Illustrator: Charles Geer
Published by: Avon
Genres: Cavalier Era Romance, Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper
Buy on: Amazon, AbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader
SPOILER ALERT ⚠
The Golden Sovereigns is unlike any bodice ripper I’ve ever read. It’s a stellar piece of writing. The dazzling Charles Geer cover is just the cherry on top.
It’s difficult to categorize this romance it defies genre conventions. Jocelyn Carew is immensely gifted to make me enjoy a book where the heroine doesn’t meet her hero until page 270 into this 404-page epic.
The Golden Sovereigns is the kind of bodice ripper where the heroine’s journey is the real tale. But unlike salacious romps like Purity’s Passion or Passion’s Proud Captive, the hero is not a mere prize she wins at the end. He’s a balm to heal her damaged soul.
The First Betrayal
Our story begins in late 17th-century England, in the era of Cavaliers. Carmody Petrie is a gentlewoman in love with Waldo, a no-good, sexy rogue. She engages in some heavy petting with him, but stops there. Carmody knows better than to give in to his caresses despite her body’s urges:
“A new stirring, of springs moving deep inside her, a well of emotion she had never dreamed of had been uncovered. When Waldo had laid impertinent hands on her, she had felt a moving, rising, betraying response. Her own body–if she did not carefully govern it–might well turn traitor!”
That certainly brought me to attention. I was ready to enjoy a bawdy, lusty romp. But, as noted, The Golden Sovereigns isn’t like that at all.
Waldo steals Carmody’s dowry and has no intention of marrying her. He’s got another–a wealthier–woman in mind.
Then Carmody’s young brother Ralph gambles their inheritance away to the Duke of Monmouth. She goes to plead with the Duke for mercy. Instead, with him, she finds her first tragic love affair.
Awakened into passion by the Duke of Monmouth–who is written as a complex, tragically-doomed character–Carmody remains loyal to him. She is the only person who stays with him after his final defeat at Sedgemoor. He is now a criminal, and anyone aiding him is one as well.
In a shattering betrayal, Monmouth abandons Carmody to make his escape, the bastard! Well, history shows he gets his just desserts in the end!
Captured and Enslaved
Carmody assumes a false name. Despite this, she is captured, tried for treason, and sentenced to penal servitude in the West Indies for life.
She is given into employ to a multi-faceted man who is in deep mourning for his dead wife. He’s shockingly cruel to Carmody, even though he never forces her to engage in sex.
In time, she gets her freedom, but it’s temporary as more trials and tribulations face Carmody.
Later she’s forced into marriage and finds herself in the American colonies. Now the love story begins.
Finally, We Meet the Hero
At long last, we meet the hero, Mark Tennant, a truly decent human being who offers Carmody a different world she’s known, one filled with joy & love. Her response to him is heartbreaking:
“There was a time Mark, when I would have given my soul for such cherishing… But I lost my soul for much, much less.”
The most unusual aspect of this bodice ripper is that Carmody and Mark don’t consummate their relationship. At least, not in the book, although I assume they would after the novel ends.
Carmody and Mark’s relationship transcends physical love. Theirs is a meeting of spirit. That is paramount to the meeting of flesh.
Final Analysis of The Golden Sovereigns
The Golden Sovereigns was such a pleasant surprise to encounter. Jocelyn Carew is an author whose works I’d like to know more about.
I admit I’m not a patient reader. Although I adore vintage romances, the older I get, the more difficult they are to read. The long-page counts and tiny fonts usually cause my interest to wane. (ADHD is no fun.) I’ll put a book down, forgetting I ever started it. So many half-finished books!
There have been other romances where I have been less forgiving about the same flaws that The Golden Sovereigns has (ie, the heroine meeting the hero more than halfway through the book). Carew makes the journey worthwhile.
This was a skillfully written bodice ripper, very philosophical in nature. It delved into the strange depths of humanity.
The Golden Sovereigns fell short of perfection, however, due to the limited interaction between Carmody and Mark. There was a more prominent emphasis on the villain, who was a fascinating character, but not as much as Mark.
I consider this to be an unexpected piece of great fiction. It simply lacked a little oomph at the end to make it perfect.
|Rating Report Card|
Surging with passion and epic power, The Golden Sovereigns sweeps from the proud family estates of England to the exotic West Indies to the sprawling plantations of the Virginia Colony — and, against the pageantry and adventure of an enthralling age, reveals the fiery spirit of a beautiful woman destined for blazing desire.
Thrust into the tumultuous events of two continents — and into the lustful embraces of men of high and low station — Carmody Petrie braves enslavement, danger, and royal intrigue to conquer her tormentors…and to seal, in the arms of the adoring Mark Tennant, their fated bond of surpassing love.THE GOLDEN SOVEREIGNS by JOCELYN CAREW