1 star and a half

Historical Romance Review: Rapture’s Rebel by Iris Bancroft

Rapture’s Rebel, Iris Bancoft, Pinnacle, 1980, cover artist unknown

From the back of the book:

Torn between her desires for a Russian colonel and a dashing lieutenant in the Swedish army, Kirsten is swept by savage destiny into the raging lusts of a revolution… Against the tumultuous background of the Northern War of 1710 is woven the enthralling saga of a tempestuous woman forced to choose between her impassioned loyalty and the ecstasy of forbidden love.

1 1/2 stars

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

I HATE being let down by books that seem to have promise, but end with a lifeless whimper. Bodice rippers set in Russia are my siren song! This should have rocked!

Rapture’s Rebel by Iris Bancroft is the first non-Viking historical romance set in Scandinavia that I’ve read.

The Plot

Russian soldiers have taken over a town in Sweden and Kirsten hides in a hot sauna for protection. Stupid Kirsten lets a little kitty in there with her and he dies, the poor thing! Well, maybe not so poor. Kitty’s pain is over, but mine was still to come as I had this turkey of a book to finish.

The heroine’s a twa– er twit, and there’s a rapacious older Russian (basically Rod Steiger in Dr. Zhivago) who makes her his… Too bad he’s a dud in bed!

Kirsten is, of course, so irresistible that men cannot help themselves! She gets to bed three different men within three consecutive days (both willingly and not), and that is a pretty good bodice ripper count.

Kirsten’s lucky, though, she’s got hot blond guys galore following her. The hero, Viotto, isn’t as bland as they tend to be be sometimes, but he’s missing-in-action for most of the book.

As they often do, the setup started out decently enough: there was a war going on and there are three men who desire Kirsten. The two searching for her, Viotto and Knut, are the only ones worth reading about. Kirsten wasn’t a genius to begin with, and only turned into a greater bleeding fool! Why in the world did she march INTO Russia to find the old man who she thinks is a nice, guy who will care for her, but is actually a gross, creepy, rapist?

War is hell! As Kirsten heads east to Russia. this book takes a turn for the worse and gets really rapey, and not in a crazy, fantasy, bodice-ripper way. Women and children are brutally raped to death by Russian soldiers, prisoners of war are starved, and people freeze to death on their way to Russian enslavement. I was looking for some escapist fun, and this realism was a huge buzzkill.

Two great rivals for Kirsten’s love who spend more time together and have more chemistry with EACH OTHER than the heroine has with either of them? Plus, she spends maybe 40-60 pages tops with both of them, while the rest of the book is marching into Russia or getting raped by “Daddy!”

And on the last page, Kirsten reunites with her “true love,” Viotto, whom she met, for what a day or two?

Final Analysis of Rapture’s Rebel

If that’s the kind of bodice ripper you’re going to write, it has to be meaty and fun. This wasn’t.

While the competition between Kirsten’s other men neared a bloody battle, Kirsten was nowhere to be found as unfortunately those interesting characters had almost no interaction with Kristen.

One woman, three men who love her, and this dumb twatwaffle, Kirsten, initially went for the very old Russian general who she said treated her like a daughter, then turned around to brutally rape and beat her. Even when he was not violent, his “lovemaking” was terrible (yuck)… And she forgave this loser because he was like her daddy? Who thinks like this?

I wonder if Iris Bancroft was a pseudonym for a male author. Not that male romance writers can’t write thoughtful, entertaining romances, but this was a Pinnacle-published book from the early 1980s, and they, like Playboy Press, had a slew of male authors who wrote unromantic books that somehow became best sellers because the public was hungry for historical romance back then.

So disappointed about this one.

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