Everything and the Moon (The Lyndon Sisters, #1) by Julia QuinnIve read worse romance novels, but this is the first one that Ive ever actually thrown across the room in rage. The other books Id read by Julia Quinn made me really trust her as someone with a feminist understanding about female autonomy and male-female power dynamics. Everything and the Moon betrayed that trust throughout its plot, summarized below.
The book goes wrong from the first. In the Dear Reader authors note, Quinn says that in this book she tries something she normally doesnt believe in: having the hero fall in love with the heroine at first sight. I wish shed never tried this at all, because the result was an immature young man with a great deal of power (social and financial--hes an earl) suddenly developing an obsession with a naive young woman who has none (her father is a clergyman). Hes used to getting everything he wants, so when he decides he wants to spend the rest of his life with her, he doesnt believe anything could stand in his way. He convinces her that they are fated for each other, then when their fathers unwittingly conspire to break them up, believes that shes intentionally jilted him and goes off to London to live a cynical, worldly life.
Her heart is broken, she no longer trusts her father, and in order to escape from her old life she finds a series of miserable jobs as a governess. Seven years later, he discovers her again at a garden party hes attending at her employers home. She wants nothing to do with him, but, still driven by obsession and anger, he forces her to pay attention to him on multiple occasions. When she makes it clear to him that his association with her is placing her job, and therefore her entire welfare, in jeopardy, his first thought is that she can always put herself in his protection.
When she is fired, through something that is, in fact, indirectly his fault (his attentions to her made another party guest sexually interested in her; when he attempts to rape her the hero rescues her and beats up her attacker, who later slanders her to her employer), she finally finds employment that makes her happy: work in a dress shop where she makes friends and feels that she is in control of her life at last. However, the hero cant believe that shes happy without him, and when he discovers that she is living in a dangerous part of town he begins stalking her. No, really. He stands outside her window, he escorts her to and from her job, he constantly sends her presents that she never asked for, and he continually berates her about her choices.
Finally, when someone is killed in her neighborhood, he kidnaps her--he persuades her to ride home from work in his carriage, she falls asleep, and when she wakes up theyre halfway to his cottage by the sea. Shes horrified and tries to explain to him (again) why her autonomy is important to her, but she only sounds pathetic and he doesnt get it.
They stop at an inn for the night. She attempts to escape, but doesnt get far before shes attacked by two men in the street. He rescues her, then blames her for endangering herself and tells her shes sleeping in his bed for the rest of the night. [This is when I threw the book against the wall. I wasnt even going to finish reading it, but I ended up too curious not to.]
It turns out he doesnt actually rape her then--how nice of him! They continue to his cottage, where he makes her feel guilty because she turns him on so much that hes in pain. So eventually she does have sex with him.
Let me go over that again. Shes been abducted and taken to the middle of nowhere from where she has no ability whatsoever to return. If she did return, she would probably have no job because shes been missing from it without excuse for several days. She feels morally obliged to him for saving her from being violently raped twice. She is sexually attracted to him and cant help feeling some nostalgic affection for him (despite her better judgment). Her position is hopeless, unless, as he makes absolutely clear, she marries him. At this point she has sex with him.
Of course, its great sex and she doesnt feel bad at all about it in the morning, because they after all were destined for each other. They go back to London and get married and live happily ever after.
Heroine: I just worry sometimes that you wont let me have my way.
Hero: But I love you and I want to protect you FOREVER!
Heroine: Oh, okay.
If I were trying to write a book that sympathetically spells out the twisted psychology of a stalker, it would come out very much like this one. The more I think about it the more it blows my mind that Quinn wrote it herself, given her statements about being a feminist, and her understanding, demonstrated clearly in other books, of why men in the social situations she writes about have inherently more power than women, why that isnt fair, and why its important that romantic heroines retain a whole lot of personal autonomy. My only guess is that her feminism developed a whole lot after she wrote this book, as its one of her earliest.
Everything and the Moon
They embark on a journey of fanciful love until they decide to elope. Both of their fathers think that they do not belong together due to their differences in rank in society, so both dads end up disillusioning the couple, making Victoria and Robert believe that the other has betrayed them. Victoria's father had tied her up so she could not meet Robert, and Robert's father lied to both Robert and Victoria, making her think he was just dallying with her and making Robert think that she just wanted a title and money. Click here to see the rest of this review. Seven years later, Victoria, who has taken a position of governess to escape her father, meets Robert again while he was in a garden maze, where she has been lost.
List Chapter Read Now. When Robert Kemble stumbles across Victoria Lyndon in hedgerow maze, he can't believe his eyes. The girl who'd torn him in two, who let him plan on elopement and then left him standing by the side of the road, was suddenly within arm's reach, and even though his fury still knew no bounds, she was impossible to resist Victoria's father had told her an earl would never marry a vicar's daughter, and he was right. Robert had promised her marriage, then danced off to London while she suffered the shame of a foiled elopement. But even though Victoria doesn't particularly enjoy her new life as a governess, when Robert offers her a job of a different sort—his mistress—she refuses, unable to sacrifice her honor, even for him. But Robert won't take no for an answer, and he vows to make her his, through any means possible.
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Robert had promised her marriage, then danced off to London while she suffered the shame of a foiled elopement. Can these star-crossed lovers learn to trust again? And is love really sweeter the second time around? Robert Kemble, Earl of Macclesfield, had never been given to flights of fancy, but when he saw the girl by the lake, he fell instantly in love. His first glimpse of the girl was of her flailing her arms as she slipped off of a wet rock.
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Robert remained in bed, shivering and feeling altogether sick. It hadn't been so bad when Victoria was there. She—and that devilish nightgown he was beginning to wish he hadn't purchased—took his mind off the fact that ten little icicles were attached to his feet and that he used to call them toes. A few minutes later Victoria reappeared in his doorway, two steaming mugs in her hands. Robert's entire face lit up. He couldn't remember a time when broth sounded so good. Robert sniffed the air, searching for an aroma.