PUBLISHER: Star, 1981
GENRE: Historical Romance
SETTING: England, Scotland, 1802-1806
SERIES: The Loves of Angela Carlyle, #1
MY GRADE: A-
FROM PUBLISHER: An unselfish motive led lovely fifteen-year-old Angela Carlyle to consummate a brazen bargain in Lord Harrington's bedchamber. But the wedding night unleashed anothers conniving lust, planting the seeds of passion in Angela's breast. And thus her new life began, a tumultuous story of lost innocence and restless desire, sweeping the beautiful Angela into a world of flesh and fear. For the fire, which consumed her, could be quenched by one man alone-the man she both detested and desired.
PARTIAL SPOILER SUMMARY: EXTREME BODICE RIPPER ALERT! Brace yourselves. I've stumbled upon the most effed up over-the-top anti-hero ever, but I'm getting ahead of myself. I'll detail the abusive stuff below.
Black-haired, light blue-eyed Angela meets the seventy-something year old Lord Percival 'Percy' Harrington at her parents home when she was ten. He's a distant cousin by marriage to her mother. Five years later, she realizes her father is running out of money so she doesn't know what else to do but write to Percy and let him know, in a roundabout way, she needs money. He visits and lets her know that if she wants money, she has to marry him. She's horrified at the thought, since she's only fifteen, and lets him know it. He's described as being tall, fat, with yellow, tobacco-stained broken teeth. She agrees to it and before the wedding, she meets his son, Scott, one day when she's outside. That's when his obsession with her begins. He's ten years her senior and has brown hair and brown eyes.
On their wedding night, she lays in bed and waits for Percy. He arrives drunk and passes out. Out of the darkness appears Scott. He tells her he drugged his father and that he's going to rape her right in the bed with him passed out. He rips her gown off, she claws his face and bites his lip. He flings her off of him, hitting her in the face in the process. He throws her on the bed, she claws his back, he calls her a bitch and ties her hands to the headboard, then rapes her. She bleeds heavily for a hour. The next morning Percy wakes up thinking they'd had sex.
Soon after that incident she finds a diary in the house that belonged to Scott's aunt Blanche. It talks about how Scott was unwanted, neglected, ignored, and she begins to feel sympathy for him but hates him with a passion at the same time. We never learn exactly what went on in his childhood. We just know that he and his father hate each other. She took the diary to him and he had the nerve to proposition her- have sex with him willingly or he'd continue to rape her. She doesn't agree to it.
His abuse towards her is off the charts from then on out. He continues to drug (more likely have a servant do it) his father every night, her too sometimes, and sneak into her bedroom through a secret underground tunnel that leads to his own house on the property and rape her.
She shot him once when she realized she'd been drugged by him. He smacked her twice, put her over his knee and whipped her until his arm hurt, then raped her. Another time Angela insults him and he calls her a bitch and slut, carries her into the ocean and drops her in, right as she was telling him she was pregnant. He rescues her then and they get in bed and have sex, her supposedly not remembering the near drowning. She's as mentally screwed up as him for saying that him doing that was partially her fault for 'goading' him into anger. Another time, Scott sneaks into her room and finds her in bed with her friend, Keith. He beats the heck out of him and smacks Angela. Now for the worst of his abuse- right after beating Keith up, he tied Angela to the bed, with Keith passed out on the floor, and began biting her all over- lips, breast, neck, nipples, everywhere! He turned her over and alternated between beating her with her quirt (short riding crop) and raping her. He heated his signet ring in the fire and branded her butt cheek with it. If ever a hero needed a bullet to the brain, it's him. At some point in the book Keith smacks and rapes Angela once too.
He kidnaps her at her wedding to Keith and takes her to Scotland. At this point, she's nineteen. She becomes pregnant again. He's trying hard to get her to marry him but she refuses. He tells her that he'll take her home to England but the children have to stay with him. She says and they begin a consentual sexual relationship with each other. She finds happiness with him and agrees to marry him and that's how the book ends.
MY THOUGHTS: Nothing shocks me in old historicals anymore but there were several moments in this book that made my jaw drop and eyes pop. Scott is beyond disturbed. Unfortunately for the reader, we never learned what happened to him in his childhood that helped turn him into the jealous, possessive monster he became. He's really arrogant too.
Poor Angela sees herself as an 'unwilling captive of desire and revenge'. She's very spirited and feisty, not passive at all. She hates yet loves him and he won't let her break free. There are periods of consentual sex between them throughout the story. She has a sexual relationship with three men and never has sex with her elderly husband, who's not in the story much.
There was a part in here where she's kidnapped by a highwayman named Jack Newton, who's forty years old. She's about seventeen. He's not abusive while he's holding her for ransom for six weeks. They become lovers, even though they're both married. He eventually hangs for his crime. This part became boring to me once he was captured and went to trial.
I like warped romances and this one fit the bill. Same review here.