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Rape-fest Romance! So bad it's good!
on June 13, 2003
As to the people trying to excuse this mess with the 'historical accuracy' argument, I think the other reviewers neglected to mention that Sevrin's behavior would be easier to swallow if this had been a story about a woman trapped in a marital nightmare. Asking the audience to believe that Hastings can honestly love Sevrin and vice-versa in all seriousness is just insulting.
This book is awful, but it holds a sick, twisted charm. It's kind of like those home videos where men get hit in the groin by a football; it has tears of laughter running down your cheeks even as you cringe in sympathy. I swear that these characters are the medieval equivalent of guests on the Jerry Springer show. I've read this thing twice, and both times I've had conflicting feelings of disgust and amusement.
It starts out innocently enough. Impoverished, misogynic, yet handsom and manly Lord Sevrin arrives to marry the only child of the dying land-owner and inherit the property. The daughter, Hastings, is a defiant girl with a hot temper. It becomes apparent from the first time Servin opens his mouth that he is a jerk. He also happens to be a close friend of Grealem de Morten, another of Coulter's power-mad rapists. Birds of a feather folks.
The first few rape scenes are brutal, shocking, and disturbing, but after getting past the initial abuse I struck comedy gold!
Watch as characters' personalities change drastically for no apparent reason. Drink some beer every time Servin yells "I will beat you!" Marvel as characters come back from the dead. Everyone is so over-the-top, from the evil ex-lover Marjorie in her quest to lure that abusive lout, Servin, back into her bed to Hastings, the heroine, as the hissing spit-fire to whom abuse, humiliation, and rape are like water off a duck's back.
In every Coulter book, the author always picks some reoccurring theme in which to be cute and funny, but ends up lame and annoying: here it's an obsession with William the Conqueror and Trist, the marten. At least it's not racing kittens.
However, the ending isn't very funny. These are obviously two very dysfunctional people if they earnestly feel love towards each other. Sevrin has am obsessive need to dominate the people around him and he isn't squeamish about being brutal to achieve his ends. Hastings is proud and defiant. Though she does try to go along to get along, she has a limit to how much she can take from him. When this limit is reached she can erupt explosively. Servin probably won't be satisfied until he crushes her spirit completely, which Hastings will fight against. I can really see him killing her one day when she doesn't give into his demands. I really don't think the power of love can change Servin that much. He did revert back to a brutish lout after the part where he and Hastings started to finally get along after all.