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We start off our list with something of a soft bodice-ripper, in that it doesnt quite have all the hardcore stuff that is present in more of the true-to-form ones. Im easing the newbies in gently, so hardened fans, dont get in a tizz, the really tough stuff is coming, just be patient with me for a little bit. Gentle Warrior is a Medieval era bodice ripper by historical romance master Julie Garwood. We have a satisfyingly caveman-esque hero in Geoffrey, a forceful, angry, gruff man who is a bit of a jerk, but never really physically abusive to our heroine, Elizabeth.
Instead of being physically abusive hiss is a bit more emotionally so, being extremely authoritative and tyrannical in nature. He is a stubborn man, but then so is Elizabeth and watching the clashes between the two can even be humorous at times. A fun cast of supporting characters and an interesting almost-mystery-but-not-quite subplot make it a hugely enjoyable read; more for fans of historical romance rather than bodice rippers, but a good starter novel to initiate those who are new to the genre into the mind-set of the bodice ripper without fully exposing them to its cruelties at the get go.
Our next offering brings you a high quality and well-written Regency romance tinged with some bodice ripping elements as two American sisters, Victoria and Dorothy, move to England after their parents deaths. The two are separated on their arrival, each living with different relatives whom neither girl has met before. Staying with her Uncle, Charles Fielding, Victoria is unwittingly betrothed to his nephew (read: illegitimate son), Jason. Neither party wants the marriage but this is particularly evident on Jasons part. He is a tough man, extremely wealthy and widely envied, but unhappy and intolerant of fools.
Hes an alpha male in all aspects, pessimistic, judgemental and essentially just an overbearing ass of a man who treats our dear, sweet heroine abominably perfect for those who love men of the treat em mean mind-set! Nonetheless, the story in its entirety is charming and funny, with a perfectly warm and sweet heroine, a tortured hero (who tortures others in turn) and a secondary cast of characters that creates an air of Downton Abbey. This is a read best suited to anyone who is already a fan of bodice rippers as Jasons mean treatment can be a bit insufferable for anyone who isnt already inducted into the order.
In the midst of the Norman invasion of England in 1066, Aislinn of Darkenwald i9s captured as the spoils of war and is now the property of Wulfgar, the Iron Wolf of Normandy. Wulfgar is a fierce but fair leader, and in spite of being a prisoner and all, Aislinn is intrigued by her handsome enemy. With her addictive writing style Woodiwiss captivates her audience within pages, leading them through the tempestuous love affair between captor and captive. The chemistry between the two sizzles through the angst, jealousy, treachery and passion, and in the end it all works out happily ever after. Its not exactly believable, and the book is scant on accurate historical detail, but the lack of accuracy is forgivable in a bodice ripping romance history is not what we read them for, right?!
Wulfgar is one of the sexiest warriors around, one who is portrayed well and deeply through exploration of his feelings towards the more romantic aspects of romance (like love and marriage), in that he doesnt want anything to do with them. Watching the development of the inevitable affair and romance with Aislinn who wants more commitment than he is willing to offer is a truly pleasurable experience, and bound to be a favourite for romance fans who love the captor-prisoner dynamic.
Next its the tale of the thirty year old virgin! Not typical for romance novels, true, but its a fantastic addition to our list. The aforementioned virginal woman is novelist Amanda Briars, who does not still want to be a virgin on her thirtieth birthday and so enrols the services of a well-established madam whom she is relying upon to provide her a male companion to help solve her problem. The mischievous madam decides instead to play matchmaker and sends Amandas publisher instead of a prostitute without warning her, and oh, the mayhem that follows! Jack doesnt take full advantage at first, after all he still wants to work with her and publish her book, but at the same time hes a man who always gets what he wants, and what he wants is Amanda.
What follows is a rocky road of entwined professional and personal interests; all made ever the sweeter by Jack, the stuff of dreams. Jack is respectful and totally smitten with her and shows Amanda in generous detail just how much he truly he appreciates her plump, curvaceous figure. I know respectful men isnt usually the stuff of bodice rippers, but believe me now when I say the sex scenes in this book are Hot with a capital H, and with the kind of kinkiness that is rarely seen outside of pure erotica. This makes Suddenly You a truly enjoyable bodice ripper filled with steam heat, angst, heartbreak and some unexpected but ultimately welcome twists and turns that are sure to leave you begging for more.
