Author: Lisa Gregory, aka Candace Camp
Setting: Georgian England and pre-American Revolutionary War Boston
Reason for Reading: been on a Candace Camp mini-glom. Also, I saw this book mentioned in a thread on some board and I just remembered that I had it somewhere on the TBR so it felt like it was meant to be.
Content warnings: rape (the typical 1980s bodice-ripper overcome-by-passion type), adultery (if you wanna get technical) and a conditional HEA
Plot from Amazon.com (it is really, really detailed and spoilery so highlight to read all of it): Charles is not an attractive man, nor a wealthy one. He is in England, just before the Revolutionary War breaks out, trying to get Parliament to listen to reason. He lives a simple life in Boston, but has some money and property and his views and opinions are highly respected.
Thrown into the company of the rich and powerful, he first meets Lady Lettice at a party and is mesmerized by her beauty. Lettice is a vain, beautiful woman trapped in an unhappy marriage, knowing no other way to be, knowing no other way to live her life. She hides her unhappiness beneath a caustic, brittle exterior.
Her handsome, immoral husband lives off his gambling and wits. He has been know to settle gambling debts thru the loan of his wife, upon occasion. And, although she hates it, she’s forced to do it. She and her husband long ago stopped any intimacy between them. He hurts her when she isn’t easily persuaded to do as he wants.
Charles is given Lettice to take “home” one night when her husband cannot pay what he has lost in gambling. Charles is appalled. He takes her, but then, disgusted, sends her away without touching her. She and her husband get into an argument later that night when she refuses to do that any more and, to save herself, strikes him with a hard object as he is strangling her. When she has recovered from nearly passing out, she finds blood everywhere. She believes she has killed him. In a panic, she disguises herself as a boy and runs to Charles, who is in a ship’s cabin for his voyage to America the next morning. From there on, it is the story of her huge adjustment to a simpler way of life, without the luxuries she has always known, and her attempts to change. The backdrop to this is the secrecy of the beginnings of the Revolution, which plays a bigger and bigger role in the plot as it develops. (end spoilers)
Cover: I couldnt find a single pic of the cover on the internet so I just had to scan it. (Yeah, you can enlarge by clicking it.) Because nothing sez ‘Colonial America’ like a purple bathroom rug and soft focus nekkidness. I can just hear the Bom Chicka Bow Wow in the background as I am lookin at this. Oh baby!
Ramblings: Candace Camp has been around for ever, or at least 30 years anyway. I have read a title or two from each decade she has been writing and I have to say that I prefer the very early books she has written as Lisa Gregory the best so far.
As in The Rainbow Season (1979), Camp touches on the heroine’s sense of alienation behind her social mask in Crystal Heart. This is something that I dont see enough of in romances, even when the heroine is supposedly a wallflower, anymore. Lady Lettice is desperately unhappy at the beginning of the book and not just because her husband pimps her out (altho that doesnt help). Her journey to discovering her self-worth is shown in metriculous fashion. This is definitely her story. Charles, in comparison, is a bit of a dullard. He is also fugly so if you’re a reader who like her heroes pretty and slutty, this novel aint for you.
This is also the first romance I have read in a long while set in America during the Revolutionary War. It made for a refreshing change and it wasnt just wallpaper in the second half of the book so I found it fun. However, ugh! I didnt care for that conditional HEA. What a downer after all that Lettice went through. Still, CH was a solidly written book. Camp may never sing opera for me but I am appreciating the steady craftsman writer more in my dotage.