Hope Tarr – “Vanquished”

25 Sep


GENRE: Romance / Historical
PUBLISHED: Medallion Press, 2006


The back blurb:
“A devil’s bargain.
‘The photograph must be damning, indisputably so. I mean to see Caledonia Rivers not only ruined but vanquished. Vanquished, St. Claire, I’ll settle for nothing less.’
Known as The Maid of Mayfair for her unassailable virtue, unwavering resolve, and quiet dignity, suffragette leader, Caledonia – Callie – Rivers is the perfect counter for detractors’ portrayal of the women as rabble rousers, lunatics, even whores. But a high-ranking enemy within the government will stop at nothing to ensure that the Parliamentary bill to grant the vote to females dies in the Commons – including ruining the reputation of the Movement’s chief spokeswoman.
After a streak of disastrous luck at the gaming tables threatens to land him at the bottom of the Thames, photographer Hadrian St. Claire reluctantly agrees to seduce the beautiful suffragist leader and then use his camera to capture her fall from grace. Posing as the photographer commissioned to make her portrait for the upcoming march on Parliament, Hadrian infiltrates Callie’s inner circle. But lovely, soft-spoken Callie hardly fits his mental image of a dowdy, man-hating spinster. And as the passion between them flares from spark to full-on flame, Hadrian is the one in danger of being vanquished.”


Vanquished has all the ingredients that I like in a romance. No wallpaper setting (well, okay, you can argue the premise of the story), grown-up characters, interesting conflict, good writing, taking chances – it’s all here. Two minor distractions kept it from being a very special romance novel for me.

For quiet some time I was totally caught up in the story – there was nothing unnecessary there, everything had relevance for the story. Then there was a minor bump and after that – I don’t know why – I couldn’t get back to reading the way I did before. The minor bump – some other characters are introduced, for a good reason and fitting for the story, but then they are used to get the hero and heroine to a place together. That’s the part that didn’t sit right with me. I think it’s something like that the author’s manipulation was too obvious here for me after the seamless development of the things before.

Later in the story, there is a similar incident but for a much more crucial element of the story. You can see it coming just from reading the back cover. What got to me was that 1) I thought the story wouldn’t go there because Vanquished seemed different; 2) there were several possibilities to prevent it from happening and the hero didn’t act which bordered on TSTL for me.

Yes, these are the things that made me disappointed with the novel.

Nitpicking?

Sure. But you have to keep in mind that I really liked the beginning. I liked the setting, I liked the characters (grown ups!), I liked the conflict, I liked the way Tarr wrote (no flowery descriptions), and yes, I liked it that overall Tarr took chances with this novel. I liked everything and that’s the reason why my two “distractions” bothered me so much and why they seemed to be flaws.

My nitpicking with Vanquished is complaining on a high level.


Would I recommend this novel? Yes.

Would I read this novel again? Yes.

Grade: 4,5 / 5 (the nitpicking)


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