Last week, I was reading Liz Carlyle’s The Devil You Know and decided not to do a review of it because both the AAR and MrsGiggles review pretty much encapulated what I would have written about it. One thing neither reviewers discussed was how filthy the hero, Bentley, was. I don’t mean filthy-minded, altho he was that (and with a mouth to matched), but just plain, um, . . . . smelly. Not that I would know since, hey!, its a book without smell-o-vision but there was never a mention of Bentley taking a bath throughout the whole book. Not even when he had food and wine dumped on him by a tavern wench. Also, because he didn’t like to return home, he went for 2 days in the same clothing a few times throughout the book. But does this bother the heroine? Hell, no! The heroine is such a lusty simpleton that she liked the sweaty, musky, natural scent of Eau de Bentley. That’s great but since I wasn’t the heroine, all I could think as a reader was ewwwwwwwww.
This reminded me of a Suzanne Simmons or Claudia Dain novel (I tried to look it up but couldnt find it) in which the pirate hero was so smelly at the beginning that the heroine insisted that he take a bath before he ravished her as his loot. This is suppose to be romantic? I never finished this book because that was a little too much realism for me.
When is the info about heroes and heroines not taking a bath too much for the reader? For me, the line is whether the h/h is smelly because of habit or circumstance. The two heroes above seems to wallow in their smellyness and there is no hope for them. But Galeran in Jo Beverley’s Shattered Rose going for months stuck in his armor or Elaine waking up in Robin Schone’s Awaken My Love to a different body that was not only deflowered the night before, but we later learn, was unwashed for over a year, are matter of circumstances that was readily remeadied with a bath and never became an issue for the rest of the book.
More on baths in romances and the use of smell next time on Fri/Sat.