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JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioKeskustelut / Maininnat
293570,017 (3.6)1 / 11
A tale of human emotion that lays bare the heights and depths of love, passion and desire in old and new worlds...as we follow Virginia Brandon, beautiful, impudent and innocent, from the glittering ballrooms of Paris to the sensuality of life in New Orleans to the splendor of intrigue-filled Mexico. A tale of unending passion, never to be forgotten...the story of Virginia's love for Steven Morgan, a love so powerful that she will risk anything for him...even her life.… (lisätietoja)

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näyttää 5/5
1.2 stars

For this month's #TBRChallenge, the prompt was Old School, which to me, means bodice rippers. This is not an area for some to enter but my first entry to romance was rippers and I maintain a complicated relationship with them today, and still they remain on my tbr. I can't say when this exactly was put on there but I'd say I've been meaning to read it for over 20yrs.

As I've called this a bodice ripper, I'm not sure it needs to be said but trigger warnings abound (racism, rape), especially sexual assault trauma. I also rushed to read this in two days, so if I sound a wee bit punchy in the review, please excuse.

This starts us off in 1862, first in France with 16yr old Virginia Brandon where her coming into womanhood has her cousin getting afflicted with guilty confused dick syndrome. We get ground work on Ginny learning to flirt and control men with her looks, which are so beautiful that lust abounds around her. We also learn that her father is a US senator of California and when the US Civil War is over, he promises to send for her. Her mother was French and brought them back to France after feeling abandoned by her husband but then dies, leaving Ginny in the care of her uncle.

The next introduction then moves to 24yr old Union Captain Steve Morgan guarding the senator's new wife in New Orleans. Sonya is tantalizingly scared of Steve and a southern belle resentful of the Union soldiers but when they get stuck in a cabin in a storm, “animalistic” urges take over. That's right our hero is now banging our heroine's stepmother. Which, yeah, I know, but after reading the whole book, sounds a little more bodice ripper whackadoodle than it turned out be; Ginny didn't grow-up with Sonya in mother-daughter relationship and then only knows her for a couple weeks and then Sonya is out of the story for the vast majority. Sonya really seems to just be an introduction to Steve's nonconsenual and consensual bangboi persona. And what a bangboi persona it was. If you're a woman who appears on page, you getting Steve. Not even godmother's are safe, but more on that later. Steve ends up killing a superior officer in a duel over his mistress and gets recruited by a man named Bishop to be a spy in a ring he has set-up. It's orchestrated to look like he escaped and off to spy and bang he goes.

Part two moves us forward four years and has Ginny in America. She first sees Steve from her hotel window as he shoots a man in the street, more of that tantalizingly scared attraction. We've moved on from the US Civil War and now are dealing with the second intervention Franco-Mexican War. Ginny's senator father supports France and has a plan to supply them with gold and guns, which he brilliantly decides to have Ginny and step-mother Sonya deliver under guise of traveling to California. Him being safe in D.C. I'm sure doesn't factor. Ginny is excited for the adventure until she sees one of their scouts is the guy she saw kill a man in the street. Steve Morgan and his spy ring, still working for the US, side with Mexico and they know all about the senator's gold. His mission is to ride with the wagon train and then steal the gold for their side. Now, you'd think this would be a great a time for some ripper wildness but Sonya just mainly wants Steve to keep his mouth shut about their affair in the past and they don't really talk with each other. I actually enjoyed how Ginny and Sonya had a good relationship. Steve first meets Ginny when he mistakes her for a prostitute. They cat fight and the groundwork for their enemies-to-lovers relationship is set.

“I should hope not, for men in love get far too sloppy,” Ginny retorted. “And then, they become too, too boring.”

In their wagon train, there is a man named Carl that Ginny practices more of her “womanly wiles” on and she gets some taste of adversity as trail life is rough. There's some of that doing tstl moments from her that have her coming off as a brat and allow for Steve to show his manly alphaness that is common in this era and ripper type and then Ginny's body betraying her mind as she asks Steve to take her virginity. Their first sex scene (and the vast majority of sex scenes to follow) starts off with non consensual vibes as we all know women have to be pressured into sex because wanting it would make her a slut, or so the messaging goes from this era. Again, with the sex scenes in this book, after the first initiating, it's fade to black and after the clothes come off, they're laying satisfied.

“Sometimes I feel that being a woman is worse than being a child—we have the intelligence and the feelings of adults, but we aren’t permitted to show them.”

