Captive Innocence is a fairly unexciting Fern Michaels historical from 1981. This romance shares no association with Michael’s far more entertaining “Captive” series.
Published by: Ballantine
Genres: Historical Romance
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: Amazon, AbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader
TOTAL SPOILER ALERT ⚠
Captive Innocence is a Ballantine historical from 1981 when the “Fern Michaels” pseudonym represented the writing team of Roberta Anderson and Mary Kuzckir.
Readers should note that the “Captive” part of the title is misleading, as this humdrum romance has nothing to do with Michaels’ popular “Captive” series.
That epic ‘ripper saga began with Michaels’ first book, Captive Passions, starring the fearless female pirate Sirena Cordez. Unlike the 17th-century high seas backdrops of the “Captive” books, Captive Innocence is a plantation romance set in sultry Brazil during the late 1800s.
The story of Captive Innocence follows Royall Banner (what a silly name!), a recently widowed young woman from New England. She travels to Rio with her dead father’s friend, Rosalie, to live at the plantation he left her in his will.
During Mardi Gras celebrations on the ship, things heat when a horny Royall views a muscled hunk dressed as a masked buccaneer. Her desire for this stranger enflames her. The feeling is mutual, so they share a passionate night. However, they neglect to exchange names or personal information.
Their mouths were too busy with other acts to engage in mundane conversation.
Little did Royall know the “buccaneer” is Sebastian Rivera, with whom her friend Rosalie is acquainted. Rosalie gives her the rundown on Sebastian, and our heroine is shocked to learn he is her neighbor, as Sebastian is also on his way to his plantation deep in the heart of Brazil.
When they meet again onboard the ship, Royall plays the “virtuous widow” card, with lots of “How dare yous!” and “Why I’d never…!“
Sebastian despises her pretense, as he knows her true lusty nature firsthand, and treats her with contempt. As they continue their journey, Sebastian discovers that Royall is half-owner of the plantation next to his and develops a strong dislike for her.
Upon reaching shore, Sebastian and Royall go their separate ways. However, since they are neighbors, they soon meet again, sharing more encounters and grudgingly coming together.
Royall adapts to South American sultry, displaying resilience and compassion. As a fever spreads, she cares for workers and slaves, buries the bead, and brings hope to the living. Thus, transforming Sebastian’s scorn into admiration and love.
Sebastian and Royall navigate their love-hate relationship to an eventual happy ending.
Unfortunately, Captive Innocence falls short compared to Fern Michaels’ other historical romances from the 1970s and early ’80s. The book takes too long to get interesting, with almost 100 pages dedicated to “hump & dump” encounters that lack any erotic build-up.
Their love-hate relationship seems rushed, and their connection lacks depth. Rather than creating real passion between Sebastian and Royall, Michaels merely “told” the reader: “There was chemistry between them.”
Maybe it’s like one of those “Where’s Waldo?” books. It’s hidden in there; you need to look really hard, a tiny figure on the fringes.
The writing is rather bland compared to Valentina or Captive Passions. In this “Fern Michaels” collaboration, I wonder if Kuszkir slept in the back seat while Anderson drove with the cruise control on.
On a positive note, the book does an excellent job of displaying Royall’s growth. She discovers her capabilities and resilience while caring for the sick during the fever outbreak. This adds some depth to her character and showcases her ability to adapt and thrive.
Steam Factor: Slightly Warm
This book doesn’t swelter like an Equitorial tropical forest. This is no spicy samba but a mild pas-de-deux.
Final Analysis Of Captive Innocence
Captive Innocence has some intense moments, especially when showcasing Royall’s abilities to endure her new harsh environment. However, the slow start and run-of-the-mill love story made this Fern Michaels romance less enjoyable than her more hardcore, old-school bodice rippers.
Fans of Michaels’ women’s-fiction and romantic suspense of the past 25 years may find Captive Innocence underwhelming. Still, for those interested in exploring her writing style, it offers a glimpse into how Michaels’ earlier works differ from her modern output.
|Rating Report Card|
Royall Banner ventured into a lush new unknown world to claim her family’s heritage. There, far from the reaches of civilization, she became entranced with the exotic, enigmatic Sebastian Rivera. As excitement with her new life consumed her, Royall found herself in the midst of a strange and troubling culture where stunning opulence mirrored terrible bondage.
In the center of it all stood the plantation owner, who controlled the land and everyone on it—and who meant to have Royall for his own.Captive Innocence by Fern Michaels