“Let me not to the marriage of true minds”
LET me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error, and upon me prov’d,
I never writ, nor no man ever lov’d.
[b:William Shakespeare|18135|Romeo and Juliet|William Shakespeare|http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51XTDJ3P4XL._SL75_.jpg|3349450] (1564–1616).
The banner on Beth Kery’s website describes her work as, “Steam for the Sophisticated Reader”, and I’m finding that to be very true. While her stories are certainly erotic, they have an inherent sophistication that shows she respects the intelligence of her readership. Her stories encourage a reader to become invested in her well developed characters and the unique plots she crafts for them.
I do believe escapism is the major part of what romance readers enjoy about the stories we choose. However, from a personal perspective expanding my knowledge base from an author’s work is part of what I hope to gain as a reader. I often feel those who criticize the romance reading community fail to grasp this fact. “Daring Time”, Ms. Kery’s wonderful erotic fantasy, time travel novel to be published in May 5, 2009, was a thoroughly enjoyable “escapist” read, however it was also an enriching experience. I learned about Chicago’s history, some famous people that lived in the Prairie Avenue District, and with each of Ms. Kery’s books my comfort level with BDSM themed stories is increasing.
The reason I quoted Shakespeare’s 116th Sonnet, above is because I think Ms. Kery used part of a line in the third stanza, “Love’s not Time’s fool”, as a literary technique called forshadowing, which assists the reader to be able to predict what might occur later in the story. And, IMHO it is brilliant.
Ryan Daire, a vice cop working for the Chicago Police department is given a mansion on "Prairie Avenue", by his old college professor, family friend and mentor Alistair. The Prairie Avenue District in Chicago was the millionaire's row in late 19th and early 20th century. The mansion is therefore steeped in history and as Ryan and his partner Ramiro Menendez walk into the grand ballroom with it's glittering chandelier he feels an instant appreciation for its majesty. Ryan can even visualize the elegant décor and a flawlessly beautiful woman with long dark hair, dressed in a ball gown looking over her shoulder at him. He thinks she is a mirage.
During their exploration of the house, they find a woman's bedroom that hosts a large brass bed with two mahogany tables. Ramiro discovers an old leather bound book in one of the drawers which proves to be a book of Shakespeare's Sonnets.
Ryan Vincent Daire isn't your average vice cop; he has a degree in history and was raised by a father who taught him a love of Shakespeare, which Alistair nurtured. As he cradles the book in his hands it falls open to a well-worn page which he immediately recognizes as the 116th Sonnet. A massive mahogany wardrobe is also housed within the room and Ryan finds a full-length mirror attached to the door. As he looks into the mirror, which appears somewhat cloudy with age he sees not his own reflection but the same stunning beauty he envisioned in the ballroom of the mansion. He is, needless to say, shocked and mystified; more than that he cannot believe she is an apparition of his imagination. From here things really get interesting.
In the year 1906, Hope Stillwater, an upper class virginal "gentlewoman", is in her bedroom in the Prairie Avenue mansion, she has locked the door and pulled out a provocative negligee she has secreted away in the back of the wardrobe. Hope was given the sheer black lacy garment by her unlikely acquaintance and friend Addie Sampson, the madam of one of the only "respectable" brothels in the city. She and Hope share a common goal of abolishing the practice of white slavery. While Hope feels scandalized wearing the garment, she carefully puts it on and stares at her reflection in the full length wardrobe mirror. Instead of seeing herself, a very tall handsome "exotic" man is staring back at her; Hope of course is startled and frightened, and leaps away from the mirror.
In a strange turn of events, she finds an inscription Ryan has left in her book of Shakespearean Sonnets. His name, the address of her house and the year 2008 is written in the margin on the page of her favorite sonnet. Ryan finds a dedication to Hope inscribed in the same book found in the bedroom.
After Ryan moves into the old house he has further magical, ghostly, erotic encounters with Hope. He manages to glean information from the police archives that Hope Stillwater was murdered at the young age of 25 in the year 1906 and he sets out to try and reach and save the woman who has become his erotic obsession. Through careful analysis and luck, he ascertains what the catalyst is to propel him 100 years into the past to find and hopefully rescue her.
Raised by a father who encouraged her independent spirit and nurtured her intelligence and love of literature and art, Hope is a crusader for poor woman who are taken advantage of by the low life misogynistic white slaver "Diamond Jack Fletcher". She and her father have proved to be a major thorn in Jack's side, which results in Hope being put in a gravely dangerous situation.
The dynamic between these two lovers is sensual and powerful, the erotic tension sizzles between them initially across the mirror, time's barrier. They can see each other but despite intense longing cannot actually touch; I felt goose bumps running up my arms as they attempted to reach and touch one another.
I really wasn't sure how their erotic encounters would evolve because of this being an early 20th century female heroine raised with all the social mores and restrictions of that time, and a 21st century sexually dominant male hero. However, Ms. Kery penned the love scenes beautifully. Ryan sexually initiates Hope in a highly unusual manner, given their situation, but he also nurtures her trust and passion.
Despite ingrained perceptions with respect to a woman's "station" in her time, Hope isn't a pushover; she is an intellectual and extremely well spoken. She challenges Ryan and her independent nature does put her in danger. As a reader, I loved this heroine because she is a woman with ideals, strength and beliefs well beyond her time. Ryan is forced to make some difficult decisions in order to save her life more than once. Further, he questions his own actions for fear of being the source of Hope's demise in her time.
There is a parallel fast moving suspense sub-plot in the two time periods involving female white slavery. Hope and her father are involved in thwarting Diamond Jack Fletcher in 1906. In 2008 Ryan and Ramiro have been working for a year to bring "Jim Donahue", to justice for similar crimes in present day. The plot twists and turns are thrilling and the parallels are surprising.
“Love’s not Time’s fool”, and this exquisite story, while a fantasy, proves that short beautiful line of poetry true.
By the way the picture of Ryan on the book’s front cover? Perfect…..
When “Daring Time”, is released on May 5, 2009, I will purchase my own copy. It is a book I want to hold in my hands.