Which is sweeter--tender, yearned-for love, or revenge that has waited a lifetime? In her veins mingled the blood of noble African chiefs and fiery Irish poets. Sold into cruel slavery, beaten by a harsh mistress, she escaped into a dazzling world of elegance, wealth and power. All London would praise her intelligence and unmatched beauty ...all men would crave to possessWhich is sweeter--tender, yearned-for love, or revenge that has waited a lifetime? In her veins mingled the blood of noble African chiefs and fiery Irish poets. Sold into cruel slavery, beaten by a harsh mistress, she escaped into a dazzling world of elegance, wealth and power. All London would praise her intelligence and unmatched beauty ...all men would crave to possess her. But nothing could ease the searing pain in her heart--nothing but vengeance on the only man she had ever loved!The 1978 Avon imprint is a 3 in 1 compilation volume of 3 novels: Gold for the Gay Masters, Bride of Doom, and The Flame and the Frost....
|Number of Pages||:||856 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
WARNING: Lots of GIFs. Sorry. (Haha. NOT.)Fauna is the story of multiple generations with a strain of African blood that wreaks havoc on their lives. For 250 to 300 pages each, the female protagonists get put through the physical and emotional wringer, then are graciously given an HEA by the beneficent author.Probably the greatest weakness about an omnibus like Fauna is that it shows the weak links in a writer's style. Here, it becomes glaringly obvious that Denise Robins' formula is MISERY + ANGST + SELF-INFLICTED WOE + LAST MINUTE HEA = STORY.850+ pages of it is a little much to swallow in one go. The woman was hella prolific, cranking out at least 170 books during a very long career. Her language is lovely and very retro, but the formula gets a little old after awhile.Luckily these are actually 3 self-contained books (published in the 1950s under Robins' other nom de plume Harriet Gray), not one over-arching story. Any past histories and links between the stories are rehashed, so there's no need to keep track of things and they can be read with great, long and vast stretches of time between each one.FIRST UP:Published in 1954, this is a pretty raw and tawdry little tale of Fauna, a quadroon who arrives in England on a slave ship and is purchased as a plaything for a social-climbing aristocratic bitch. She's abused and neglected recklessly when she's not wanted (like a child's toy) and her life is miserable until she slaps eyes on Harry Roddney, who shows her some kindness one night when she's been the brunt of her mistress's inane society stunts. When Fauna is going to be sold off to another society doyenne to be "matched up" with her little slave-dwarf-jester-minion, she runs to the one and only person who she thinks will help her. Harry immediately is struck by Cupid's arrow, but happiness won't last long, and the lovers are separated while Fauna falls into the hands of a cynical Svengali who gets his kicks out of seeing that Fauna kicks the asses of those who've done her wrong. Top of that list, unfortunately, is Harry. There's an Epic Misunderstanding afoot that propels the last third of the novel.My Thoughts:This was my favorite of the bunch. Easily 5 stars. It was trés romantique with Fauna's degradation, her rescue by her knight in shining armor (Harry Roddney's now in my man-harem), the callous and cruel fates that separate them, and the final reunion. I wuved it. WUV.NEXT UP:This gloriously lurid cover (1957 U.S. edition; the UK got Bride of Doom) is actually pretty representative of what lurks inside. Fleur, daughter of Fauna, unsuspectingly wanders into the lusty sights of one Denzil St. Cheviot, a total reprobate who wants to feast on her sweet, pale virgin flesh and make her his own. After brutally raping her one night and forcing a marriage, he loses all interest in her and Fleur is left to suffer the slings and arrows of a nasty housestaff and virtual imprisonment in a secluded country estate. When she delivers a baby boy who is melanin-enhanced, St. Cheviot pitches a royal shitfit and Fleur's security (and life) are in danger. The only one willing to protect her is the poetic dreamer and painter Peveril Marsh, who only succeeds in his quest because he's the hero. Even so, it's up to Fleur's daddy to really pull the fat from the fire and make it possible to tie a shiny HEA bow on things.My Thoughts:This one was pretty gothicky with Fleur constantly in peril and surrounded by evil characters. It was fun and melodramatic, but Peveril was a total milquetoast of a hero who didn't impress me much. He's thin and pale and wispy with a big heart. I wanted to start up a collection of chest hair to give him. He needed a bit of a testosterone boost. Handwringing heroes aren't my fave.So while I did enjoy it quite a bit, my interest was slightly muted to 4 stars.LAST, AND DEFINITELY LEAST:The cover lies! Lots of boobies