Janette Seymour‘s Emmie’s Love is Purity’s Passion, redux. Just as in Purity’s Passion and Purity’s Ecstasy, the heroine is separated from her true love and must “find” her way back to him. “Find” here is a euphemism for another four-letter word that starts with “f.”
The same terms and motifs are used in Emmie’s Love, as were in Seymour’s other raunchy books. There is a violent opening involving a near-rape that has nothing to do with the protagonists and also an alluded castration. We see frequent mentions of “handy-dandy”😉 and dampened sheer muslin gowns. There’s another blond stud who performs for an audience. And the heroine has a one-night stand with a doomed soldier.
Of course, there is a blue-eyed, scar-faced hero who is rarely seen.
Finally, there is a heroine with no personality, save for being a busty, lusty wench.
Emmie Dashwood–granddaughter to an aged Marquess who pats her rump in a most loving fashion–lives in a moldy, decaying manor with her large, mooching family. After grandpa’s death, Emmie is sold into marriage to an old man who lives another continent away. On her trip across the ocean, she falls in love with Captain Nathan Grant, the very married ship’s captain.
But love does not come easily to our dear Emmie. Many travails lie ahead. There is a family sex romp in an orangery. There are church sermons brimming with hellfire and damnation, plus a satanic sex orgy in the said church led by a goat-headed stud. Lots of violence galore: a beheaded dog, followed by a shocking use for the dismembered head. We have a blackmailing, Peeping Tom. A robust Irish maid gives Emmie an erotic massage. And there’s much, much more.
Except for a doomed French hunter and his sad tale, there’s not much depth. One salacious encounter is followed by another–not that I’m complaining.
The hero, Nathan, is really not a factor in this book. He’s a prize that Emmie earns at the end for completing her bodice ripper adventures. There’s no epic love story here.
Final Analysis of Emmie’s Love
While I was entertained by this Michael Butterworth (Janette Seymour’s real name) bodice ripper, I do have a few gripes. The book blurb gets some minor plot points wrong. Typos such as “$a1shouted” are annoying. And my pet peeve is the wrong hair color on the cover. Harry Bennett’s artwork shows the hero as blond. Alas, in the book, he’s black-haired, with a white streak running through it.
The heroine is a bit of a twit. No, not the other word, this is no pornographic book, after all! If you are searching for explicitness and gratuity, look elsewhere (and tell me about it when you find it)! Everything is alluded to, with water metaphors galore: waves crashing, crests swelling, waters breaking, dams bursting. It is a saucy tale, replete with ribaldry.
And yes, bodices were ripped.
Titillating though it is, Emmie’s Love is not quite a bodice ripper masterpiece. Still, it’s a satisfying journey, even if the final destination holds little interest.
A novel of stolen embraces beneath blazing skies of war, of desire that sweeps across turbulent seas from England to Algiers, of a beautiful woman enslaved by lawless pirate corsairs…a woman bound by no law but endless love.
PURITY’S ECSTASY by JANETTE SEYMOUR
Youth and beauty were her sole assets on Earth.
Like many other late 1970s to early 1980’s bodice rippers, John Michael Butterworth’s (aka Janette Seymour) second entry into his Purity trilogy, Purity’s Ecstasy, is fun. It’s a tawdry, rollicking ride filled with just about every ‘ripper trope and then some.
In the previous book Purity’s Passion, Purity survived the French Revolution, and then she was made the ward of the enigmatic and barely-there Mark Landless, with whom she fell madly in love. However, she overcame numerous obstacles before getting her man (namely other men).
The same is–more or less–the case with this sequel.
Here Mark is presumed dead after being captured by pirates. Purity knows in her heart Mark is still alive, and she will do whatever whomever she has to do to find him.
Alas, Purity has to search for employment after her cruel in-laws kick her out to the street. In her own words, her “youth and beauty were her sole assets on Earth,” so what’s a girl to do? Put those assets to work!
And… oh… my… God…
Not even halfway through this romp, there were more trashy elements here than the previous five ‘rippers I’d read combined. There was lots of kidnapping, lots of rape-and/or-forced seduction, a female pirate, regular pirates, eunuchs, male virgins, lesbian orgies, multi-racial gang-bangs, whippings, bigamy, and amnesia…
Yet, it was so tastefully done—nary a peep of manhoods, members, or dewy petals here. There were plenty of water-based euphemisms to disguise the naughtiness. Still, it had plenty of titillation.
Purity is thrown into the ravishing clutches of the evil pirate/slave-trader called El Diablo, The Devil. He hides a shocking true identity. For he is the same minister she knew back home in England. Her local friend, Reverend Mauleverer, is the evil pirate/slave-trader, El Diablo.
Debauched by an older boy at Eton, ordained as a man of the cloth at Oxford, the mild-seeming minister reveals to Purity that it was he who kidnapped her husband. He who led the Corsair fleet in the Mediterranean. It was he who took Purity into slavery. And he who ravished her.
And Purity had no clue who he was? This girl is seriously lacking in IQ and EQ.
But as bad as it gets, no naughty escapades and no thrilling, charismatic villains will ever prevent Purity from being with her dull, bland, zero-personality-having soulmate!
Final Analysis on Purity’s Ecstasy
Purity’s Ecstasy was, for the most part, an entertaining romp. Although a romance, it was not!
I don’t know if I will read book #3 (Purity’s Shame) in the series. I assume more of the same will occur. Namely, that Purity and her beloved are separated by mysterious forces. She will have to use her gold-plated “poon” as currency to get back to zero-personality-having, dull-gray Mark.
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!
