Saturday, April 29, 2017

Review: Kathleen Woodiwiss’ FOREVER IN YOUR EMBRACE – Classic Tale of Love in Mother Russia

Set in 1620 in Russia, this is the story of Colonel Tyrone Rycroft, an English mercenary in the employ of the Russian Tsar, who saves the life of Countess Synnovea, a young, unmarried woman brought to Moscow to be married. Tyrone thinks to make her his mistress (which has to be incredible arrogance on his part) and asks to court her (seemingly inconsistent desires).

Rather that be married to an old aristocrat to whom her guardian has betrothed her, Synnovea decides to allow Tyrone to ruin her and have them interrupted for all to see. It goes off without a hitch except that Tyrone is able to consummate their union. Then, a Russian who wanted her for himself takes his revenge out on Tyrone and tells him she concocted the plan.

The Tsar forces Tyrone to wed Synnovea, but Tyrone obtains the tsar’s agreement to allow the marriage to be annulled if Tyrone can leave England without touching his new wife. You see the rub.

What was hard to take about this story was the dramatic change in the characters’ views of each other. At first, Tyrone couldn’t live without Synnovea, even disobeying his superior to see her. Synnovea was a highspirited, smart young woman, who wasn’t in love with Tyrone. More intrigued, I’d say. But then all changes. He thinks she gave him her virginity just to get out of a marriage, he hates her. Oh, he continues to lust after her, but whatever “love” he once felt is gone, or so it seems. Meanwhile, the strong, independent Synnovea becomes a wet noodle, afraid of her husband and wallowing in remorse. It was hard to like either of them at this point.

As ever, Woodiwiss’ descriptions are opulent and the grand display of Russia in the 17th century well presented. She has done her research. And the action scenes are good. Still, this will not be counted among her greatest works. I finished the book and, of course, there’s a happy ever after, but it’s not quite up to The Flame and the Flower, Shanna and The Wolf and the Dove. Even Petals on the River, which was published five years later, is better.

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