Review: Vanquished by Hope Tarr **CONTEST**Monday, May 12, 2008 1:00
If you’re looking for a different sort of story, setting and characters, this book is for you. Set in late Victorian London, the story follows a leader of the suffragist movement, Caledonia Rivers. She’s a spinster whose whole life is the movement for women’s rights in England. She meets Hadrian St. Claire, a photographer, who has been asked to take her picture for a series of photographs to go along with the passage of a woman’s suffrage bill in Parliament. What, oh what, could happen? Probably anything and everything.
Hadrian has been blackmailed to take incriminating pictures of Callie by a high ranking Member of Parliament who wants to see her not only ruined, but vanquished. Hadrian has some gambling debts he needs to repay and has to accept the deal even though he doesn’t know Callie. However, Hadrian’s objectivity toward Callie falters when he sees she’s vulnerable as well as a well spoken leader of the suffragist movement.
Both Hadrian and Callie are very likable characters. Callie is a tall, voluptous woman, who was degraded when she was younger by her fiance. She has given up the rest of her life for the women’s vote because she doesn’t have the idea that she can be worthwhile to a man. Hadrian shows her through his attention and camera lens that she’s a beautiful woman and he also gives her the means to come out of her shell.
Hadrian is a different story. He’s had a harder upbringing, finally when he was 15 making it to an orphanage by the good graces of the prime minister William Gladstone. Before that Hadrian had been Harry Stone, son of a prostitute with a shady past. With Callie Hadrian sees that just surviving isn’t enough, that she is someone worth spending his life with.
Of course the whole sordid story of the payment for the photography comes out in the end, but what Hadrian does for the woman he loves helps to bring the MP to justice in a satisfying ending to the story. The fact that someone would go to such lengths is true, but done in an over the top sort of way. Also, the ties between the pasts of Hadrian and Callie seem sort of a stretch, but again, could have happened. The lives of the characters haven’t been easy and the societal hardships aren’t glossed over, whether Hadrian’s past or the treatment of the poor women of London.
The style and characters are well done as well as the setting, even if some of the plot devices are a little overdone. The next two books in the series follow fellow orphans of Hadrian’s, Gavin and Patrick, who are briefly introduced and help with some of Hadrian’s views that there’s more to life than just survival.
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.
Read an excerpt (scroll down).
CONTEST! Comment here by noon CST [central standard time] according to the blog timestamp with what you like more: Hope Tarr’s historicals or her Harlequin Blaze’s. The prize is one of three copies of this book, all SIGNED by Hope Tarr!