LOVE'S AVENGING HEART by Patricia Matthews
Setting: Virginia, July 1717
Timeline: 3-4 years
Heroine: Hannah McCambridge, 16
Hero: Michael Verner, 22-ish
Bodice Ripper? Yes
Rating/Grade: B/4 stars
Hannah wondered if her daydreams and nightly fantasies would ever come true. A captive, near-slave to Silas Quint, her brutal stepfather, she lived in squalor, suffering the indignities of poverty and shame. She knew only that she must escape, that must come first. Then to find the man and the lover who'd fulfill her dreams.
Hannah's sordid life with Quint was soon replaced by long hours toiling as an innkeeper's bar maiden -- literally sold into servitude by her stepfather! It was but the beginning of a wild and tumultuous new phase of life that would test Hannah's very soul. Her fiery red hair, voluptuous body, and impudently beautiful face would attract men -- men of wealth, men of nothing but strength and lust -- and she would have to learn to survive amidst their passions and furies.
After all, she was only a wench, a body to be owned, used or bartered. But Hannah would do more than survive, she would win. She would overcome the sadistic beatings, the rapes, the treachery, the crushing humiliation of her circumstances. She would discover the all-consuming raptures of passion when love came to free her questing heart.
MY THOUGHTS: Hannah goes through hell during the first part of the book. Her stepfather leads her, with a rope around her neck, to an inn called The Cup and Horn. He's forcing her to become an indentured servant for the next five years, until she's twenty-one. The man who buys her is the owner of the inn, Amos Stritch. He's fifty, fat and bald. Amos bought her to 'warm his bed' and because she was a virgin. She's to work at the inn too. He rapes her and beats her several times.
She meets a sixty-three year old Englishman named Malcolm Verner. He's owner of a plantation called Malvern, which is assume the word is a combination of his first and last name. He's wealthy because he grows tobacco. He's got a young son, Michael, whom he assumes is dead. He buys Hannah's indenture papers from Silas and gives them to her; he frees her but she chooses to say at Malvern and continue on as his housekeeper. Malcolm asks her to marry him and she agrees. She's now seventeen.
The rest of the book is a bit boring to me. There is some interesting information about Hannah being octoroon, meaning she's 1/8 African. Her father is 1/4 African. There's some blackmail toward her involving that. Malcome dies and his dead son reappears. He and Hannah begin a sexual relationship, resulting in a pregnancy. She flees to Boston and opens up an inn and had a lover. The plague strikes and kills thousands. Michael finds her and they, and their daughter, Michele, move back to Virginia and they get their happily-ever-after.
I didn't like that Michael was only 22 ish or the secret mission he was on to kill the pirate known as Blackbeard. I also didn't like the plague stuff either. The book wasn't quite as good as I was hoping but it was alright.
There's a sequel to this and is about both Hannah and her adult daughter, Dancer of Dreams.