3 stars and a half

Historical Romance Review: Purity’s Ecstasy by Janette Seymour

Purity’s Ecstasy, Janette Seymour, Pocket Books, 1978, Harry Bennett cover art

Youth and beauty were her sole assets on Earth.


3 1/2 stars

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

***Spoiler alert***

Like many other late 1970’s to early 1980’s bodice rippers, Michael Butterworth’s (aka Janette Seymour) second entry into his Purity trilogy, Purity’s Ecstasy, is a tawdry, rollicking ride filled with just about every ‘ripper trope and then some.

In the first book, Purity’s Passion, after beautiful Purity survived the French Revolution, she was made the ward of the enigmatic and barely-there Mark Landless, with whom she fell madly in love. However, she had numerous obstacles to overcome before getting her man (namely other men). The same is more or less the case with this sequel, as Mark is presumed dead after being captured by pirates. Purity knows in her heart Mark is still alive and she will do whatever whomever she has to do to find him.

Alas, after being kicked out into the streets by cruel in-laws, Purity has to search for employment. In her own words her “youth and beauty were her sole assets on Earth” so what’s a girl to do? Put those assets to work!

And… oh… my… God… Not even halfway through this romp, there were more trashy elements than the previous five ‘rippers I’d read combined: lots of kidnapping, lots rape-and/or-forced seduction, a female pirate, regular pirates, eunuchs, male virgins, lesbian orgies, multi-racial gang-bangs, whippings, bigamy, and amnesia… Yet, it was so tastefully done. Nary a peep of manhoods, members, or dewy petals, a lot of euphemisms, and still plenty of titillation to be found.

Finally, Purity is thrown into the ravishing clutches of the evil pirate/slave-trader called El Diablo, The Devil, who hides a shocking true identity. For he is the same minister she knew back home in England; Reverend Mauleverer is the evil pirate/slave-trader, El Diablo. Debauched by an older boy at Eton, ordained as a man of the cloth at Oxford, the mild-seeming minister reveals to Purity that it was he who kidnapped her husband, he who led the Corsair fleet in the Mediterranean, he who took Purity into slavery, and he who ravished her.

And Purity had no clue who he was? This girl is seriously lacking in IQ and EQ.

But as bad as it gets, no naughty escapades and no thrilling, charismatic villains will ever prevent Purity from being with her boring, bland, zero-personality-having soulmate!

This book was, for the most part, an entertaining romp, although a romance it was not. I don’t think I will read book #3 in the series, as one can assume more of the same will occur when Purity is separated from her beloved and has to use her gold-plated poon as currency to get back to Mark…

Just like she always does.

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