Monday, April 2, 2012

Romantic Fiction for April

Prisoner of My Desire by Johanna Lindsey is one of her more violent romantic novels. Set in England in the twelfth century, it's a tale of squabbling barons, misappropriated inheritances and abundant domestic violence.

Our heroine is Rowena, who is coerced by her stepbrother Gilbert into agreeing to marry a man she despises. Gilbert accompanies her to her intended's castle to make sure the marriage is consummated. When Rowena manages to escape defloration,Gilbert doesn't take it well.

She held her breath when he approached, suddenly horribly afraid that she was going to be forced into some new act that she would despise. But when she heard what he had to say, she would have laughed if she did not think he would slap her for it.

Due to a series of unfortunate events—including her unwillingness to divulge her true identity, the evil Lady Beatrix's machinations, and because it makes for a more interesting story—Rowena is forced to live as a slave in the household. She becomes the personal property of Warrick, a stern and cold master. While serving him at the table, her thoughts are rebellious.

Did no one ever defy him? Did no one ever deliberately provoke his anger. A stupid thought, since even when he was not frowning, he was frightening. And no matter how angry he made her, she did not have the nerve to tempt a beating or other added punishment—not yet.

Their subsequent interactions are full of innuendos; titillating but never actually resulting in anything significant. While attending to him in the bath:

Her feet had felt wooden as she approached him with the soft drying cloth. And his cold voice had not relieved her any.

"On your knees again," he had ordered. "And take care, wench, that you do not miss a single drop of moisture. Do I catch a chill because of your negligence, I will beat you for it."

He said this as if his other threats of beating had lacked substance. She doubted that, but was concerned only with this threat.

A hunger strike and subsequent attempt to escape are both thwarted by Warrick as he catches up with her when she is stopped at the main door.

Rowena did not have a chance to figure out a way around that sword or the young man holding it. She was lifted off the floor from behind, and Warrick commanded, "Put that away, Bernard, and go and wake the cook." But the moment the boy had left to do as bidden, the hard voice turned softly menacing to whisper in her ear, "If you had not earned a punishment before, wench, you have now—but first I must feed you."

Warrick's daughter, Lady Beatrix, causes mischief whenever she can. After she sends Rowena on a false errand, he is angry to find our heroine neglecting her other duties.

Explain to me why I should not punish you for being where you do not belong!"

"I thought 'twas a punishment, my being sent to him. Now you tell me I am to be punished for doing as I was bidden? if you dare—"

He shook her once. "You were not bidden to come here. If you speak that lie again, so help me, I will not order you beaten, I will do it myself!"

Beatrix becomes more devious in her schemes, and Rowena bewails her inevitable fate as her friend warns her of what Beatrix has planned.

Rowena closed her eyes against full understanding. "She is going to say I stole from her."

"Aye, and her most valuable trinket, a pearl necklace given her by Warrick. Melisant will support her, to say that you were the last one seen outside their room ere it was found missing. Beatrix will then demand a search of the weaving room, as well as Warrick's chamber, and whilst there, she will pull the necklace out of its supposed hiding place, confirming your guilt."

"And she will not even have to insist I be put in the dungeon. 'Twill be done no matter what, until Warrick's return, and he is likely to believe her tale. So often he called me a little thief. He will be forced to punish me severely—mayhap a whipping or—"

...There was the chance that he might believe her if she was given the opportunity to declare her innocence. But 'twas a slim possibility considering what he knew about her—naught much thanks to Gilbert—and she was not willing to risk a whipping or worse just so his daughter could have her revenge against him.

Rowena attempts to explain that she is innocent, and that Beatrix is the real problem. Warrick isn't easily convinced.

"You see now why I had to leave," she said bitterly. "I cannot acquit myself with other than what I have just told you. 'Tis you who will have to do so by proving my accuser a liar—else will you have to punish me with the severity that this crime demands."

She felt him stiffen [!] at those words. "Damn you, wench, what did you do to cause such enmity in this woman?"

Rowena took heart. The question said he believed her—or wanted to.

"I did naught," she said simply. "'Tis not even me she wants to hurt, but you. And with me gone, she may not have accused me at all, or even reported the theft. 'Twould have served no purpose. With me returned, however, she may yet decide to do it, to force you to punish me."

..."You will tell me who the lady is who thinks to hurt me through you, and you will tell me now."

..."Do not ask me that. If she changes her mind, deciding to do naught, then she redeems herself and should not be punished for what she plotted in the heat of anger. If not, you will know soon enough."

His scowl was blacker than ever... A chill went down her back, for he looked like the very devil, sitting there passing judgment on her...then he sounded like it too.

"I will decide who deserves punishment," he warned her.

Lady Beatrix is finally found out and her lies about Rowena are exposed. Retribution is swift and severe.

Warrick whipped his daughter right there in the hall for all to see, and he used the thick leather of his sword belt. Rowena's leaned back in the chair she had been allowed to use and closed her eyes to it, but she could not close out the sound. It was a brutal walloping. Beatrix's screams became hoarse, her pleadings pitiful to listen to. Rowena had to bite her lip to keep from trying to end it sooner than Warrick deemed sufficient. By the time he was through, his daughter was utterly repentant, and utterly cowed.

Warrick and Rowena are in love, of course, and marry. As he rides off into the sunset to fight a battle, he asks her:

"Will you miss me, wench."

"When half my duties go with you."

He whacked her bottom. "That was not a proper answer for your lord."

And they lived happily ever after.

From Hermione's Heart


Kitty the Submissive Wife said...

Wow - this post must have taken you hours to put together and I appreciate it. But your picture choice is really spot on. Love Barbie up there.

Christina said...

I remember reading this book years ago - wow!

Hermione said...

It did require a certain amount of typing:) But I don't mind; it's fun to share.

Hermione said...

I hope you enjoyed it the second rime around.

ronnie said...

Good choice Hermione, thanks for sharing this one. I think I'll have to pick up one of her books. Is there one you would recommend please?


Hermione said...

I've heard that Keeper of the Heart is a good one.

ronnie said...

Thanks Hermione.


Anonymous said...

Well done story. Thank you.


kiwigirliegirl said...

great story, thank you for sharing hermonie....i may have to look it out....lots of talk here in NZ about 50 Shades of Grey too....going to have to look out that one soon as well
hugs kiwi xxx

Hermione said...

You are more than welcome, Joey.

Hermione said...

I've heard of that book and it's on my list to be downloaded.

Daisychain said...

Great story! Wow, amazing that you have the time (and patience!) to type such a long story! Thank you! xxxxxxx

Hermione said...

I only typed bits and pieces of it that I thought you would enjoy. It's a very long book.