Friday, April 19, 2013
Undone (A Fiery Tale)
Simon Boulenger is working as a privateer for France during the war against Spain and hoping that one day he will earn a knighthood and become a member of the aristocracy. Growing up dirt poor and alone left him desirous of a better future and he has worked his entire life to achieve a peerage. While in Italy he spies a beautiful woman singing an enchanting song and when he follows her to a convent he sees the Mother Superior abusing her. He quickly grabs her and her friend and whisks them back to his ship, determined to save her. But Angelica has no desire to be saved and is horrified when she discovers that she is on a boat back to her homeland. For years she has hidden in the convent from her stepfather, a French aristocrat placed high in the court of Louis XIV, who abused her horribly while she was in his charge. When she wakes up onboard a ship she knows she must hide her identity from the handsome captain who has kidnapped her, but she cannot resist the attraction that flares between them. Simon is taken in by Angelica's charms, but knowing that she is a virgin means he keeps his hands off of her even though he has never felt this way about a woman before.
Simon and his crew own an island in the Caribbean, Marguerite, and have formed a kind of commune there with Simon as their leader, where everyone lives in freedom and equality away from the strict hierarchy of the French court. He takes Angelica there and she quickly becomes popular with everyone in the community by taking on the role of teacher and winning the island beauty pageant. She decides that she will take advantage of the freedom and this brief chance of happiness and decides to seduce/ give into Simon and his seduction. Simon cannot help but feel guilty, but is surprised to find that Angelica is keeping a secret from him and when it is revealed he knows that he must avenge her and the wrong that her step father did. Simon has his own score to settle back in France with the King's finance minister and in one final act of gallantry he sets aside his own desires for the good of France and to make Angelica happy. Angelica knows that the only thing that matters is a life with Simon, aristocracy be damned, and together they forge a future on their tropical island paradise.
Angelica was a hard character for me to explore because she seemed completely unable to make up her own mind about what she was like. She ran away from her horrible situation and France and escaped to a convent where she planned to stay, hidden away from the world for the rest of her life and I could really not get behind that. She, like many romance novel heroines, had a magical touch with children and fancied herself their savior and was apparently able to take over a school at a moment's notice and win the hearts of all the previous little kids. As a teacher this annoys me. Unfortunately Simon was equally hard to like as a pirate and as a person obsessed with gaining a title even while creating his own little commune type paradise island. He was, of course, a womanizer, but he immediately gave up his ways after laying eyes on Angelica once. Together there was an immense sexual attraction that burned up the pages with the sizzle but was a bit of a let down towards the end once the relationship had been consummated as the sex didn't live up to expectations.
Their relationship was also hard to truly get behind as there was a lot of misunderstanding, a lot of holding something back from each other, and just generally a lot of brooding and frustration. I admired how Angelica was able to move past her attack and lead a full life and that Simon helped her through this and supported her once he realized what had happened. And I enjoyed reading a little bit about French history in a romance novel and, although much is fiction, it still provided a nice variation from my usual English books. There was the small bit of intrigue involving revenge against her step father and Simon's determination to bring down those close to the King who were out to do harm against the people. It was not overwhelming, but did seem to come up at weird moments throughout the book before finally being solved quite neatly at the end. The island commune was absolutely laughable and I rolled my eyes every time the magical Marguerite was mentioned.
Rating: An interesting book but not for the romance or the characters, but for the historical information and back ground.