Her Eternal Rogue
Why is is that every vampire hero hates who he is? Or, rather, what he is? It’s a running trend in books and television – Edward from Twilight, Angel from the Buffy TV show, Louis in Interview with the Vampire, and then some. Now, there are those that revel in their otherworldliness, but they often have to be redeemed somehow by the heroine, to agree that human is better. I have to admit to being a bit tired of the trope. Here, it was an interesting take – a man who was both a pirate and a vampire against his will? It keeps everything on equal footing, providing an interesting balance for our vampire pirate hero, Alexander.
Alexander Claymore Barrington, also known as the infamous pirate Captain Sword (get it? Claymore? Sword?) has been given a task – find and rescue the heiress Lavinia Sinclair, and he and his crew will be pardoned. Lavinia has been kidnapped by a French pirate, Jean Baptiste Forcheau, and, as we find out shortly, will be sold shortly to a wealthy gentleman. After a series of kidnappings (Alexander and Jean Baptiste basically swap custody of Lavinia back and forth for a bit), Alexander saves Lavinia and destroys the enemy pirate camp. And that’s when the real story begins.
Succombing to the charms of the vampire pirate, Lavinia is falling in love with Alexander, as he is with her. But she must return to England to her fiance Nicholas, who also happens to be Alexander’s cousin, and she cannot be allowed to remember about Alexander, that he is a pirate, much less a vampire. Using his mental powers, he erases himself from her memories, leaving her in a bit of a daze as to what has happened over the past weeks. Nicholas still wishes to marry Lavinia, and pushes the wedding forward (to save her reputation from ruin), but complications arise when, even without her memories, Lavinia cannot respond to him as a wife. When you add in his illegitimate half-brother Aiden, a rather slimy sort, and the return of Alexander into their lives, everything quickly becomes exponentially more complicated.
I was intrigued by the author’s building of vampire lore – she takes bits and pieces of various legends (the obvious choice of drinking blood coupled with the mental powers Alexander has) as well as using dialogue to explain a few other issues (the fact that he can go into the sun). However, a lot of the information we are given seems either incomplete or extraneous. And I was surprised how Lavinia “discovered” he was a vampire – she hears something about a curse, she recalls some childrens’ tales and – oh my god, he is a vampire! It just didn’t make much sense to me logically. However, I loved Tierre, Alexander’s maker or vampire mother or whatever you want to call it. She was pretty fabulous, even though she is only there for a short amount of time. And her bit in the very end had me cheering – she basically saves the day and provides some revenge. Love it. And I did enjoy Lavinia most of the time – while she has trouble later on with figuring out what she wants, we meet her as she is sharpening a corset stay to use as a weapon against the pirates, and how can you not admire that?
The historical detail that went into the story was pretty amazing. The settings, even on the pirate ships, felt realistic. The characterizations, both good and bad, felt realistic. I love it when an author is able to transport the reader into another time, and this novel did a good job of that. A lot of little details, like social hierarchies and illegitimate children, read as accurate to the time period.
A few things I have to take a moment to say, though – (1) I am not a fan of the love triangle (or love triangles in general, honestly) and (2) I had issues with the sex, and (3) there were some important relationship plot issues that were left unresolved. First things first, the love triangle. Both Alexander and Nicholas love Lavinia. Lavinia loves both Alexander and Nicholas. Nicholas also loves his mistress. And the scene of Lavinia having to choose between the two of them was troublesome. Not only are the two of them giving her what are basically their closing arguments for being with one and not the other, they are doing it in front of each other, with Lavinia, quite literally, standing in the middle. I felt it could have gone on forever – “Be with me!”, “No, me!” – if one of them hadn’t stopped it. Lavinia was literally in tears trying to figure out what to do, being put on the spot like that. It was painful for me to read, and it was that moment that made me think that no, this is a cop-out to actually resolving the situation.
Next, the sex. Maybe this is just a personal preference, but I do not like sex scenes where someone’s loins are on fire. I understand that the author (and this scenario includes many other sex scenes in many other books) is referring to their passionate embrace, but it honestly makes me think there are some STD issues. Or perhaps she has a yeast infection. I don’t know. It just doesn’t come across to me as sexy, but as needing medical attention.
Also, there are some dubious consent issues that weren’t really addressed – I find it hard to follow a romantic relationship building when their first encounter takes place with the heroine being out of her head drunk and, when she wakes up the next morning not remembering what happened, Alexander is honestly hurt that she doesn’t want him anymore. Thirdly, on an anatomical sidenote, the “maidenhead” is not located way up in there – it is actually considered part of the external female anatomy, and it isn’t something you “break through” (unless you have a very rare medical condition). It stretches. If there is screaming happening from the vast amount of pain (that is still registering through the vast amount of rum), there is a problem. Finally, there was the issue of her virginity – he didn’t think she was a virgin because she seemed so eager. While this may be historically accurate (and I’m not sure whether it is or not), I just got so angry at Alexander that it was hard to think about it rationally.
Finally, the plot points. With as few spoilers as possible, there are some issues with the ending. There is the fact that Alexander hates what he is – a vampire – and would never turn Lavinia into one. How, then, will their relationship work? He will remain in his 20s forever, while she ages. Neither character addresses this, and it bothered me. There are some other issues the come into play around the ending which never really get explained in any satisfactory way and so the author just leaves the reader wondering about the future for the lead couple. I wanted to know more. And I think including at least some of this information would have made the story much better, and more complete.
In terms of historical accuracy (not taking the vampire part into account), I’d rate Her Eternal Rogue as a definite A, but I had major issues with the story itself, and the construction thereof. In the end, I’d say it was an interesting blend of historical accuracy and alternate reality. Unfortunately, with my personal issues from several plot points, I just couldn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to. Check it out if you are a fan of both historicals and vampire lore, and if some of the things I mentioned aren’t on your list of pet peeves, but otherwise I just can’t recommend it.