Friday, June 8, 2018

Silver Storm by Cynthia Wright

I got my friend Minerva to buddy-read this with me, because the only thing better than bodice-rippers are bodice-rippers with friends. Also, the covers. Can we all take a moment to appreciate that cover? The original artwork, the banner font, the colors - I'm not sure who started the bizarre trend of replacing the original artwork with badly photoshopped covers for the Kindle edition, but they suck.

I originally tried reading SILVER STORM a couple years ago but ended up shelving it due to boredom. During this reread, I felt the same urge once more. For about 70% of this book, the story is dull as dirt. Maybe duller than dirt, because at least dirt has some action (worms, woodlice, interesting rocks). This book did not have that.

The heroine, Devon, is one of those spunky Catherine Coulter rejects who says "Ooooh!" when she's angry and probably stomps her foot. When the British attack her town and kill'n'rape her family, she ends up at the mercy of French privateer, Ravneau, who also happens to be the man she's had a crush on since she was a kid - not that he looked her way, then. Now, though? Now, she isn't just HOT. She is bodice ripper HOT, which is like being Helen of Troy HOT.

The plot is difficult to explain but it's basically Devon and Raveneau arguing constantly, with her thwarted ex, Morgan, occasionally popping in to remind everyone that he exists and Was There First. Much to Devon's dismay, she's much more attracted to Raveneau and even though they were engaged, she let Raveneau pop her cherry and the thought of Morgan physically repulses her. Raveneau knows that he's the one she wants, so he's generous enough to officiate her marriage to Morgan himself - only to reveal later that it was a fake wedding(!), before spiriting her away.

Around 68%, Raveneau remembers that he's in a bodice ripper and starts to act less charming and more jerk. And around 75% in, Raveneau remembers that mere caddery doesn't really cut it in a bodice-ripper and starts to be abusive and rapey. Because I'm twisted, I actually liked that part better - BECAUSE I WAS SO BORED, it was nice to have some action finally happening. Ditto when he dumps her off at an island with a resentful servant and the aura of death (his father allegedly killed his money-grubbing mistress there and they screw mere feet away from where the corpse was buried). There's some OW drama that peters out to nothing (not even a cat fight? come on), and Devon becomes pregnant and immediately transforms into a rosy Madonna, because gag.

In many ways, SILVER STORM reminded me of a less WTF version of THE FLAME AND THE FLOWER, another book I didn't really like all that much, although I could appreciate the sheer scale of OTT nobody-gives-a-damn infused into the plot. They were published just a few years apart, so this isn't really surprising. Honestly, of the early bodice ripper canon, so far my favorite is SWEET SAVAGE LOVE which balances OTT with interesting characters and good story-telling.

If you're interested in this book, it is free, although it is my understanding that like many republished bodice-rippers, SILVER STORM has been edited (read: censored) to be more compatible with the sensibilities of modern audiences. Which, okay, I get. But also, at the same time this makes me sad because part of what I love about bodice-rippers is that unapologetic grittiness. I wish that publishers and authors made both editions available on Kindle - then at least the reader could choose whether they wanted that kidskin gloves to stay on.

1 to 1.5 out of 5 stars

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