EDWARD, EDWARD BY LOLAH BURFORD

PUBLISHER: 1972/73, MacMillan
FULL TITLE: Edward, Edward: A Part of His Story And Of History 1795-1816 Set Out In Three Parts In This Form Of A New-Old Picaresque Romance That Is Also A Stud
GENRE: Historical Fiction
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: A

FROM PUBLISHER: It is a hunting tale of a strange romance between a worldly and dissolute man, James Noel Holland, Earl of Tyne, and the golden-haired young Edward, his ward–or perhaps his son. Homosexuality, sadomasochism, and incest are elements in their relationship–and so are affection, love, and the saving quality of grace.

The time of the story is the beginning of the nineteenth century–the pre-Regency years of domestic unrest, of the Napoleonic Wars, and of lawlessness, cruelty, and the vast chasm between the rulers and the ruled. The place is alternately the cold Northumberland wild country where the Earl has his seat, the grim and beautiful city of London during the Season with all its pomp, the retreats of Devon and Brighton, and eventually Vienna at the acme of its musical splendour. The background figures include Mrs. Siddons, the famous courtesan Harriett Wilson, various noted rogues, Beethoven and Schubert, Castlereagh, Godwin, George III, and particularly, in retrospect, John Wesley, whose religious teachings, precipitates and early crisis in Edward’s life but is to prove an enduring force.

In the course of the narrative a great many warring elements shape Edward’s character. He is sent to Oxford, where he proves a brilliant student. Holland takes him to London to spend some months living in his resplendent townhouse while he is grooming him–assisted by Beau Brummell, among other famous figures–to take his rightful place in the world of society when he comes of age and receives his inheritance–for the Earl has by now privately acknowledged that he is Edwards father. He obtains the skilled services of two of his former mistresses to introduce Edward to the techniques and arts of heterosexual intercourse–an experience which repulses Edward at first, and then proves pleaseant indeed. Soon Edward finds himself growing fond of a young girl–but both families violently oppose a match, in true Montague-Capulet fashion.

Many times the two men, father and son, abjure their passionate lovemaking, only to resume it more violently than before. Finally Edward’s apparent duality, augmented by a serious psychological and physical breakdown, have all but destroyed him utterly. Deeply concerned, the Earl takes him to Vienna and dramatically demonstrates that now Edward must make one of two choices: life or death. And in the end of the story is the beginning…


SPOILER SUMMARY: INCEST ALERT! Noel, 38, Anne, mother, 33. Edward, their son. They first met when she was 17. They meet again years later, have sex under a tree and she becomes pregnant. I can’t remember but I think he raped her. She thinks Noel will marry her. He won’t marry her and tells her he’s going abroad the next day and invites her to come. She says she can’t and asks him to strangle her, which he does. She only passes out. He goes away to the Continent for two months and she marries within the first week of him leaving. When their son Edward is almost seven years old, Anne goes to see Noel. Her husband has died recently and she’s dying and needs Noel to take care of their son. Edward comes to meet his father. They decide to get married for Edward’s sake. After the wedding, Anne feels like she’s dying so asks Noel to have sex with her. Anne doesn’t know if Noel is Edwards father because one week after having sex with Noel for the first time, she married someone else and began a sexual relationship with her husband and got pregnant right away.

Edward was sent to live at one of his father’s homes and didn’t actually see Noel for 6-12 months. Noel went to see Edward because he’d hurt his foot then didn’t see him again for over a year. He didn’t see him at all the year he was eight. In the spring of Edward’s 9th year, his footman George took Edward to see Gypsies at the fair. One of the men asked him questions about how his father Noel was treating him. Later that night Edward was in bed when he heard his dog whine. He went to look for the dog outside and was abducted by the same man at the fair who’d asked about his father. Noel found him 1 1/2 days later. Starting on Edward’s 12th birthday, he began to run away a lot. Later that same year, one night Edward got into bed with a sleeping Edward, kissed him, took his nightgown off and caressed his back. Edward kissed him back then asked him the next day if what they did was a sin. The day after, they traveled by ship to France. “They spent a week in his mannor, the weather holding, their days and nights divide in a way they did not speak of or refer to again.” During their last swim at the beach, just before they were to leave for England, Edward tried to drown himself. Noel saw him, went in after him and dragged him to shore. By the time Edward was 16, it had been almost four years since he’d last seen his father. Noel showed up one day to tell him he was sending him to Oxford University. Edward told him he didn’t want to go, he wanted to travel with a preacher who knew his other father, and that he wanted to become a preacher himself. Noel told him he wasn’t going. That angered Edward so he pulled out a gun and threatened to shoot Noel. Noel shot the gun out of his hand and locked Edward in a room by himself for a week. At some point during that week, Noel kissed Edward.

