Signet Eclipse, $15.00, ISBN 978-0-451-23314-1
Historical Erotica, 2011
I picked up Charlotte Lovejoy’s The Ravishing of Lady May because, according to her biography, she wanted to write erotic tales that are more on the classy and tantalizing side instead of blatant and vulgar. Unfortunately, it looks like something has changed her mind prior to this book, because this one can’t be any more blatant than a poke in the eye. That’s not to say that this is a bad thing, of course. But this means that this book turns out to be a rather typical example of historical erotica that has more meat in the love scenes than in the plot, if you know what I mean.
Margaret Roseberry is constantly being punished by the nuns in the Abbey of St Beatrice, Suffolk, because she wants to have sex and she doesn’t care whether the nuns know it. From wanting to hump every hot guy in sight to eavesdropping on the priest as he encourages the sinful women of the neighborhood to describe their naughty antics in great detail, Margaret doesn’t just want to have fun – she chaffs at the restrictions of her life that prevents her from demonstrating to every man she comes across that every single thing they have heard about convent-bred virgins is true. Then, one day, salvation comes in the form of Lady Wilyse, who tells her that she comes here to carry out King Henry VIII’s request and bring Margaret to his court. You see, Margaret was banished to the abbey by her uncle who didn’t want her around as he enjoyed his life, and now that he is dead, Margaret finally learns that she is the sole heiress of his lands (the title of Marquess of Hartwick will go to her husband, of course).
So now she is Lady May, eager and ripe to enjoy all the pleasures offered by London. King Henry is busy trying to seduce one Anne Boleyn, who is well tutored in the French ways of love, and if May wants to attract his attention, she will really need to put on a show. Alas, Lady Wilyse’s debauched brother Jasper, the Earl of Blackford, is distracting her from her pleasures, as she soon realizes that he’s the one she really wants. Unfortunately for May, all she really wants is to have sex with the real thing, the real way, and no guy she craves after, including Jasper, seems eager to stick it in anytime soon. What does a beautiful girl have to do to get laid around here?
The problem with The Ravishing of Lady May is that it morphs from a sleazy and debauched tale into a love story at about the late third of this book, and it’s a very unbelievable and unsatisfying shift in direction. It’s hard to believe that May, who just wants to take it everywhere from everyone (she’s equally democratic when it comes to both ladies and gentlemen), and Jasper, who wants to stick it into everything and anything female, will suddenly decide that they are in love with each other. To me, it seems like they are both attracted to each other because the other person is not easily accommodating, so I don’t know how long these two will last once the novelty of sleeping with someone who was so hard to get wears off. If this story has thoroughly celebrated the joys of debauchery without worrying too much about love, perhaps this story would have worked.
Or maybe not, as the love scenes are not exactly inventive or interesting. Some purple phraseology aside, the love scenes here are as unremarkable as the rest of the story. Worse, this book is distressingly similar in many ways to the author’s previous effort. We have the same set up of a horny woman who is rescued by a seemingly kindly female stranger, who then proceeds to engage her in some female-on-female loving. This stranger then introduces the heroine to a glamorous and hedonistic world, and the heroine begins to rebel at her companion’s constant telling her what not to do because our heroine thinks that she knows everything after she’s decided that she is interested in some guy. We also have the recurring theme of the heroine losing her maidenhead only to the guy who ends up being her supposed true love – a rather bizarre concession to what seems like Ms Lovejoy’s belief that you can take it up everywhere and anywhere with everyone else, but that place is reserved only for one’s true love.
The fact that this story follows the same structure and develops exactly as things were in Madame Bliss dampens my enjoyment of this book, as I can’t help but wonder whether it is smart for an author to recycle ideas and story lines this soon, when she’s only putting out her second book under the Charlotte Lovejoy pseudonym. The Ravishing of Lady May is already a pretty unsatisfying story, but it just has to remind me too much of Madame Bliss where it counts as well. Therefore, I never feel that I am getting my money’s worth from this book.