There's a fight with Apaches and then Steve and his merry men are stealing the gold, Ginny manages to rip his face covering off, exposing him and Steve is taking her captive. This is where the story got really slow for me and kind of boring as they seemed to move around but we don't really get any setting and god help me, I'm going to be forced to say it, Ginny is nothing but shrill personality and Steve is a wooden alpha bangboi. Steve rapes her, he takes her to brothel to hide out for awhile, he sleeps with another woman then after climbs into bed with Ginny, Ginny knifes him and then they have sex with his blood getting on them both, some Stockholm Syndrome, and then he takes her to his home in Mexico. We're about 45% in.

Steve Morgan, the man she had so contemptuously called a half-breed—the man she’d believed to be nothing more than a professional gunfighter and a thief—he was the grandson of a Spanish grandee, the heir to millions?

Part three and four gives us more on Steve's background, he's half America from his father's side and half Mexican from his mother's. He's an heir and while both his parents are dead, his grandfather still tries to control him. This part was, again, slower for me as Steve's mainly out of the picture and it's all Ginny learning Steve has a sixteen year old fiance, growing close with Steve's cousin, and then being introduced to his grandfather. Learning a little bit about Ginny, the grandfather decides that Steve must marry her. Wedding preparations and waiting on Steve but also, never fear, we get a scene of Steve sleeping with a servant. Steve eventually comes back and is totes angry that Ginny has orchestrated him being engaged to her. There's some “gypsy dancing” that Ginny is just a siren at, a childhood friend appearance (you guessed it, Steve bangs her!, but also one of the few consensual sex to happen), and a marriage. Yep, Steve decides that he'll marry Ginny but it must be immediately and happen Right Now. Steve wanting this wedding completely comes out of left field and I'm not sure I fully understand why he decided this because he then leaves without saying goodbye to Ginny that night.

My God, he thought suddenly, I was in danger of falling in love with the woman, and I didn’t even know it. What a trap!

Enter a wily French soldier who has Steve and all his spy personas figured out and decides to take Ginny prisoner to flush Steve out. Banging his childhood friend has given Steve the clarity he needed to decide he loves Ginny and even though he knows it's a trap he decides to give himself up to save Ginny. But not so fast, when he is lead to the French soldier's room, he see's Ginny in only her robe and smiling at the French guy, Ginny set him up! Steve, doesn't know the French guy is wily. Steve then drowns in his feels. Meanwhile, Ginny will do anything to save Steve (she loves him too now. How? Why? Don't ask me). Ginny says she will sleep with the French guy and become his mistress if he spares Steve. They make the bargain but the next day as the soldiers are moving out a guy named Tom, a baddie you sort of meet earlier in the story, comes to take Ginny and makes her watch as the prisoners are shot and she thinks Steve is dead.

The ending of part four and then as we move onto Part five is where most of you are going to want to bow out, trigger warnings for rape and sexual trauma are grossly abundant. As I said, Ginny made a deal with the French guy, but it's a rape scene and then the next day Tom comes to take her as the French guy thinks he'll transport her to him but Tom decides to keep her and Ginny is then gang raped and made a camp follower where she daily is assaulted and sometimes sold by Tom to other men. Look, can rape and the trauma from it be done well in romance stories? Yes. Is it done well here? No. Ginny just isn't a well enough developed character for the gravity of this to work. It doesn't come off salacious, which, thank goodness, but the way her character has been a pretty empty vessel up to this point, makes this very cringing to read in a romance genre story that I'm mostly reading for emotional love (and some historical adventure). In a mental breakdown, Ginny ends up killing Tom and winds up in the arms of Michel, a previous French soldier admiring of hers. Anyway, if you wanted to skip part five all together, I wouldn't blame you.

Part six has Ginny being labeled a French courtesan and Michel's mistress. We get some real historical names and told Ginny parades around with them and brief mentions of the war. Another solider enters the picture, Miguel, and while Ginny is now Michel's mistress, he's off fighting the war, and Miguel thinks he must have Ginny. Miguel was actually a character I would have liked to know more about, about the only character that intrigued me. Ginny doesn't really care because she loved Steve and now that he's dead, she doesn't care what happens to her (I'd say it's all the trauma but what do I know?). Miguel is the one to finally reveal a secret to Ginny.

Steve Morgan was alive only because his body insisted upon survival. It was as simple as that.

