Bodice Rippers & Erotica Book Reviews: Belinda Alexandra
Tuscan Rose Wild Lavender
Wild Lavender by Belinda Alexandra
Read by Tracy in February 2013
Tracy recommends a slightly unbelievable with a subliminal message!
Simone Fleurier lived in idyllic lifestyle on a lavender farm away from the world and her only worry in the world being what type of fabric to buy for a dress for church. However, soon things turn tragic and Simone must face a sudden change of circumstance when her Uncle Gerome now runs the lavender farm which must make a profit and as such Simone is sent to an elderly aunt (Aunt Augustine) in Marseille to be nothing more than an unpaid servant. The only light in a dark tunnel with when Aunt Augustine shows Simone how to cook, she is suddenly shown in the light of a passionate cook, somone who misses the ability to spend her time ensconed ina kitchen. Simone comes across the very worldly and stunning Camille, the highlight of a local cabaret show. Luckily for Simone she soon finds herself with the unenviable position of walking Camille's dog, Bonbon and is keen to find out what Camille does. Soon Simone is taken under the wing of Madame Tarasova and can start to see her transition into the show world as a means of escape from her menial life and is soon given a paying job within the wardrobe department which could lead to so much more. Unfortunately not everyone is happy with Simones success and although people seem happy on the outside for her, jealousy runs deep. However, Simone is a fighter and in her desparation to make something of her life she must win over the world. Unfortuantely at the same time, she finds herself in occupied France, and in particular her ability to stay ahead of the majority of attrocities. Although deep down she is a farm girl and can never really leave her early life behind, she finds herself caught up in the world of others and finds herself taken in and used. Never really understanding what the Great War as really for, when so soon France is under the rule of Germany and the book only slightly touches on the devestation and heartbreak to people and animals alike as countries fight for freedome or supremacy. Some inhabitants of Paris find themselves a lot better off under the auspices of the Germans, but luckily our heroine, Simone finds this too much to bear and battles against insurmountable odds. Unlike Tuscan Rose which did talk a lot more about the church, I felt this book seems to talk about the church a lot more around the edges. I find it difficult, personally, to align such devestation of wars with religion and this book was a strange mix. However, that said, it is an enjoyable read with a strong heroine (although again, a bit too unbelievable), but the descriptions of a France before the war sounded idyllic and it is certainly a country I enjoy spending time in.
Tuscan Rose by Belinda Alexandra
Read by Tracy in January 2013
Tracy recommends an engrossing, yet easy read
15 years ago (1914), a character called The Wolf leaves a new born baby at the Santo Spirito convent in Florence, Italy. The only thing left with the child is a key tied to her foot. We skip ahead to 1929, when the now 15 year old Rosa Belocchi is being sent from the convent to work as a governess to the daughter of the Marchese Scarfiotti and his wife. Rosa has had a very sheltered life within the convent, even though the nuns were not supposed to form attachments to the orphans, Rosa had bonded with several, not least with Suor Maddalena who she idolised and saw as her mother. Rosa's time at the villa is not without its idealism, but you find out that her history and the Villa Scarfiotti and entwined in so many ways. We are now in the time of Mussolini and the horrific crimes on the people usually at the whims of the ruling class. We can now follow the rise, rise and rise of fascism and finally the fall. All of which, when you read about it now, you wonder why nobody stood up to the stupidity that saw incredible hardship and despair, not just on the Italians, but also the religious minorities.
The story line does move along at a fair pace, luckily as it is a fairly hefty tome. It was a little bit disjointed in places and I did have to reread a few areas to get things to sink in. I was also surprised at some of story components - when Rosa is taken into custody, where were the Scarfiotti family (excluding the horrific Marchesa). I would have expected Signora Corvetto, at least, to fight for Rosa and her freedom.
After her prison stay, Rosa is eventually freed and her life is changed forever and she must now struggle with motherhood and having her record marked as an enemy of the state. She finds that there are people who will ignore that and take her into their families and eventually finds herself in love and also involved in the resistance movement. She is unbelievable - and therein lies the fault in the book, she is too unbelievable.
I did love the descriptions of Florence, which I visited in 2011 and was taken aback by the architecture, every corner you turn unveils another treasure.
Read an interview with Belinda Alexandra.