Pub Date: 1977
Illustrator: Jim Dietz
Published by: Warner Books
Genres: 20th Century Historical, Bodice Ripper, Historical Romance
More at: Goodreads
Purchase Book: Buy on Amazon
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader
They called her That Barrington Woman. She was beautiful – and notorious. But beneath the silks and diamonds, within the supple body so many men had embraced, was the heart of a girl who yearned still for love. At fifteen she had learned her beauty was both a charm and a curse. It had sent her fleeing from Kansas, had been her downfall in Baltimore and Georgia, yet had kept her alive in the Klondike and the South Seas.
Now on this fateful night in 1906, here in San Francisco’s most glittering atmosphere, will she at last be able to reveal her secret longing? Will she be able to call love by name – and claim it?THESE GOLDEN PLEASURES by VALERIE SHERWOOD
SPOILER ALERT ⚠
What can I say about Valerie Sherwood‘s These Golden Pleasures? Well, this 512-page 20th century historical starts out wonderfully. Somewhere afterward it falters, lags in the middle, and is rushed at the end.
The Plot: Part One
Roxanne is in San Francisco on the eve of the great earthquake of 1906. She has to choose between the two men who will decide her fate, one of them her true love.
These Golden Pleasures then heads back to when Roxanne was a 15-year-old girl in Kansas, and the drama of her life unfolds.
As is usual in a Valerie Sherwood novel, the heroine’s first sexual experience is not with the hero. She has a fling with Buck, her best friend’s fiancé.
Circumstances force her out of Kansas and Roxanne goes to Maryland, where she finds work as a maid for the wealthy Coulter family. She is romanced by two brothers: cynical, business-minded Gavin and handsome, carefree Rhodes who sails ships.
This is where the book gets cooking! The tension is hot…
And then a stupid misunderstanding leads to a long separation. I lament the fact that Sherwood didn’t do more with the brothers. She had a great setup and just let it fizzle.
The Plot: Part Two
After they both betray her, Roxanne marries sad, pathetic Denby. This is where the book draaagggsss. She spends about 150 pages married to him, moving from Georgia to Washington to Alaska as they run out of money and opportunities. There Roxanne has a brief affair with Case, a dark, mysterious gambler.
After Denby croaks, she has a common-law marriage with dull, boring Leighton, whom the author constantly calls a golden giant. I kept picturing him as a hulking Brock Lesnar type. That’s not sexy to me. We’re told that Leighton is a real nice guy. Regardless, he leaves Roxanne stranded in Asia and returns to his ailing wife in the States!
Later on, Roxanne has four or five other lovers because she is alone and has to support herself somehow.
That’s when Rhodes comes back for revenge and I thought: ok, now it’s on. Not so fast! They’re quickly separated and it’s back to Gavin in San Francisco.
Final Analysis of These Golden Pleasures
I don’t mind romances where the heroine has more than one lover, as long as the love story is well developed or the other men in the book are exciting. While the scenes with Rhodes and Roxanne are hot, they’re all too brief.
There was very little true romance in These Golden Pleasures. The history is wonderfully detailed, as one would expect in a Valerie Sherwood novel. There is one scene in particular, where Denby, a glove-maker/salesman, puts leather gloves on Roxanne that is written so beautifully. But authentic history was not enough for me in this one.
This was a rare deviation for Sherwood from her Cavalier/Georgian era books, so perhaps that’s why I didn’t like it as much as her other works.
Roxanne is a strong, fascinating heroine. The book is at its best whenever she’s with the brothers. It’s unfortunate that it’s not front and center in this epic saga.