Friday, September 11, 2009

Roses of Glory

Roses of Glory by Mary Pershall

massmarket paperback, 366 pages
Berkley, 1987
ISBN-13: 9780425100066
historical romance

Synopsis from Cover:

Roanna Royson
The beautiful tavern wench from the lusty London docks whom fortune made a lady.... She was as bold and rebellious as the wild mane of hair that tumbled around her shoulders -until one man's savage passions possessed her.
Giles fitz William
The bastard son of one of England's noblest families, the stableboy who became a knight...he longed for the fiery tempered Roanna, had always wanted her, would never stop wanting her...
Destined for Danger, Desire, and Triumph
While all of E
ngland writhed in the flames of rebellion, they loved and fought with a passion that could never be conquered. Surrounded by treachery, accused of treason, forced into captivity, neither would surrender... until a final ravishing climax brought the lady and the knight together on the peaks of burning love...
My Thoughts:

How perfectly clever and diabolical was my daughter, Just Me, in her selection for this month's Critical Monkey and Don't be A-Hatin' Amendment book. She chose not just a romance with a hot couple on the cover, but a historical romance - a medieval historical romance set in 1259. The combination, for me, was excruciatingly painful. It's almost more than a person should have to bare, but I'm going to try to embrace it for what it was: a mess.

Pershall wanted Roses of Glory to be compared to The Taming of the Shrew. No, really, she did. The book is divided into four parts and an epilogue. Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew is quoted at the beginning of each section. I think this is supposed to make you feel more virtuous and educated while reading Roses of Glory. The plot, well, what there was of a plot, was uneven and jumped around. I don't even know where to begin discussing it other than to note that it appeared Pershall was trying to fit the romance into some sort of historical context, and she did have her characters run around a great deal in order to give the impression of great action.

Obviously, I shouldn't have to point out that there are historical inaccuracies in Roses of Glory. I don't think the target audience (which clearly does not include me) is looking for completely accurate historical details. I think just the hint that it's vaguely historical is enough. The family trees for the Marshals and Plantagenets at the beginning is probably enough. Nor are they likely looking for finely crafted dialogue. The dialogue almost had me throwing Roses of Glory across the room. "Lud" must have been some character I didn't know about for the number of times Roanna and everyone else said it. (I know... it's probably meant to be a bastardized "Lord" or, although this is not likely, it could be an oath in reference to Lud son of Heli, the founder of London, but come on... that would be too much historical trivia.)

For those of you who enjoy romance novels, please know I understand, I really do, reading books that are not exactly fine literature for escapism and sheer enjoyment. I get it. However, I know that when I read for sheer escapism I'm much more likely to be looking for an action adventure kind of novel. If there's someone struggling up the face of a mountain in the moonlight with a gun in his hand and a knife between his teeth, the book might be closer to my preferences. On a positive note after reading Roses of Glory, Pride and Prejudice, in comparison, is the best romance novel ever written. At least the writing is excellent, there is a plot, and the dialogue is clever.


Roanna spooned the hot stew into her mouth, thinking that she had never tasted anything so good in her life. opening

Then he came into her life. It was the beginning of the end. If she had even suspected, in those moments when she was wrestling with the goat, what was to come, she would have fled Durham House then and there. But, nay, she had remained, day after day, until she had made a complete and total fool of herself. pg. 6

She raised her head to find his face inches from her own. Transfixed, she stared into deep blue eyes, crinkled at the corners with tiny laugh lines. Soft, wet, chestnut curls hung over a tanned forehead and a handsome face that left her breathless. His body was lean and hard beneath hers, his teeth white and healthy as he grinned at her. Lud, she thought, he's bloody gorgeous. pg. 10

Young women, scantily clad, were dancing about the long table. They were dark-skinned with long black hair, wearing brief cloths about their breasts and hips, their legs covered only by thin veils of sarcenet.
"They're Saracen women!" Maud hissed, coming up behind her. "I 'eard a squire say that Lord Edward brought 'em 'ere just for this. They be captives, 'eld by some blighter earl in Normandy. Lud, Roanna," she said, giggling, "ain't it exciting?" pg. 14

Lud, had she imagined it? Oh, the reaction of others confirmed that it had happened, but it did not seem real.... She regretted that she had been so rude, but lud, what did he expect?.... He had saved her, though hardly from a fate worse than death - lud, only a man would say that - but certainly from a bloody 'orrible experience. pg. 19

"Pah, not so," Dorine interrupted and sighed heavily with dramatic emphasis. "A waste, t' be sure, fer one so 'andsome - but alas, our 'andsome knight was born on the wrong side of the sheets. "is mother be a mystery, one the family keeps guarded. Makes 'im all the more excitin', eh?" pg. 21

"Because, my love, long ago I capitulated and resigned myself to being the willing slave to your superior designs. Lead me, Eleanor, I surrender." pg. 39

"You know, it amazes me that one who was raised as you were should be such a spoiled brat. Do not say a word!" he warned at the sound of her gasp. pg. 107
("Brat" would not have been used as such at this time.)

"Go bleedin' rot!" she cried, backing farther away until she came up against a table. "I won't go! Tell friggin' Edward he can bloody - " pg. 317
(So, now we know, "friggin' " was in common usage in the 1200's.)


Corey said...

Lud, that sound friggin' hot.

Lori L said...

Lud, what a comment!
**giggles madly**
Time to cut me off the romance novels.

Jeanne said...

Pah! Lud, what a bloody 'orrible experience!