” Jon Monson said.

Instead, she focused her attention on a screenplay about a social nature-versus-nurture experiment conducted on orphans during the Great Depression. During the last year of her life, she was working on what she considered a more serious novel about an internal quest for the Holy Grail.

She moved to London to research the new novel but found herself overwhelmed with depression and asked her former husband to bring her back to Colorado shortly before she died.

Besides her former husband, survivors include her daughter, Jennifer Monson of Cairo; and her mother, Lillian Clevinger, and brother, Tom Clevinger, both of Wilmington, N.C.”

I got this photo of Christine from inside the back cover of her 1990 novel Golden Nights.

MY THOUGHTS: This is one of my most favorite novels of all time. I first read it in August 2003 after hearing about it on a romance forum. I’d searched the internet for it right after I’d heard about it but had no luck finding it for a decent price. The book was mentioned yet again a few months later on that same forum so I begain searching for it again. I found it for just $1.

The story is amazing. Need I say more?

CAPTAIN’S WOMAN by Saliee O’Brien with author photo

Publication Info: Pocket Books, December 1979
Setting: 1714 England/Bahamas/Cuba
Timespan: Six years
Narration: First Person
Heroine: Mary Read
Hero: Captain Roger Courtney
Bodice Ripper: Yes
Raped Heroine? Yes
My Grade: B-

 

FROM PUBLISHER:

SHE WAS DISGUISED AS A BOY- Forced to flee England to escape her lecherous kinsmen, she was a stowaway on a pirate ship, with a secret as dangerous as her life.

BUT SHE WAS ALWAYS A WOMAN!- She served her Captain, a man cold as ice. But her love couldn’t touch him, for he had a secret as mysterious as his stormy past.

CAPTAIN’S WOMAN- A novel of flaming passion, a woman’s enduring love and the storms that beset it.

MY THOUGHTS: This is one crazy story. The heroine, Mary, is nineteen and living at her deceased grandmother’s home, which is now being run by the grandmother’s male relative. Mary is using the name George Read because she’s been living the last five years of her life as a boy. Her mother died and she went to live with the grandmother….who really believes she’s male. When she was little, her mother dressed her as a boy and took her to visit her grandmother. The grandmother didn’t like boys so that’s the reason for the disguise.

Sir Cecil, who’s thirty and married, is bisexual. He’s been at Hunter House since the grandmother died two months before. He takes a liking to ‘George’, who is not a blood relative. He catches him undressing one day and discovers that George is really a woman. He rapes Mary and tells her she’s to be his secretary and that they’re to continue their sexual relationship. She told him no and told his wife that she was really a woman. Cecil had Mary arrested for being an imposter and she was taken away by two men. On the way to Newgate Prison, they raped her outside of the carriage. She got away from them, naked, hid and then returned to the spot she was raped and put all her clothes, and wig, on. She found a ship called The Hague and snuck onto it and hid.

A guy named Karl van Buskirk found her and believed her to be male due to her disguise. Somehow he found she was female and she agreed to have sex with him if he kept her secret and tried to find her a job on the ship. He introduced her to Captain Roger Courtney, who’s got auburn hair and blue eyes. She, disguised as George, became his cabin boy. A crewman came into the room once and saw that she was a woman and agreed to keep it secret. Word got out to some that she was female and she got raped by a crewman. Soon after, the same day, she and Captain Roger where in his cabin. He raped her. When the penetration began she actually held him tighter to her. She thought this about the incident, “He held me tightly, shuddering and I knew that, though he had raped me, it was actually I who had conquered him.”

All sorts of crazy nonsense takes place for the rest of the novel, far too much to get into. I got real bored after about a third of the way through it and couldn’t wait to finish it. Way too much manly sea stuff and fighting for my liking.

Karl is thrown overboard and is presumed dead until he shows up years later. Mary ends up in Cuba married to a Cuban man named Pablo Gómez. She’d met him previously. She finds out from her maid that he’s been raping and beating her. The maid takes her to a dungeon where Pablo currently has four girls chained up and hanging from the ceiling. During this time, Captain Roger Courtney shows up. She still loves him and agrees to sail away with him, even though the’s still married to Pablo, to his home in England, where he’s a Lord and no longer a pirate. That’s how the story ends.

