4 stars

Historical Romance: Passion’s Proud Captive by Melissa Hepburne

Passion’s Proud Captive, Melissa Hepburne, Pinnacle, 1999, cover artist unknown

4 Stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Warning: Not for the Easily Offended

Passion’s Proud Captive by Melissa Hepburne is not a book for modern readers, but it’s tailor-made to suit my tastes.

As far as “romance novels” go, I am stuck in a time warp. This 50-year old genre has more variety now than ever… I find modern romances lacking. I’ll read a keeper on a rare occasion, but they just don’t do it for me for the most part. I know they’re well-written, insightful, witty, with mature sexuality. It’s simply that most of them bore me. I’m a troglodyte, ok! I like cheese! Spare me your Ivy-league educated authors with professional doctorates who create such works of literature like Seven Scandalous Secrets to Seduce a Man-Slut–oops–Scoundrel. Give me those 21-year-old-housewives, those retired grandmothers, those crazy cat ladies! Now they knew how to write the crap I like… Crap like Passion’s Proud Captive.

If ever you’ve wondered if a book was so trashy, so poorly written yet so awfully enjoyable that it could be considered to romance novels what Manos the Hands of Fate or The Room is to movies, look no further than Passion’s Proud Captive or Miss Jennifer van der Lin’s Ribald Tales of Rapetastic Adventures in White Slavery featuring ugly, greasy men and a few good-looking ones, too.

This book just doesn’t give a #@%!. It knows what it is: utter, sleazy trash.

The Ludicrous Plot

We begin the book in medias res during the American Revolution, where our fearful heroine Jennifer is about to be punished by an angry ship captain before all the men aboard. She is stripped and groped, threatened with rape, but before the baddies can whip her, our heroes save the day. No, this is not a ménage romance, just a lame love triangle. Lancelot Savage (a moniker derived from the romance novel hero/porn star name generator), henceforth known as Savage, the dark, swarthy seaman with zero personality, no notable character traits or charm of any sort, is the main guy.

Our second hero, Darcy Calhoun, a Frenchman, calls the heroine Jenny-fair and ze way ee tahk laik zeez ahl zroo ze booook, eet eez zo veree, ‘ow yoo zay: F$#!ing irritating. 1 star taken off just for having through figure out his lame dialogue.

Savage is injured in the rescue, and Jenny-fair nurses him back to health. And then he rapes her. But since she likes it, and he’s the hero, it’s okay. Anyway, he’s captured by the British, and to save him from the hangman’s noose, Jenny-fair arranges with the booby-hating gay villain to be the fat governor’s mistress for a year. Sex scenes are described in titillating detail, and no matter how obese, ugly or nasty the rapist is, it’s somehow bawdy… Titillating, even. She is taken by man after man, and her body betrays her every time.

Savage escapes from prison to be with his true love but is shocked to find her shagging the old, decrepit magistrate. Never fear. Our plucky heroine will get her man back. Jenny-fair has the brilliant idea of traveling by ship all the way to England, somehow arranging for Savage–a pirate wanted dead by the British–to travel across the Atlantic Ocean, and somehow she will arrange for the villain to admit all his wrongdoings and for Savage to overhear it.

Jenny-fair signs up for indenture on a ship bound for England, promising to be a prostitute. But don’t worry, she knows she’ll be able to escape. I felt bad for Jenny-fair, who was obviously mildly retarded with an IQ south of 70. She should never have been allowed out of the house without proper supervision.

When she is sold to a whore house, her first customer is a 15-year-old boy with a big shlong who schtups her silly, and she likes it. Later there is some voyeuristic, girl-on-girl action with an ostrich feather. And, of course, the requisite sold to some sheik where Arabs/Indians/Turks (according to the author, it’s all the same thing) live on an island in the Mediterranean. Finally, there is an evil Jenny-fair look-alike, and before you know it, our adventures are over…

Wait no, the book actually ends in a cliffhanger with no definite conclusion and the reader is left wondering, huh?

Final Analysis of Passion’s Proud Captive

Don’t worry, there’s a sequel to this book, and the fate of our protagonists will be fully and satisfyingly revealed… Right?

This book is a mess. A hot, nasty mess. I read it so quickly because it really doesn’t take much thinking. It starts in action and just keeps going. There is no introspection and proto-feminism of Wicked Loving Lies; no intense, emotional rollercoaster like Stormfire; no sumptuous purple-prose and rich attention to detail and history like Skye O’Malley. Other books have a witty style, historical research, deep characters, but this book has none of those things. The heroine is literally too stupid to live; the hero is a non-entity; the villains clichéd and dumb. But it’s fun and pure cheeseball bodice ripper action. And for what it was, I enjoyed it very much.

The sequel, is another story…

(PS) The author of this brilliant piece of fiction was really a man, Craig Broude, who republished his books on e-format. I recommend reading this book with your butt firmly unclenched to enjoy this silly, unrealistic ride.

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