1 star

Historical Romance Review: Shameless Ecstasy by Thea Devine

Shameless Ecstasy, Thea Devine, Zebra, 1989, Cover Artist TBD

MILD SPOILERS

1 Star

Rating: 1 out of 5.

This review is of Shameless Ecstasy, a standalone from May 1989 by Thea Devine.

The Plot

The book takes place on Swany Island, Georgia. One of the residents there is Sarianna Broydon, the heroine of the book. Sarianna lives with her father, Rex, her stepmother Vesta, and Vesta’s daughter, Jeralee. The relationship between Rex and Sarianna is not a good one for many reasons. Stepping into this family drama is Cade Rensell, the hero of the book. Cade was born in Georgia, left, and has now returned, with some scores to settle.

As part of Cade’s revenge plan, he and Sarianna become lovers, who are caught by Vesta and Rex in a compromising position. Despite Rex’s objections, he agrees to let Sarianna and Cade marry.

Sarianna and Cade marry, despite Jeralee’s attempts to impede the process. Sarianna and Cade relocate to Savannah and begin their married life together. They are happy on one level, but there are many difficulties beneath the surface, and two above it: Vesta and Jeralee,

Soon, after Sarianna suffers a miscarriage and other issues, she and Cade separate. She goes to Charleston, South Carolina, to live with her late mother’s cousin. Cade follows her and tries to win her back. He’s not the only one following Sarianna to South Carolina; Vesta and Jeralee do as well, who come to visit and try to create problems for Sarianna. This time, they don’t succeed.

In the end, Vesta tries to kill Sarianna but is stopped by Cade. He and Sarianna reconcile and have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

The best part of this Southern Antebellum re-telling of Cinderella is Sarianna, who is subjected to various forms of emotional and mental cruelty throughout her life. The fact that she is still capable of being a loving person is a testament to her. The sex scenes are also very good for a late 1980’s mainstream romance novel.

Downside

Everything else!

To be more specific, the majority of the characters in Shameless Ecstasy are thoroughly unlikeable. The cruelty that Rex, Vesta, and Jeralee exert toward Sarianna also contains sleazy elements. Although Ms. Devine tries to sell the book as a love story, there is no real love between Cade and Sarianna. He wants her for revenge against Rex, he lusts after her, and even though he verbalizes the words “I love you” to Sarianna, Cade’s actions tell a completely different story.

Sex

As mentioned, the love scenes are pretty good. They’re mildly descriptive and fairly erotic.

Violence

Vesta tries to kill Sarianna by stabbing her. She wounds Sarianna, but the injuries are not life-threatening.

Bottom Line

The only ecstasy I felt after reading Shameless Ecstasy was the fact that it was finally over. 1.27 stars

Reviewed by Blue Falcon

5 replies »

  1. I, and I believe Jacqueline and Mary Ann as well, try very hard to keep Sweet Savage Flame a positive place for lovers of vintage romance.

    Having said that, if I had an official list of the worst books I’ve ever read, Thea Devine’s “Shameless Ecstasy” would have a prominent place on that list. It’s not the absolute worst-that “honor” remains with Cassie Edwards’ putrid and royally stupid “Eugenia’s Embrace”-but “Shameless Ecstasy” would certainly be in the top 5. I feel sad for the time I wasted on this dreck.

  2. Dear Blue Falcon,

    So is this a case of “This is an environment of welcoming, and you should just get the hell out of here”? 😉

    We do our best to share joy about what we love, but once in a while, what we love takes a weird turn. Being honest in our feelings is not promoting negativity, but food for thought. If I rate a book 1 star, then someone reads that review and is intrigued by what I disliked enough to read the book and come out with a different POV, all the better.

    Or for another analogy, I love horror movies. However, when I individually look at films, very few rate 10 out 10, and very many get 2 or 3 out of 10. Most average out at 7 or so. While I find that most movies are just ok, I still call myself a fan overall. There’s no dissonance in that. Sometimes the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

    • I’m in a similar situation, Jacqueline. I consider myself a serious lover of romance fiction, even though most romances clearly aren’t for me. There are even whole subgenres I won’t touch.

      But I still love the idea of romance fiction. And books that fit my notion of what romance should be.

      Romance fiction is a big tent. There’s room for every romance lover’s idea of romance. Inevitably, many books won’t be my cup of tea. But they will be somebody’s.

      Vice versa is also true. Many readers don’t go for what I love. Still, we’re all parts of a community.

      What’s more, how many romance books, past and present, are we talking about? My guess is a few hundred thousand. Available at Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and a bunch of other websites.

      So yeah, no matter how picky a romance lover might be, she can always find SOMETHING to read!

  3. Hi, Jacqueline.

    Thank you for your comments. I didn’t mean to say that negativity isn’t appropriate or welcome. I can get negative with my reviews sometimes, but I also try whenever possible to find positivity and, when I am negative, to not just say “this is horrible, don’t waste your time” as one review of the book I’m currently reading did. Rather, I try to explain as best I can what I didn’t like and what I would like to have seen that could have been better. I appreciate your bringing this to my attention so I can be a better reviewer.

  4. Dear Blue Falcon,

    I’m teasing! Blast the lack of emojis on this computer! Please don’t change a thing about your reviews! I adore your honesty, the way you break down the plot, characters, the ups and downs. Even my favorite books are imperfect, and have reviews lambasting them. There is room for all perspectives here, and there is nothing you should change. Keep being the wonderful, honest you that you are!

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