Now its no big secret that in the world of bodice rippers - particularly older ones -rape is not an uncommon theme, but here is something that is an uncommon occurrence: male rape. Yes, in our next novel, Johanna Lindseys Prisoner of Desire, our male protagonist is raped by his female captor. Set in the Middle Ages, we meet Gilbert dAmbray, a man who burns a torch for his own step-sister, and deals with these scandalous feelings as any rational person would: he decides to marry her off to a depraved old man in order to produce a male heir and gain more forces in his battle against Warrick de Chaville. Gilberts plans dont quite go to plan though, as his chosen groom kicks the bucket before he could consummate the marriage.
Not to worry! The stiff is simply replaced with a man with similar features, but of course this is not just any man, but Warrick de Chaville himself. Gilbert encourages Rowena to get it on with Warrick, resulting in a drawn out three day long forced seduction and rape. What ensues is a lot of guilt on Rowenas part, anger and need for revenge from Warrick, angry sex and ultimately, yes, love. Consent issues and some cringe-worthy language aside, Prisoner of my Desire really makes for a great read, Rowena is strong and likable, the men are a little pig-headed, but not unbearable, and for those among you with a kinky side there is of course, even a bit of bondage thrown in for a little extra heat.
Our next novel is a nice (and oftentimes naughty) Georgian period romance, one that is actually pretty vague on the detail of the historical setting, but is nonetheless perfect for someone looking for a bodice ripper to read without getting bogged down in such details. It is in this vaguely Georgian setting that we meet Anna, a widow who is down on her luck. Finding herself in a spot of financial bother, she takes it upon herself to find employment as the secretary of the Earl of Swarthingham, Edward de Raaf. There is an instant connection between the two, both are ugly ducklings, and them being typically marginalised characters in romantic fiction (being over thirty, each having had previous marriages and neither one being much of a looker) makes their developing story all the better.
They are unique and human; they see past each others flaws and accept them rather than attempt to change them, they dont dwell on physical appearances, neither each others nor their own and this is what makes them so likable. Thea love affair between the two is sensual and rife with heat, plagued with a little deception and manipulation, but ultimately sweet and authentic. Hoyts writing style is wonderful, and makes the experience of this novel and its almost excessively naughty bits all the better, a perfect read for lovers of smutty corseted fiction.
Books in Princes Series (3)
Fans of bodice rippers and those who know anything about the history of the genre should have at least some familiarity with this book, a book with an infamous reputation for being chock full of abusive behaviour. This notorious novel recounts the story of Catherine Enderly, a young countess who is abducted and taken to Ireland whilst on her way to boarding school. She may look fragile and delicate on the surface but this fiery and defiant woman fights tooth and nail against her captor, Sean Culhane a man with a score to settle against Catherines family. As bodice rippers go, this one really, really hits the nail on the head; within the first 50 pages the hero has already administered a sharp backhand slap, raped Catherine and just to crank up the sicko factor - sends her blood and semen stained underclothes to her father.
Its cruelty that is hard to understand, but of course, this being a bodice ripper Catherine does eventually end up as somewhat of a Stockholm Syndrome case, even if a particularly feisty one. Despite covering the pairs tumultuous relationship over a course of more than 7 years there is disappointingly little character development and numerous what the fuck did I just read? moments, that really make you wonder why this book is actually so likable, because in spite of everything it is! Brutal rape and strange actions aside, Stormfire is actually not a bad book, but nonetheless is best reserved for those who want their bodice rippers to be ruthless or are curious about this crude classic.
Our next offering will leave you feeling almost as battered as our heroine once youre done with it, but true bodice ripper fans wont be put off by that! Sweet Savage Love is the story of the extremely emotionally and physically intense relationship between Virginia Ginny Brandon and mercenary Steve Morgan. Theirs is a truly love-hate relationship, involving amongst other things; war, espionage, smuggling, adultery, torture and rape Lots and lots of rape. Its a cruel story, with not an ounce of tenderness to be found anywhere, and is definitely not for those faint of heart, so if youre a newbie looking to get into bodice rippers and are looking for a place to start, this is not it! Inveterate readers only!
