It had been so long. He pulled her gown open and her breasts spilled out like ripe, round melons…
I started reading Cynthia Wright’s Silver Storm, then put it down. It was sweet, but sometimes too sweet and I have enough cavities. Then halfway through it changes in tone. Our previously gentlemanly hero does a 180 and turns into a lecherous jerk. It was great and I wanted more!
The first half involves a sensuous French privateer Andre Raveneau escorting orphaned Devon Lindsay to her fiancé in Virginia at the end of the American Revolution. The girl is obviously not in love with her missing man but devoted to him out of a weird sense of commitment. All the while, this tall, gorgeous, gray-eyed Frenchman plays nice, and Devon stomps her foot and plays hard to get. Andre was such a gentleman; I wondered where this was going.
But oh, he has a plan–a cunning plan–to trap his strawberry-haired prey, and when he finally gets what he wants, he plans just as cruelly to be rid of her, eagerly awaiting his next new lay.
In one scene, Andre attempts to seduce his ex-mistress while her brother and new husband play cards downstairs, and Devon, his current mistress, naps. But poor Devon wakes up and witnesses the dog’s hounding!
He’s jerk all right, but he’s French, so it evens out. I enjoyed the break from the English heroes that dominate Historical Romancelandia. There’s something about a Frenchman that’s so sexy. I can listen to Eric Ripert recite recipes all day…
The second half takes on Devon and Andre’s passionate adventures. Ah, Andre, what a hero!
Final Analysis of Silver Storm
Years ago, I read a book that designated romance novels, specifically bodice rippers, into two genres: “Sweet” or “Savage.” (Even though it was Kathleen Woodiwiss who started the bodice ripper genre, it was Rosemary Rogers that gave it a name.) “Sweet” defined a story with a hero who may be cruel, callous, forceful, or cheats, but he is the heroine’s one and only. In a “Savage” styled-romance, anything and everything goes.
In Silver Storm‘s case, although here the heroine is almost raped, her bodice ripped, she is abandoned and cheated on, it’s still sweet. But it’s very spicy too!
One nit to pick: a reference to “Empire”-styled gowns in the early 1780s when Napoleon wasn’t crowned Emperor until 20 years later.
This book would have been excellent if not for the slow start.
Divided Heart by Angelica Aimes is typical of the many schlocky bodice rippers that glutted the market in the ’70s and early ’80s.
The heroine goes through so many horrific tragedies–attempted rape, starvation, war, death of loved ones, betrayal, disease, imprisonment, beatings, and whippings–that would make the average woman look like a “faces-of-meth” poster.
However, no matter how battered and bruised, emaciated, lice-infested her hair, and filthy and unwashed she is, there’s always a man who desires her, for she is the most beautiful woman in the world. She is Augusta Raleigh with emerald eyes and raven curls.
Augusta seals her fate on July 4, 1774, when she meets Captain David Glenville of the British army.
The story starts promisingly, as it’s lust at first sight for the Redcoat officer and the Patriot girl.
Then a harsh reality hits: the writing is terrible! Phrases are redundantly repeated, followed by contradictory thoughts in the same sentence. Sometimes conversations are summarized, other times, there’s nothing but dialogue, and you can’t tell what’s going on as scenes blend into one another.
The plot, as convoluted as it is, is interesting.
David is an unapologetic man-slut horndog. He courts Augusta but intends to love her and leave her. His first time with Augusta goes something like this:
David: Hey, baby… I just saved you from being raped. How’s about a little thank you? Augusta: Okey-dokey. David: How’s about I rape you? Augusta: Okey-dokey. Wait… What?
Later Augusta visits him at headquarters and finds him entertaining a woman in bed. Naturally, Augusta leaves in anger. Then a few paragraphs down, he’s seducing her!
David’s a wonderful cad. So it’s unfortunate the couple is separated for a significant portion of this short 346-paged novel–as often occurs in these books.
A Gender Bender of a Bodice Ripper
After a life-changing heartbreak, Augusta is off to war. She disguises herself as a boy, wraps those boobs up tightly, and spends a year (years?) marching and camping with lots of men.
Hmm. What could possibly go wrong with that?
She fights bravely at the Battle of Long Island, killing all Redcoats in her sights, and she saves her best friend, Tad. Young and gay, Tad–like so many men–falls in love with her.
