Forever in Your Embrace
If you have ever found yourself wondering just what purple prose looks like in a novel, look no further. This books has all that more. You will find yourself in the midst of flashing orbs, rampaging lusts, and tenebrous – yes, tenebrous – gloom. The moon does not merely rise in the sky, it appears like this:
“The golden moon nestled like a newborn babe within the cradling arms… Gradually the orb weaned itself from its earthly breast… Humbling a myriad of stars with its brilliance, the lustrous sphere condescendingly cast its light upon the earth…creating scintillating flashes of light as soft breezes bestirred their branches.”
While this language is certainly descriptive, reading page after page of it becomes extremely tiresome.
Countess Synnovea Zenkovna, as a result of her beloved father’s death, has been ordered by the tsar to live with his cousin, Princess Anna. Synnovea appreciates the tsar’s thoughtfulness, but wishes she could live with her friend Natasha instead. Synnovea knows that Anna has never liked her, and there are rumors that Anna’s husband, Aleksei, is an unprincipled rake and a despoiler of virgins. Synnovea hopes for the best but fears the worst.
While Synnovea ruminates on her fate, her coach is attacked by the brigand Ladislaus. Thundering to her rescue is Captain Tyrone Rycroft, an Englishman in the Russian army. Tyrone’s charge gives Synnovea time to flee the attackers. She doesn’t have the chance to thank the captain, but does not believe she will ever see him again. She’s wrong – they do meet again, and Tyrone inadvertently spies Synnovea’s naked body. At that point, Tyrone is determined to have Synnovea for his mistress, since he will never take a wife again. (note that his flashing blue orbs and rampaging lusts overwhelm Synnovea time and time again.)
Synnovea has her own hands full in dealing with Aleksei, Anna, Ivan (Anna’s slimy advisor), and an arranged marriage. After reading the scene in which Synnovea reveals her scheme to extricate herself from the marriage, I remembered that I had read this book when first published and didn’t like that version either. In both incarnations, my main thought was, “Why can’t she just talk to Tyrone about her problem?”
For almost the last 250 pages, Synnovea and Tyrone are alternately mad at each other or making up. In between their actions, the reader must wade throughout the schemes of Aleksei, Ivan, and Ladislaus. Synnovea is a spunky heroine; I doff my hat to author Woodiwiss for how she handles Aleksei’s advances. Tyrone did not present himself as a tortured hero, just one who did not want to be married again. He gradually comes to realize that he loves Synnovea, in an almost believable manner. It’s hard to tell, however, because Synnovea and Tyrone were dealing with all these other problems, and when they do have the spotlight, they are mostly angry with each other.
By the time I reached page 596, I felt like I had trudged through a swamp for weeks. The style of writing was beyond purple, and the various schemes and miscommunications detracted from the love story between Tyrone and Synnovea.
If you liked this story when it was first released, this re-write might work for you. If you’ve never tried a Woodiwiss before, skip by this one, it’s definitely not worth the hardcover price. There are plenty of her other works in print. I remember A Rose in Winter fondly, which would be my recommendation.