It’s totally implausible that a feminine woman could live several years dressed as a man and have no one know it. How stupid do authors think we, the
readers, are? And this whole time, there was no mention of Mary ever getting pregnant. The stuff with the dungeon could have been interesting if the author hadn’t thrown that in out of the blue during the last few pages.

This is one over-the-top story. It’s only 296 pages and too much action is packed into it. I got this book in September 2009 and have finally read it. I was impressed with the craziness of it but my excitement died shortly after I started reading it.

Interesting Old Article and Interview With Male Bodice Ripper Novelists

I came across this old article from the January 1981 edition of Texas Monthly magazine while researching Kerry Newcomb, formerly known as half of the bodice ripper writing duo Christina Savage. I’ve typed up the article myself and posted it below, and added links.
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Even though Parris Afton Bonds is an unqualified sucess in the historical romance field, her sales don’t come close to those recked up by Texas writer Christina Savage. Savage’s first book, Love’s Wildest Fires, sold over a million copies, and Dawn Wind came out last spring with a major advertising campaign and printing of 800,000.

Christina Savage is two guys named Kerry Newcomb and Frank Schaefer. Newcomb lives in Dallas, although on the day I met them they were both in the Dallas office, an upstairs apartment in a run-down Oak Lawn house. There was a cockatiel loose in the apartment, and I noticed a desk lamp with an upended colander for a shade. Schaefer sat at a dilapidated desk quietly trimming his nails while Newcomb stalked about the room.

“I grew up in the Mid-Cities,” Newcomb said. “Actually I was born at the Gemini Drive-in during Attack of the Crab Monsters. These crab monsters would not only kill people but they’d steal their brains and switch them around.”

Newcomb went on to talk about Inframan, which I agreed was the classic oriental horror film, and he made an impassioned plea for the John Wayne version of The Alamo.

“When that big, ugly guy comes up to this woman and says, ‘Ma’am, ah ain’t got nobody ta say good-bye ta. Kin ah say good-bye ta yew?’ and then she gets up on her tiptoes and kisses him full on the cheek! Oh, goddam, that was beautiful!”

Newcomb and Schaefer first met at the Dallas Theater Center, where they were both actors and directors. They didn’t become a writing team until several years later, after both had tried solitary stints at freelance writing. They worked well together, cranking out horror scripts, PBS documentaries, a slide-tape presentation on the Campfire Girls, and one-minute spots for a governors’ conference.

Their first book was a Western. No one wanted to buy it, but it impressed a publisher enough to get them a contract for a slave-plantation novel. Schaefer and Newcomb read Mandingo and Sweet Savage Love and then set to work on Rafe. Since then they’ve produced, besides the Christina Savage books, action-adventure books like Matanza and suspense novels like Pandora Man. They recently finished the first draft of Yellow Rose, a family saga set during the Texas Revolution that will be published under the name Shana Carrol.

“We got into this,” Newcomb explained, “not really liking the genre. We worked at it from the angle of what we could do with these books to make us want to read them. With Dawn Wind we felt secure enough to cut out all the silly characters.”

“This new book is unique,” Schaefer said, “The couple in Yellow Rose don’t even argue that much. It’s the only historical romance sage in which the hero is a virgin.”
Newcomb and Schaefer write their books in a leapfrog fashion, with Newcomb generally writing the first draft of a chapter and then sending it to Schaefer, who reworks it and sends it back. They work hard and resent being classified as genre writers.

Dawn Wind,” Schaefer said, “will hold its own against ninety percent of the hardback books being published.” I had read Dawn Wind and tended to agree. Even though its main male character is named Lion McKenna and it has the usual quota of quivering loins, it also has range and bite. There is an impressive account of the Civil War battle of Manassas, some interesting and complex minor characters, and a concern for topics of more consequence than its characters’ unslaked lust.

