Posted in: Bound By Honor, Colette Gale, reviews
Erm, so apparently, I haven’t yet mastered the art of brief reviews, so read on only if you have the time, cuz this goes on a bit.
I discovered Colette Gale when TTG and I were in the States last year. I think the first book of hers that I read was Master, the erotic re-telling of The Count of Monte Cristo (This originally read The C*nt Of Monte Cristo, heh) story. I have to say, I enjoyed it enormously, although I remember chatting with DA Jane and she mentioned that she wasn’t keen on it at all. Or perhaps she meant the Phantom book? Ahh crap, I forget.
Anyway, I then read Unmasqued, Gale’s Phantom of The Opera book. Whilst reading Unmasqued, I recall thinking that it would have been a great book for anybody contemplating suicide, who hadn’t quite worked up the courage to shoot themselves in the head yet. Jesus it was depressing.
Despite being rather underwhelmed by Gale’s bastardization of Phantom, when I discovered that she was due to release another classic retelling, Bound By Honor, I was very excited. This book was based on the story of Robin Hood and Maid Marian. Yippee.
I loved the thought of a Robin Hood story with loads of gratuitous sex, and graphic sexual descriptions, so I ordered it from The Book Depository.
(BTW, The last reincarnation of a classic tale that I’d read was an EC book called Betty and The Beast, and I must admit, it was very rude, badly written, but the masochist in me loved it.)
Anyway, without further ado, here’s the blurb from the back of the book:
Maid Marian, now Lady of Morlaix, is sent to the court of Prince John-not to take part in the debauchery of his Court of Pleasure, but to spy on him for his mother. Little does she know that her secret mission will thrust her into a whirlwind of intrigue, terror, and carnal temptations.
At court, Marian is torn between her duty to the queen and her desire for two men: one, the mysterious highwayman the peasants call Robin Hood, and the other, the dark, cold Sheriff of Nottingham. Given an impossible choice, she must submit to the carnality of Prince John’s court in order to fulfill her duty and maintain her honor. But in the end, there is only one man for whom she will risk her life and give her heart.
In the opening scene, William De Wendeval, the Sheriff of Nottingham, is talking to Prince John, who in keeping with the erotica theme, was being given a blow job by a serving wench.
Prince John, who’s brother, King Richard The Lion Heart, was currently off fighting Saladin, (the Sultan of Egypt and Syria) in Israel, had been pre-occupied with finding Robin Hood (as well as shagging most of the females in his court), the outlaw who’d been pilfering from him. Will, (The Sheriff) had been tasked with finding the thieving cur, but as of yet hadn’t managed to capture him.
In the opening scene, John The Perv’s frustrations at being outwitted by Robin time and time again is evident, and he questions Will on his apparent inability to get the job done.
My first impression of Will was that he was a bit of a miserable twat, who would have benefited from a rocket up his arse, but as the book continued, he started to grow on me. Like a rash.
Prince John The Perv on the other hand was your typical one-dimensional villain. Gale certainly couldn’t be accused of flirting with light and shade, where he was concerned. No Siree, that man was so bad, he even whipped his conquests, and did heinous things like carve chessboard squares into their backs. Truly an evil man.
In this same opening scene, John The Perv informs Will The Miserable that Lady Marian of Morlaix is due to arrive at court shortly.
No longer a maiden, Marian’s hubby had recently died, hence her return as Richard’s ward.
Prior to the end of the first chapter, it’s revealed (from Will’s POV) that Marian, and Will were old acquaintances, and they, along with their old friend Robin of Locksley, used to play together as children.
The second chapter of the book deals with Marian’s journey to court.
On the way there, Marian’s wagon is ambushed by the infamous Throbbin’ Hood Robin Hood. He steals her away, sucks her face, and cops a feel. She doesn’t mind though, because she recognises him as her old friend, whom she knew as Robin of Locksley.
Robin explains that his current alias came about quite accidentally. Apparently he was supposed to be going off with King Richard to fight Saladin in Israel, but he and his men were attacked, and they never got to the Holy Lands. When he eventually returned to Locksley, he found himself accused of treason, and dispossessed of all his worldly goods. He’d been set up of course.
During his tale of woe to Marian, Will (the Sheriff of Nottingham) appears and so Robin scarpers quickly.
More worried about Marian than Robin, Will doesn’t bother chasing after him.
Marian doesn’t recognise Will straight away, until he prompts her. They haven’t seen each other for a very long time, but Marian certainly notices that her old friend has changed somewhat, and it doesn’t seem to be for the better.
Shortly after, the Sheriff takes Marian back to court.
Predictably when Marian arrives at court, Prince John The Perv shows an interest in her, and so Will does his best to avert his attentions away from her, by pretending to claim Marian for himself.
