A rather interesting article on historical romance and the 1970’s term of Bodice Rippers, where books were all about sexually aggressive men taking weak women. The author has a point about the former ideals in the ’70’s and ’80’s with repressed sexuality and the excitement these books produced. Nowadays, putting any type of forced sexual assault in an historical romance book is pretty much taboo among readers. What are your thoughts?
“While historical romance remains a major part of the romantic fiction genre today, experts agree that bodice rippers describe a short and specific moment in American publishing history that lasted only between the early 1970s and mid-1980s. “
My Highland Spy by Victorian Roberts found its way to my Kindle. Reading a Highland romance is a challenge with all those Gaelic words and weird sounding accents such as, “donna” “isnae” “aye” “verra” etc., that are across the page each time a Scot speaks. Frankly, I prefer the proper English, which is at least the accent the heroine speaks. If you don’t mind muddling through those sounds, you might like this book.
Ravenna is a spy for the crown. She’s a feisty and brave lady who is carrying on the family tradition of being a spy. She is assigned to infiltrate a Scottish laird, who is in a wee-bit of trouble for not sending his son to England to be educated. The powers on the throne want to know where his loyalties lie, so Ravenna travels to his castle to tutor his boy under the guise of being a governess.
Of course beautiful young lady meets handsome man in a kilt and one thing leads to another. All the while, Ravenna is lying to his face about who she really is and sneaks about the castle listening to conversations, doing her job to gather what she can to ascertain if he’s about to participate in an uprising or behave.
While doing so, Ravenna finds herself easily aroused by the Highlander. He is going through a bit of sexual drought and wants to bed the lass. Eventfully, they enjoy a few illicit trysts of sex. Intimacy doesn’t exactly begin because they are falling in love. Instead, it seems more like friends with benefits because Ravenna knows she will soon return to England. She’s not exactly a stranger to bedding a man either, so this is not a story of virginity lost.
Victoria Roberts is a good author who keeps the text flowing and the story moving along. However, being privy to the big secret of who Ravenna really is sort of sets up the inevitable from the very beginning. You know deep down inside that conflict will certainly arise. A certain laird’s heart will be broken and his anger aroused once he learns the truth — it’s just a matter of time.
When I’m on the other end and know the outcome, I personally don’t find the story as intriguing or exciting. I would have loved to have seen it written from the laird’s point of view, knowing absolutely nothing about Ravenna as she enters his world. When the big revelation arrives, I am just as shocked and appalled as the hero, because I’ve fallen for both of the characters. For me, that makes for great plot twists. However, knowing it ahead of time tells me where the story is going before it ends — the intrigue is weakened since the outcome is obvious.
Nevertheless if that doesn’t bother you and you are the type of reader who loves to read Scottish accents, this book is for you. You can close your eyes, think of his dreamy face, bulging arm muscles (stare at cover for inspiration), and enjoy that darn kilt, which you know has a prize underneath. No doubt, this story will satisfy your Scottish yearnings. (Reviewed by Countess Robin)