Even as Newcomb and Schaefer grumbled about how their bodice rippers were not taken seriously, they were making plans to move outside the genre. They had a book in the works called The Ghosts of Elkhorn– which fit into no catagory at all- to be published in hardcover by Viking in early 1982. Meanwhile Dawn Wind, by Christina Savage, was just beginning its brief but prominent shelf life on the racks of every paperback outlet in the country. “Forbidden love,” its purple cover said, “dark vengeance, and searing Civil War.” Dawn Wind would occupy that position for a few weeks, then it would be supplanted by other books promising stories of secret desires, undreamed-of passions, whispered longings, dark and delicious cravings.

Maybe someday a writer will come along and elevate all this into the realm of lieterature, do for the bodice ripper what Dashiell Hammett did for the detective novel. That’s probably a long shot, but would be nice to think that at least some of thise squirming and salivating will not be lost to the ages.
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See related post.

MIDNIGHT LADY by Rosemary Rogers

You can read the synopsis here. This book was published in 1997 but it seemed so much like an older book. In fact, while I wasn’t very far into the story, I kept going to the front of the book to check the publication date because I was sure this was an 80s book. I’d had the book for six years and finally got around to it last week. It’s the fifth Rosemary Rogers book that I’ve read. It was part of a set of 10 that I’d gotten off the ever popular Ebay in 2004. I enjoyed this book more towards the beginning than I did the last part of it. The hero, Brett Banning, was totally alpha, very forceful and the heroine, Kyla, was a bit fiesty, like I like. I’m a little surprised she gave in to being Brett’s mistress so darn quickly. I don’t think the HEA (happily ever after) was belivable and it didn’t happen until the last few pages. The story didn’t get bogged down with history like some of her books can.

It was a pretty simply, easy-to-follow plot. I don’t buy the coincidence that the man Kyla was to marry just happened to the man who stole Brett’s important papers. So overall, I liked this book OK and I’d grade it maybe a very low B-. Though there was no abuse toward the heroine by anyone, I do consider this a bodice ripper because the hero was so strong and arrogant and he just had to have the heroine…and told her so!

The rest of Rosemary’s novels are:

  • Sweet Savage Love   1974
  • The Wildest Heart   1974
  • Dark Fires   1975
  • Wicked Loving Lies   1976
  •  The Crowd Pleasers (contemporary) 1978
  • The Insiders (contemporary) 1979
  • Lost Love, Last Love    1980
  • Love Play (contemporary) 1981
  • Surrender to Love   1982
  • The Wanton   1985
  • Bound by Desire   1985
  • The Tea Planter’s Bride   1995
  •  A Dangerous Man   1996
  • Midnight Lady   1987
  • All I Desire   1998
  • In Your Arms   2000
  • Savage Desire   2000
  • A Reckless Encounter   2001
  • An Honorable Man   2002
  • Return to Me   2003
  • Jewel of My Heart   2004
  • Sapphire   2005
  • A Daring Passion   2007
  • Scandalous Deception   2008
  • Bound By Love   2009
  • Scoundrel’s Honor   2010

 

TENDER TORMENT by Jane Archer

You can read the synopsis for this novel here. This 1978 novel was a true bodice ripper and I’m sad to say I didn’t like it at all, though I will reread it in the future. I’m sure I’ll feel a bit differently about it then. I first read it in September 2009 after reading on the Amazon romance forum that it was someones favorite romance novel.

It was awful. He’s the bodice ripper parts, in a nutshell;

The heroine is 20 year old Alexandra. She has red-gold hair and green eyes. She was punched in the face and raped by a man who wanted to marry her, raped again on the ship, almost gang raped and jumped overboard to escape, raped yet again by three sailors, raped by the bouncer at the saloon, was drugged (by the female saloon owner and ex lover of the hero) and raped again by the heroes brother (hero just happened to witness the sex but didn’t know she was being raped; thought it was consentual), raped several times by the hero (but always ended up liking it in the end), almost raped by his halfbrother (?).

Even though I didn’t like this, I do want to read another by this author.

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