Dressed as a boy, Augusta’s powers of seduction are irresistible. All men are attracted to her: gay, straight, and bisexual. This book was definitely a gender-bending read, and at times Augusta flirts heavily with transgenderism, thinking:
“What will I be? What will I do? I will have destroyed myself as a woman. The gentleness and softness that men find so appealing will be gone. Yet I can never be a man. I will be neither fish nor fowl…”
Part Deborah Samson, part Scarlett O’Hara, part Mata Hari, and part Helen Reddy, Augusta, spends years searching for revenge and love. She experiences the “cruel sexual humiliation of lustful men” (at least, that is what the cover says) before she gets her happy ending.
Final Analysis of Divided Heart
Divided Heart‘s bodice ripper highlights include attempted rape, forced seduction, heroine-dressing-as-a-boy, whippings galore, adult-man-on-teen-female-sex, adult-man-on-teen-male-sex, sex with men besides the hero, oral sex, anal sex…
Yup. Divided Heart is tawdry.
Is it any good? Well, it wasn’t horrible. It had its moments.
Divided Heart waffles between being a tasteless, balls-to-wall bodice ripper and a dry historical lesson of the early battles in the American Revolution.
Angelica Aimes wasn’t skilled enough to pull off the history part. She should have stuck to what she was good at, the trashy side. Apparently, after writing bodice rippers, Aimes wrote several novelizations of The Young The Restless, which about sums it up.
I’m not knocking soaps. As a youngun, I watched them all, Y&R included. I remember plots from 40 years ago, like Lauren being buried alive by that crazy wacko and then losing her and Paul’s baby (I am old.)
Divided Heart, at times, feels rushed, more like a summary of scenes than an actual narrative tale. Significant events are glossed over. Scenes transition oddly. It’s just a mess.
I can overlook lousy writing if the plot is to my liking. In this case, sort of.
Despite being horribly written, Divided Heart is not without a sleazy bit of charm. It entertained.
Rating Report Card
MY ENEMY, MY LOVE In 1774, Augusta Raleigh is a southern belle with her father’s fiery temper and her mother’s dark beauty, and she’s easy prey to the charms of a handsome British officer. But when war is declared, headstrong Augusta is hopelessly divided between her broud Virginian family and the dashing Redcoat captain…
Torn from her lover’s side, Augusta will be condemned as a traitor, despised by the Colonists and distrusted by the British. She will know the cruel sexual humiliations of lustful men, and she will flee the ravaged battlefields of home for the sophisticated salons of Paris. But her wild, warring heart will not know peace until she is reunited with the one man who is both her country’s enemy and her greatest love.
How does one begin to review such sublimely horrendous art as Passion Proud Captive?
Not for the Easily Offended 😁
As far as “romance novels” go, I am stuck in a time warp.
This 50-year old genre has more variety now than ever. Even so, I find modern romances lacking. I’ll read a keeper on a rare occasion, but they just don’t do it for me for the most part. I know they’re well-written, insightful, witty, with mature sexuality.
It’s simply that many bore me.
I’m a troglodyte, okay! I like cheese!
Spare me your Ivy-league educated authors with doctorates who create such works of literature like Seven Scandalous Secrets to Seduce a Man-SlutScoundrelor Count Duke, Who?
Eh. Give me those 21-year-old-housewives, those retired grandmothers, those crazy cat ladies! Now they knew how to write the crap I like…
Crap like Passion’s Proud Captive.
Have you ever wondered if a book was so trashy, so poorly written yet so awfully enjoyable that it could be considered to novels what crap like Manos the Hands of Fate or The Room are to movies? Then look no further than Playboy‘s very own: Passion’s Proud Captive!
Or, as I would call it: Miss Jennifer van der Lin’s Ribald Tales of Rapetastic Adventures in White Slavery featuring ugly, greasy men and a few good-looking ones, too.
Melissa Hepburne’s first book Passion’s Proud Captive begins in medias res during the war of American Independence on a ship in the Atlantic Ocean.
Our fearless heroine Jennifer is about to be punished by an angry British captain before all the sailors aboard. She is stripped, groped and threatened with rape. Before the baddies can whip her naked flesh, our two heroes save the day!
