From Library Journal
In 1935, His Lordship "purchased" 18-year-old Isabella Ariel Nickerson for one #1 million in an auction for members of an exclusive club of rich Britons eager to satisfy their sexual appetites. Isabella's transformation into Belladonna after more than ten years of degradation is fueled by a desire to find and punish the club members, who had always worn masks and used code names. Her quest for revenge is told by Tomasino, who with his twin brother had helped her and her baby daughter escape from this nightmare. Castrated for participating in the Italian Resistance during World War II, the twins were also prisoners of His Lordship. Tomasino's narrative includes flashbacks and excerpts from Belladonna's diaries. Afraid to love, Belladonna almost allows the desire for revenge to corrode her own soul. The horrors revealed make readers eager for her to outsmart His Lordship, but this novel by the author of Lunch (LJ 7/94) is not for the squeamish.?Kathy Piehl, Mankato State Univ., MN
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
Second-novelist Moline (Lunch, 1994) returns, this time with an S&M wannabe that hovers somewhere between deliciousness and dreck. The notorious femme fatale Belladonna, whos always masked and who always travels bookended by her bodyguards, owns the hottest nightclub in 1950s New York. Shes set up shop there with an army of security guards, spies, hidden microphones, and enough costumes, wigs, and jewels for a Cecil B. De Mille productionall in order to ensnare and destroy the ``Hellfire Club'' of British aristocrats who, in 1935, auctioned her off for a million pounds to a man known only as His Lordship, a British sadist who kept her drugged, tortured, and sexually enslaved for 12 years, and who supposedly stole her infant son. Helped to escape from His Lordship's prison by Thomasina and Matter Canaan, twins from Brooklyn, who were castrated by the Italian Fascists and rescued by His Lordship to do his bidding, Belladonna spends her life plotting revenge. And while she waits, she uses her vast supply of money and power to help other women whove also been betrayed by men. In this effort shes been aided by a wise and kindly old Italian count, Leandro, who nursed her back to health, married her, died, and left her enough money to ``buy the Bank of England.'' Belladonna's tortured life, as told by her faithful and purportedly witty companion Thomasina, is intercut with sections of Belladonna's memoir of enslavement (printed completely in italics), which any reader who has seen a bad S&M movie can already predict (tight corsets, blindfolds, chains, dungeons, and a lot of unpleasant abuse). Belladonna (formerly Isabella Ariel) eventually confronts His Lordship and, after exacting her revenge, even learns to love again. Trite and unconvincing. Neither grim enough to compel nor gaudy enough to entertain. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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