Help A Bitch Out

HaBO: Naughty Naughty!

Jessica writes

I read this in 1996ish. I dont remember the publisher, but I’m pretty sure
it wasnt a category. The cover featured a swooning, brunette woman, possibly
in a blue dress, in the arms of a well-endowed man. Both are tastefully
dishelved, and of course, the bosoms are heaving.

Okay, so I think the time period is the late 19th century and the heroine
is a headstrong American heiress whose name might be Amanda. She has a
brother (she gets a crash course in sex after seeing him with one of the
maids in the stables—naughty!), a dead father, and a domineering mother.
They have a mansion in Newport, and her mother hosts a party in order to
thow her at the hero: an honest-to-goodness English duke! He’s poor and
needs to marry an heiress, so the mother is ecstatic, but Amanda wants
nothing to do with him and accidentally says so in the duke’s hearing. This
makes the duke decide that she would perfect for him.

Stuff happens, then Amanda goes to Paris with her aunt Zoe as a chaperone.
And what a coincidence, the duke is there too! Not that Amanda cares. In
fact, she winds up meeting a dreamy French artist and has sex with him!
Repeatedly! But then he gets sick (TB or something) and orders her to stay
away for her own safety. But she’s headstrong, so she goes anyway and gets
kidnapped and held for ramsom. Her aunt turns to the duke for help, and he
saves Amanda.

Here’s where it gets good (if I’m remembering this correctly): the duke
knows that she was sleeping with the artist, but he doesn’t care. He
doesn’t get upset, or call her a slut—he just thinks, huh thats a little
surprising, and shrugs it off. He and the aunt then arrange a quicky
marriage to protect her from the scandal of being victimized. I think the
duke even arranges her to visit her sick lover before they leave Paris.

I’m pretty fuzzy on what happens afterwards. I think they honeymoon on the
French Riviera, and I remember Amanda being presented to all of the duke’s
staff in England, but I don’t remember how everything resolved into the
happily ever after.

This book didn’t get me hooked on romance immediately—that came later
with a vengeance—but after reading my share of crappy romances with alph
asshole “heroes” (Catherine Coulter’s cream-toting douches come to mind .
. .), this one has come to stand out in my memory as something special. So
hopefully someone else remembers this.

Whoa. WHOA. Someone has to remember this – and how on earth did this not sell you on romance for the rest of your reading life?!

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  1. 1
    Ros says:

    Oh, I hope someone knows this because I totally want to read it!

  2. 2
    Nat says:

    GAH. I wrote this on the wrong post. Sorry.

    I don’t read romance unless there are explosions, car chases, headless zombies and/or Japanese swords.

    But I want to read THIS! Someone, please find this book. Please.

    My captcha: youre49. How did you…Hey!

  3. 3
    Edie says:

    Velvet Dreams by Patricia Werner??
    Blurb
    “Amanda Whitney’s mother is determined to marry her fiercely independent daughter off – preferably to a title. But Amanda harbors dreams of romance, and vows she will only wed for love. Edward Pemberton, the Duke of Sunderland, has sworn off love forever. He is short of funds, and has come to America, quite simply, to marry an heiress. They couldn’t be more wrong for each other. Yet he is irresistibly intrigued by her spirited beauty and she finds his rakish charms impossible to resist. Form the gilded ballrooms of New York to the magnificent estates of Newport, from the dazzling salons of Paris to exotic Monte Carlo, they become partners in a dizzying dance of desire – bound by a love stronger than any fantasy…”

  4. 4
    AngW says:

    Hunting down “Velvet Dreams” in 3…2…1…

  5. 5
    Jan Oda says:

    Ack!
    This sounds really exciting, but for a Belgium girl like me, hunting it down will be all crazingly expensive again. Nevertheless, here we go!

  6. 6
    molly_rose says:

    Definitely want to read this. Now.

  7. 7
    lunarocket says:

    I’ve got to read this, too! Sounds great. I’m tired of it being so “easy” for the hero and the heroine giving in because she can’t figure out what to do!

  8. 8
    Thank you says:

    Oh, for the days when a romantic heroine could have a varied sex life and no one swooned away in horror…I think I’ll find this one!

  9. 9

    Looks like the author was trying to give the courtship—if you could call it that—between Consuelo Vanderbilt and the Duke of Marlborough a fictional HEA. Alas, in real life, Consuelo caved in to Mommy, the duke turned out to be a scurvy knave, and they were scandalously divorced a decade or so later.

    Consuelo did, however, coin the phrase “heir and the spare,” so it wasn’t all for nothing.

  10. 10
    Jessica says:

    Edie YOU ROCK!! It is Velvet Dreams by Patricia Werner!  You guys need to check out the cover, that has to be one of the most uncomfortable poses I’ve ever seen.

    And as for why this book didn’t get me immediately hooked on romance . . . what can I say?  I was 12, and some people are slower than others.

  11. 11
    AllyJS says:

    This is going on my wishlist. I’ve just gone through a few romances with butthole heroes and I’m ready for a sympathetic one

  12. 12

    This sounds amazing! Just ordered a copy of my own and can’t wait to read it!

  13. 13
    willaful says:

    Where did you see the cover? Nothing i can find via google has it.

  14. 14
    library addict says:

    Where did you see the cover? Nothing i can find via google has it.

    Is this the one?
    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=300369254316

  15. 15
    willaful says:

    Ah, thanks.

  16. 16
    Edie says:

    WOOT

    I finally got one! *happychairdance*

    I knew all those years of typing out blurbs before I discovered most of them were online would come in handy for more than improving my typing speed. LOL

  17. 17
    Jennifer Spiller says:

    I just ordered it!