Initially, Marian believes Will to be a cold and heartless arsehole, and doesn’t want anything to do with him, whereas she’s more than happy for Robin to have his wicked way with her. (Throughout the book, Robin continually tries to show her his bow and arrow, only to be constantly interrupted by the arrival of Will)
As the story progresses, Marian’s feelings for Will start to change, because she suspects that underneath the cruel facade, he is actually an honourable man. Soon she has to choose between her two oldest friends.
As I mentioned earlier, Will was a bit of a miserable twat in the beginning, but I found him easier to warm to than Robin. He was a fairly dark character which was one of the things that made him quite interesting. He was very much a Bronte-esque-type hero (Edward Rochester) in that he was this darkly brooding man shrouded in mystery, who’s outward demeanour initially led people to believe that he was a cruel man, when in reality he was actually a man of honour.
His desire for Marian was fairly evident, but unlike Robin, he was too much of a gentleman to act on his feelings, especially as he suspected that Marian had a ‘thing’ for the cursed outlaw. There were times when I found myself willing Nottingham to be less noble though, because after a while, his I’m-bad-but-not-really act, started to get on my tits. Having said that, he managed to get a grip just in time to ensure that his character didn’t veer into Joan of Arc territory. Don’t you just fucking hate martyrs?
Robin was incredibly annoying, and was a lot more selfish than the traditional Robin Hood. I thought he was utterly charmless, and very one-dimensional in comparison to Will, which was ultimately Colette Gale’s objective I suspect. He did have some amusing moments, although they were few and far between, and to be fair, that probably had more to do with his encounters with the rather delightful Alys of Wentworth, (a secondary character) who had a very sharp tongue, and didn’t mind using it on the lothario outlaw.
I must admit to a slight sense of surrealism, when in a scene where Robin had just rescued Marian from some rogues who’d tried to have their wicked way with her, he tied her up, put his fingers between her legs, and gave her a good seeing to. I couldn’t help but wonder at this point, whether the rather delicious Richard Armitage would have appreciated this rather raunchy version of Robin?
Although I didn’t loathe this version of Marian, I must admit, I found Alys of Wentworth – one of the secondary characters in the book – far more interesting. Marian was an ok heroine, but I didn’t feel particularly moved by her. She was a fairly straight-forward wench, who seemed almost matronly in her demeanour. Gone was the brash maiden from the original story, and in her place was a slightly dull reincarnation. Having said that, she was far more interesting than Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio’s portrayal of Marian in Kevin Costner’s Prince of Thieves.
Marian’s original impression of Will was that he was a cruel, forbidding man, but she eventually realises that his bark is much worse than his bite, and his cruel façade was just that, a façade. Her suspicion that Nottingham was far more than he appeared to be, starts taking shape when one night, Will bursts in on her having a bath, and proceeds to ‘force’ her to make love to him. But all wasn’t as it appeared to be. She soon realises that Will was in fact trying to protect her, by pretending to forcefully make love to her under the perverted eye of Prince John.
“ He propped himself up with the elbow of the hand her wrists and she felt the unmistakable shifting between their bodies, as with the other, he lifted his tunic, loosened the tie of his braies, quickly, sharply, and then before she could plead once more, he made a sharp move.
She braced herself, willing herself not to whimper, but there was nothing but a jolt of the bed. She cried out in surprise and shock..
“Aye” he said in her ear, his voice hoarse and tight. Will jerked against her again and again, faster and harder…but his hand had settled between them. Covering her, Not penetrating.
Although I wasn’t overly awed by Marian, I did think that the chemistry between her and Will fairly leapt off the page.
Erm… what plot? Honestly I’m struggling to remember any crucial plot points as I write this. The book seemed to sail along with repetitions of the following scenes:
1. Robin confronts/rescues/abducts Marian, and proceeds to feel her up. Check.
2. Will interrupts them, Robin taunts him, then Will takes Marian away, letting Robin escape yet again. Check.
3. Prince John The Perv gives us yet another example of how cruel and evil he is, usually with some serving wench giving him a blowjob. Check.
4. Marian fights with Will over how cruel Will his, and how much he’s changed, whilst she lets him feel her up. Check.
Shampoo, rinse and repeat, don‘t bother with the conditioner.
There was an important scene involving a girl about to be hung for murdering somebody, but the exact details escape me at the mo. Other than that, I’m struggling to remember any particularly strong plots.
Although nowhere near as bad as Unmasqued, Bound By Honor wasn’t as good as I had hoped it would be. The plot was severely limited, the majority of the characters lacked depth, the villain was over the top evil, the ending was infinitely forgettable, and the sex scenes were about as stimulating as watching Rush Limbaugh trying to find his dick under the rolls of fat on his stomach.
Apart from that, it was ok.