Desert Isle Keeper
After reading romance for a few years now, I have realized that it is truly rare to find a book that so completely manages to fulfill all of its “duties.” Is the writing smart enough to assume the reader can comprehend subtleties, yet accessible enough to keep the reading pace fluid? Does the author know the difference between complexity, and soul-sucking angst that hits you over the head, over and over? And over? Does it allow for imperfect characters that are more than thinly veiled variations on the same old themes? While Black Silk is the reissue of a book originally published more than ten years ago, I found the plot interesting and fresh, and the characters – even the secondary ones, even the dead secondary ones – wonderfully complex.
Graham Wessit, Earl of Netham, is being named as the defendant in a paternity suit brought about in a most dramatic and convincing manner. The justice system in charge of his case is administering anything but justice, and society takes it as fact that Graham is – wink, wink, nudge, nudge – responsible for the young woman’s pregnancy. It is in the middle of this frustrating mêlée that he meets Submit Channing-Downes, the young widow of Graham’s guardian, Henry. Guess what? Submit is the rare heroine who truly loved her much-older husband and mourns the loss of the loving life they shared.
Graham, however, continues to despise the man as much as Submit misses him. In the course of delivering Henry’s rather interesting legacy to Graham, Submit becomes intrigued by the very handsome Graham, who is, in turn, annoyed and attracted by her. To complicate matters, Graham also has a mistress, Rosalyn, who is ready to scandalize society by divorcing her husband in order to marry Graham, although Rosalyn and Graham seem to claw at each other as much as they lust for each other.
As Graham sorts out the complications of the paternity suit and his deteriorating relationship with the melodramatic Rosalyn, Submit continues to deal with Henry’s natural (but not legitimate) son William and his contesting of Henry’s will. The first impressions Graham and Submit have of each other begin to give way to true, more permanent opinions, and luckily for the reader, we also get to know these well-rounded, fully-developed characters, although lots of internal goings-on might not be to everyone’s taste.
Thanks to Ms. Ivory’s skill at characterization, both Graham and Submit manage to transcend the larger brush strokes of their personalities. While Graham is the rakish hero whose lifestyle can easily and deservedly inspire bawdy fiction, he is also a good man who struggles with the difficulties of his privileged life. Where Submit is concerned, she is a conscientious, but not dull, heroine who can make the reader see her point when she comes to a decision that, knowing how the book must (hopefully) end, cannot possibly be the right one.
A downside of the book is that if you’re expecting luscious love scenes between Graham and Submit, you’ll have to wait a while to read them, as Graham is involved with Rosalyn for a great deal of the story.
With Black Silk as an example of her storytelling ability, it’s easy to see why Ms. Ivory has a devoted following, and I am glad to see that one of her earlier books will find its way to current and new fans. I, for one, thoroughly enjoyed Graham and Submit’s story, complexities and all.