Illustrator: Elaine Duillo
Published by: Ballantine
Genres: Historical Romance, Medieval Romance
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: Amazon
Eleanore of Ashlin had promised her life to God—until fate intervened. With her brother’s untimely death, Eleanore becomes the heiress of an estate vital to England’s defenses. Now she is ordered by royal command to wed one of the king’s knights rather than take her final vows. With resistant heart, but ever obedient to King Stephen’s will, she complies.
Ranulf de Glandeville is all too aware that his innocent bride wants no man; yet his patience, gentle hand, and growing love for his spirited young wife soon awaken Eleanore to passions she never knew. But their love will soon be threatened by a depraved woman who will put Eleanore’s life in jeopardy—and the young bride’s love to its greatest test. . . .THE INNOCENT by BERTRICE SMALL
SPOILER FREE REVIEW 🙂
It was a bad sign that Bertrice Small’s The Innocent features one of her dullest-looking romance covers ever. The lone positive about it was that Elaine Duillo created this. It was one of her final covers and illustrated for her dear friend Bertrice.
The Innocent, The Evil, And The Boring
Taking a break from Small’s usual romps where the heroine is captured by some salacious sultan/whoremaster/caliph and enslaved into his harem is The Innocent. The Innocent is an unengaging medieval-era set historical. I usually adore medievals, but this one bored me to tears.
The heroine is a former nun named Eleonore, who goes by the ridiculous nickname Elf. Elf is a paragon of virtue, saintliness, and sweetness. She is totally dull. Elf must leave God behind to marry Ranulf, an equally boring character. He then patiently introduces Elf to the arts of love.
There’s an evil villain–a hired killer sent to dispatch Elf–who falls in love with Elf for her purity and goodness. All I could wonder was, WHY? She, like most of Small’s heroines, is perfection beyond belief.
One Fun Character: The Villainess
Ok, I lied when I said the cover artist was the only exciting aspect of The Innocent. The villainess, Isleen, is such a caricature of slutty evilness; it’s hysterical. She despises Elf, as Isleen is her total opposite: a cruel, bitchy who-ore. She will stop at nothing to have Elf killed.
There’s a funny scene (funny to me, anyway) where Isleen gets gang-banged by the villain and a couple of other guys. They go at it, and she suddenly stops after a few rounds.
Isleen cries out (more-or-less): “No, wait! We have to practice safe medieval sex, so I don’t get preggers!” Then she proceeds to douche the “specimens” out of her vagina with an entire bottle of red wine.
Final Analysis of The Innocent
I read a ton of Bertrice small books circa 1999 to 2002. At the time, I found myself addicted to them.
But being addicted to something and loving it aren’t the same thing.
I picked this book up, believing I would appreciate a change of pace from Small’s usual sexcapades. Usually, the heroine (and hero) cavort with every staff and orifice in plain sight.
Here Elf is a virgin and sleeps only Ranulf. That’s boring for a bodice-ripper, although I wouldn’t classify this as a ‘ripper. It’s just vanilla erotic romance. Other than a couple of scenes and a pair of quasi-intriguing villains–the male evildoer would have made a better hero, plus, he surprisingly redeems himself in the end–, The Innocent was a real snoozer.
Recommended only for hardcore Bertrice Small fans and those who want to read some naughty sex scenes.