Re-Read Challenge: “Heather And Velvet” By Teresa Medeiros

31 Mar

re-read-challenge-2009

Info:Re-Read Challenge 2009
This month:Re-Read Challenge: March!

medeiros-teresa-heather-and-velvet
GENRE: Romance / Historical
PUBLISHED: Bantam, 1992

AVAILABILITY: still available


The back blurb:
“SHE WAS AN INNOCENT LASS…
One moment lovely Prudence Walker was living the life of a dutiful orphan; the next she was lying in a highwayman’s arms. Wounded in a foiled robbery attempt and thoroughly drenched from a storm, the dreaded Scot bandit seemed harmless enough. Or so Prudence thought–until the infamous rogue stole her breath and her will with his honeyed kisses, until she felt the rapier-sharp edge of his sensuous charm.

WHO HAUNTED A HIGHWAYMAN’S DREAMS…
She was everything Sebastian Kerr had ever wanted, but could never have: an impish beauty with amethyst eyes and wine-sweet lips he longed to plunder. But even as he drew Prudence into his embrace, he knew he must leave her. For the gray-eyed highwayman was leading a dangerous double life, one that left no room for love.

IN A LAND OF HEATHER AND VELVET
The courageous beauty and her sensuous outlaw ignite fires of passion that blaze from the storm-swept English countryside to the wild moors of Scotland…forging unbreakable bonds of love.”


Then

Heather and Velvet is one of the earlier romances I read in English but it was one of last novels I read by Medeiros. It’s not because I didn’t like Heather and Velvet; but her other novels didn’t completely fit what I was looking for.

Although I read Heather and Velvet the last time several years ago, I think of it very fondly and therefore consider it one of my favorites. It’s not just my favorite Medeiros novel, but a “real” favorite. Reading it for this challenge is a good chance to see how or if it still holds up.

Now

Reading the first chapters was a slightly surreal experience. There were a few things concerning plot and characters that struck me as too familiar (as in romance cliché) while at the same time I knew I didn’t blink when I first read them. I also knew I liked this novel a lot. The clichés aren’t very blatant but I still did wonder what I would think about Prudence’s reason for being out in a storm/her plainness with glasses and a severe bun whereas without them she utterly charms Sebastian/the convenient hut if I read Heather and Velvet the first time now.

But the chemistry between Prudence and Sebastian works, and so it’s no wonder that they both remember their first meeting and the stormy night in a crofters hut in 1791 they shared long after they parted ways the other morning; even though it was all innocent. They expect to never see each other again. Prudence had something of an adventure – a dashing highwayman smitten by her. And Sebastian, Sebastian glimpsed that there could be something else in life besides regaining his father’s castle and land and taking revenge on Killian MacKay.

It’s something of a shock when Prudence and Sebastian find themselves in close proximity again. Tricia, Prudence aunt, wants to marry Sebastian who changed tactics to accomplish his dream and stretched the truth some and took on the role of a wealthy laird to gain respectability and money. Prudence lives with her aunt as her aunt is Prudence’s only relative.

As Tricia’s fiancée, Sebastian and Prudence see each other daily. Sebastian’s fascination for Prudence and their attraction to each other make the weeks before the wedding increasingly difficult for them both. Sebastian can’t give up his marriage to Tricia because it would mean giving up his lifelong dream of revenge on MacKay. And Prudence doesn’t want to become his mistress.

But that is not all. Heather and Velvet is a action-packed story. There are two subplots that greatly influence the romance between Prudence and Sebastian.

There’s Sebastian’s French grandfather, D’Artan, who took Sebastian in after his father died when he was thirteen years old. He’s the villain in this story and he uses every means to further the cause of the revolutionists in France while masquerading as a fugitive of the French Revolution. Because of that, he’s also interested in the formula for gunpowder Prudence’s father was working on before his death. In short, depending on what suits him best, he wants Sebastian or Prudence or both either dead or alive in the course of the story.

While the grandfather influences the outward action, the second subplot fuels Sebastian’s motivation – his wish for revenge. It has to do with his mother, his father, and MacKay, and what his father did to his mother. At some point later in the story Sebastian fears he’s the same as his father.

If you think this story is rather convoluted, you’re right. The first part goes really well. It’s just the romance and D’Artan’s wish for Prudence’s death. It’s the second part (halfway through the story) that things get more complicated and Sebastian’s life as a highwayman catch up with him.

I still really like the first part – lots of drama there with the focus mostly on Prudence and Sebastian that ends when Prudence sees no way out of the tangle except taking a drastic step that ends all.

The second part suffered in this re-read. The writing covers several months and different locations, often jumping from one place and time to another. While I didn’t mind that, together with the two subplots and Prudence’s and Sebastian’s mistrust, miscommunication and misunderstandings, it got slightly complicated as in asking myself “why did he/she do this again?” It’s seemed a bit much for the pages the story had. I also was irritated and slightly bored with the (silly) misunderstandings that seemed to govern much of Prudence and Sebastian’s interactions later in the story.

Heather and Velvet is a novel worth the read. It’s epic and covers roughly a year. There’s a nice sense of structure, everything gets a conclusion and comes together well in the end, and little touches like the weather coincidenting with the action or Sebastian’s name and its conncetion to the composer Bach make the story well-rounded. There are also quite a few dramatic and heart wrenching scenes between Prudence and Sebastian and their romance is different than what you usually find today.

Verdict: Heather and Velvet is a decent read. But I fear I’ll remember Heather and Velvet now more for a nostalgic reason than anything else, with the first part leaving the strongest impression. (3,5/5)

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5 Responses to “Re-Read Challenge: “Heather And Velvet” By Teresa Medeiros”

  1. KristieJ Wednesday, April 1, 2009 at 2:05 am #

    I read this one years and years ago and love it. In fact I think it made me almost cry in spots. But it’s also one that as you say is almost better left as a nostalgic memory

  2. Jace Wednesday, April 1, 2009 at 9:34 am #

    I remember reading this many years ago because of a review site’s recommendation. It was my first Medeiros book, and it was just so-so for me. The details are foggy now, but there were some aspects of the story that bothered me.

  3. Taja Wednesday, April 1, 2009 at 11:37 am #

    KristieJ – I agree, there are quite a few tear inducing scenes. That’s probably why I loved it years ago. *g* But sadly, this time I also saw quite a few “flaws.”

    Jace – yes, I certainly can see that. And the characters are, uhm, not unproblematic, too.

  4. Seneca Friday, April 3, 2009 at 3:57 pm #

    I’ve not read this, but I don’t mind cliches. That’s why I like Harlequin Presents so much–they are chalk full of them.
    My issue with reading this book would be trying to get the picture of Fabio out of my head. I don’t ever want a Hero I am reading to look like him. LOL

  5. Taja Friday, April 3, 2009 at 8:43 pm #

    Seneca – as I said, the clichés aren’t overwhelming and they are used skillfully, not annoyingly (if that makes sense). I actually didn’t mind them. I had much more problems with all the misunderstandings later. But I’m afraid that doesn’t help with your problem with Fabio. *g*

    You like to read Harlequin Presents? I didn’t know. I’m a bit wary of them because I haven’t had much luck when I went and bought them on my own. But I agree, some make good use of clichés and are fun to read. 🙂

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