Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-380-80419-0
Historical Romance, 2000
“Oh my god, Avon misplaced the real On a Long Ago Night and republished The Price of Innocence by mistake!” I screech to myself at page 23.
On closer look, no, it’s not The Price of Innocence. This is a more polished version of that previous book with several trivial differences. I don’t know what to say about such blatant encore, really.
This time around, she’s Honoria Pyne, he’s James Marbury. Honoria was on her way back from Majorca when her ship was commanded to carry soldiers and arms en route to the battle of Algiers. She somehow ended up at the wrong place, wrong time, and was captured by Ibrahim Rais, a cruel Turkish lord. His right hand Diego Moresco purchases her, and she gives herself to him in a misguided effort to save her hubby-to-be Derrick. They had a very mad affair.
Eight years down the road, both meet again in a ballroom. His name is now James Marbury, heir to a title, and she’s now one of the most wealthy heiress in England. Her boyfriend has dumped her eight years ago for her “sacrifice” and is now trying to weasel his way back to her good graces. Her father wants her to marry. She sees James/Diego, slaps him, and well, let the games begin.
Subplots include a corrupt priest wanting Honoria to translate a treasure map and Derrick trying to slime his way back to Honoria’s life.
They (italicized flashback) meet (italicized flashback) in (italicized flashback) a (italicized flashback) ballroom. This is about three or four chapters long. Then (italicized flashback) he breaks into (italicized flashback) her bedroom where (italicized flashback) they rekindle their (italicized flashback) (italicized flashback) passions.
In all fairness, there are some scenes in On a Long Ago Night (italicized flashback – stop that!) that sing with red hot sexual tension. And there are charming quiet moments between Honoria and James that are simply inspired. I also love the way they trounce the corrupt priest at the end.
Yet poor Honoria, for all her will and strength, these are mere illusions where James and her father are concerned. She is genuinely confused about her feelings for James, but her father and James ruthlessly maneuvered her into marriage with him and make her do a lot of things she protested hard against. I still don’t know what to feel about such manipulation.
In all fairness, this one is more polished than its template. Yet the abrupt jumps between the present and the past are still there (it seems as if any random word would trigger flashbacks), as are the same old relationship development and the same old “My secret pirate love affair when I wasn’t British and titled!” plot. Call me sanctimonious, but I won’t sleep easy if I give such recycling my two thumbs up.