Ritual of Proof, by Dara Joy

>> Tuesday, July 15, 2003

I have a ton of books to post about. First: Ritual of Proof (excerpt), by Dara Joy. This was one I've had for a long time. The idea behind the book intrigued me, but I've seen quite a few posts about how it was just a good idea but no story, so it took quite a bit for me to finally pick it up.

I'm glad I did, because it was great fun. A B+.

In a world where women hold all the power, a titled man can do little but accept his fate -- that his sole purpose is to secure a good match -- and hope his "bed price" is high enough. Jorlan Reynard has every trait necessary for that price -- he is staggeringly handsome. Irresistible. Wildly sensual. But he is also impossibly willful. The brash male refuses to be taken by just any woman merely because she can afford him.

Only one -- the Marquelle Green Tamryn -- can claim him. In a bold move, the powerful aristocrat marries him, offering him the security of her name and position, But there are forces conspiring against her, and theMarquelle must summon all her considerable influence to fight for their survival. However, he is not only a passionate lover, but an unexpectedly powerful ally...and soon, the full truth of his remarkable abilities will begin to be revealed to all
I enjoyed reading about the Regency-in-reverse society. I was interested to notice that I felt about it exactly as I feel when reading about the real Regency (or at least, the version we see in romance novels): I felt frustrated by the power of one sex over another and by the constant assumptions that the "weaker" sex was intellectually inferior. This tells me that what bothers me about gender inequallity isn't that it is my gender being discriminated against, but the inequality itself; that a characteristic like gender is being used to determine someone's worth.

Ahem. Moving on. The reason this book worked for me was that Joy did have a story to tell beyond the provoking world she built. This story would have been interesting to read even if the Jorlan character had been a Regency miss and Green the classic Regency rake. Don't get me wrong, the setting added points for me, and made me like the story even better, but it would have been good anyway.

The characters were likeable, and I liked how they played their role in the war-of-the-sexes story. Jorlan was really to-die-for, and Green was reasonable, brave and kind, very willing to accept Jorlan as an equal. Oh, and I must mention that Joy is a genius with love scenes. Very steamy and tender at the same time. And loooong! ;-)

I just wish Joy hadn't introduced all the Sensitive psychic mumbo-jumbo. I probably would have enjoyed this much better without that distraction. I just spaced out when all this started. The set-up had more than enough to make it interesting without adding this to the mix, too.

I especially liked the ending. At first, I wondered if Joy had gone sexist on me: "Why does the man always have to be the one to save the day?" But the epilogue was very, very enlightening, and I liked it.

PS - I'm definitely not one of those people who, after one book they like, demand the stories of every single supporting character. I'm usually more than ready to have them stay supporting characters, but once in a while there's one particular characters who just screams for his own book. River, Green's long-time lover (her "mistress", in a way), is one of them. I was intrigued by his backstory, and it looked to me as if Joy was setting him up for something. Please?

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