What a reveal! The pov then shifts to Steve and we get to learn all about his trauma now. What fun! This is also where my Kindle decided to stop saving my notes, so it's going to be fast and probably vague from here on out. Instead of being killed, Steve was taken to the mines (the French guy might be wily but he's no liar!) to work where he endured horrific physical and mental torture and almost endured his own rape. His identity gets revealed and they decide to move him from the mines to building railroads. He goes from horrific conditions to awful. He also serendipitously sees Ginny riding by and smiling with Michel, he's all in with his theory that she set him up and his hatred is white hot. Miguel somehow learns where he is and while he's telling Ginny Steve is alive, he's having Steve and a couple other prisoners moved to a home to help rebuild a wall. Stay with me. There Steve has his own mental breakdown and kills a guard while the other prisoners kill the other guards. The woman who owns the home turns out to be his godmother and she recognizes his blue eyes and spares his life. He ends up banging his godmother (thought I forgot abut that, didn't you?) because bangboi. We then go back to Ginny and how she's Miguel's mistress now so she can get info on Steve. She ends up meeting Bishop, the one who recruited Steve for the spy ring and blackmailing him to send her to Steve. Part seven has her showing up at the house Steve has been staying at and while he's not there, his childhood friend is and Ginny loses her mind over the other woman.

Here is finally where Ginny's character got interesting and she took action and instead of being an empty vessel for things to happen to, she shows emotion and autonomy. She knife fights for her man, as one does, and kicks the other woman out. Steve shows up and still thinking she betrayed him, strangles her, but stops before he kills her and you guessed it, they have sex. There's a, umm, interesting scene, I guess you'd call it, where Ginny holds a knife to Steve's throat and makes him undress because she thinks to break through his anger and show him she loves and didn't betray him by having sex with him. Steve then precedes to blame her for all the men that raped her, leaves, has a trauma inducing return to the mines he was a prisoner at that also gives him a clarity breakthrough and he decides that while he's still angry that so many men had Ginny, he also can kind of see how it wasn't her fault and he loves her. Stand-up guy, I tell ya.

Most of this book only takes place over a year, which is wild to think about because so much happens to Ginny and Steve but so much is just meandering on the pages. There's historical names and the occasional events listed but the vast majority is to the side and for all the traveling these two do, I thought the setting and places were underused, never really felt their destinations. Same with the “epic adventure” that this and bodice rippers are supposed to have, we get a lot of mentions of Steve on his back but for being an adrenaline junkie, we sure miss out on all his spy missions and guerrillas activities. The ending, last 20-10%% gave me more of what I was looking for and Ginny's character came alive and we got some action but it didn't make up for the wandering and meandering that was the middle. Ginny is 21 and Steve 29 when this book ends and I know their story continues on, so maybe some of the growing they did here would be paid off in the next but I probably won't be continuing on. At no point did I believe in their love, Steve wants her in the beginning because of her beauty and he's a bangboi, Ginny is young and anger intrigued by him and ready to lose her virginity, sort of. He kidnaps her, she has to depend on him for survival, then trauma for everyone, then it's decided that they both love each other. Not enough history or love for me in this one. ( )
  WhiskeyintheJar | Apr 22, 2021 |
1978 - my 1st grown-up Romance! she and Woodiwiss and Johanna Lindsey set me on a lifelong path of hunting down great romance novels! ( )
  sharon-williams | Jun 16, 2016 |
I didn't like the hero. I found him far too cruel to the heroine at times. He also bedded everything that moved along the way, and the love between the hero and heroine was not reciprocated till the last page. Thumbs down. ( )
  junepearl | Apr 25, 2016 |
This book came to mind, after a friend of mine remembered a book he had read long ago, in the same genre. I remember venturing into this novel out of curiousity....at the time, it was a major best seller. And the author paved the way for many other female authors. These books are now called "Bodice Rippers", Female erotic romance novels or just plain "CHICK LIT ". This title started a series of books with the same characters....I never was interested in reading any of the sequels. I guess my curiousity was fulfilled...and then some. ( )
  silversurfer | Jan 26, 2010 |
The original bodice-ripper. It is a good one, if you like this sort of thing. I guess. ( )
  nevusmom | Jun 4, 2007 |
näyttää 5/5
But freed of the ivory prison, things are different, so now you might well see a tweed-clad ectomorph flipping pages in the aisles of a Wal-Mart near you. And members of the jury, I won't be reading Field and Stream.
lisäsi Shortride | muokkaaNational Public Radio, Jack Murnighan
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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia (1)

A tale of human emotion that lays bare the heights and depths of love, passion and desire in old and new worlds...as we follow Virginia Brandon, beautiful, impudent and innocent, from the glittering ballrooms of Paris to the sensuality of life in New Orleans to the splendor of intrigue-filled Mexico. A tale of unending passion, never to be forgotten...the story of Virginia's love for Steven Morgan, a love so powerful that she will risk anything for him...even her life.

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