My True Love
Return with me to the early days of the historical romance where all the men were handsome, arrogant and shirtless, all the women were blindingly beautiful and oh so feisty, and the prose was so purple you could have used the ink to dye your Easter eggs. If that’s your cup of Earl Grey – you will adore My True Love. As for me, while I loved this kind of story 25 years ago, it’s too retro for me now that my reading tastes have evolved.
Lucas Pendleton has led a very hard life. He was kidnapped from the docks at age 5 and spent years on the sea. Like all self-respecting romance heroes, he is now handsome, rich and respected, but he has a bit of unfinished business. Some six years before, his sister went to London to enjoy herself and met Harold Westmoreland, Duke of Roswell. Harold – who like all self-respecting dukes is a rake – had seduced the girl. She came home pregnant, had the baby and died without telling Lucas who the father was. But Lucas has found out.
Lucas plans to kidnap Harold’s daughter Lady Penelope (Penny) and hold her for ransom, thus getting some money and humiliating the duke. Penny is a beautiful young woman with a large dowry, but she is on her third engagement. The explanation for her being jilted so often did not make a lot of sense, but it did serve to torture the heroine for benefit of the story. Now she is engaged to Edward Simpson (an earl, although we never learn his title) who is over sixty, drunken, lecherous, fat, bald and repulsive. Lucas saves Penny from being raped by her fiancé, which gains him her affection and affords him an opportunity to persuade her to run off with him.
Lucas tricks Penny into a false marriage, and takes her into a small cottage in the country. All is going according to plan until, of course, his scheme is thwarted in various ways. Harold doesn’t want his “ruined” daughter back, Penny has fallen in love (and lust) with Lucas, the duke has men out to kill Lucas, and Lucas is suffering from a really guilty conscious about Penny.
Every character in this book is very outsized. The duke is arrogant and cruel, Lucas is noble and handsome, Penny is beautiful and feisty, (and they are both lusty to the point where the love scenes are more funny than arousing.) None of the characters move and talk, they all stalk, posture and declaim. The prose is very, very purple, full of sexual nubs and round luminous globes, flaring nostrils, and near-constant arousal. Historical errors abound. For instance, the duke and Penny’s old lecherous fiancé call each other by their first names all the time. They should have called each other by their titles. And I had no idea that women in the regency period wore red lace panties!
If forced to say something positive about My True Love, it would be that it is written with lots of verve and zipped along so fast that I was able to read it in one night. It might well appeal to those who love its larger-than-life style of romance writing, but this style went out of vogue for me many years ago.