Illustrator: Jim Dietz
Book Series: Lenore and Geoffrey #1
Published by: Warner Books
Genres: Cavalier Era Romance, Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper
Buy on: Amazon, AbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader
SPOILER ALERT ⚠
Lovely red-gold-haired, violet-eyed Lenore is the female protagonist of Valerie Sherwood’s This Towering Passion and the primary heroine of its sequel, Her Shining Splendor, which tells the tale of both Lenore and her daughter, Lorena, from the English Civil War to the Restoration eras.
Lenore’s beauty is of little use to her because while she can get a man, she has trouble keeping him.
First, in This Towering Passion–as is standard in a Sherwood novel–the heroine gets together with her first lover, who’s a typical hunky block of wood. Lenore becomes infatuated with the hottest guy in town, a big blond stud who’s a charismatic black hole.
Although he’s a mite too friendly with other ladies, he and Lenore get handfasted.
But, alas, he leaves Lenore behind, looking for adventure by fighting against the English army. Lenore, who has no one else in the world, won’t be left all alone. She seeks him out, only to find he’s killed in action.
Meanwhile, the dashing Cavalier, Geoffrey Wyndham, is on the run himself after losses in battle.
He and Lenore meet on the road. Within hours of finding Lenore’s “husband’s” dead body and with Roundhead troops hunting them down, Geoffrey says: “What the hell, life’s too short!” He takes what he wants from Lenore.
And oh, does she like it! He’s so much better than old what’s-his-name ever was!
Geoffrey and Lenore move to Oxford, where they live as husband and wife under the last name Daunt, although they are unmarried.
Then the anvils start dropping: Lenore is pregnant, but Geoffrey is a married man! So their baby is doomed to illegitimacy.
After a semi-sweet idyll, reality intrudes. Blond baby Lorena doesn’t look a thing like Geoffrey… Oops!
There’s no Maury Povich in the 17th century to help a brother out. Hasn’t anyone ever told these folks that just like baby birds, many human children can have fair (or even dark hair) that changes color over time? Well, Geoffrey’s not going to stick around long enough to find out. Our hero is splitsville.
Lenore gives Lorena to her “husband’s” sister to raise while she searches for a better life in London.
Lenore takes to the stage only to find she is no superstar. Not when Nell Gwynn is her competition. Nell takes advantage of Charity’s inability to perform one night and upstages her completely, drawing the eye of King Charles.
If you thought it would be Lenore who’d end up as the King’s mistress, history shows you’d be wrong. An aspect of Valerie Sherwood’s books that I enjoyed is even though her heroines would be stunning, there could always be another woman–usually an adversary–who was just as lovely or more so.
A sobering reminder that no matter how great a person may be, there’s someone else who can outshine them. I appreciate that Lenore is not the “bestest ever.” She is simply an all-too-human character with depth and failings.
Despite having been abandoned, Lenore is faithful to Geoffrey’s memory and is known as “Mistress Chastity” and the “Iron Virgin.” So no more sex romps here, although there were some fun catfights with Nell Gwynn and Lady Castlemaine.
The conclusion of the book reunites the lovers. However, there are plenty of loose ends: Geoffrey’s calculating wife; what will happen to Lenore’s child; and what happens to Christopher, a Cavalier gentleman who is an ardent admirer of Lenore.
Final Analysis of This Towering Passion
One flaw of This Towering Passion is there was not enough going on with Geoffrey! He’s missing in action for the latter half of the book as Lenore experiences her own adventures. I wanted to see more of him, for, unlike Lenore’s first love, he was a debonair leading man who’s hard to forget.
I had a good time reading this one. But at its main draw–Geoffrey–was out of the picture for a substantial period of time, it was far from flawless. That’s always a common complaint I have with Sherwood: I want more of the hero and less filler.
Unfortunately, 500-plus pages of old-time tiny font weren’t enough for the long-winded Sherwood to tell all of Geoffrey and Lenore’s story. So it’s on to that 600-page sequel to find out what happens…
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They called her “Angel” when she rode bareback into the midst of battle to find her lover.
They called her “Mistress Daunt” when she lived with Geoffrey in Oxford, though she wore no ring on her finger.
Wherever she traveled men called her Beauty. Her name was Lenore – and she answered only to “Love.”This Towering Passion by Valerie Sherwood