Illustrator: Walter Popp
Book Series: Zebra Historical Romance
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper
Buy on: Amazon, ThriftBooks, AbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon
SPOILER ALERT ⚠
I really want to like Kay McMahon’s books, mainly because I like her female characters. However, there is one thing I cannot and will not accept about books–regardless of when they are written. That is when the “hero” of the book rapes the heroine. Such is the case with Passion’s Slave by Kay McMahon.
Alanna Bainbridge is a young Englishwoman who is brought to America by her father and stepmother, ostensibly to have a better life. What she doesn’t know, and it’s not explained why is that she is being sold into indentured servitude.
She is bought by Beau Remington, the owner of the Raven Oaks plantation in Virginia. Upon hearing that she is an indentured servant, Alanna tries twice to escape. She is captured, beaten, and later raped twice by Beau. This only fuels her hatred of him, but yet, as only typical 1980s romance novels can–this book was published in December 1983-she falls in love with him! They do have consensual sexual encounters later on.
Also in the picture is Beau’s friend, Radford Chamberlain, who falls in love with Alanna and eventually proposes to her, much to Beau’s chagrin. There is a major fly in the ointment, and that is Radford’s “fiancee”, Melissa Bensen. (Radford and Melissa aren’t actually engaged.)
She earlier wanted to marry Beau, but he didn’t want her, so she set her sights on Radford.) Melissa, upon meeting Alanna, becomes so jealous that she eventually arranges for Alanna to be kidnapped and sold to a New Orleans brothel.
While the kidnapping goes through, the pirate Melissa pays off, Dillon Gallagher, doesn’t take Alanna to the brothel because she reminds him of his late sister, who was raped and later committed suicide.
When Beau and Radford try to rescue Alanna, tragedy strikes. Radford is killed in the process. He leaves Alanna his estate, Briarwood Manor, which is falling into disrepair due to Radford’s financial difficulties.
Later, Beau sells Raven Oaks to his real father, Joshua Cain-who he thought was only his overseer on his plantation-to help Alanna, with her plantation. This is supposed to be a sign that Beau actually loves Alanna.
The Upside and the Downside
For much of the book, Ms. McMahon tries to rehabilitate Beau by claiming that his actions are partially the result of his mother not loving him. She also has him show contrition for his actions. But I don’t buy any of that. Most human beings, in my experience, feel bad after they do something wrong, not before or during.
It’s also bothersome to me that no one around Beau holds him in any way accountable for what he did to Alanna. Yes, the book is set in the 1700s and was written in 1983, but the fact that everyone around, including Alanna, is or becomes okay with Beau raping her is sickening to me.
There are a few sex scenes, a few pages long but not overly graphic.
Violence: in addition to Alanna being raped, she is beaten with a whip after she tries to run away. Later, she is assaulted to get her on board the pirate ship. Once there, two of Gallagher’s crew try to rape her; they don’t succeed. Gallagher then beats the pirates and throws them off his ship, literally. Then, as mentioned earlier, Radford is shot and killed when he and Beau confront Gallagher about Alanna’s kidnapping.
Bottom Line on Passion’s Slave
In the interest of fairness, there were many books of the 1970s and 80s that featured the “hero” of the book raping the heroine; it was considered a pretty standard publishing practice in the romance novel industry during that time.
However, the fact that it was an accepted practice doesn’t make it okay to me. I cannot give a positive review to any book that features this fact. That is a stain that will never come clean in my eyes, and that makes Passion’s Slave by Kay McMahon one I cannot say good things about.
THE HAWK was the image that came to Alanna’s mind whenever she saw the sleek powerful master of Raven Oaks plantation. Beau Remington was the kind of man who would stalk his prey until he got what he wanted. He wanted lovely Alanna. Just one look at her full firm curves and long black hair sent flashes of fire through his loins. And though he knew she was no ordinary woman it didn’t matter. He had purchased her papers and belonged to him — body and soul…
THE DOVE was the image that came to Beau’s mind whenever he saw soft alluring Alanna. However, beneath her innocence lay a defiant and determined young beauty who would never surrender her freedom and whose only desire was to escape. But once she tasted Beau’s fierce demanding kisses and melted into his embrace, Alanna learned that not only was she his servant — she was forever PASSION’S SLAVE…PASSIONS SLAVE by KAY MCMAHON