SPOILER ALERT ⚠
From the opening pages of Andrea Layton‘s So Wild a Rapture, we are introduced to the 16-year-old heroine, the noble Juliette de Condillac, and her “won twu wuv,” Francois du Quesnay. He’s a slightly older boy from a neighboring and also noble family. They quickly consummate their love and, like high schoolers, vow to be “togetha 4 eva” after Francois finishes his university education.
But life has other plans for Juliette and Francois in So Wild a Rapture. First in the name of Roger du Deffand and then in the name of the French Revolution.
Against her will, Juliette is betrothed to the foppish and much older Roger. Francois hightails it back to school, but not before giving her his ring. This ring he tells Juliette will protect her whenever needed.
Juliette dithers about her future: maybe she will marry Roger, maybe she won’t. In the meantime, she is to be educated at a convent and spend time with nobility, learning what she needs to be a proper bride for Roger. What does she need to learn? Oh, the usual: being pious, educated in the wifely arts, properly social, and perhaps taking part in a bit of girl-on-girl love–because her husband-to-be loves to watch a good show (or even take part). Juliette is, of course, shocked, but curious…
Unfortunately, her lessons are cut short when the horrors of the French Revolution begin to take over.
Death, thievery, arson, destruction, and rape ravage the countryside. Fortunately, Juliette is protected wherever she goes by Francois’ ring. Eventually, Juliette and Francois meet again, and she is shocked to learn that he is a powerful and respected leader in the Revolutionary movement. (What did that silly twit thing the ring was all about?)
I don’t know how Francois reached such high status, because, to be blunt, he’s kind of a dickless wanker.
When men try to rape Juliette over and over, he pleads for mercy. He fights as a last resort. Never would he dream of killing her would-be rapists, because this benevolent eunuch says, the men have had hard lives and can’t be blamed for their actions.
And le coup-de-grace is Francois’ reaction when his family is killed and his home destroyed. There, he laments the loss of a natural and necessary part of the new movement.
Boo! Lame hero! Maybe the villain is better? Un peu.
Eventually, Juliette makes her way to her fiancé. Roger lets Juliette know in no uncertain terms that she’s damaged goods. So he no longer has any interest in marrying her. Although he will still make use of her comely charms.
First Roger makes Juliette his own love slave! Then he pimps her over to a bored King Louis XVI who is taking refuge in his palace as France crumbles around him in bloody chaos.
Roger forces Juliette to have an abortion, thus destroying any tender feelings Juliette had for her former betrothed. In the meantime, she waits for Francois to free her from her courtesan life before the guillotine takes her head.
Does Francois come in time?
Final Analysis of So Wild A Rapture
This wasn’t a bad ‘ripper. It wasn’t great either. Juliette’s youthful resourcefulness makes her willing to do anything to survive, no matter how degrading, sordid or arousing. But she also is kind of vapid and silly, with plenty of scenes lip-chewing and foot-stomping.
I detested the male protagonists whose politics and morals I abhorred. The villain was villainous, yet he lacked that je-ne c’est quoi that makes a villain sizzle.
Here’s another bodice ripper to file away under:
- The hero is dishwater dull and missing in action while…
- The heroine bangs it out with the lecherous villain, and…
- She gets some historical dong along the way.
But hey, I do give So Wild a Rupture — I mean, So Wild a Rapture! — credit for keeping to the history and not being all wall-papery in that regard.
from the innocent, virgin pastures of the French countryside to the sensuous intrigues and royal splendors of a king’s decadent court
against her will by a passionate liaison with a wealthy baron whose ardent desires devoured her senses, sweeping her to the heights of ecstasy and the depths of degradation
ENRAPTUREDSO WILD A RAPTURE by ANDREA LAYTON
by the sweet, burning memory of the fiery young rebel whose tender caresses had scorched her soul forever–and made her desperate to be free, to belong to the one man who could truly possess her heart.