Our heroine suffers much at the hands of the sadistic and adulterous Steve, but the evolution of her character and development of strength throughout her ordeals is truly admirable. Ginny gives as good as she gets, which is a great thing to see given how much torment is thrust upon (and into) her, and as a result this love story is truly sweetly savage.
Books in Brandon-Morgan Series (6)
Heres what weve really been missing from this list: pirates! Bodice ripping pirates! It starts well from the outset with an attempted rape of our heroine, Lady Bethlyn (Beth) on board a pirate ship. Flash back and we learn that our English lady is in fact married to an American, Ian Briston, who has never even met her he instead married her for money and leaving her in England.
Our heroine decides to chase up her absent husband and make him grant her an annulment or shape up and be a real husband. Instead she ends up taken captive by a pirate who has his way with her, keeps her prisoner and forces to be his bride but Im sure you cant guess who this pirate eventually turns out to be, right? Okay, so its a little predictable, actually Scratch that, its more than predictable, its laid out to you within the first couple of chapters that Ian is the pirate who has stolen his own wife (way to go, genius), but the story actually works quite well.
Its a little slow in places, but some smart dialogue and numerous subplots help hold interest, it may not be the most accurate nor the most romantic tale, but theres something overly fun about a pirate capturing and repeatedly raping his own wife without knowing it its weird and a little hard to get to grips with, but anyone who wants to read some bodice ripping fun with pirates is sure not to be disappointed.
Books in Liberty's Ladies Series (2)
Passion is a bodice ripper of a slightly different type, its a novel that whilst being blisteringly hot, is also in its way more like two novels rolled into one. From the beginning we meet our young widow, so appropriately (read: extremely stupidly) named Passion Elizabeth Dare, who is pursued by and eventually succumbs to the advances of a mysterious and handsome stranger. The chemistry between the two is instant and their subsequent rendezvous are filled with well, passion. The sex is vivid, intense, hot, violent and extremely frequent these two do pretty much nothing but have sex for the first 200 or so pages, and it almost makes the book read like your typical, trashy, plot-less erotica.
Ah but wait! As the story progresses it becomes less about the amorous antics and more about the intense and deep love that the two have developed for one another. What follows is a heart-warming and heart-breaking romance, filled with conflict and emotion. Reducing readers to a weeping mess on the floor may not be what is usually called for in a bodice ripper, but it makes a nice change to have one that fuses the typically hot and heavy elements with a bit more depth, to culminate in what is ultimately a moving and beautiful love story.
Books in Passion Quartet Series (3)
Next is the finale of Jude Devereauxs Velvet Saga in which we meet the youngest of the Montgomery brothers, Miles. Miles is a lover of women, all women; not always lustfully but he interacts with all with enough prowess to make them fall at his feet. This connoisseur in all things with lady parts is especially pleased when he receives a particularly lovely gift: the sister of his familys enemy, naked and rolled in a carpet (just what he always wanted!). Of course the young woman is resistant to his advances, determined never to surrender to him and she gives the lusty lothario a real run for his money, attempting to hatch numerous escape plans and get her own back on her captor in spite of his attempts to try and treat her with some respect.
Its a tale that has a little of pretty much every emotion you can imagine housed within its pages and a truly sublime ending to the Velvet era of the Montgomery brothers saga, if youve read the others the only disappointment youll find here is that it is the final book of the series, and if youve never read any of them its worth starting the series to get to this point and enjoy the arrogant antics of these debauched siblings.
Books in Velvet Montgomer... Series (4)
Weve got another classic one for you with a satisfyingly strong heroine, beautiful Lady Sabrina Verrick. Our protagonist is a Scots-English Lady, exiled to England with her brother and sister who finds a rather unusual way to support her family she takes to the roads as a highwayman under the name Bonnie Charlie. All is well until a she meets Duke Lucien of Camareigh during a daring theft at a dinner party who henceforth vows to capture the dastardly thief. It all progresses as one might expect: plotting, captures and subsequent escapes, seductions, intrigue and hot, passionate sex.
