Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Review- Loving My Lady by Penelope Friday

Loving My Lady
by Penelope Friday
Historical/ F/F
19K- $2.49

Buy it Torquere Press, Fictionwise

When her father dies, Cordelia Brownlow's future looks bleak. She has no money and must sell Ashworth, the family house, in order to pay the debts of honor that her father ran up. The offer her cousin, Lady Dennyson, makes to buy Ashworth and keep Cordelia on as a companion seems like the answer to her prayers. But Lady Juliet Dennyson has an unusual idea of the duties (and pleasures) of a 'companion', and Cordelia finds herself falling in love with the lady who shows her delights of the body she's never imagined.

Lady Juliet has secrets in her past and they threaten to spill over into the present, destroying her relationship with Cordelia. Can Lady Juliet learn to live with her past – and can Cordelia accept it, too?

Loving My Lady is one of those stories that at first I thought might not deliver, but came through in the end. There’s a whole lot of telling and glossing over things until you reach the middle of the book at which point reasons for motivations that didn’t make sense get explained and it does get juicier.

This is a rather short story and some areas weren’t developed as much as I would have liked. I feel this is a case in which a longer story would have made this a much better book. What was lacking for me mainly was the development of the love story between Cordelia and Juliet, and really, some heat between them.

Cordelia is a young destitute woman who is saved by Lady Juliet. We don’t really get much of a background on Cordelia except that her mother died when she was young and her father was a gambler whose debts left her penniless and with no options. There’s really nothing said about her experience with men other than she’s never been in love. The only inkling as to her sexuality is that she’s immediately smitten with Juliet.

Lady Juliet is a woman who commands attention and has some status as the widow of man of means. She comes on to Cordelia straight away making it clear to her that she is to be Juliet’s “companion,” as in her lover. Since there was no mention of her meeting Cordelia prior to this, I couldn’t understand how she decided that she wanted Cordelia as a “companion." But she’s clear right from the get go that she bought Cordelia’s family home on the contingency that Cordelia be her companion like she specifically chose her out of all women. She’s nice enough in her seduction and Cordelia responds to her, falling in love with her.

This is the part where things were missing for me in the emotional connection. Their sexual experiences together, the main seduction of Cordelia by Juliet, and their becoming close emotionally, are all explained by Cordelia telling the reader how it was without sharing any details. There’s no dialogue between them and there’s definitely no action.

They are well into a relationship with each other when Juliet suddenly cools and blows Cordelia off. That, plus the fact that Juliet keeps Cordelia at a distance in general as if she is really her servant “companion” and not on equal social footing are maybe why I didn’t feel much intimacy or heat between them. Nor did I ever feel that Juliet feels as strongly towards Cordelia as Cordelia feels to Juliet.

I also had an issue about why Juliet turns to women. Cordelia has had no experience with men so sexually she’s never been seduced before and it’s possible that she had a preference for women she was unaware of. But Juliet was deeply in love with her husband. And even though she has a nasty history with men in general, because she loved her husband so much, I didn't understand the leap to her preferring women; that wasn’t really explained in her back story.

I know this looks like I had a lot of issues or that my overall impression was a negative one, but the truth is, what I had issues with is a lot easier for me to articulate. I did enjoy this book quite a bit. The writing style and language are very nice and evocative of the essence and ambience of the Regency period. Also, the story itself did have a lot of interesting aspects to it with Juliet’s background history and how she acted because of it.

And I will say that although there wasn’t really much intensity of emotion between the women, I did feel that they have a lot of affection for each other and that it will grow deeper as they go on.

Sex rating: Dry Panties- barely described sexual scenes in non erotic language.

Grade: B-

Another review from Rainbow reviews


Cathy in AK said...

I sounds like this one needed to be a longer story to get the characterization and emotional connection in there. Still, it could be worth looking into.

I've been on a Sarah Waters kick myself of late. Ever read her?

MB (Leah) said...

Cathy, it's a good book if you like historicals and aren't too picky about wanting some sex with your romance. It is nicely written.

I've heard of Sarah Waters. Her name comes up every time there's a discussion about anything lesbian or f/f on the main blogs.

Does she write romance? Or are her books more like lez fiction, like an Oprah book.

Cathy in AK said...

I think Waters's books as more literary (Oprah-esque?) than most I've read. The romance is definitely there meshed with an amazing plot, but I wouldn't necessarily call them romances. Not always explicit (there is touching, kissing and allusion to more, but not spelled out in great detail) and very good emotional connections between the women.

Her titles I've read so far:
Tipping the Velvet (more explicit, as the title implies ;)
Affinity--which was made into a movie and is very good.
Fingersmith--just finished it and was floored by the twists.

I have another of hers (Nightwatch--set during WWII) waiting to be read.

Emma Donoghue (contemporary and historical lit-ish)and Nicola Griffith (SF) also get thumbs way up from me.

MB (Leah) said...

Well, sounds like I need to read her. I don't mind when there's no focus really on the romance or if there's no sex as long as there's a good story. And I've heard many good things about her as an author.