- Title: Master of Paradise
- Author: Virginia Henley
- Length: About 300 pages
- Price: About 4.99 for the e-book
General Plot: Nicholas Peacock should inherit a huge estate and a title in England, but when his father died suddenly, his stepmother cheated him out of his money, so with nothing else to do, he comes to America and settles in South Carolina. He works hard to earn money and buys a plantation which he calls “Paradise,” and which quickly comes to showcase his wealth and taste. Meanwhile, he has befriended a hooligan child named Amanda who is a constant source of embarrassment to her family with her wild ways. Nicholas, however, sees a kindred spirit in this wild child and plans to wait until she grows up and then marry her. The start of the Civil War and the collapse of Amanda’s family plays into his plans by leaving her with nowhere else to go and he agrees to marry the 16 year old beauty in name only. Now that the only thing stopping him from loving her like he longs to do is the trust of her father, Nick finds it difficult not to initiate her into what promises to be a wonderful physical relationship. But is Amanda really ready for that?
My Review: Virginia Henley has been writing romance novels for decades and although I enjoyed this novel as a whole, it definitely follows an older style where the hero is incapable of any wrong, the heroine is unconventional but perfect, and everything is beautiful and perfect. Nicholas even treats his slaves (which he felt terrible buying but managed to do) with the utmost fairness and respect. The author spends a great deal of time detailing the growth of Paradise Plantation and how clever Nick is to turn his investment into a stunningly beautiful (and naturally perfect) example of all things antebellum South.
Once the Civil War starts, little time is spent on discussing what happens to the southern families or society as a whole. It is covered quickly without much new territory being covered or much emotional strain being put on the reader. I can understand Ms. Henley not wanting to make this romance into a war drama, but it does seem that if you are setting a book in that period, it should at least discuss in a realistic way the sorrows of war. In any case, the war, and the book, end quickly. The ending seems very rushed and I do wish Ms. Henley had spent a few more pages giving a good “black moment” and ending allowing us to feel that cathartic joy that we long to feel when lovers long separated are reunited.
The Tingle Factor: There was some fun chemistry between Nicholas and Amanda as they are married but not sexually involved but the few sex scenes after that changes were quick and not particularly original. This is not as much of a sexual novel as it is a classic “saga” novel with a bit of sex and romance thrown in. The language is restrained and it definitely would not be too much description for any but the most delicate reader.
Tingle Scale: 4/10