Theres plot holes aplenty, making this more of a brain candy type novel, one that definitely shows its age, but its far from past it, and will still hold plenty of allure for those used to reading more old-timey bodice rippers or intrigued as to what the older style was like. In the true style of the genre, the couple rarely treat each other well, but their attraction nonetheless runs deep and is pretty much unbreakable, being strong enough to be entirely believe despite all the hassle they give one another, making it completely enthralling and unputdownable (on the condition that it is the kind of thing you know you enjoy).
Books in Dominick Series (3)
Teresa Denys The Silver Devil takes readers on a journey to Italy in 1605 and into the arms of Duke Domenico of Cabria. The Duke is a ruthless and tough man, feared by his subjects, troubled and unyielding, and sets his sights on tavern wench Felicia, taking her on as his mistress. The meek and mild woman does in fact fall head over heels for The Silver Devil despite the fact that he is clearly fucking bonkers; he is capable of acts of complete and utter cruelty, tortures and kills people on mere whims, is completely self-absorbed and never even displays an ounce of character development and so never faces the truth of how psychopathic his behaviour is, nor tries to change.
As such, theres really no way Felicias relationship with him could ever be sweetness and light, but who cares when the sex is so earth-shakingly intense, right? As a nice bonus, the story also functions better than most bodice rippers in terms of being historical fiction, Denys masterfully draws her reader into the setting, perfectly depicting the city and providing a believable representation of the personalities and thoughts of the masses at the time. All in all, The Silver Devil is a tale of a really bad guy, Domenico is not really the best ruler the city could have, hes not the nicest lover (in fact, saying that he even loves Felicia is a bit of a stretch), and yet you cant help but keep reading to find out what happens between this monstrous man and his devoted mistress.
Devils Bride attempts to take the bodice ripper genre a little further than just mean men and hot sex by introducing some semblance of a mystery plot into the mix. The murder of the cousin of our titular scamp Devil (real name, Sylvester Sebastian Cynster) is where it all begins and the ensuing investigation into who committed the crime takes place amidst the backdrop of Devils similarly stupidly named babe Honoria Prudence Anstruther-Wetherby. Devil is a narcissist through and through and this contrasts nicely with Honorias no-nonsense attitude.
Their love affair begins after a misunderstanding about them sleeping in the same room overnight, which to avoid scandal Devil covers with the announcement that they are engaged and subsequently decides that he will marry Honoria for real and begins saying so to pretty much everyone he meets, despite the bride-to-be strongly protesting (to begin with, at least) which just goes to show what a pig-headed kind of guy he really is.
Things progressing as one would expect them to in a bodice ripper the two end up in bed, and the sex scenes between the two are simply delicious and quite fun at times there is extreme naughtiness held within the pages of Devils Bride so be forewarned if you like your love scenes soft or fade-to-black! It is these love scenes thatll make you keep reading because to be perfectly honest, the mystery plot isnt exactly successful, its thinly-veiled and way too easy to guess who the murderer is, but if youre looking (oddly specifically) for a highly erotic love story with a relatively intriguing little mystery to fill the gaps between love-making, Devils Bride serves just that purpose.
Books in Cynster Series (23)
Next up is something wonderful, a book with all the necessary elements of a good, classic, old-style bodice ripper: an alpha male who is totally badass, a resistant heroine who puts up a good fight and some actual dress-ripping!! The story itself is centred around Elizabeth Selby, unwillingly married off to a young American, Nathan Ridgeway, and becomes trapped in this loveless, unconsummated marriage since unfortunately for Elizabeth her father-appointed beau is in fact, as gay as the day is long.
Her womanly desires arent left entirely unattended to as on a trip to New Orleans she meets the dangerous and dangerously handsome Raphael Santana, heir to wealthy Spanish family, and also conveniently trapped in a less-than-desirable marriage. Raphael and Elizabeth embark on a sensuous journey through infidelity together, through violence, rape, bodice ripping and liberal use of the word slut, its like junk food, its oh so trashy, but you cant help but want to pig out on the stuff. There are a lot of improbabilities in the story, but everything picks up towards the end, bringing a lot of action combined with emotional growth on the part of Raphael making it a wonderful ending that is worth wading through all of the trash for.