might have saved this one.So after 566 pages of the main characters getting ganged up on, railroaded, blindsided, and generally kicked around, what was in store for the last installment?More of the same, you say?Charlotte Goff is a poor, wee orphan who has the lucky break of nearly getting run over by the coach of a do-gooder aristocrat. Taken into the lady's home, she's raised and educated and becomes real book-smart. Unfortunately that means she's total fail at real world savvy and gets tumbled in the heather and knocked up by the lady's nasty-ass rakey son, a reprobate with the fearsome name of Vivian. The old woman decides to finally lay down the law with her wandering son and forces him to marry her, which guarantees that these two crazy kids will be utterly miserable in the future. Vivian is hounded by guilt at what his actions have wrought with his mother and tries to reform. But deep down he's simply a hardcore buttmunch twat and Charlotte suffers years upon years of his physical and emotional abuse since she has no legal recourse (and hasn't read the first two books to get pointers on pluckiness from both Fauna and Fleur).The link between this and the two previous books isn't apparent until 1/3rd of the way through, when Fleur appears and becomes an agony aunt to poor Charlotte. But Fleur stands by and wrings her hands while Charlotte continues to put up with her miserable lot in life. Charlotte eventually meets and finds her soulmate in the much-older Dominic Unwin, an MP who has been grieving over his dead fiancée for years. They maintain a platonic friendship over the years and (sometimes) avoid Vivian's towering jealous rages. But then magically everything is resolved for an HEA.My Thoughts:Ugh. This one should have been left out of the compilation. It really didn't continue Fauna and Fleur's story, and the theme (the African bloodline) was a last minute reveal that had no bearing on the plot whatsoever. (view spoiler)[Dominic is actually Fleur's "dark-skinned" son who was whisked away after birth, not stillborn. (hide spoiler)]Speaking of the plot, there is none. The book's 290 pages long, with a quickly set-up premise and about 250 pages of repetitious angst and woe and inaction.Over and over and over again...I liked Dominic. A lot. But he came in way too late and then didn't live up to his potential. Charlotte was a dishrag, and Fleur and Peveril were props who annoyed me more than they should have. Maybe I was just burned out after hundreds of pages of chicks getting shat upon. I like the gloomz and doomz, but after awhile...3 stars. Which averages out to a 4 for the whole shebang. This one will stay on my keeper shelf for the first two, but that last book is never getting re-read.They're all worth a read, no doubt, but portion them out. You'll be happier that way. This was a Buddy Read and you can find a similar reaction here.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>
This weighty paperback contains the traumas & triumphs of three generations throughout the 19th century. Originally published in the 1950s, the prose is that of a vintage bodice-ripper. I'm sure it was considered torrid female reading back in the day, though by today's standards -- or even the 1970s -- the violence & sex is veiled in description. But there's certainly no shortage of sensational elements in each section, so I wouldn't call it "clean." Book 1 (circa 1800) opens with young Fauna discovered in the below-deck carnage of an African slave trader. A slave-peddler immediately recognizes her cash value (he knows a white-skinned, golden-haired quadroon will fetch big bucks in the world of overindulged nobility), & he sells her to a clueless (though not unkind) master, whose bitchy wife abuses Fauna for several years. Our teenaged heroine finally manages to escape, begging protection from a young rake named Harry. They fall in love, of course...but disaster tosses Fauna back to the selling block & nearly kills Harry in the process. Meanwhile, Fauna is purchased by a bored nobleman known as The Satyr, who for reasons of his own agrees to help her take revenge. He carefully educates her in the arts of learning & etiquette, molding her into his idea of perfection. But as she begins to triumph over her enemies (including Harry), Fauna has second thoughts & must decide which man is her true benefactor.Book 2 (circa 1840) is the story of Fauna'a daughter Fleur. Unlike the first installment, this one has somewhat gothic flavors of innocence in constant peril & isolated misery in a sprawling estate. It's a relatively simple story in terms of plot. Taking advantage of Fleur's unprotected social status, the vile villain St Cheviot rapes our young heroine & forces her to become his wife. Fleur's marriage is hellacious -- but it becomes moreso when she gives birth to a throwback dark-skinned child, courtesy of her unknown strain of black blood. As you'd imagine, that goes over like a lead balloon. The