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Defiling The Classics: River Lady by Jude Deveraux

Posted by Mistress on January 13, 2009

The universe has made poor unfortunate Leah it’s bitch. She’s poor, starving, overworked and abused. The only man she’s ever loved doesn’t even know her name and he’s about to get married, then head for the wild frontier never to be seen again. What’s a girl to do in such dire circumstances?

The correct answer is A) give him the nookie immediately

Handsome plantation owner Wesley Stanford would barely recall the poverty-stricken young girl named Leah Simmons who adored him from afar years ago?.Now, in an unexpected twist of fate — a chance encounter on the Virginia riverfront — he will become Leah’s reluctant husband. Determined to forge a new life in untamed Kentucky, Wesley discovers that the bride he hopes to abandon is passionate, proud, and brave — and may be the woman he cannot live without.

The child he once gave a gold coin has grown into broken young women. The only thing getting her through the hell she calls life are fantasies of Wesley, while she rubs the above mentioned coin like a genie’s lamp. When she learns of his impending marriage she grasps at her only chance to “be” with the man she loves, even if only for a moment. Sweet right, too bad his response to her offering is: taking her virginity roughly, calling out his fiancé’s name while he gets his jollies off, making a snide remark about her hygiene ,and walking away throwing a coin to the ground sans a single look back.

Cut to his wedding day where the scandalous drama unfolds as romance drama often does. A pregnant and barely recognizable Leah is dragged into the chapel. Her evil religious father has beaten her within an inch of her life and if the father of the baby doesn’t marry her; he’ll blow her brains out. “Wonk Waaah” is the sound of Wesley’s dreams dying as he condemns himself to ” that thing”. Saving her through marriage is Wesley’s the only unselfish act.

After marrying her, Wesley (whom I’ll now refer to as Dubyah) dumps her on his relatives claiming he needs time to come to terms with his burden. He leaves for months, during which she has a miscarriage, endures a painful my fair lady makeover, and through it all is willing to brave anything to become a wife he can be proud of; the wife he deserves. Of course she turns out to be the most “beeeeeauuuutiful & graceful woman evah”. But that’s not enough for Dubyah, his time away has bred his disdain into intense hate. When he’s not ignoring her existence, he treats her like shit. When he’s not treating her like shit, he has public hissy fits about how much he hates being tied to her. Privilege be damned, she refuses to remain when she’s not wanted. Leah’s pride, the only thing not beat out of her, prompts her to make him a offer. They’ll travel to Kentucky (with his ex- fiancé, I’ve nicknamed her Priss) pretending to be relatives. When they reach Kentucky they’ll get their marriage annulled and both be free. So they set off for the frontier spitting venom and longing all the while.

Wesley is a fickle and selfish jackass. After taking an interest, then dropping her like trash too many times to count; he decides to keep her. Then instead of wooing her or attempting to prove he’s trustworthy and loyal; states (Me paraphrasing) “Forget about the deal, you izz mine. I don’t love you, but Priss is boring. This is what you wanted, so you’re welcome.” When she flips his edict the bird, he forces her on a hunting trip that will last until she submits to stay his wife. By the way, he knows she’s terrified of the woods, wild animals, and hunting. Awwwww, romantic gestures cause me to cry glittering crystal tears… of “Whatevz Sparky”.

Although I can emphasize with being mulishly stubborn and wanting what you want, how you want it; my gag reflex cared naught. His dumb and cruel plans lead to him being wounded and her blackmailed for his safety into slave drudgery; under the constant threat of rape and worse. Yet even as she suffers while he heals, Dubyah’s still all bitchy bitch about her being too competent and never asking for help. Just shut it Dumb Dumb, maybe she doesn’t let you help because you’re dimwitted and eff everything up. At some point he informs her that her problem is that she has too much control and starting now she’s going to take the obey part of her vows seriously. Then more sex (where as foreplay, he at times insinuates she’s a evil Ho), drama, mystery, and couplings (that IMO outshine the main story) unfold; the end.

This book rawked my socks as a tween. I recently recommended it to Jen the Ginger Kid and since I’m now on friendly terms with Historical Romance as a genre; the time seemed right to check if the magic was still there. This reread was illuminating, the magic in question has been replaced with snarky amusement on my part. And it demonstrates more how I’ve changed as a reader and a woman, instead novel quality. What sold me in my youth is still present, but the many vomit inducing elements are impossible to overlook.

The Good:

* Leah’s Pluckiness. Her willingness to move on with her life when Dubyah casts her aside and not waiting for, nor needing to be saved.

* Mz Deveraux’s writing style is always full of win. I would read a story about a dog falling in love with a paper bag if she penned it.

The Bad:

* The constant harping on Leah’s lack of worth since she comes from a family known as for whores. I get it she’s from the wrong side of town, enough already

* Wesley’s method of wooing stank suspiciously of date rape logic

* W’s ex fiancé was a so one dimensional she wasn’t believable

* Dubyah’s brother goes from despising Leah as a conniving gold digging whore (that marked his bro as her first client); to adoring her within a week… all because she turns out purdy, gag me.

* Yes, we all have our Achilles heel, and Leah’s is shouldering too much responsibility. But at times the way she allows Dubyah to address her or outright bully her, doesn’t fit.

* I don’t think a clear case is made why she stays with him. It’s obvious how she won his love, but IMO he never earns her love or respect in earnest. But I guess that doesn’t matter since in his own words ” Whether I deserve her or not, She’s mine!”.

My Apoligies Mz Deveraux, I still wuvs ya , but this is “defiling the classics” ; )


6 Responses to “Defiling The Classics: River Lady by Jude Deveraux”

  1. Katie said

    lol; this is how i feel after a great many romance novels, which is why i don’t read them anymore. nice job. 🙂

  2. Mistress said

    Aww thanks K,I’ve had similar experiences with Historical Romance. The genre and I have finally kissed and made up,lol. It was entertaining to look back and wonder “how/why I got off on this”, I loved this book something fierce once upon a time. I think I may still love it through the haze of nostalgia, just not unconditionally anymore. Which is a good thing, IMO unconditional love should only exist for babies and pets.

  3. Holly said

    This is probably the most “right” review of this book I’ve ever read. This whole series was just..wrong. Seriously wrong. Course, I lub’d them back in the day. Now? Not so much. 😛

  4. JenB said

    Oh nice, you recommend a book to me and then secretly trash it behind my back. I almost bought this today! For shame. *disapproving look*Heh…I wonder how I’d feel about A Knight in Shining Armor or Flowers in the Attic if I went back and re-read them today. I think I’d rather not know.

  5. Mistress said

    Holly I’m honored = ). re: our fickle Lub I’m begining to think the same way our readers have set expectations with our blogs, so do we about genres/plots/ overall tone in books. Back when I read this ( around 97) it walked the line, heroines didn’t do or say these things. Against a backdrop of fainting violets, Leah had definite Bad Ass Bitch pop, I think that’s why I liked it so much; and the memory stuck with me. But now in 2008….meh not so much,lol. Romance trends are fascinating, remember all the rape romances of the 80’s? *shiver*Ten years from now will I look back at Para Romance and wonder what was I smokin’? = /

  6. Mistress said

    Sorry Jen, I suck rocks. After recommending it to you, I couldn’t get the resulting warm fuzzies off the brain. I stumbled on a copy at my library…and er it just sort slipped out. I’m glad you didn’t buy it. But a insane part of me hopes you still read it ( from the Library) .Err.. the road parts are still fun…lol

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