5 stars

Historical Romance Review: Stormfire by Christine Monson

Stormfire, Christine Monson, Avon, 1984, cover artist Pino

His spirit, like the lonely, windswept sea, was ever-restless, ever-changing, sometimes howling down to savage the unyielding land, then caressing it with a lulling embrace, inevitably wearing away its resistance.

STORMFIRE

5 Stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

***Spoiler alert***

The Most Controversial Bodice Ripper, Ever?

So, after a couple of decades of reading romance, I finally got around to Stormfire by the late Christine Monson. Whew! They do not write them like this anymore. The ultimate in bodice-ripping, Stormfire is a tale of two mentally unstable people and their violent, intense love. And it’s great!

The main attraction of Stormfire is its writing. If it was a poorly written book no one would still be talking about it 20-plus years after it was published. The chapters each have their own titles such as “Silken Irons,” “Into Eden,” or “The Nadir.” When the heroine meets the hero her first thoughts are of Milton’s poetry: “His form had not yet lost/All his original brightness, nor appeared/Less than Archangel ruined…” 

The prose is evocative and compelling, but not purple. We agonize with Catherine’s enslavement, we feel the angry passion between the lovers, we grieve with Catherine’s loss, and suffer from Sean’s torture… How much misery can two people take? Then there is that intense love/hate. I wish writers of historical romances today wrote like this, deeply and intensely, if not necessarily the same plot.

To be honest, I wasn’t comfortable with a lot of things in the book. Even so, Stormfire is enthralling. Even those who hate this book can’t say it’s boring.

The Plot

Sean Culhane kidnaps Catherine, the daughter of a British lord, seeking vengeance. He keeps Catherine captive in his estate in Ireland and immediately rapes her, sending Catherine’s bloodied undergarments to her father.

However, while Catherine is innocent, she is not weak. She’s a fighter who will meet Sean’s cruelties with a will of iron. You will not believe what these two go through, what they do to each other, or what they do to others. It’s incredible, but as I said, it’s Monson’s compelling skill at writing is what makes this book so special.

Then again, maybe I’m a sicko, because I like the plot. Yes, it’s epic and melodramatic. There’s everything but the kitchen sink in the plot including: kidnapping, rape, starvation, forced slavery, multiple marriages, miscarriage, insanity, beatings, brothers fighting for the same woman, incest, castration, forcible sodomy, murder…

Final Analysis of Stormfire

There are a lot of detractors of Stormfire, so in its defense, I’ll say this: this isn’t a sweet romance. It’s an old-school historical romance novel, a bodice ripper, and I use the term with great affection.

It’s a fantasy.

A dark one, definitely, but then some might say so are the vampire, werewolf, bestiality, BDSM, ménage fantasies of today. This is a different kind of fantasy, where the greatest hate in the world can be turned into love. Would this relationship work in real life? Probably not. That’s why it’s a fantasy. Stormfire is very entertaining, emotional, and unforgettable. It falters a bit towards the end, so it’s not perfect. It’s not the best romance novel ever written, but for me, it’s up there.

Book Vooks: Stormfire PDF Book by Christine Monson (1984) Download or Read Online

2 replies »

Please drop a comment and let's talk romance!