child dies moments after birth, but Fleur is kept prisoner by her nasty husband & evil housekeeper until the long-suffering beta-hero champion attempts to set her free. (This was my favorite of the three generations.)Book 3 (circa 1870) switches to an orphan named Charlotte. This particular section is somewhat reminiscent of Victorian sensation novels in that Charlotte, the sweet-and-beautiful (but not terribly bright) ward of a rich lady, is seduced by Vivian, the lady's randy young son. Charlotte becomes pregnant & her benefactor forces Vivian to reap the fruits of his seduction -- that is, to marry the poor girl. What the well-intentioned lady doesn't realize is that this is a Really Bad Idea. Charlotte & Vivian's marriage is pure hell by any standards, & the heroine's rescue is nothing better than an accidentally merciful murder.Overall, this is a book where good characters are GOOD & bad characters are BAD. There's little gray area for anyone; Fauna herself is the lone character that might be classified as straddling the border between light & dark. That doesn't mean they're flat characters, though, at least in the first two books. Each person has reasons for doing what they do, & the narrative explores them all. Even St Cheviot -- a douche by anyone's standards -- had moments of enlightenment that endear him to the reader (at least in a twisted "I <3 to hate you" kind of way). But in the last section, we're not treated to the same depth of character. Instead we spend pages & pages watching Charlotte fall for the same crapola from her wanky husband, then wailing & moaning when her life sucks -- after allowing her benefactor to make such a dumb decision & force the marriage to begin with. Whereas Fauna had the gumption to flee her shackles & Fleur maintained her icy pride no matter what St Cheviot dragged her though, Charlotte is a wuss. She cries. She begs. She stupidly believes the possibility of reconciliation time after time, then is repeatedly disappointed. If she'd had the courage to demand raising the child as a bastard (with appropriate recompense, of course), she'd not have lived such a miserable life. But she refuses to admit that until the end, so her angst is constant & unrelenting. Needless to say, this is very frustrating. Alas, compensations are few; we spend few pages with Dominic, who's little better than a bland cipher, & there's not even a token attempt to make Vivian anything more than an insane OTT villain. (At one point he actually shows up with a mustache, a gun, & a monocle. I LOL'd.)As you can tell, I didn't particularly enjoy the third section. By that point the patterns in DR's plotting had became somewhat evident, & until Fleur appears (this time as an elder society matron) I wasn't sure why it was included. Despite these annoyances, my brain might not have shifted into Speed-Reading Mode if I hadn't already enjoyed 550+ pages of innocent girls being shat upon to the limit of their sanity, then miraculously saved at the last possible minute by Goodness & Light. Having three separate generations worth of misery lumped into one tome was emotionally draining to this poor reader, especially combined with Vivian's loony-tunes villainy. The last 150 pages were especially difficult to slog through, & I can honestly say I didn't like anyone except Fleur, her husband, & Gertrude the maid.That said, the first two stories are very good, especially if you like pulled-from-the-fire HEAs. But if you must read the third installment for a sense of completion, take my advice -- do not read them straight through. Take a break between parts 2 & 3. Trust me. It will help cleanse your brain & prepare for the psychotic onslaught. (But honestly? I'd recommend skipping Book 3 entirely.)Averaged to 4 stars. (Book 1: 4 stars. Book 2: 5 stars. Book 3: 3 stars.)N.B.: This was a buddy read with fellow vintage romance fangirl Karla. Her review is here, with similar reactions (plus Buster Keaton picspam).
Pretty awesome book. Keeps you turning pages.
if you like historical romances (and i don't usually) you'll love this saga....it had its moments and a variety of emotions went through me from humorous, horrifying, crying from both sad and happy, shocked and more...she alludes to sexual acts without going into detail but it is put in a way that you know exactly what is happening....racism runs throughout the book so be prepared for that...you have to understand that it starts in the late 1700's and slavery was running rampant...snobbery of the rich is also throughout the book.....there is a lot of content hear that i could go on and on but i am not going to do that because sooner or later i would spoil something unintentionally.....go get this book...
From start to finish this book keeps you captivated and involved. This was one of my all time favorite reads.
My favorite book hands down. I love the writer's style with her twists of love and revenge; it was a definite page turner for me.