In , by the time she reached age twelve, Carlos V had betrothed her to Ruy Gomes da Silva —73 , then already thirty-six years old. He was a Portuguese nobleman who arrived in Spain as part of the contingent of courtiers that accompanied Isabel of Portugal when she married Carlos V.
Ruy was known as "King Ruy" because he was Felipe II's most trusted advisor and secretary first as prince and then as king. Obviously, this position gave him great influence in politics—Reed and Dadson consider him Felipe's "favorite" and "friend. This closeness to the king and queen made Ana and Ruy the power couple at court. Unlike that of Ana's parents, her marriage to Ruy seems to have been Access options available:.
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Without cookies your experience may not be seamless. No institutional affiliation. LOG IN. Early Modern Women. In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content: Reviewed by:. Additional Information. From this point on, both Sebastian and Rachel begin to change; she evolves from the shell of a woman she is at the beginning of the story, gradually throwing off the marks of her decade-long incarceration to reclaim her emotions and learn to live again. Sebastian finds purpose in caring for his estates and tenants, and in caring for Rachel, to whom he is tender, charming and affectionate.
The one false note struck in the book comes near the end.
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View all 4 comments. Sep 06, boogenhagen rated it really liked it.
This is an extremely dark story but in a weird kinda way, the H and h are superbly matched for each other and I really believed the HEA. For me, this was a couple who really worked well together even though I am completely appalled at how their relationship starts. Rachel the h has been convicted of murdering her husband and imprisoned for 10 years. She was 18 and married for a week when her husband was killed. She stands trial and is convicted, no one wanted to believe that the man was a violen This is an extremely dark story but in a weird kinda way, the H and h are superbly matched for each other and I really believed the HEA.
She stands trial and is convicted, no one wanted to believe that the man was a violent sadist and no one believed she was innocent. She is sent to a Solitary System type prison and stays there for 10 years. Rachel is badly damaged, she keeps an strong barrier between herself and any type of emotion. Where she has been it wasn't safe for her to be anything other than a mindless automaton.
She assumes her position in Sebastian's house and gradually begins to recover from her institutionalization. PG made Rachel's re-immersion into everyday life seem pretty rapid and miraculous, of course the reason for this rapid recovery is linked to Rachel's love for Sebastian and his care of her. Which leads to the big conflict of the story, the character and conscience of Sebastian.
He basically starts out as an utter complete jerk, he is hedonistic, bored and dissipated. Sebastian is an out and out bastard. He doesn't have a compassionate bone in his body. He is fascinated with Rachel because she appears so contained, she is helpless in his power, and he wants to know what it is like to smexx a murderess. He wants to break down her protective barriers and he wants to see her lose control.
Not because he cares, she is an object like a rubik's cube that he wants to solve, mainly cause he is bored and jaded. Rachel is a new thrill in a long list of sybaritic thrills. He plans to use her, break her and then go on his merry way. The first sex scene between Rachel and Sebastian is one of the most horrifying I have ever read and not because it is violent.
It isn't, Sebastian coerces Rachel into sex by threatening her with being returned to prison. He makes repeated references to her husband's abuses and then he tries to make her physically respond. He gives up on the response from her but the sheer cold blooded calculation and coercion made me ill. PG is so vivid in her imagery that you feel Rachel's desolation and pain even though it is not told in her pov. The scene is told in Sebastian's pov and it is this ability with words to make Sebastian and the vicarious reader recognize Rachel's devastation that makes this book work so well.
Like Heisenberg and Schrodinger, Sebastian begins to learn that he is not unaffected as an observer in his experiment with Rachel. Her pain and her struggle to humanize herself again begins to get to him and it culminates when he invites some acquaintances down to basically harass Rachel about her marriage and imprisonment. He looks at his "friends" doing their level best to injure Rachel's psyche and he sees a mirror of himself and hates what he sees. Sebastian makes his final choice of what kind of person he will be when he stops one of the houseparty members from raping Rachel at the last possible moment.
From then on Sebastian goes out of his way to cherish Rachel and while it isn't the full scale mental therapy she needs, it does seem to help her heal enough to function in the everyday world and to be able to love Sebastian. I think Rachel would never be able to function happily on her own without Sebastian, she is too easily overset by opposition. Rachel tries to be brave but she is fragile. Sebastian is still authoritarian enough to keep her stable even after both of their "rehabilitations".
While he is kindness and love itself to Rachel, he is still arrogant and domineering. I don't doubt his love for Rachel, I just don't think his basic ruthlessness and sense of entitlement really ever went away. Sebastian's edges are softened and his black depths brightened but they don't go disappear, they still comprise his character. Strangely the one discordant note was at the very end of the book, it appears Rachel is going to be sent back to prison and Sebastian seems pretty helpless to stop it. This was a bit disingenuous on PG's part. Sebastian is now an Earl and has never seemed to have any problems throwing his weight around prior to this.
Maybe the novel experience of being completely in love has thrown him, but I kinda doubt it. Rachel is actually acquitted of murder in a deus ex machina move that was relayed by the H from a previous book and while it is nice fantasy it does kinda mess up the pace of the story and is a very awkward mien for Sebastian's character. Ending machinations aside, the real story is Rachel and Sebastian's codependent-in-the-nicest-possible-way relationship.
