November TBR is OOP, But Not For Long

This 2002 release from author Carolyn Jewel has been on my TBR list ever since I read her RITA-nominated Scandal in early 2009.  It is out of print and I had trouble finding a used copy; eventually it became the only book of hers that I hadn’t read.  (Disclosure, as always, that Carolyn is a personal friend, although my fondness for her writing pre-dated that.) But it was totally worth the wait.

Anne Sinclair is a wonderful heroine. The oldest daughter of the house, she’s the only one who’s not drop-dead gorgeous; she rather expects to remain a spinster, care for her aging parents and eventually live with one of her sisters (who will all make brilliant marriages, of course).  She has a tendré, as they say, for  a man who wanted to marry her a few years before the book starts, but her father rejected him as unsuitable, and Anne did not put up much of a fight.  This former suitor is now rich and titled, but Anne doesn’t expect him to still be interested in her. Until he starts showing signs that he is.

But Devon, the faithful suitor, is not our hero.  That’s clear early on in the book; point of view and romance convention let the reader know that’s the brooding, womanizing Ruan, Duke of Cynsser.  A series of mistakes and coincidences lands Cynsser and Anne in a forced marriage, and that’s where most of the conventional romance runs out.

Cynsser and Anne really have to work at finding happiness in their marriage — great sex is all they have for most of the book (and they have quite a bit of it).  Their feelings for others (Anne’s for Devon, Cynsser’s for his sometime mistress, Kate) don’t just vanish, nor do the other man and other woman have to be demonized to validate the main characters’ feelings.  It’s messy, not neat and tidy, and I love that.

Experienced heroes (rakes, womanizers and the like) don’t always work for me.  I wasn’t sure Lord Ruin (as Ruan is nicknamed) was going to prove strong enough to accept what Anne had to offer, and that tension is what I like best in a forced marriage plot.  Where I would expect any woman with an ounce of self-respect to walk away from a man who can’t appreciate her, the marriage gives her a reason to stay.

Anne has backbone and stands up to Cynsser, but the constraints of their circumstances (and their powerful mutual attraction) keep them together long enough for him to come to his senses and prove to her that he has.  That dimension sometimes gets neglected in historical romance; I don’t like it when all the hero has to do is say “Oh I get it, I love you!” and all his previous bad treatment of her is forgiven.  I was pleased at Anne’s quiet strength and how her sense of self-worth developed in response to her situation and her feelings for Cynsser — married to Devon, I doubt she would have discovered such inner strength.  I do love a romance where the characters challenge each other and make each other better, stronger people.

My used copy of the book had this delightful notation:

"to much sex"

I took it as a recommendation, but your mileage may vary!

Carolyn posted this same picture on her blog, where she also announced that she has the rights back to Lord Ruin and will be making it available as a digital download early in 2011.



7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Wendy
    Nov 18, 2010 @ 10:59:02

    Such an AWESOME notation! And really, I think you have to take it as a recommendation 🙂


  2. Liz
    Nov 20, 2010 @ 16:44:47

    I really like this kind of plot–I think because it has so much potential for horror or tragedy, but with romance you know it won’t go there (makes me grateful to live when I do, with the freedom and choices I have). There’s something very intense about the need to make the situation work, and the potential that it won’t. This sounds great, and I liked both Scandal and Indiscreet a lot.

    Do you think the hero’s name is a romance-reader’s inside joke? It’s so close to the Cynsters and all their ridiculous nicknames.


    • SonomaLass
      Nov 20, 2010 @ 18:17:08

      Liz, I wondered that myself, about Cynsser. I will have to ask Carolyn about it.

      I think it would be difficult for me to read a plot like this outside the romance genre. Realistically, that poor woman, taken advantage of and pregnant, would just be too sad for me. But as you say, in romance you trust it will be okay. In this. Ook Inreaalu admired how well the heroine’s feelings for someone else, and his for her, were developed. Unusual in romance, but it works here.


  3. Trackback: Monday Morning Stepback: The Acheron doll, Academic Publishing Scams, and the Real Regency Bosom | Read React Review: Rethinking romance and other fine fiction
  4. Merrian
    Nov 22, 2010 @ 04:52:36

    As you gave the plot synopsis I started thinking this was an homage to ‘Persuasion’ but it has been saved from that. I will look forward to the ebook especially because it sounds like there is depth to Lord Ruin’s realisations I hate the rush to relationship/forgiveness/redepmtion that often occurs in the last few pages of a romance novel, it seems ore often a plot device than the true end to the journey our hero and heroine have been on.


  5. Daz
    Nov 23, 2010 @ 04:19:52

    I’m looking forward to being able to get this on the Kindle in 2011 but in the meantime, I love your review and I LOVE the notation in the used copy you have. It says a lot!


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