It’s a wonderful gem. Don’t believe me? Just read the seal of approval by historical fiction/romance legend Roberta Gellis on the cover.
Terms of Surrender takes place during the post-French Revolution/Napoleonic Era, one of my favorite time periods.
A beautiful Frenchwoman, Julie, is married to an impotent, elderly man who desperately wants an heir.
The husband hires an Englishman to seduce her and impregnate her. Sebastian Ramlin does just that, but not before falling in love.
He pursues a love he knows is impossible. However, he just can’t stay away from Julie!
Although in the end, he must leave her. There is a long separation of twenty years.
The lovers will reunite, but the stakes have changed. Can they make it work?
Towards the latter part of Terms of Surrender, something happens, which shocked me because it was so unusual in the tame romances I read. It was a very unexpected moment in a Harlequin, historical or otherwise.
Napoleon plays a big part in the book, too, so that’s a major plus for me. There’s a twist involving him at the end. I bet you won’t expect what it is!
Final Analysis of Terms of Surrender
If you can get your hands on Mollie Ashton’s Terms of Surrender, do it.
It’s an emotional roller-coaster and quite a little treasure!
Rating Report Card
Lover…or Deceiver? Julie Farroux had escaped the guillotine by marrying a withered old man who desired her only for her inheritance. Their loveless union had left her believing her heart was as shriveled as his, until she found the warmth of desire in the arms of a handsome stranger. In the glittering city that was Napoleon’s Paris, deception and greed were a way of life.
Sebastian Ramlin had made a devil’s bargain with Julie’s husband … to seduce Julie — and give her husband an heir. But he never planned to fall in love with her. Could he find the courage to reveal his treachery … and risk losing the woman he loved?
From the opening pages, we are introduced to the 16-year-old heroine, the noble Juliette de Condillac, and her “won twu wuv,” Francois du Quesnay. He’s a slightly older boy from a neighboring noble family.
They quickly consummate their love and, like high schoolers, vow to be “togetha 4 eva” after Francois finishes his university education.
But life has other plans for Juliette and Francois in So Wild a Rapture. First in the name of Roger du Deffand and then in the name of the French Revolution.
Against her will, Juliette is betrothed to the deceptively foppish and much older Roger.
Francois marches back to school, giving her his ring. He tells Juliette the ring will protect her whenever needed.
Juliette dithers about her future. Maybe she will marry Roger, maybe she won’t. In the meantime, she is to be educated at a convent and consort socially with nobility to learn to be a proper bride for Roger.
What does she need to learn? Oh, what any Catholic girl should know. Religion and piety, skill in the housewife arts, being social, and… perhaps taking part in a bit of girl-on-girl love. Her husband-to-be, Roger, loves to watch (or even ). Juliette is, of course, shocked. And curious…
Her lessons are cut short when the horrors of the French Revolution begin to take over, intruding on their dark idyll.
Death, thievery, arson, destruction, and rape ravage the countryside.
Fortunately, Juliette is protected wherever she goes by Francois’ ring. When Juliette and Francois meet again she is shocked to learn he is a powerful leader in the Revolutionary movement. (What did that silly twit thing the ring was all about?)
I don’t know how Francois reached such a high status because–to be blunt–he’s kind of a dickless wanker.
When men repeatedly attempt to rape Juliette, he pleads for mercy. Francois fights the men only as a last resort. Never would he dream of killing her would-be rapists, saying the men have had hard lives and can’t be blamed for their actions.
What a benevolent eunuch of a hero! And that’s being cruel to eunuchs.
And le coup-de-grace is Francois’ reaction when his family is killed and his home destroyed. He mourns the loss of lives and property as a natural and necessary part of the new movement.
Boo! Lame hero!
Maybe the villain is better? Un peu.
Eventually, Juliette makes her way to her fiancé. Roger lets Juliette know in no uncertain terms that she’s damaged goods. So he no longer has any interest in marrying her. Although he will still make use of her comely charms.
First, Roger makes Juliette his own love slave! Then he pimps her over to a bored King Louis XVI, who is taking refuge in his palace as France crumbles around him in bloody chaos.
Roger forces Juliette to have an abortion, thus destroying any tender feelings Juliette had for her former betrothed. In the meantime, she waits for Francois to free her from her courtesan life before the guillotine takes her head.
Does Francois come in time?