Rachel is never really independent and healed in her psyche and Sebastian is never really redeemed as a former rake. They don't really recover from their pasts, they just manage to accept each other and move on to build a better life than each had before. They are perfectly matched in this regard. Interestingly, I did not feel a great need for Sebastian to make some grand gesture and redeem himself, it was enough for me that he wanted to take care of his estate and love Rachel.
I also did not really care if Rachel made any more efforts at independence and self reliance, I was just glad she loved Sebastian and wanted to be cared for by him. That was the effect of PG's fluid and vivid writing style. I, like Sebastian and Rachel, was content and happy with what I found at the end and willing to let the past rest in a loving and caring future.
View all 5 comments. Danielle "The Book Huntress" Hill.
La Bella Cautiva
One of my favorite "themes" in romance novels is The Reformed Rake -- you know, the man who's seen it all, done it all, and is to the point where he's actually getting bored with debauchery, only to be turned around by the love of a good woman? I'm so torn with this book. I truly can't decide if I loved it or hated it. Sebastian is a true rake -- he's bored, promiscuous, a bit cruel, and just overall a pretty nasty fellow. At least, that's how he is at the beginning. Our heroine, R One of my favorite "themes" in romance novels is The Reformed Rake -- you know, the man who's seen it all, done it all, and is to the point where he's actually getting bored with debauchery, only to be turned around by the love of a good woman?
Our heroine, Rachel, was horribly abused by her husband, both physically and sexually, for the one week that they were married.. The only thing that stopped him was someone murdered him. Rachel was convicted and sent to prison for ten years. Prison in those days was not like prison is today. It was solitary confinement, with prisoners never allowed to speak or even make eye contact with anyone else. Basic human qualities such as modesty and vanity were completely abolished, with prisoners suffering all sorts of indignities designed to strip away their individuality.
Rachel ends up with a pretty solid case of PTSD, both as a result of her treatment at the hands of her cruel husband, and based on her experiences in prison. My biggest issue with this book is the same one I think a lot of people have -- the first sexual encounter between the hero and the heroine is not consensual even though it's not a violent rape. And I don't mean "forced seduction", where the heroine very weakly protests then gives in because she's so turned on.
Rather, she doesn't want to have sex, it obvious to both the reader and to the hero that she doesn't want to have sex, and he has sex with her anyway. To the point where he actually makes a conscious decision to go ahead and ignore her pleasure and seek his own climax simply because he realizes that continuing the facade of trying to seduce her will just end up in his physically hurting her. Not in the he-threw-her-down-and-violently-had-his-way-with-her-while-she-sobbed-her-protests way or anything, but it's still rape in my eyes when a sexually abused woman clearly indicates that she is not interested in a sexual relationship and the man pretty much tells her that she can either have sex with him or go back to prison.
Our heroine is hesitant to call it rape it even says just that right afterwards , but deep down, I think most people would acknowledge that it was. At the very, very least, it's dubious consent, and made me very uncomfortable reading it. However and that's a big "however" , I can't say that it was gratuitous. I did not get the feeling that Patricia Gaffney included that disturbing little scene and the one immediately following it in order to arouse or even give a thrill to the reader.
Instead, it seemed to be a further illustration of Sebastian's true character. He is not a nice man. While it's clear he had no intention of physically hurting her as he's clearly concerned that he might have done just that , it's also just as clear that he's excited by the fact she's not interested in a sexual relationship.
He's so jaded and filled with ennui that pushing the envelope like that is one of the few things that gets his motor running. As uncomfortable as it was to read, I can't say that it wasn't necessary.
Without that scene and the scene immediately following , the reader would continue to foster the misconception that deep down Sebastian is a noble man who wouldn't really take advantage of someone who was truly in a helpless situation. That's simply not the case, and it's important for the reader to realize that in order to truly appreciate his redemption. In addition, the entire bit where his friends come to visit, and it's clear that Rachel is to be that evening's entertainment not sexually, mind you, but so that his friends can pick her apart about her abuse and jailhouse experiences , was also very uncomfortable to read.
Rachel is not your typical "abused heroine". She's a realist -- she understands that sometimes bad things happen for no reason other than that's just the way things are.
She did not agree to be Sebastian's housekeeper with blinders on, but instead expected to have to please him sexually from the moment they arrived at his house. I think that might be one of the reasons their first encounter was so hard to read -- she'd been expecting it, had resigned herself to it, and yet still desperately wished she didn't have to go through it.
I still really, really liked this book. There was a single pivotal scene where Sebastian comes face to face with the reality of the type of man that he's become, and his whole world shatters. He knows he doesn't deserve Rachel's forgiveness for his treatment, and is appropriately grateful when she begins to bestow it upon him. The whole conversation with the vicar before he leaves town that last time had me wanting to shake him.
Total V8 moment you know, where you want to just thump them on the forehead for being a moron? Also, do be aware that this book contains several situations and conversations that could be triggers for victims of sexual abuse.
So, my final rating is a solid four. Part of me really wants to give it a five, because it was so well written. The characters were three-dimensional, and there wasn't a single Mary Sue in the entire novel which was so very refreshing. If I could get over the squick factor of their first two encounters, I wouldn't hesitate to give it a five.
Just as good this reading as the first time. This book is hard to describe.
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