Mills & Boon, £4.99, ISBN 978-0-263-91723-9
Historical Romance, 2016
The plot of Juliet Landon’s Taming the Tempestuous Tudor is a simple one. We have Henrietta Raemon, who is the illegitimate daughter of the late King Henry VIII. It’s an open secret that her mother was the king’s mistress, and she was the result of that affair. Aside from her stepparents, no one openly acknowledges Etta’s true parentage, however, and her stepfather and the man’s wife were quite lenient in raising her up. As a result, Etta is now a bratty girl who wants to be acknowledged by the new queen, her half-sister Elizabeth, and be given a chance to serve the Queen in some capacity.
Her stepparents decide that she’s run wild long enough, however, and they now want to see her settled down. They pick her a husband, Nicolaus the newly minted Baron Somerville. She thinks he’s so hot, and she’s in fact gagging for more from him… until she learns that her parents want her to gag for him alright and, ooh, he didn’t tell her that he is a Baron when they first met so she doesn’t want him anymore, no, no, no. Nicolaus doesn’t give up that easily, however. Meanwhile, Elizabeth has no compunctions in using Etta as a pawn in whatever games she is playing, and our heroine is naïve enough to believe that she already knows everything so don’t anyone dare to tell her what to do. Pout, pout, ooh, angry footstomp!
Oh, I have to laugh. The best way to describe the reading experience of this book is that it’s prom and I don’t have a date, but while I am all alone at the table, hoping that the floor will open up and save me from those pitying glances from the people around, this horribly bloated and weird-looking guy comes up to me and asks me for a dance. What the heck, there’s nothing to lose, right? And then The Beatles’s Twist and Shout starts to play, he starts twisting me around and… oops. First it’s all weird and scary, but then I’m having fun and laughing and the next thing I know, we’re running off to… er, do something someplace else.
That’s Taming the Tempestuous Tudor. It’s that bloated weird guy who, after a few drinks, resembles the hottest guy in the world because, let’s be honest here, it’s not like anything better will come around… at least until one sobers up. This is a pretty terrible book, in all honesty, because the author employs an omnipresent narrator tone to her narrative – which is to say, the reader is privy to everything that takes place in the head of every character – but she does so in a manner that mixes up points of view even within the same sentence when the mood hits her.
On any other occasion, the menagerie of metaphors would have made her laugh, but when Etta made no immediate reply to that, Lord Jon turned to her. “Well?” he said, aware that her silence didn’t necessarily mean acceptance.
That doesn’t seem so bad, right? But imagine paragraphs after paragraphs of such rapid switching of points of view. I don’t know about anyone else, but I feel a bit seasick after a while. My head hurts especially when the paragraph is long. And the author really loves her long, often run-on sentences.
In the privacy of her bedchamber, Etta berated herself for a fool. Unable to see their plans as anything other than a ploy meant to deceive her, Etta was effectively blinding herself to any of the advantages. Knowing what the reply would be, Lady Virginia did not ask for admittance but walked straight in. “Etta darling, this won’t do,” she said. “Lord Somerville is a very attractive suitor.”
In the above, the author jumps from Etta’s head to The Omnipresent Narrator’s and then Lady Virginia’s all in the space of three consecutive sentences. I feel like I need a roller-coaster or something to keep up with the author here.
As you can also tell from the synopsis, the heroine can be quite the brat. Somerville is often more like a schoolteacher wagging his finger sternly at her than boyfriend material. But here’s the thing: the heroine is a brat, but she’s not that stupid – she can be pretty self aware and she is also a fighter who doesn’t go down meekly without snatching off a few wigs. I can’t help but to like her. And it’s hard to deny that Somerville’s schoolteacher behavior is actually what the heroine needs – he calls her on her BS, and someone has to, because her parents have spoiled her enough that she stopped paying attention to them long ago.
And really, how can I not laugh at absurd yet charming rambling paragraphs like this? (Do remember that I pointed out a while back the author’s fondness for long sentences.)
During those weeks of preparation, Lord Somerville had taught her to use a dagger, but she had not brought it with her and now she blamed herself for being foolishly optimistic about the intentions of well-dressed men who appeared to turn into lunatics as soon as the Queen’s back was turned. One other thing he had taught her, however, was how to disable an attacker, so now, without a second thought, she brought up her knee up high through all the layers of petticoat, farthingale and overskirt, jabbing hard into her assailant’s groin and using all her strength to make a connection with his codpiece.
Is that not the most gloriously insane thing ever to behold? It’s so beautiful, I feel like I’ve having some kind of fabulous word-induced acid trip.
In the subsequent paragraphs, she batters the bad guy with her fists, grabs his head and slams it against the wall hard, and then complains that the whole thing is harder than she thought. Really, this heroine is so… crazy and funny and just plain awesome that I can only laugh and admit to myself that she’s quite fun to follow. I also like that she falls for the hero entirely on her own terms. She tries to find love with other men as she’s adamantly against proving her parents that they are right in picking Somerville for him, but in the end she decides that he’s the one for her after all. Our heroine may be a brat, but she’s no martyr. She’s more of the fiery old-school heroine type that takes her destiny in her own hands and charges at life with all her might.
After a while, the author’s pointlessly complicated, tortuous writing style ceases to perplex me, and I find myself going with the flow. Maybe it’s some kind of acquired insanity affecting me; at the end of the day, I have no idea why things sometimes happen in this story the way they do, and but I can’t lie: I’ve had fun. I wish I haven’t, because the author’s writing style makes my head hurt, but I guess it’s true that we sometimes can’t choose the things we adore.