  18. 18
    molly_rose says:

    The cover is awesome. I’m really digging the purple silk vest on the hero, and the heroine’s blue eyeshadow is certainly “fiercely independent”…
    That, and the fact that her neck is “fiercely independent” of her body.

  19. 19
    Cfarley says:

    On Amazon it looks like this author has quite a few category romances from Zebra under her name.  Another great cover of hers has the couple emerging from the center of a Mandolin?  Guess that means he’s got a really big instrument…..xxoocf

  20. 20
    Kilian Metcalf says:

    Reminds me of Edith Wharton’s “The Buccaneers” with some sex thrown in.  The “buccaneers” of the title were rich American girls married off to impoverished titled Englishmen who were not too fussy about whom they married.  Edith was born into one of New York’s old money families, so she had the opportunity to observe marriages like the Vanderbilt fiasco at close hand.  “The Buccaneers” came out in 1938, 12 years after the marriage was annulled and 32 years after the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough separated in 1906.  I’m sure their story inspired a lot of fiction.

  21. 21
    Kilian Metcalf says:

    Reminds me of Edith Wharton’s “The Buccaneers” with some sex thrown in.  The “buccaneers” of the title were rich American girls married off to impoverished titled Englishmen who were not too fussy about whom they married.  Edith was born into one of New York’s old money families, so she had the opportunity to observe marriages like the Vanderbilt fiasco at close hand.  “The Buccaneers” came out in 1938, 12 years after the marriage was annulled and 32 years after the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough separated in 1906.  I’m sure their story inspired a lot of fiction.

  22. 22
    Deb says:

    Edith Wharton’s The Buccaneers makes great reading, especially for those of us who enjoy historical romances that involve American heroines and English heroes.  Winston Churchill’s mother, Jennie Randolph, was also a “buccaneer”—a rich American heiress who was married into the English aristocracy.  Like most of those marriages, it was not a happy one, and once Jennie had provided the “heir and a spare” in the form of Winston and his older brother, she and her husband “led their own lives” as the euphemism goes.

  23. 23
    Kilian Metcalf says:

    I’m thinking that Jenny Jerome probably was a more likely inspiration for Wharton’s book.  She married a younger son of the 7th Duke of Marlborough.  Consuelo married the 9th Duke.  Local connection – I live in Arizona, and there is a town called Jerome, named after the owner of the copper mine that was the main industry there.  The Jerome family was very prominent in NY society circles, and The Buccanneers was an unfinished manuscript that was published after Wharton’s death, so who knows how long it had been lying around before it was finished off and published a year after her death.  Funny how the genre lines blur when it come to writers like Wharton.  Why is she “Literature” with a capital L, when most of her stories are pure romance, and historical romance at that?  Is it because she palled around with the likes of Henry James?

  24. 24
    Kilian Metcalf says:

    I’m thinking that Jenny Jerome probably was a more likely inspiration for Wharton’s book.  She married a younger son of the 7th Duke of Marlborough.  Consuelo married the 9th Duke.  Local connection – I live in Arizona, and there is a town called Jerome, named after the owner of the copper mine that was the main industry there.  The Jerome family was very prominent in NY society circles, and The Buccanneers was an unfinished manuscript that was published after Wharton’s death, so who knows how long it had been lying around before it was finished off and published a year after her death.  Funny how the genre lines blur when it come to writers like Wharton.  Why is she “Literature” with a capital L, when most of her stories are pure romance, and historical romance at that?  Is it because she palled around with the likes of Henry James?

  25. 25

    Why is she “Literature” with a capital L, when most of her stories are pure romance, and historical romance at that?

    Well, for one thing, if you’re looking for a HEA, don’t read Wharton! The House of Mirth will leave you depressed for a week.

    What I love about her is her ability to depict that particular society—fin de siecle New York and Europe—in all its complexity, and without the rose-shaded spectacles. She lived it; she knew its cast of characters; she knew its hypocrisies. And she was a brilliant writer: she could turn from satire to pathos on a dime.

  26. 26
    Polly says:

    Wharton’s not so much with the HEA—in fact, I don’t think any of her stories end happily. And a HEA is pretty much a requirement for Romance. Most of literature is about relationships, but I require a HEA, or at least a HFN for me to consider it Romance (with a capital R).

    I’d say she’s Literature with a capital L because we still read her so many years on, and she did phenomenal things with the English language. I’m personally not really willing to apply Literature with a capital L to most of what’s printed in the last 30 years, since there’s just no way to predict what will continue to speak and be read after its moment (and that’s pretty much my grounds for is it or isn’t it Literature). The literariest of literary fiction that’s never touched ten years on isn’t Literature either, to me.

  27. 27
    SusannaG says:

    I think The Buccaneers is the only Wharton that ends with what one might even conceivably describe as a HEA.

  28. 28
    Sarah V. says:

    Yowzah!  I am so getting this book!!!!

  29. 29
    Polly says:

    Well, the main-ish character of the Buccaneers is supposed to run off with her true love, and there’s Big Scandal. I guess that’s happier than being stuck in a loveless marriage, but it’s not really a HEA. Plus, Wharton died before she finished the novel, so who knows how close to her outline she’d have stayed. My guess is the lovers would have been united but in ignominy. Cuz no one in a Wharton novel has it all.

    I love Wharton, but wow is the world a sad place after reading one of her novels.

  30. 30
    Cfarley says:

    I love this thread.  Much of Literary Fiction (read by insistence in college) is simply too sad and depressing for me.  Even Oprahs lite LF does not have a place in my work a day world.  If I lived in a candy cotton world maybe—but my world is hard and I love the relaxation/relief I get from my TRASH. xxoocf

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