Books in Louisiana Series (8)
The Conqueror - Brenda Joyce Time for Medieval sexiness now as we join barbarian hero, Rolfe the Relentless, The Conqueror, on his endless pursuit of the woman hes not meant to have. Ordered by his king to claim the Lady Alice as his prize for capturing her castle, on arrival he instead sets eyes on her illegitimate sister, Ciedre, and from that moment on he feels the intense desire to possess her. Rolfe insta-lust borders on the obsessive on creepy, instantly feeling like her already owns her.
He is relentless, possessive, and abusive and yet she is everything to him, and she is constantly betraying him left right and centre. Their road to love is a particularly rocky one, but they have passion and both are very likeable in spite of their obvious character flaws. This book is an obvious guilty pleasure (unless youre out and proud about your love of bodice rippers), but watching the slow-burning development of Rolfe and Ciedres relationship from a purely sexual one to a more powerful and surprisingly tender love is remarkably engaging. A vivid and remarkable read that is bound to satisfy all of your needs for obsessive, all-encompassing, dysfunctional but ultimately sweet love stories.
Books in deWarenne Dynast... Series (13)
Time for romance down under now (minds out of the gutter, please!) as we head to Australia in 1915, as we get acquainted with the Cleary family, and one member in particular, Meggie. This family saga covers the span of fifty years as we follow the story of the family, but most importantly Meggies life and the man that she loves yet she can never possess - what with him being a priest and all. The priest, Father Ralph, has fallen for Meggie too, and its a painful struggle for him trying to choose between his love and his vows, so much so that it is difficult not to share in his pain.
Meggie and her fellow thorn birds are so lovingly created that even those people who exasperate and anger you are ones you feel like you know after only a short time, and they really get under your skin. McCullough does a fabulous job of depicting the arid setting, with the descriptions about the heat and the dryness being extremely well-written, if a little overbearing in their sheer endlessness, create a strong impression of the Australian climate, and you can almost feel it radiating out from the pages themselves. This is an epic and tragic novel, with its share of heartbreak, loss and tragedy, and a strong recommendation for anyone who enjoys tales of tragic, forbidden love.
Next up is a bodice ripper for those of you out there who just love strong women. Our heroine, Sara Bishop, is a fiery Irish country lass who is chosen to be married by proxy to a ships captain favoured by the queen, Captain (now Lord) Shane Hawkshurst. Shane does not really want a wife so when required to carry out his promise to his father that he would marry he plans to have his brother dump her in one of his estates and never even meet his wife. Saras plan though is an entirely different under the assumed name of Sabre Wilde she plans to go to court, meet and seduce her husband, become his mistress and the eventually have her revenge by making him her love slave.
This is a woman who really knows how to get what she wants! Its a fantastic thing to see such a fiercely independent and active heroine in a bodice ripper, and Henleys skill in storytelling is breath-taking; she puts a lot of work into historic detail and penning a plot that is captivating and complex.
The sex scenes are written in a way that is oddly elegant, classy and yet sexy unique and the way in which the characters act in these situations makes sense for their personalities and the purpose it serves to the overall story. This level of work and dedication in addition to the pure awesomeness that is Sara Sabre Wilde Bishop makes The Hawk and the Dove an unforgettable read.
This next tale of dysfunctional love is another in the vein of Stormfire (see number 7 on this list if for some inexplicable reason you skipped it) in that it is not for the faint of heart. The book tells the story of 18 year old Cassie Brougham, who just before her marriage to a Viscount whom she has loved for years, is abducted by Earl of Clare, Anthony Wells. Anthony is a severely creepy man, a 34 year old who has been watching and lusting after Cassie since she was a child. He intends to marry her, but of course this doesnt prevent the bastard from imprisoning her and raping her during his campaign to persuade her to agree to his proposal. In spite of her hate for him and everything he has done to her, she still succumbs to the passion every time he makes love to her, leaving her feeling deeply conflicted.
The protagonists are hardly the smartest people on the planet, but nonetheless for fans of classic bodice rippers this has everything you could ever hope for in a book; kidnapping, rape, gang rape, psychological abuse, stalking and whole lot of crazy love. Whats not to adore in a book that has a man so overcome with love that he just has to rape the object of his affections? Dont you see, I just had to rape you? Love me now? Okay, so I cant really understand that kind of love, but for those of you who see some sort of erotic, romantic something in that, go forth and wrap yourself in the Devils Embrace.
