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4.0 out of 5 stars
Secret Fire
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 11, 2002
This is the first romance novel I ever read. I picked it up by recommendation of my mother, a long time Lindsey fan. This, of course, was several years ago and I have read more in the genre. When I first read it I was shocked and horrified. Recently I decided to reread it and see if it was as bad as I remembered. I still hate it!
The Basic Plot goes Lady Catherine, a forceful, competant earl's daughter of impeccable moral character, disguises herself as a maid to spy on her sister. When she goes out into London, she ends up belting an oaf who makes passes at her. This is something she regrets later on for the action amuses Prince Dimitri of Russia. Dimitri is a drop-dead-gorgeous stud who mission in life is to bed many beautiful women. His level of studliness is so high that maidens fall at his feet and beg him to relief them of their virginity. Catherine isn't the drop-dead-gorgeous vixen often found in pulp romance, but still she made him laugh, causing the prince to decide HE MUST HAVE HER! (What a plot twist.) So she's kidnapped and drugged with Spanish Fly in her tea to make her comply to his will. But raping her isn't enough for our dear prince charming. He decides to take her on his sea voyage to Russia while locked in a trunk. He can't have insane peasants who claim to be earl's daughters making waves during the Tsar's visit to England. So begins a turbulent lust -er- love story. Dimitri and Catherine hiss and spit at one another alot. (Dimitri trying to get her into bed again and Catherine adamantly refusing even though he makes her tremble with desire, making him angry which makes her angry ) But that doesn't stop them from reaching their quota of hot sex.
Here are the complaints:
1. Catherine's rape (any court would agree with me here) is too asily put on the back burner. It's like drugging someone into having sex is dismissed as if its not wrong. Even if the moral/ethical aspects aren't dealt with, Catherine doesn't worry being pregnant or that losing her virginity can bar her from marriage and make her a social pariah. This was set in 1844, y'know, but I guess Lindsey figured it didn't matter since she's going to end up with Dimitri anyway.
2. Dimitri has no illigitamate children! How can I believe this given Dimitri's high level of sexual activity. This guy probably thinks two days without a woman is a long period of celibacy. He should have enough kids to double the population of Bulgaria! Unbelievable!
3. Catherine realizes she loves Dimitri during a fit of lust induced by being drugged... yet again... on his order.That's just sick and wrong.
4. The Lust Potion itself sounds like Spanish Fly even though they never actually call it that. Just for your information, Spanish Fly is highly toxic, so you just have wonder what kind of hero is willing to poison a woman just becuase he's feeling frisky.
5. And perhaps most unbelievable of all is when Catherine returns to England with a child yet no husband... and the Ton welcomes her back and assumes her husband died while she was abroad. Huh!? Every other novel I've read depicts English high society as a malicious bunch of gossips who love nothing more than to destory people on the barest breathe of scandal. She dissapears out of the blue for months and comes back from Russia with a baby with her and yet her character remains untarnished!? Sounds pretty juicy to me.
Final Grade: F
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on June 2, 2002
Being a long time Johanna Lindsey fan, I immediately picked up _Secret Fire_ when I saw it on the shelf of the library, realizing I had found a book of hers that I'd never read! The excitement of a new book! However, that excitement quickly died.
The basis for the plot is an often used but enjoyed one... mistaken identity. While in disguise to fool her sister, Lady Katherine is mistaken for a servant, leading to her abduction in order to please a Russian prince who has taken it upon himself to 'hire her services for the evening'. She says no, and is kidnapped. When it becomes clear that she won't cooperate, she is drugged, lest the servants upset their Prince. The powerful aphrodesiac brings a night of passion upon them both. Katherine is then kidnapped and taken to Russia where more of the same ensues.
...
I've never been so horrifically offended by a romance novel before. I've been a long time fan of Ms. Lindsey, but would never have read another of her books had I started with this one. I cannot believe that it was published, or even reprinted. It cannot be compared with the much enjoyed Malory books. The two hours I spent reading it in the hopes that she would pull out a decent book were a waste of time. I'll still continue to enjoy her other books, but will certainly never be reading this one again, nor recommending it to anyone.
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on July 25, 2002
Drugs, rape, beatings, and the most objectionable group of men you could ever come across make this a novel to be avoided. Appallingly bad taste. It is not excuse that they were living in brutal times, trying to glamorize the hero's awful behavior and dignify it with the phrase 'falling in love' is disgusting. Where is the mutual respect and geniuine commitment? I am shocked and astonished that an author who used to have such talent would stoop so low.
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