Monthly Archives: September 2014

Trash Day: Cheesy Historical Romance Edition (part the first)

Due to a recent genre-shaming incident I experienced, I’ve decided to do a series of four blog posts chronicling my misadventures reading a piece of cheesy historical romance. Since the book in question is about 400 pages, each blog post will cover around 100 pages.

Maiden

The offender in question is Susan Wigg’s The Maiden of Ireland. Set during the mid 1600s, the book sees a false Cavalier priest go to Ireland at the behest of Oliver Cromwell so that he can destroy a band of rebel warriors. Of course, his cooperation is obtained because Cromwell has the false priest’s young illegitimate daughter and threatens to sell her to a brothel unless he complies.

(One could make the case that certainly Cromwell was a brutal military dictator, but Wiggs turns the man into a villain of Mr. Burns-type proportions. I mean, you can practically hear the man cackling and tenting his fingers. Kind of surprised he didn’t twirl his curly, Snidely Whiplash moustache and tie the girl down to some train tracks, to be honest. )

Destroying the band of Irish rebels involves, apparently, seducing the mistress of a castle (I really, really would love to see this job description on Craigslist) who also might, maybe, possibly be the leader of the rebels. Incidentally, this supposition requires you to ignore the descriptions of a large, muscled, and presumably armoured warrior in a big fight scene, but I digress.

This just about covers the events of the first 100 pages.

As my husband pointed out last night, setting a romance novel during the time of Cromwell’s conquest of Ireland isn’t the best idea, seeing as the Irish still remember the episode less than fondly, to say the least. Systematic ethnic cleansing doesn’t exactly get the romantic juices flowing.

I feel like I shouldn’t have to say this, but if you’re going to set it in a specific (although ill-advised) time period, please, please, please get a historically accurate costume on the cover. The green dress on the cover is general Medieval, at best. You would never see that outfit in that time period. It’s not even close to being appropriate and probably about 300 years out of date, at least.

Also, not really digging how her breasts are *that* close to being exposed. Next time, let’s aim for a costume that ISN’T two seconds away from a wardrobe malfunction, mkay?

 

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Maplecroft, aka Cthulhu lite

Ever thought that the Lizzie Borden story could use a dash of eldritch horror? If so, you’ll probably fall over your tentacles in getting to Cherie Priest’s H.P. Lovecraft-inspired novel Maplecroft.

According to the back of the book (which gives a much better spoiler-free description than I ever could), in Maplecroft Lizzie Borden must battle “…malevolent entities [that]…originate from the ocean’s depths, plaguing the populace [of Fall River, Massachusetts] with tides of nightmares and madness.”

I was prepared to find this book a little ridiculous. It is, after all, inserting Lovecraft’s mythos into a fictionalized story about a famous, real-life murder suspect (remember, she WAS acquitted). Oddly enough, this mixture of tentacles and true crime is a surprisingly good read. It’s kind of like bacon and chocolate: you’d never in your life think of putting them together, BUT OH MY GLOB YOU GUYS IT WORKS.

That being said, I don’t know that I quite buy Borden as a lesbian. In all honesty, such a ‘revelation’ feels a little tacked on. Just because she had few (if any) suitors and never married hardly leads to the conclusion that she must have preferred the love of women. To me, it seems a cheap and lazy way to insert some modernity or edginess. Also, hot, hot lesbian sexytimes.

All in all, it’s a slightly more reliable source of Lizzie Borden goodness than Lifetime’s made-for-TV event Lizzie Borden Took an Axe (check out the trailer here). I know, because glutton for punishment that I am, I watched the entire thing.

Given that the novel is but the first book in a series, if the inscription on the front cover is anything to go by, there’s more axe-thumping Cthulhu goodness headed our way. R’lyeh be praised.

 

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Mea culpa

                          meaculpa

Due in part to a truly horrendous past couple of weeks (a combination of my boss being on compassionate leave during an extremely busy work period and a leak developing in the suite above me), I indulged in a little book therapy this week.

-Maplecroft (by Cherie Priest)

-Last God Standing (by Michael Boatman)

-The One-Eyed Man (by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.)

This is also the order in which I’ll read them. Reviews coming in the next few weeks!

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