Monthly Archives: May 2013

Let’s get specific – Medieval: Vikings

So I recently posted about how medieval romance, and the medieval manbeasts that go with it were my current flavour. I now feel the need to revise and specifiy this statement – oh lordy, it’s all about the Viking this month. And this surpries me. Genuinely, it does. For a start, blondes do not work for me at all. Give me blue black hair any day of the week. Second, in general these Viking books normally contain at least one rapey scene, which does not work for me. But on the other hand, having left Paris, which I have t say was full to the brim of lanky, greasy, stinking of smoke, pretensious man-children. So bring on some huge fighting raiders, as I have sorely missed any testosterone outbursts. So I must admit, I am immensley enjoying my imaginary relationships with the most chauvinistic, mysoginistic, objectifying characters, I could possibly find. And I’ll deal with feminist me later.

For Viking reads, I have recently read and enjoyed:

Loki‘s Daughters by Delle Jacobs

Savagery by Emma MacKenziealexander-skarsgard-shirtless

Hearts Aflame by Johanna Lindsey

Fires of Winter by Johanna Lindsey

Hearts on Fire by Johanna Lindsey

Cedi to my Heart by Johanna Lindsey

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Book Review – On Dublin Street

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I must admit I have a weakness for anything set in my beloved city of Edinburgh. I lived there for two years, and am epically excited to move back there. It’s an old, winding, cobbly, beautiful city wherethe past is still living and breathing in the old stone buildings, castle, winding alleyways and short cuts. I’m moving back soon, and therefore fell completely in love with ‘On Dublin Street’ by Samantha Young. From the first mention of Bruntsfield Evangelical Church, and the leading male with a Scots accent, I was hooked.

But, now to the book, and the real reasons it is worth reading, that don’t relate to my own whimsical fancies. First, as per usual in contemporary romance novels, the leading characters are a little messed up. However, contrary to many books of a similar genre, they have reasons. Not everyone suffers savage abuse such as the characters in Bared to You, and most people can handle divorce, unlike Brynne in Naked. But, sometimes, shit happens. Cue orphan ‘Joss’ Jocelyn, who lost her parents and younger sister in  a car accident when she was fourteen, then her best friend a year later. As can be expected she has serious attachment issues, and is scared of getting close to anyone, particularly guys. I get her character, and I completely understand how her past shaped and changed her into what she now is. 

Braden, our lead man however, I don’t get. He describes his mother as being beautiful, selfish and a gold digger. He then proceeds to date a string of women who are exactly like her. I do not understand this. At all. Thankfully our wee Joss is a whole other kettle of fish, and

 actually really cares about him. Though she will go no further than admitting to wanting him and agreeing to an exclusive sexual relationship for three months. you.’ Sooo not inspiring respect there. 

But anyway, they agree to this relationship, which so obviously turns into so much more….but the question is: Can Joss admit her feelings and risk caring about someone when it hurts so much to lose them?

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The Story of O…Oh…Ooooooh

story-of-oCurrently living in France, a French friend recently informed me that Fifty Shades of Grey was child’s play compared to French novels, and that if I wanted to better understand BDSM, novels that try and involve romance alongside it, and the reasons people enter into such relationships, I should read classic French tale ‘The Story of O,’  (L’Histoire d’O).She also gave me Emmanuelle, which I confess,  have not yet dared to open.

Second confession – I haven’t actually finished The Story of O. Nor can I honestly say I intend to. O is a successful, attractive young woman, in love with a man named Rene. She agrees to be taken to a chateau on the outskirts of Paris, where she is aware she will be subjected to the fetishes of Rene’s friends. And of fetishes, they have many. Within moments of arriving there, she is blindfolded, and as far as I can make out, raped, every which way possible. She is kept there, before Rene eventually takes her away, and gives her to his friend, Sir Stephen.

I genuinely think I could be down with this sort of thing, if it wasn’t for the constant reminder that O only did it because she loved Rene. She didn’t express any joy at the things done to her, nor does she consent out of any regard for her own pleasure. I think that was my main barrier here. That, and they kept asking her to consent to something before telling her what it was. This was actually where I stopped reading…a big fat labia piercing with a tag on. It sounded beyond painful, and the squeamish side of me that I try to hide came out in force. No freakin’ way could I read it.

