Desert Isle Keeper Review
The Velvet Series
(This DIK review was written by a reader)
1991 reissue of 1981 release, Renaissance Romance (Early 1500s [Tudor])
Pocket, $7.99, 320 pages, Amazon ASIN 0671739743
Part of a series
This review encompasses the four books in this series, all of which are set in the early 1500s. All were initially published between 1981 and 1983, but have since been reissued (and remain in print). The ISBN and price above are for the first in the series, The Velvet PromiseOf all of her wonderful books, the four titles in Jude Deveraux's
Velvet series are classics and particular favorites of mine. In these books, Deveraux introduces us to the wonderful, proud and gorgeous Montgomery brothers. We meet Gavin Montgomery in Velvet Promise in which he marries, sight unseen, the outrageously gorgeous, red-headed, golden-eyed Judith Revedoune. Gavin sees the marriage as a way to re-establish his tarnished family name. Judith is the daughter of an abusive and powerful earl who sees this marriage as his way to continue the family line. All his sons are dead, and though he's left with this puny and worthless daughter, the least she can do is give him grandsons. Judith's mother, on the other hand, has trained her to become a prioress to protect her from the same sort of abusive marriage she herself suffered. But when the earl threatens his wife with serious, bodily harm if Judith doesn't go through with the marriage, she capitulates.
Judith and Gavin's initial meeting on their wedding day starts as a fairy tale but soon turns disasterous when Gavin's conniving, deceitful former lover, Alice, turns up hoping to keep Gavin chained to her. Throughout the book, Gavin and Judith have to overcome obstacles due to their having married as total strangers. Judith must come to the realization that not all men are abusive, controlling beasts (although Gavin does possess quite a temper) and Gavin must see the deceptive Alice for what she really is and come to love and trust his bride.
Highland Velvet follows the second oldest Montgomery brother, Stephen, who is ordered by his king to take a Scottish bride. Bronwyn MacArran is not only is laird of her own clan, she hates all English.
Highland Velvet focuses on Stephen's attempts to fit in with the ways
of the Highlanders, and trying his darndest to please a wife who hates him and
thinks his attempts to fit in with her people are ridiculous. Highland
Velvet while enjoyable, is probably my least favorite of the four, since
it is handicapped by too many sub-plots. Additionally, Bronwyn's anti-English attitude
was carried on for far too long and got a bit tiresome.
The next Montgomery brother is Raine (my favorite due to his black hair,
dreamy blue eyes and dimples). His story is told in the third book, Velvet
Song. Raine has been outlawed because he disobeyed the king's orders in
order to help his brother Stephen. While Raine is hiding in the woods with
his band of outlaws, a young woman named Alyxandra Blackett, who has been
accused of witchcraft, comes his camp.
Alyx is dressed as a boy and in her disguise, she assumes the role of Raine's
page. For a time, Alyx fools them, but Raine is a Montgomery (and a man) and
eventually discovers her true identity . They become lovers, but Alyx's
accusers reappear to come between them. We also get a chance to catch up on
Gavin and Judith and Stephen and Bronwyn from the earlier novels.
Velvet Angel is the final book in the series. It centers around the
youngest brother, Miles. Miles was my least favorite Montgomery brother in
the earlier books because of his penchant to, uh, sleep around. He has three
bastard sons (who have middle names after Miles' older brothers). Miles knows
that these are all the children he has because he "keeps track of his
women." This at only 20 years old! Miles, however, redeems himself wonderfully in Velvet Angel, and his romance with Elizabeth Chatworth is fabulous.
Elizabeth's character was first introduced in Velvet Song, and her own story begins with her punishment for coming to the aid of Alyx.
Elizabeth is stripped and rolled in a carpet and brought to Miles' camp as a "gift." Her accusers feel that the promiscous Miles will ruin her. This is where we learn that Miles may not be just a randy playboy. When Miles meets
Elizabeth, even though he wants her at first sight, he controls himself
because he learns of her fear of men. Miles vows to protect Elizabeth and
eventually, falls in love with her. But their path is not smooth and Miles
and Elizabeth's brother, Roger have a misunderstanding that involves
treachery and deceit that is far too complicated to describe here.
The best part of Velvet Angel is that it brought all the four
Montgomery brothers and their respective wives together at the end. I
especially loved how the wives got together to plan the rescue of their
husbands and how Ms. Deveraux allowed each of the wives personalities to shine
through during this scene. The ending is the absolute best when the four
brothers (who are attempting a rescue) feel that it's best that the wives
"stay out of the way." Knowing their stubborn wives won't listen, they lock
them away in a cell. Knowing that they will get hell from them afterwards,
the three oldest brothers give the key to the cell to Miles. But Miles, ever
the lover of women, has other ideas and, well, you'll just have to read the
ending - it's just too good to give away. That has to be one of the most
hilarious endings of any book I've ever read. This series is an absolute
jewel and a true Desert Island Keeper.
-- Elena Oppedisano
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