A quick glance at the cover art and title of a book can make an instant impression. Some of the most eye-popping I have come across are located in ‘Romances’. Searching through our catalogue of titles within this genre, I decided a read of one was long overdue, short listing the three below:
The Mediterranean Billionaire’s Blackmail Bargain – Abby Green
Zachary Black: Duke of Debauchery –
Betrayed, Betrothed and Bedded – Juliet Landon
My eventual choice was Zachary Black, firstly because of the Regency setting and also because of the debauchery. Historically the word debauchery features frequently in both life and literature; and in particular the Georgian and Regency periods, bringing to mind the notorious activities of the Marquis De Sade or the Hell Fire Club.
Set against a backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars and Napoleon Bonaparte’s exile on the island of Elba, this significant era in history is covered only fleetingly. The plot was almost entirely centred on the two main characters: Georgianna Lancaster and Zachary Black, Duke of Hawkesmere. They were once betrothed until Georgianna ran off with André Duval; a blue eyed French Émigré who, after revealing himself to be a spy for Napoleon, wanted her dead. Georgianna only survived being shot by him, by her locket deflecting the bullet. This was either by extreme luck or the locket was the size of a dinner plate and made of titanium. The plot then followed the progress of Georgianna and Zachary getting to know each other again.
For a Regency setting, the life and times of this era barely featured in the story, yet the references to the physical attributes of Georgianna and Zachary seemed endless and unintentionally amusing. When Georgianna’s violet eyes met with the cold glitter stare of Zachary’s silver eyes, I thought they would render each other temporarily blind. Not one aspect of their flawless anatomy escaped being detailed on page after page.
Endorsing gender stereotype, the text was heavy on cliché and at times historically inaccurate. As for the titled promise of debauchery, other than an orgy of adverbs and adjectives, there wasn’t any.
This style of fiction is evidently not for me, but for many readers it provides genuine enjoyment and escapism. Taking into consideration the genre’s enduring popularity, it may be time for a rethink on library stock, to include titles and content reflecting the diversity of relationships in today’s society.
By Sarah – Ickenham Library