Historical Romance Review: The Masquers (aka Splendid Torment) by Natasha Peters

historical romance review
The Masquers (aka Splendid Torment) by Natasha Peters
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1978
Illustrator: Elaine Gignilliat
Published by: Ace
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Renaissance Era Romance
Pages: 475
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader

Historical Romance Review: The Masquers (aka Splendid Torment) by Natasha Peters

The Book

Natasha Peters’ Splendid Torment–originally published as The Masquers–takes us to late 18th-century Venice. It is the world of Fosca Loredan, a titian-haired young noblewoman who is trapped in a loveless marriage to a much older nobleman.

It’s an unusual romance, in the style of Bertrice Small sans purple-prose: part bodice ripper, part historical fiction, replete with swashbuckling and political intrigue.

The Plot

Two heroes are vying for Fosca’s attention. There is Raffaelo: an atheist, revolutionary, bastard Jew. The other is Alessandro, a middle-aged, philandering, anti-Semite politician.

But this love triangle is in reality a quadrangle. The fourth player is Lia, a woman who will do anything with anyone to save her true love.

Besides this adulterous entanglement, the book has several highlights. They include a Dynasty-style catfight, a Sapphic May-December love affair, and an omniscient dowager who hasn’t left her bed in 20 years. And oh yes a singing eunuch and a cross-dressing, dancing dwarf!

One gripe: Fosca’s inability to think with anything other than her hoo-hoo is frustrating. The girl is recklessly horny and could well have benefited from a chastity belt.

In fact, they all could have used one. These guys got around!

splendid torment the masquers
Splendid Torment, Natasha Peters, Ace, Elaine Gignilliat

Final Analysis of The Masquers (aka Splendid Torment)

The Masquers is the third Natasha Peters romance I’ve read. The others being Dangerous Obsession and Savage Surrender. I enjoyed them all. She skillfully wove history with melodrama and created flawed, yet all-too-real characters in over-the-top scenarios.

Despite being morally repugnant, all the players in this game captured my sympathy. As such, I was both saddened and pleasantly surprised at the result of the love triangle. There was one hero I cared for who was left behind, while the other got his unexpected happy ending.

This epic drama spans decades as characters are too proud and stubborn to communicate, thus leading to their own downfalls. Characters rarely tell the truth to themselves or others, hiding behind their Carnival masks.

But what a dazzling Carnival it is.

4 Stars

Rating Report Card
Fun Factor
Overall: 4.3


Venice. A city of intrigue, a city of beauty, a city of exquisite sensuality….

In the late 18th century, during the days of a dying aristocracy, of never-ending Carnival and unbridled licentiousness, Venice teems with mystery and immorality. Gondolas glide soundlessly through narrow canals, carrying masked lovers to secret trysts, while cicisbei play court to bored noblewomen.

Such a woman is the magnificently beautiful Fosca Loredan. Her husband, Alessandro, is the ambitious leader of the aristocracy. Her lover is the bold revolutionary, Rafaello Leopardi – Alessandro’s deadliest enemy.

The flaunting of their passion before her husband’s eyes leads to imprisonment, exile, and treason.

Raf, Alessandro, Fosca – a triangle that sizzles with the heat of passion, that fire of hate; a triangle of emotional torture and delight that could happen only in the treacherous, the beautiful, the sensual city of Venice.


Please Drop a Comment and Let's Talk Romance!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.