Sunday, April 22, 2018

#TBRChallenge 2018: Satin and Silver

The Book: Satin and Silver by Jane Archer

The Particulars: Historical western romance, Signet, 1986, Out of print, Not available in digital.

Why Was It In Wendy's TBR?: I found this in a Las Vegas used bookstore and became entranced by the female cover model.  That dress! That choker!  HER HAIR!!  I mean, the dude appears to be drooling on her boobs but LOOK AT HER!  So yes, against my better judgment I bought this.  I mean, how could I not?

The Review: The Bodice Ripper Era in romance isn't all that different from today's genre.  There were good books.  There were bad books.  And then there was a whole lot of meh in between.  This book mostly stays in the meh territory with occasional trips into problematic territories that one kind of expects from this era of romance.  Unfortunately there's little WTF-ery to make this a truly memorable read in the sort of train-wreck vein - so for most of this I was largely bored.  Mores the pity.

Shenandoah Davis (seriously) is in Tombstone, Arizona (because of course she is) working her charms as a gambler and waiting for her uncle (who is in Leadville - because of course he is) to send for her.  All it would take is a mention of Dodge City for the author to hit Bodice Ripper Western Bingo.  Anyway, after the war options were limited for Shenandoah, so her uncle brought her out west and taught her a trade.  But never fear, our girl may work in saloons, but she's still a virgin because....1986.

Rogue Rogan (seriously) has just arrived in Tombstone, sent by "Fast Ed" Davis (yes, the uncle) to collect his niece and escort her back to Leadville.  Rogue doesn't want to dilly-dally for long since he needs to get back to the mine he owns with Uncle Fast Ed, get together some capital, and head back to his inherited silver mines in Silver City, New Mexico before his dastardly cousin, Blackie (seriously), finds the motherlode.  But turns out Shenandoah won't leave until her baby half-sister, Arabella, arrives from Philadelphia, and wouldn't you know it?  Her stagecoach was robbed and she was kidnapped.  It's 1883, why the chit wasn't taking the train I have no idea - but whatever.  Ours is not to reason why.  So before she agrees to go anywhere with him, Rogue agrees to go along with her to rescue Arabella...for a price.  Basically Shenandoah will be indebted to him and he'll name his price "later."  Because 1986 and jackass heroes y'all!

If there had been any hint of mining anywhere in the purple-y back cover blurb I would have left this book in Vegas, stunning female cover model aside.  Wendy's first rule of historical westerns: any one that mentions a mine tends to be a stinker.  I know, I don't get it either - but every single one I've read, I've slogged through or intensely disliked.  There's also the problem with this being three books in one.  You've got the Arabella rescue, the Leadville prelude, and then the mad dash at the end of the book (after 460+ pages) in Silver City where the author brings all the players together for a final, rushed showdown.

When the "romance" isn't insta-lust, it's sex scenes with dubious consent.  In fact the first "love scene" happens after the hero gets insanely jealous seeing Shenandoah with one of the villains (suffering from a punishing embrace that he takes to mean she's totally compliant!  Because OF COURSE!) and only stops just short of forcing himself on her after she turns all willing like a lust-filled jelly donut.  He gets jealous a lot.  She gets jealous a lot.  And they have lots of angry-like sex with punishing kisses because OMG they can't keep their hands off each other!  Because OF COURSE!

Just in case you don't realize how desirable Shenandoah is - every single male character in this book (except her uncle because...eww), wants to have sex with her - consensual or not.  Really, it doesn't matter.  Men turn into mindless rutting zombies when Shenandoah walks into a room.

Arabella's characterization is also rather insulting - given that she goes from proper eastern-bred lady to self-loathing Stockholm Syndrome sufferer who keeps flailing herself on the rocks no matter how understanding her uncle and sister are.  But don't worry - she miraculously sees the light just in time at the end to save the day (because OF COURSE!).  And falls in love with a guy named Cougar (seriously).

There's not even a heaping pile of one tragedy after another with a side of WTF-ery to keep me going.  No avalanches or earthquakes or marauding pirates who kidnap the heroine to a Caribbean island.  I mean, really?  What kind of Old School romance is this?

Anyway, I wouldn't recommend this.  When it's not dull as dishwater, it seems to only feature the most annoying of the Old School Romance tropes.  I do love this cover (do you think that dress could work at the office?  Asking for a friend....), but that's pretty much all this has going for it.

Final Grade = D-


azteclady said...

"But never fear, our girl may work in saloons, but she's still a virgin because....1986."

I love your reviews.

I'll never read this one, but I'll still vaguely remember Shenandoah as the virgin saloon girl because...1986.

SonomaLass said...

Nobody reads Old School as well as our Wendy!

Jill said...

For the challenge, I read "The Husband Test" by Betina Krahn. It was a light hearted medieval, which I feel like is something you don't see anymore, but it had a similar vibe to older Amanda Quick.

The hero was a down on his luck earl who has to marry a virtuous woman to end a curse. He goes to a famous nunnery to find the perfect bride and is given a micromanaging young nun to adminster "the husband test" before he gets a bride. You can guess what happens next...
This was really cute with not a lot of Old Skool consent problems, but it did run out of narrative drive 3/4 of the way through and became very skimnable.

Renae said...

Old-school covers are the best! (Definitely wear the dress to work, 10/10)

Too bad this wasn't a GOOD old-school, but on the plus-side, we have no all heard of an hero who is unironically named Rogue Rogan. Poor soul.

Joy said...

The dress would definitely cause a stir at work but be careful with that satin or you might slide right off your desk chair. As for the romance--which doesn't really sound very romantic--never trust an author with a bland name like Jane Archer. Sounds like a pen name to me.

willaful said...

Just throw a cardigan over it!

Wendy said...

AL: I came to romance reading fairly late (1999) - but even then the default was virgin heroine. My, how things have changed.

SonomaLass: Since I use 10+ years for this particular theme - I had an abundance of choices in my TBR. But this year I wanted to go REALLY Old School.

Jill: I hadn't thought about it - but you are so right. "Light-hearted medievals" are something you don't see a lot these days. I like medievals but tend to want the more "serious" ones.

Renae: The names in this book! I didn't mention him in the review but there's another villain whose name is Spike Cameron. Seriously. Spike.

Joy: It's totally a pen name. She wrote vampires and suspense under her real name, Nina Romberg. And LOL - I'm such a klutz, I would end up sliding right out of my office chair wearing all that satin!

Willaful: Of course! A cardigan would only make it classier :)