Oh. My. God. How much do I love this book? Up to the moon and back, that's how much.*
Ms. Rogers and I go way back. From Sweet Savage Love to The Crowd Pleasers, that woman wrote some OUTRAGEOUS stuff. And I loved every single page.
Her classic books pretty much epitomize the Old Skool romance, from the punishing kisses to the spoiled and tempestuous but also sweetly virginal eighteen year old heroine; up to and including the kidnapping raping hero.
I've been aware that she's published some new stuff recently, but I hadn't gotten around to trying any of them. However, I feel a glom coming on because I have to tell you, this book has everything I love about Old Skool, stuff you don't see much any more, but has left the raping to to the bad guys where it belongs.
My Favorite Part... Is a Secret
This is one of those occasions where my no-spoiler policy is really inhibiting because it makes discussing my very favorite part of the story a little bit problematic: one of the reasons I loved it so much is because it took me completely by surprise, and I don't want to spoil it for you. In this book is a really extended battle of wills between the couple -- really really. And at the point where another heroine might have done something different, Sapphire's choice-- and more particularly, its execution-- is 1) brilliant; 2) exactly perfect; 3) difficult -- so freakin' difficult I could hardly believe she did it. I wanted to jump up and cheer at one particular moment when I knew she was going to make it work.
But I can't tell you what it was. I'm afraid even a hint would give it away.
These are a Few of My Favorite [Old Skool] Things
Stuff I've missed about the 70s and 80s romances that hooked me forever on the genre -- you could practically go down a checklist, and it's all here. (Except the spanking. Ah well, can't have everything, I suppose.)
Loooonnnger adventures. I'm not talking page count. I'm talking months or even years in the storylines, where the characters butt heads, develop and change.
The tropics. So many of the older romances included sections in the Carribbean or other tropical and exotic locales. Sapphire starts out in Martinique and comes complete with the amoral, free-lovin' alter-ego island girl character to advise our heroine on those strange, disturbingly tingly feelings.
A hero who is actually still getting some at the start of the book. I'm not sure this is something I've missed, exactly, but when you see it in a book published after 1990, you suddenly realize, you haven't actually seen it in a really long time. Or at least if you're me, that's what happens. There's a scene where he bangs a society woman up against a wall on a balcony before she even quite realizes it's happening -- a bit shocking these days but a textbook example of showing and not telling us quite a lot about his character:
Only afterward, as he fastened his wool trousers and smoothed her silk skirts and bodice, did he see a single tear slip down her pale face."Brrr. Cold much?
"Don't cry," he murmured as he kissed her cheek.
"I-I've never done this before," she said breathlessly.
...[snip - at this point, they're interrupted by the lady's elderly husband]
The hem of her gown almost brushed Blake's polished boot as she glided past him. Either Mr. Williams didn't see him or he didn't care what his wife did on balconies with strangers.
Blake smiled. Yet another reason to be in no hurry to wed.
A book with British society stuff set in an historical period other than Regency. Rumors abound that Victorian is the next Regency, and I think it's already here. I like the mobility people had and the feeling that change is about to bust wide open everywhere.
Protagonists that travel. From Martinique to London to Boston to New York. Love it.
Cross-dressing heroine. OK, so this isn't actually one of my particular buttons, but it is for some people, so PSA, this book haz it.
The whore with the heart of gold. Actually, there are several in this book. Why stop at one? It's not like Rogers got famous because of her restraint.
My Only Regret
The ending felt kind of rushed to me. The turning point where they come back to each other just... well, to be honest it didn't work very well at all for me. How can I still love the book if this didn't work? Wish I knew. I just wished there were about 50 more pages and that Blake had had to work a little harder once they were re-united. But it was such a damn good ride getting to the point I can't bring myself to hate on it because of that.
*Couple things: yeah, I'm living under a rock right now, which is how come I just found out about the western rodeo round-up git-along thing going on over at Ramblings... can't participate right now but I may do a belated post and link back. Also, the exact rock I'm living under is named Natalie-- she's my newest niece and I'm out of town helping out my sister with childcare, which I hope partially explains a) my general absenteeism from Blogland (yours, mine, and Kristie's) and b) the reference to the Psychotically Competitive Nutbrown Hare (hope they've got a nut-brown therapy fund going).