And Gold Was Ours
Rebecca Brandewyne used to be one of my favorite authors. Boy, have my tastes changed! At first, though I didn’t buy into the reincarnation subplot, I enjoyed And Gold Was Ours as I might enjoy a campy movie serial. Then, I came upon the scene where the evil nun tried to force herself on the heroine. There was also the suggestion that the nun had killed a young woman and violated her with her crucifix. Yup, you heard right.
Although they don’t meet until halfway through the book, Aurora and Salvador have a common enemy – Don Juan, Salvador’s wicked half-brother. After killing his stepfather in a duel, Salvador flees to the New World. Aurora stays in Spain and becomes entangled in Court intrigues. After being forced to defend herself against Don Juan and that evil nun, she too flees to the New World.
Finally, halfway through the book, Aurora and Salvador meet in Peru. Though they wind up marrying, they remain distant to each other. Worse, Salvador becomes insanely jealous. While they’re not fighting each other, they must also battle bad weather, army ants, and worse.
Aurora is beautiful, kind, loyal, kind to animals. . . There’s little wrong with her. That’s the problem. She possesses no tragic flaw that moves the plot along. Terrible things happen to her, and she reacts, but I never got the sense that she had much say in her fate.
Salvador was noble, intelligent, and gracious – until he met Aurora. Suddenly, he forgot how to talk, and he became jealous for no reason. The early love scenes verge on rape. Though he got over his jealousy, Salvador’s machismo kept him from being a great hero.
But the villains make Salvador look like a saint. Don Juan is so evil that he delights in stepping on bugs and hates his mother. To call his scenes melodramatic would be an understatement – he’s the type of villain who bangs his head against the wall when he’s frustrated. Ouch! The greedy plantation owner is little better, but at least he had a redeeming nanosecond or two before falling back into his lust for treasure. And don’t forget that killer nun. (Doesn’t that sound like the title of a really bad movie?)
Even without the evil nun, this is not a book for the squeamish. It’s filled with sword fights, gunfights, bullfights, attempted rapes, and hungry animals. On the plus side, it’s obvious Brandewyne did her research. Sometimes it’s a little too obvious. Now and then, the narrative comes to a halt to tell the reader about Spanish history or the rain forest.
If you’re dying what the epic romance novels of the past were like, here’s a place to start. On the other hand, readers who want a romance in their romance should stay away from And Gold Was Ours. As should readers who don’t like kitchen sink plotting, over-the-top characters, unbelievable coincidences, bad dialect, and violence. (And you thought I was going to mention that evil nun again. . .)