Books in Devil Series (2)
Jennifer Blake now offers up a fun and adventurous tale of a sheltered, and rather spoilt, young woman who is taught a harsh but ultimately pleasurable lesson about the big wide world. Felicite lives in New Orleans, and the only men in her life are her father and brother, fiercely protected by them until Lieutenant Colonel Morgan McCormack forces his way into her life. Taken aback by her beauty he cannot resist her, and forcibly making her his mistress, with the promise that if she does not comply he will kill her father.
What a sweetheart! What follows is her repeated rape, his insane jealousy and paranoia, but he is actually largely more decent than most men in bodice rippers, showing some genuine care for Felicite by the end. Its pretty typical stuff, but what really makes Embrace and Conquer a standout novel is Blakes impeccable attention to detail, she paints the setting of historical New Orleans with rich and vivid detail, as well as lush descriptions of living and travelling aboard a ship to the various Caribbean islands that appear in the story. Even the supporting cast are well-written and the main villain, whilst clearly in need of a dose of his own medicine is also at times a somewhat sympathetic character, which really adds a nice level of depth to the overall story.
Master of Desire looks like a typical bodice ripper clich, looking at it you would expect our hero Draven to have whisked heroine Emily away from her family and proceeds with a forced seduction, right? Wrong! No, instead we have Emily ordered to go and live with Draven by the king in order to settle a feud between the two families. Draven is sworn to protect Emily, to keep her (and her virginity) safe.
Unfortunately Emily has other plans, upon setting eyes on Draven she wants him as her lover and as her husband, and sets about trying to seduce her protector. It is fun to see the tough and manly Draven being the one having to do all the maidenly fleeing from Emilys advances. Of course, Draven is only human, and when he finally succumbs to Emilys advances it is a fantastically well-written love scene bravo, Ms MacGregor, bravo!
Paying attention to the historical setting she also goes the extra mile to explain why this 22 year old woman is not married at a time in which most girls marry at 14 or 15, which for some is a huge relief that she did not stick to that historically accurate fact! Overall, the strongly built relationship and believable and endearing characters make Master of Desire a hugely enjoyable reading experience.
Books in Brotherhood of t... Series (8)
Ive said a lot that certain boo0ks are different to most other bodice rippers, but when I say it here I really mean it; Green Darkness deals with themes of karma and reincarnation as it deals with two love stories, one in 1968 and the other in Tudor times. Beginning with Richard and Celia in 1968, a pair of newlyweds whose relationship has become somewhat cold in recent months, a strange series of events leads to Celia falling into a catatonic state during a party the couple are throwing.
Oddly enough a guest realises (somehow) that Richard and Celia knew each other in a past life and she must revisit it in order to resolve the past conflicts between the pair. And this is where the bulk of the novel takes its readers; to Tudor England, to past Celia and her forbidden romance with Brother Stephen Marsdon (Richard). Whilst their romantic encounters are fairly scarce, they are passionate and Celias increasing recklessness in her wild pursuit of her illicit relationship with Stephen leads to tragedy and torment for them and in turn, their modern counterparts. It all gets tied up neatly in a bow with the conclusion of the story and a tidy resolution of the conflict between modern Celia and Richard.
The most engaging part of this novel is most definitely the Tudor section; Anya Seton is primarily a writer of historical fiction and she is in her element here, with the 1960s story feeling more like something to wade through to get to the good bit, and the epilogue just an afterthought. This novel really holds the strongest appeal for anyone with an interest in mysticism and the concept of reincarnation, for more grounded readers it may just be a bit too far-fetched, unless you can ignore that part and just have fun reading the lovely Tudor-era romance.
Now we continue with the theme of forbidden romances now, but with a different type of taboo altogether. Sheltered 17 year old Megan Kinkead starts to lust after her protector, a married man almost 20 years her senior after catching him naked in the tub. Justin Brant, Earl of Weston had not paid much attention to his ward after the early years in which she was pretty much the brat from hell, but now she is a fiery seductress, tempting him with her kisses and lighting a fire in him that he cannot deny. Robards captures well the mind-set of this teenage temptress, a sheltered and lonely girl, neglected of human affection and desperate for love.