No, this is not a ménage romance, just a lame love triangle. Lancelot Savage (a moniker derived from the romance novel hero/porn star name generator), henceforth known as Savage, a handsome, swarthy seaman with zero personality, no notable character traits, or charm of any sort, is the main guy.
Our second hero, Darcy Calhoun, a Frenchman, calls the heroine Jenny-fair. And ze way ee tahk laik zeez ahl zroo ze booook, eet eez zo veree, ‘ow yoo zay: F$#!ing irritating.
1 star was taken off just for having to figure out his lame dialogue.
Savage is injured during the rescue, and Jenny-fair nurses him back to health.
And then he rapes her. But since she likes it, and he’s the hero, it’s okay.
Anyway, he’s captured by the British. In order to save him from the hangman’s noose, Jenny-fair arranges with the booby-hating gay villain to be the fat governor’s mistress for a year.
Sex scenes are described in titillating detail. No matter how obese, ugly, or nasty the rapist is, it’s somehow bawdy and thrilling. Jenny-fair is taken by man after man, and her body betrays her every time.
Oh, No, It Gets Worse
Savage escapes from prison to be with his true love but is shocked to find her shagging the old, decrepit magistrate.
Never fear, dear readers. Our plucky heroine will get her man back.
Jenny-fair has the brilliant idea of travelling by ship to far-off England, somehow arranging for Savage–a pirate wanted dead by the British–to travel across the Atlantic Ocean, and somehow she will arrange for the booby-hating villain to admit all his wrongdoings and for Savage to overhear it.
Jenny-fair signs up for indenture and boards a ship bound for London. She’s signed on to be a prostitute.
No reason to worry, she just knows she’ll be able to escape.
I felt bad for Jenny-fair, who was obviously mildly retarded with an IQ south of 70. She should never have been allowed out of the house without proper supervision.
When she is sold to a whore house, her first customer is a 15-year-old boy with a big schlong who schtups her silly. And man, does she like it!
Later there is some voyeuristic, girl-on-girl action with an ostrich feather. Of course, there is the requisite sold to some sheik where Arabs/Indians/Turks (according to the author, it’s all the same thing) live on an island in the Mediterranean.
Finally, there is an evil Jenny-fair look-alike.
Before you know it, our adventures are over…
Wait, It’s Not Over!
Passion’s Proud Captive dares to end in a cliffhanger with no definite conclusion. So the reader is left wondering: huh?
Final Analysis of Passion’s Proud Captive
Don’t despair, anxious readers. There’s a sequel to Pasion’s Proud Captive, so the fate of our protagonists will be fully and satisfyingly revealed… Right?
This so-called romance is a mess. A hot, nasty mess. I read this bodice ripper so quickly because it really doesn’t take much thinking. It starts in action and just keeps going.
Don’t expect an intense, emotional rollercoaster of a ride like Stormfire.
There’s not even sumptuous purple-prose and rich attention to detail and history as in Skye O’Malley.
Other books have a witty style, historical research, deep characters, however Passion’s Proud Captive has none of those things.
The heroine is literally too stupid to live. The hero is a non-entity. The villains are clichéd and dumb.
It’s pure fun and cheeseball bodice ripper good times.
For what it was, I enjoyed this book very much. The sequel is another story…
The author of this brilliant piece of fiction, Melissa Hepburne, was really a man, Craig Broude. Broude republished his novels on e-format. So you have no reason not to read this!
I recommend reading Passion’s Proud Captive with your butt firmly unclenched to enjoy this silly romp.
Rating Report Card
At the mercy of a cruel, rapacious captain, beautiful Jennifer van der Lind is about to be assaulted before the leering crew when a sailor springs to the bridge, holds a dagger to the officer’s throat, and orders the girl released.
When she learns that her handsome rescuer is really an American captain — a fugitive pirate — Jennifer escapes with him to the Colonies. But Lancelot Savage is captured, accused of piracy, treason and other crimes, and sentenced to be hanged. Jennifer’s pleas for leniency are heard by the Tory Governor who makes her an offer: he will spare Lancelot’s life on the condition that she live with him as his mistress for a year.
In desperation, Jennifer makes a supreme sacrifice and becomes a prisoner of lust — submitting to the perverse pleasures of a man she secretly despises in order to set free her beloved… the only one who could ever completely possess her — body and soul.