All in all, it was an interesting foray into the world of BDSM. For anyone who thinks they may or may not be inclined that way, it is definitely worth a read, even just to better outline a person’s limits.

As previously said, I must conclude that if at any point O had revealed that she liked, enjoyed or even relished any of the things done to her, I may have gained more from the book. But to me, it seemed clear that these activities are better suited to two people of the same persuasion – both partners should be getting pleasure. It shouldn’t be one, man or woman,  doing whatever they deem necessary to make their partner happy, and their partner making demands that don’t consider the feelings of the submissive. In truth, it will be a while before I adequately brace myself for Emmanuelle.

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Beautiful Words of Love

A quote from Howard’s End by E.M. Forster:

The disturbance that takes place in the world’s waters, when Love, who seems so tiny a pebble, slips in. Whom does Love concern beyond the beloved and the lover? Yet his impact deluges a hundred shores. No doubt the disturbance is really the spirit of the generations, welcoming the new generation, and chafing against the ultimate Fate, who holds all the seas in the palm of her hand. But Love cannot understand this. He cannot comprehend another’s infinity; he is conscious only of his own–flying sunbeam, falling rose, pebble that asks for one quiet plunge below the fretting interplay of space and time. He knows that he will survive at the end of things, and be gathered by Fate as a jewel from the slime, and be handed with admiration round the assembly of the gods. “Men did produce this,” they will say, and, saying, they will give men immortality

This is one of the most beautiful passages on love I have ever read, and one of the reasons I love old books. I struggle to find modern texts with the same intensity and passion, with deep, soul bearing and unbreakable affection. In an era where sex is easily confused for love, gifts for attention, and money for attraction, it is nice to be reminded of the real thing. It exists, and it is out there, as clearly as words on a page.

It is worth waiting for, it is the reason for poetry and music and art and most of the beautiful things in the world. Just because we can’t see it, and maybe have not yet felt it, do not give up hope that it is out there, waiting in the shadows to be found.

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Hot Right Now – Medieval Romance

The only scratch to my current itch seems to be medieval romance. it is without doubt trumping regency and contemporary tales for me at the moment, and though I am attempting to refrain from psychoanalysing my new found fancy for big brutish men, I cannot deny that I have been enjoying them of late. (Cheeky smile). So this post is basically about why medieval romance is awesome.

First, though it goes against my feminist grain to say so – the women are genuinely damsels in distress, and in the best cases, more than willing to scrap to save themselves. Because of the medieval context, this works for me, as women did have little to no rights those days, and it would have been nigh on impossible to do anything without the help of a man. Contrast this to the simpers and wimpers of contemporary romance, and for me, it’s decidedly preferable. When I read about some helpless ninny in contemporary romance, Gabriel’s Inferno, for example, I am irritated, annoyed, and instantly dislike her. In modern times, a woman does absolutely not need a man to run in and save her, she has everything she needs to save herself. Medieval women did not, and so I find the whole ‘hero swoops in and saves her’ story more believable, and the characters more realistic.

Second, without doubt, is that the Earls and Lords of Regency romance tales are boring me. They don’t work, and have no more stress in their lives than an overbearing mother who wants them married, and the pressure of inheriting a huge estate worth millions. So difficult. So stressful. Nobody would change places with guy in that position right? But, enter the medieval knights, and they actually do stuff. They wield swords and fight battles and build cannons etc. Clearly, I can see that the crusades were an unfounded, pointless war in a country that had nothing to do with England. But I watched Robin Hood far too much as a child to dislike the Knights who fought in the crusades. They’re ‘proper men’ if you pardon the simplicity.

I know that as a modern woman I should not enjoy reading about big old ‘he-men’ who either shoot, eat or marry whatever crosses their path….but I do. In fantasy, despite what my brain tries to think, medieval times are the perfect setting. A woman can be helpless and need a man without being pathetic or weak. It is simply a fact. And a man can be an overbearing brute, but merely a sign of the times, and so long as he exposes a softer side, everybody does seem to be happier.

From what I can tell, there is very much a reason why women still refer to a ‘Knight in Shinign Armour’ coming to sweep them off their feet.

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