In a way its just an excuse to read a taboo-y father-daughter-esque type romance without the actual incest because hes a father figure not actually her father, though the first half moves a little slowly, with a some spanking thrown in for a little extra kink. Its the second half that really picks up though, chock full of crazy and angst; he abducts her, repeatedly rapes her, and calls her cruel names, but in the end she always gives in because she cant resist the true object of her desire (or something like that). Robards fans will know that this is pure gold, and for the uninitiated among you its about time you get in on the action, and Forbidden Love is a great place to start.
The Black Swan is a great example of a classic 1970s bodice ripper, whilst it starts off a little less typical of its genre with such things as backstory and character development it soon reverts to more tried and tested themes. Following the love story of Adam and Dulcie (whose family history is covered in great detail and is so complex I am not going to bother covering it here), on the backdrop of the Civil War. For the first half of the novel not much happens with them, and to be perfectly honest it reads more like pure historical fiction until around page 200 or so, shit gets crazy.
We are treated to shipwrecks, and a voodoo island and devil worship section, Dulcie meanwhile suffering all kinds of abuse, repeated rape and even some lesbian undertones. It is all so phenomenally over the top you cant help but love it. The Black Swan is a truly odd mix of weirdness and classic tropes of the genre, and yet is so compelling that once youre done youll be more than ready to move swiftly on to its sequel, Mossrose.
And we end on another classically styled bodice ripper. A captured castle, and a woman forced into the bed of her enemy, set in 1485, in a world of knights and ladies. Pretty much the entirety of Lie Down in Roses consists of our heroine, Genevieve, being locked up by Tristan, the “hero” of the piece, and submitted to his forced sexual advances. There is no real love between these two, they fight constantly; Genevieve hates Tristan and will stop at nothing to be freed, and Tristan is fully aware of her burning hatred and does not trust her in the slightest he also has a habit of yanking her around by the hair a lot, which on top of the repeated rape, doesn’t quite get her on side. Even so, this doesn’t stop him from wanting to take full advantage of her every single night, and after a while the bed becomes the only place where she does not fight him.
As one would expect in a bodice ripper historical detail isn’t accurate, nor is it really ever-present, however it is filled with deliciously angsty sexytime, a fun treat for new readers who will find that there is never a dull moment between this captor and his captive.
Our Version of the List
At a Glance
- 1 Gentle Warrior (Julie Garwood)
- 2 Once and Always (Judith McNaught)
- 3 The Wolf and the Dove (Kathleen E. Woodiwiss)
- 4 Suddenly You (Lisa Kleypas)
- 5 Prisoner of My Desire (Johanna Lindsey)
- 6 The Raven Prince (Elizabeth Hoyt)
- 7 Stormfire (Christine Monson)
- 8 Sweet Savage Love (Rosemary Rogers)
- 9 Pirate's Bride (Lynette Vinet)
- 10 Passion (Lisa Valdez)
- 11 Velvet Angel (Jude Deveraux)
- 12 Moonstruck Madness (Laurie McBain)
- 13 The Silver Devil (Teresa Denys)
- 14 Devil's Bride (Stephanie Laurens)
- 15 While Passion Sleeps (Shirlee Busbee)
- 16 The Conqueror (Brenda Joyce)
- 17 When Angels Fall (Meagan McKinney)
- 18 The Hawk and the Dove (Virginia Henley)
- 19 Devil's Embrace (Catherine Coulter)
- 20 Embrace and Conquer (Jennifer Blake)
- 21 Master of Desire (Kinley MacGregor)
- 22 Green Darkness (Anya Seton)
- 23 Forbidden Love (Karen Robards)
- 24 The Black Swan (Day Taylor)
- 25 Lie Down In Roses (Shannon Drake)
Publicly Ranked Version of the List25 items >>
- Geek Girl (Holly Smale)
- Delirium (Lauren Oliver)
- The Iron King (Julie Kagawa)
- Enclave (Ann Aguirre)
- Crazy Love (Amir Abrams)
- Matched (Ally Condie)