Final Analysis of So Wild A Rapture
So Wild a Rapture wasn’t a bad ‘ripper. It wasn’t great either, despite the raunch factor. Juliette’s youthful resourcefulness makes her willing to do anything to survive, no matter how degrading, sordid or arousing. She also is vapid and silly, with plenty of scenes lip-chewing and foot-stomping.
I detested the male protagonist whose politics and morals I abhorred. The villain was villainous, yet he lacked that spicy je-ne c’est quoi that makes a villain sizzle.
Here’s another bodice ripper to file away under:
The hero is dishwater dull and missing in action while…
The heroine bangs it out with the lecherous villain, and…
She gets some historical dong along the way.
But hey, I do give So Wild a Rupture — Rapture! — credit for keeping to the history and not being all wallpapery in that regard.
Rating Report Card
ENTICED from the innocent, virgin pastures of the French countryside to the sensuous intrigues and royal splendors of a king’s decadent court
ENTHRALLED against her will by a passionate liaison with a wealthy baron whose ardent desires devoured her senses, sweeping her to the heights of ecstasy and the depths of degradation
ENRAPTURED by the sweet, burning memory of the fiery young rebel whose tender caresses had scorched her soul forever–and made her desperate to be free, to belong to the one man who could truly possess her heart.
Purity She was Purity, a maddeningly beautiful woman who wanted to save herself for the one man she had always loved-the man who rescued her from the horror of the French Revolution, who found her a place in England’s highest aristocracy and who refused, because of a painful secret in his past, to open his heart to her longings.
Passion And she was Passion, a woman who drove men wild with desire, who submitted to cruel tormentors, a blackmailer’s demands, a hypnotist’s powers and an innocent young man about to die. But she, while giving her body, steadfastly refused to give her heart.
Ecstasy Scorched by burning dreams!
PURITY’S PASSION by JANETTE SEYMOUR
MILD SPOILERS 😉
She would come to him a complete woman…
The tale of Purity Jarsy, Purity’s Passion, (Part 1 of 3) by Janette Seymour begins with the horrors of the French Revolution and ends in France after Napoleon’s final defeat. In between, we witness the epic tale of Purity. She is a woman so beautiful that many men desire her; they would ravish her, control her, and kill for her…
In other words, it’s your basic, page-turning bodice ripper. And it’s a good one.
Janette Seymour was a deft storyteller, quickly pulling me in with Purity witnessing a beautiful encounter of a couple making love. Later she sees the macabre slaughters of the Revolution. Purity is left orphaned and shaken in the aftermath.
Mark “You may kiss me–here” Landless is the object of Purity’s devotion. Much older than she, he is her appointed guardian, but he also shares a hidden bond with his ward.
Mark is a placeholder, we never see through his perspective. He is a scar-faced, blue-eyed soldier who duels for Purity’s honor, hurts her cruelly, and then finally marries her. Her relationship with Mark is one of the weaker parts of the book, but since there are two sequels their romance will undoubtedly develop further.
(Edited: How wrong I was! There’s no character development to be found anywhere!)
Purity has many men before being with her true love, and each experience shapes her uniquely. There is a touching one-night romance Purity shares with a soldier doomed to die at sea and a sweet love affair with a wounded Gypsy boxer.
And many more.
If the hero was more interesting, this might have detracted from the story, but since he wasn’t, I just enjoyed the ride and didn’t worry about the romance. As Purity says to herself: “She would come to Mark a complete woman.”
Other high points include a tawdry girl-school game with a dumb stud, a dominatrix-villainess who wears transparent gowns, and an aging duchess who makes constant fart references.
Final Analysis of Purity’s Passion
The story’s pacing is a bit uneven–because most of the juicy parts are packed into the first third. But the author is skilled enough to make most of it enjoyable. Even if the ending is a bit flat.
Purity’s Passion is a romance only because at the end of the book the female protagonist is united with the man she loves. Otherwise, it’s a soapy, door-stopper historical epic, typical of the ’70s and ’80s.
Readers, mostly women, from all walks of life used to openly enjoy these pulpy paperbacks with kaleidoscopic covers. They were taken to fantastical worlds where the heroines’ beauty got men so carried away with mad lust that they’d have her… at any cost (dun, dun, dun!)!
Now, not unlike tobacco cigarettes (which I never smoked), bodice rippers are banished to the darkest corners, reviled in public for the unwholesome filth they contain. Like a smoker relegated to puffing away in a cold alley, bodice ripper readers are banished to Romancelandia Siberia.
And that’s really a shame–because these books are a lot of fun!