During the second part of the book, after Edward goes to Oxford, he starts thinking about the sexual feelings he’s having for his father. Up until this part of the book, were weren’t given any reason to believe Edward had those type of feelings for Noel except a few times years before when he kissed him. When Edward went home for the Christmas holiday, Noel locked him in the same dark, small room because he was scared Edward might try to kill him like before. At this point in the story, Noel is still a very distant, unfriendly person. He tells Edward that he wishes he had never taken guardianship of him. Every time Edward comes home to visit, Noel locks him in the same dark room. Once Edward’s friend Marion came to visit him at Noel’s and saw him locked in the room. Noel was caressing Marion’s shoulder in front of Edward. They spent the night in bed together. Edward heard them in bed. He was hurt and jealous and became physically sick.

During a visit home when Edward was 19, he told Noel that he knows he may be his father. Once while at college, Edward started wondering why Noel was so distant toward him, why he didn’t ever want to be around him. Edward knew that Noel must have meant something to his mother for her to have left him with him when she died. While Edward was growing up, Noel would look for signs of himself in Edward but could never see any. As Edward got older, he developed a violent streak like Noel. Edward and Noel were discussing the possibility of being related. Noel said, “Why do you think you are my son?” Edward said, “I don’t think, I know.” They were looking at family portraits of Noel’s family. Edward was saying there was no resemblance between him and his other father. Sometime after that, their relationship turned sexual. When Edward was 20, he told Noel that he knows he raped his mother and that he forgives him. He picked up Noel’s hand and kisses it.

Once while at the home of his mistress, Edward cuts himself with a knife. Noel and a doctor come and strap him to the bed. Fast forward to when Edward is 21, he and Noel are in bed together. They argue about something, Noel hits him in the mouth, causing it to bleed. He told Edward to ‘turn over’ but he said no. They fought some more. Noel took his pillow and held it over Edwards face until he stopped struggling, then turned him over and raped him. Later, Edward took Noel’s hand and kissed it, then kissed him and they went to sleep beside each other. Noel ‘bought’ a prostitute named Amanda. He paid her well so that he could cut her hair short like a boys and use her (anally) like a boy. He “hurt” her and she got some type of infection and died.

Edward left home for good when he was 21. Three years later he ran into Noel. Noel asked him to come home but Edward said he couldn’t yet. In July of 1815, Noel got sick and had Edward move back in. Noel recovered. In the last part of the book, Edward gets sick. One night, he drinks all of Noel’s laudanum. He almost dies but recovers. One night while still recovering, Edward woke from a bad dream. Noel pulled his nightgown up but Edward told him he didn’t want to have sex because he felt faint. Noel said he couldn’t control himself, to try to resist him because he was going to use him ‘terribly.’ He grabbed Edward, struggled with him, kissed him, all the while Edward is crying. Edward passes out and Noel rapes him.

The ending: Noel told Edward he needed to get married. Edward told him he wanted to die, so Noel filled up a marble basin with water and tried to drown him. He started to struggle. They talked and Noel punched him in the chest to wind him so that he could try to drown him again. He didn’t drown him. Edward went to see a girl he knew and they decided to get married.





INVITATION TO RUIN by Bronwen Evans

PUBLISHER: Brava, 3/2011
GENRE: Historical Romance
SETTING: England, 1808
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: C

FROM PUBLISHER: The only thing Miss Melissa Goodly has ever wanted out of a marriage is love. But any hope of that dissolves one wild night, when she loses herself in the arms of the most irresistible -- and unobtainable -- man in all of England. For when they are discovered in a position as compromising as it is pleasurable, she has no choice but to accept his proposal.

Avowed bachelor Anthony Craven, Earl of Wickham, never meant to seduce an innocent like Melissa. Yet now that the damage is done, it does seem like she'd make a very convenient wife. After all, she is so naive he won't have to worry about ever being tempted. Or so he thinks, until the vows are spoken and they are left alone -- and his new bride reveals a streak just as brazen and unrestrained as his own...


