Saturday, July 5, 2008

Lily by Patricia Gaffney

The Maid
She arrived at Darkstone Manor without friends or fortune, welcomed only by the hiss of the sea in the midnight hush. Lily Trehearne had been born a lady, but now she resigned herself to a life of backbreaking drudgery, inescapable poverty … and unquestioning obedience to the lord of the manor.

The Master
Tormented and brooding, Devon Darkwell threatened Lily’s safety almost as much as he thrilled her senses. From the moment he caught her swimming nude in the moonlight, his compelling masculinity held her spellbound. But each step he took toward claiming her body brought him closer to learning the terrible secrets of her soul. In his arms she would know tempestuous passion, bitter despair, and a soaring joy that would humble them both before the power of love.


Lisa: Sheer, unadulterated BOREDOM (and I can't stress that enough!) – that was what came to mind after having read this beyond tedious story. It was endless. The author was in desperate need of a competent editor because this book could have been shortened in so many areas and easily whittled down to 300 pages tops.

Things happened but didn't happen and took forever to happen, and when you thought something good was going to happen, I was left thinking "That's it???!" It was filled with pages and pages of annoying narration that rarely added to the story and acted as filler, I thought. At the beginning, that was fine – what with the creepy castle and all – but the author needs to understand the concept of white space, dialog and letting the reader feel like they're advancing. I don't know how many times I counted the pages to the end!

Mel: I agree – a lot could have been taken out of this book and it would have worked better. However, it was interesting to see what a servant's life would have been like.

Jace: I agree with both of you about the book being too long, and some plot elements should have been dropped. I felt that this story was "old school" - it evoked the writing style and story construction of authors of that time. (Book was published in 1991.)

Lisa: Excellent way to describe it, Jace … "old school". It lacked the polish that you seem to find today, or maybe like you said, it was just a different style.

Mel: Lily really didn't have an easy life, did she? First her cousin accused her of stealing and all that followed. I was expecting more of a gothic feel and it didn't deliver - this was what disappointed me the most.

Jace: I think all those different plot elements served to highlight only one thing ... Lily's wretched and unlucky life. It was depressing to read of her facing one bad situation after another. Her sufferings in the hands of Howe the housekeeper was simply too wretched - the author really laid it on thick to milk the reader's sympathy for Lily. M, like you, I was expecting a gothic, but this wasn't one. I liked the description of the castle and that was about the only gothic element I detected.

Lisa: Howe was one sick puppy! I didn't get any real "gothic" feel here either.

Then there were all these secondary stories that served no purpose at all – Clay the Smuggler story, the Cobb story, the Soames and Lewis story, the weirdo witch-like woman Meraud story that left me going "What the --- ??? Where did she come from and why is she here?"

Mel: Yeah, there was a lot going on; at times way too much. I don't think all these secondary plots added to the story at all.

Jace: All those subplots were supposed to give the story an expansive feel, I think. Meraud came onto the scene quite conveniently, didn't she? She just "happened" to come across Lily when the plot called for it.

Lisa: The number of times TSTL Lily forgave Devon the SOB were enough to send even a very forgiving person over the edge. He was horrible in so many ways and still Lily loved him. I didn't think he was a forgivable or a redeemable hero. When he climbed into her room the night before her wedding and was so mean to her, I thought “ok, now he's going to be really good after this”. Well no. He didn't "pay" enough for how he treated her.

Mel: Wasn't Lily such a little goody-two-shoes? She was so perfect and everyone did her wrong, especially Devon.

Lisa: Everyone did her wrong and she didn't seem to do much about it! That was what really bugged me. Given the time period, she could only do so much but she had too many doormat moments.

Jace: Yes, Lily was definitely a goody-two-shoes who didn't have enough self-respect to stand up for herself. The author went heavy-handed making Lily so good that she was unbelievable as a character. I wasn't at all surprised that Devon treated her badly time and again ... because she was so good to him!

When she refused him after Meraud died, I thought "well good ... about time you make him grovel and make it up to you" and she did for a while. I did enjoy his grovelling then. Very much, in fact.

Lisa: LOL Jace! That stinker certainly deserved to do the grovelling!

Mel: He was such a total jerk! I didn't see any good qualities in him at all.

Lisa: L-O-S-E-R with a big fat capital “L” there!

And there was also the Cornish language that was not even remotely understandable!!! I sooooooooo hate it when authors do this. At least make it slightly readable for those of us who don't speak the language!

Jace: Oh yeah ... all that Cornish language was irritating! At first, I tried to make some sense out of that gibberish, but I gave up soon after.

Lisa: The ending was wrapped up nice and pretty all of a sudden, which was about the only good thing in this book for me (i.e. it was finished!). What with all the wavering and lack of direction. It was not a tight story. It was as if it was a first draft that went to print.

Mel: The best thing about the ending was that it was over. It ended just oh so nice. My rating is 2.5/Warm.

Lisa: It's not the easiest book to come across as it's out of print, and now I can so understand why! This gets a well-deserved 2/warm rating from me. I don't know how anyone could rate it 5-star or even go on about how brilliant it is. But hey, different strokes for different folks, as the saying goes.

Jace: There were some parts of the story that touched me - Lily's mistreatment by Howe, for instance, and her love for Devon and his shabby treatment of her. Also, when the pregnant Lily had to live in such deplorable conditions on the moors. Granted all these elements were far-fetch, they nevertheless made me feel very sorry for her, and I wanted to hit Devon really, really bad. My rating is 3/Warm.

My rating: 3 out of 5

It's an acceptable, average read.

Sensuality rating: Warm


Katie(babs) said...

I started reading this book once, but couldn't get through it because of the ass hero and how it reminded me too much of the stereotypical bodice rippers. I think this may have been Gaffney's first book because all the rest are so good and wonderful reads.
Great review! :D
BTW Jace, I received the lovely bookmark. *HUGS AND KISSES*

Lisa said...

Katie(babs)I know someone who said the same thing. Apparently her other books are quite good but this one was a dud. Don't know if I'm up for trying another by her though--this one was just so bad!

Melanie said...

J, You're so good at putting all our thoughts together so they make sense! Another great job.

Katie(babs)I'm glad it wasn't only us who had problems with this book. From reading the blurb on the back, I was expecting more of a gothic tale. I'm not sure I'd try Gaffney again.

Katie(babs) said...

Other than Lily, Gaffney has written some wonderful historical romances.
I recommend To Love and to Cherish, To Have and to Hold, Crooked Hearts and Wild at Heart. Wild at Heart has the hero raised by wolves and is a virgin!
It is a shame Gaffney now writes Women's Fiction and left the historical romance genre. :(

Jace said...

Katie, you're welcome for the bookmark. :-)

Like Lisa and Mel, I don't think I'll read another Gaffney book?