Sunday, July 17, 2016

14. Pentallion by Vanessa Blake

I have to admit that I am feeling quite pleased with myself having read this book.  Now, I am sure there is a large group of gothic romance readers out there who would read these words and think of me as a total newbie.  I am pleased, because I suspected that the genre of gothic romance would deliver some of the same kind of thrill that I have gotten from the more masculine genres of crime and action that I have spent most of my life reading.  I picked up Pentallion in the dollar box outside the way too cluttered Westcott Books on the Main (so cluttered that I actually don't go inside anymore because the entrance is blocked by several precarious stacks of books as high as my shoulder and leaving about probably just a little over 2 feet of space to get through) and it did not disappoint!

At first, it felt heavy-handed, with a ton of exposition being dumped on the reader in the first few pages: a young woman, Rosanna, whose father was a British spy in the Peninsular wars and mother a Portuguese lady is left orphaned in her small house in the countryside outside Lisbon.  There is immediate danger from neighbour and supposed benefactor "Dom Luiz" who had wormed his way into her father's society and now has designs on Rosanna Pentallion herself.  However, she is quickly saved by the arrival of her aunt and cousin, who take her back to her family estate in England.  The narrative relaxed at this point and eased into the real story.  I won't go into details, but it has all the classic elements of the gothic romance: the jealous relatives who are up to unrevealed shenanigans, the sworn enemy of her father who also happens to be ruggedly handsome and of good character, hidden wills, dangerous cliffs, miscommunications, faithful servants and so on.

Most of it was kind of predictable, but I still actually got a bit teary when the lovers finally understand each other and I was psyched when the conniving family members got theirs (though Blake pulls the punches with them so that the only real antagonist is Dom Luiz whose "hooked nose, hooded eyes, and excessively swarthy skin hinted of a Moorish strain.").

I am looking forward to finding more of these as I am sure there are some writers in this field who could take the form to an even higher place.  As it is, Vanessa Blake did a more than adequate job in keeping me entertained and I hope to see some of the variations that others will bring.  Good stuff!

No comments: