Awful. God awful. By turns gross and offensive. Also? Horrible.
I wasn’t hopeful going in because Undone, by Lila DiPasqua, was subtitled ” A Fiery Tale”. Punny titles/sub-titles aren’t really indicative of anything more than publishers patronizing their readership, so I decided to give it a chance. Undone was billed as “erotic” which can mean:
- Nothing. It is a misnomer, they are trying to move product.
- More sex than the average romance novel.
- The usual amount of sex, but more graphic in its depiction.
- For want of a better term, more creative sex.
- Off-putting sex masquerading as eroticism.
In this case the answer was, of course, number 5. The book is neither romantic, nor erotic, so 0 for 2.
Set in the 17th century, Simon Bname leaves his carriage to deal manfully with some ruffians and encounters a nun sneaking back to her convent. Angelica literally runs into him and knocks him over; nonetheless, having had his recently threatened and assaulted prostrate form landed on, and seeing a glimpse of be-wimpled face, Simon is totally turned on and follows Angelica into the convent. Then he brings her out of the convent because they are so mean to her! They sail away; sex scenes take place containing WORDS THAT NO ROMANCE NOVEL SHOULD EVER CONTAIN, “FIERY” OR NOT, AND A SENTIMENT THAT LESS THAN FOUR WOMEN HAVE EVER EXPRESSED IN THE ENTIRE HISTORY OF SEX; time is spent on a Caribbean island; more SEX; they are separated; deus ex machinations™ ensue; evil-doers are brought to justice; they get married.
Simon saves Angelica, he pursues her, his interior monologue goes on and on about how beautiful (and on) and sexually attractive (and on) he finds her. They finally consummate their relationship and his first post coital thought is, “Hold the phone! Where’s the blood?”. Simon, renowned rake/slattern, is irate with Angelica (and on) for not being a virgin, so he proceeds to treat her abominably. He doesn’t even talk to her about it. Obviously, she is a liar (and on) and a faithless jade. Obviously, he is mistaken because this is one of those books where her so-called virtue is important (and on), and his is not. Madonna/Whore Complex, Table for Simon!
I don’t like romance novels set in the 17th or 18th centuries. Not even the well-written ones which this, and I cannot emphasize this enough, is not. I keep thinking “unclean, UNCLEAN!” when it comes to day-to-day life. I could give a toss about political machinations that affect the top 0.1% while everyone else is scrabbling against poverty and disease. (Medieval settings take these sentiments and multiply them by 10 to the power of 4 times infinity for the subjugation of women.) Moreover, this is the admittedly shallow part, but this is escapist reading so the judges will allow it: I don’t like men’s 17th century clothing and I hate 18th century men’s formal dress. Regardless of scintillating political intrigue, the ornateness of the clothing for both periods jars with my 21st century notions of manliness and diminishes the reading experience. No one looks testosteriffic in a heavily embroidered saffron waistcoat, turquoise pantaloons, and a powdered wig. Nobody.