MY THOUGHTS: The story spans about six months. The hero is thirty-three year old Anthony. He's got black hair and silver-gray eyes. The heroine is twenty-one year old Melissa. She's got black hair.

I didn't care for this book at all. The incident at the beginning was contrived and too unbelievable/unrealistic. I find it hard to believe it would really have been planned out by someone so close to Melissa. It was just silly. We got no backstory on the heroine at all and I'm not sure why that was.

The hero has a very dark past. His father was very abusive toward him but not to his identical twin brother, Richard. The hero is hard and unwilling, at first, to open up his heart to the heroine. He does end up falling in love with the heroine, and she, him, after a few months. I never felt their love was true. We got a tiny bit of backstory about the hero but I'd have liked more.

Right from the start, after the 'incident', the heroine seemed a bit obsessed with wanting the hero to love her. She didn't even love him at this point so I don't understand why she wanted to be loved by a stranger so much.

I don't like that something as serious as slavery was thrown into this story. I felt it was unnecessary and a bit strange. It was more of a small subplot that took a backseat to the unbelievable love story between hero and heroine. There were several plots; the hero trying to bring down a slaver and the main plot seemed to be the unbelievable relationship between the hero and heroine. Then another plot involving a female villain, assisted by a man, who's trying to bring down the heroine for a really stupid reason- jealousy.

This was a dark, unromantic novel. Typically I like that type but the author just didn't pull off a true love story. This novel just didn't work for me.

Were I grading this novel on everything except the love story, I'd grade it an A. I liked the male/female villain duo and the explicit, dark sex. Because the love story was lacking and just plain lame, and this is a romance, I have to grade this novel a C/3 stars.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.



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

PUBLISHER: 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
PURCHASE: link
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.






A DUKE TO REMEMBER by Kelly Bowen

PUBLISHER: Forever, 7/2016
GRNRE: Fiction/Historical Romance
SETTING: England, 1819
SERIES: Season for Scandal, #2
AUTHOR SITE: link
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: C

FROM PUBLISHER: Elise deVries is not what she seems. By night, the actress captivates London theatergoers with her chameleon-like ability to slip inside her characters. By day, she uses her mastery of disguise to work undercover for Chegarre & Associates, an elite agency known for its discreet handling of indelicate scandals. But when Elise is tasked with locating the missing Duke of Ashland, she finds herself center stage in a real-life drama.

Noah Ellery left the glamour of the London aristocracy to pursue a simpler life in the country. He's managed to avoid any complications or entanglements—that is, until he lays eyes on Elise and realizes there's more to this beautiful woman than meets the eye. But when Elise reveals her real identity—and her true feelings for him—the runaway duke must confront the past he left behind . . . to keep the woman he loves forever.



MY THOUGHTS/SPOILERS: This story was interesting enough and was more romantic suspense than romance. The plot was pretty simple and easy to follow along with. No complicated subplots to distract from the main one. I liked both lead characters alright.

The synopsis isn't completely accurate and it's the publishers fault. It states that 'Noah Ellery left the glamour of the London aristocracy to pursue a simpler life in the country' but that's false. At the age of ten he was forced into an insane asylum for absolutely no reason, then escaped a few years later. He had no choice but to go into hiding. He didn't chose to leave 'the glamour of the London aristocracy'. He was forced to live a secret life for fear of being caught and sent back against his will.

Some things I didn't like. I find it very hard to believe that Elise found Noah right away without even looking for him. I find it hard to believe too that Noah's friend Joshua, the one he escaped with when he was fifteen and hasn't seen since, was also involved in finding him. I don't find it plausible at all that Elise could be masquerading as a man sometimes without anyone suspecting she's female. I'd have liked for Noah's evil cousin Francis Ellery to have been in the story a lot more instead of just being at the beginning and end. His involvement in this story was far more interesting to me than that of Elise and Noah and far more interesting than the sex scenes.

I'm disappointed that Noah didn't converse with his mother about being sent away all those years ago. I was hoping she hadn't been involved in the plot, in fact I was assuming we'd find out she hadn't been, but they never even spoke to one another.

I think Noah's thirty-five years old but I'm not sure and I have no idea how old Elise is. We got no backstory at all on her. I don't think I'd read this author again.

Lastly, there's a line in the story (page 137 of the ARC) where Noah said, "I.Don't.Want.The.Title'. Please keep that awful modern-day way of typing out of historicals.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.