As I’ve mentioned before, Elaine Coffman‘s Escape Not My Love was not my first venture into romance. It was, however, was my first historical. And for that, I am grateful.
This is a fantastic western romance that took me on an emotional ride.
Escape Not My Love, My First Historical Romance
Superficially, Escape Not My Love drew me in from the outset. It had a stunning stepback, designed with a pattern of a woman’s purple and white-flowered gown. The cover opened to reveal the protagonists embracing in a Laura Ashley-designed clinch. (Thank God for that step-back! I first read this as I sat in church, waiting for my turn to enter the confessional and talk to the priest. He didn’t know what kind of trashy book I was reading, and I wasn’t about to volunteer that tidbit. Ha!)
The book quickly drew me in and I instantly fell in love with the genre. I found in historicals a frequent theme of this thrilling battle of the sexes that was lacking from most of the tame Harlequin Romances and modern Temptations I was used to. (I had yet to discover the Presents line).
While hardcore “bodice rippers” no longer dominated the market as they had in years past, in the early 1990’s most heroes in historical romances had not yet been gelded into modern-minded wankers that are so prevalent today. I’m being snarky and don’t mean to offend, but that’s just my no-holds-barred opinion.
I prefer my historical heroes to have a rougher edge.
The girl would be more than a job to him. He had known it the moment he’d looked at her face. Was that why her eyes were so wide and round? Because she knew it too? It was ordained and irrevocable. Sometime. Somewhere. Somehow. He would take her to his bed.
In this western romance, Jay Culhane is a bounty hunter. His job is to travel deep into Mexico where armed criminals roam and bring home the well-meaning but naïve heroine, Jennifer Baxter, who moved from TX to open a school for underprivileged children. Jennifer–who is the youngest of 11 girls–is used to getting her way.
So you know this book will be one long power play between the pair.
Jay kicks down the door of her little house when he first lays eyes upon her black-haired, violet-eyed (of course!), lingerie-clad body. Lust takes over reason, and he immediately orders Jenny to strip naked at gunpoint and then enjoys the show. Cuz that’s the kind of guy he is.
Jay takes Jennifer on a long, arduous trip back to Texas.
He’s occasionally violent, at times even abusive to Jenny. To prevent her from escaping, he ties her to the back of his horse and makes her walk in the scorching midday sun while he rides comfortably wearing a protective hat. He forces her to cook meals and punishes her with kisses–to which she responds with passion!
Yet he also treats her sores and wounds with gentleness, not to mention ill-hidden guilt. He kills snakes for her when she cries out in terror and unflinchingly murders renegade Bandidos who try to kidnap and rape Jennifer.
When I first read Escape Not My Love, I was twelve years old, and my parents had just divorced, so I had begun to immerse myself in books for escape. It sounds a bit trite to say a romance changed my life–and I won’t be so extreme as to go that far. However, this book definitely influenced me in a profound way.
It gave me something to look forward to and enjoy: hope. The love story between Jay and Jennifer is phenomenal.
Elaine Coffman’s writing is so rich and lyrical. It’s moving. And yes, happy tears form every time I read that sweet ending.
Read the Original Version of This Western Romance
I will mention that if you want to see this western, old-school romance portrayed at its best, read the original edition. I would not recommend the re-issue that came out in 1997. “Jay-lite” isn’t as sexy as the tortured, lone-wolf of the 1990 version.
I dislike that many romance writers think all readers take offense at the “traditionally macho” heroes of old. Today, the worst types of anti-heroes and tortured, abusive man-hoes are accepted in contemporaries, Dark Erotica, New Adults, and lots of paranormals–where anything can happen.
Meanwhile, men who lived 100, 500, or 1,000 years ago have to be represented as ultra-sensitive proto-feminists. The fact that historicals have so many SNAG (Sensitive New Age Guys) type heroes makes me wary of reading modern romances.
Yup, I’m an old fart, what can I say?
Final Analysis of Escape Not, My Love
Nostalgia may have a bit to do with my ratings of older books. Regardless, I’ve read this many times over the years, and for me, Elaine Coffman’s Escape Not My Love holds up.
If you don’t like cruel heroes who treat the heroine nastily from the get-go, keep in mind that a devastating past tormented Jay. It’s his love for Jennifer that teaches him to let go of the old hurts.
The epilogue might have you reaching for your hankies. Or make you smile as the tough-hombre Jay Culhane settles down into married life with children.
I wasn’t the only reader who loved this book. Escape Not My Love (in its original un-PC form) won the 1990 Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award for Western Historical Romance.
Because it was my first historical romance, and one that–to this day–I extremely enjoy, it’s a keeper.
Rating Report Card
A GENTLY BRED HELLION With hair as dark as sin and a face and a body that were pure heaven, Jennifer Baxter was a woman who knew her own mind and did as she pleased…until she ran off into dangerous territory south of the border. Suddenly she was the captive of a commanding gunslinger sent by her wealthy father to bring her back home. Not about to take orders from any man, she fought the arrogant stranger, struggling to resist his raw masculine virility and recklessly challenging his determination to vanquish her in every way.
AN ARROGANT GUNSLINGER U.S. Deputy Marshal Jay Culhane had tracked down outlaw gangs and renegade Indians, but he’d never encountered a prisoner as infuriating as the beautiful schoolteacher Jennifer. From the first time he saw her he swore he would take her to his bed, claim her innocence, and bring her to a woman’s natural fulfillment. But first he had to tame her. From the shimmering desert to a magnificent Texas ranch to the genteel drawing rooms of Savannah, he would pursue her relentlessly, ruled by a fierce passion for a woman who dared him to believe in the redeeming power of love.