I’ve recently been on a time-traveling kick. I found myself searching GoodReads for romance books that featured a time-traveling hero or heroine and I came across Enslaved by Virginia Henley. I’ve not yet read anything by her, though I’ve come across her name several times in my travels through romance-land.
Lady Diana Davenport lives in 18th century London and is on the cusp of inheriting her father’ s legacy. Her guardians have other plans for the money, and are anxious to make a match for Diana so she can be married off. Diana, however, has other ideas. She’s smart and opinionated, and most of the men in her life are dandies. She daydreams about times long past, how knights rode to defend the honor of their ladies, blah blah blah. When Diana comes across an old roman helmet in an antiques shop she can’t keep herself from putting it on her head. And WOOSH! She’ whisked back through time.
Figuring the strangely dressed woman as a Druid priestess and spy, Marcus Magnus instructs the woman to be enslaved. When he recognizes her light hair and pale skin as strangely beautiful, he takes her as his personal consort. Diana, once again, has other ideas. But she struggles to keep herself from becoming enraptured with the Roman who has taken charge of her.
My experience with this book was mixed. I’d say for the first half I was really intrigued and really into it, especially because we get a lot of set-up featuring Diana in her time period. Her guardians are odious people, and Diana’s small ways of rebelling against them are lovely. We are also introduced to a blackguard of an earl who sets his sights on Diana, and their exchange are feisty as well.
When Diana is thrown back in time, we the reader quickly realize that the Roman Marcus Magnus is a distant relative of the aforementioned earl, so identical to a point where Diana can barely see a difference between the two. I found myself wondering if Diana was perhaps experiences a Dorothy Gale moment and wasn’t actually transported back in time but rather having a delirious hallucination. But alas, no, she was in fact really back in that time period.
The parallels between Marcus and Mark Hardwick, the earl, really turned me off. I don’t typically dig reincarnation stories, and this one really spoiled that story for me. When Diana is returned to her time she has to convince those around her that she had, in fact, been back in roman times. When Mark starts to remember things is about when my head started to hurt from rolling my eyes so many times.
There’s nothing wrong with a bodice-ripping cheese fest of a romance novel, but I at least like a good hearty story behind it. Unfortunately, Enslaved fell short for me. The first half was fun, spirited and rich, but the second half fell flat with cliched predictability. A plus? It was pretty raunchy to which I say, “ohhhh…those Romans!”
Romance: 2/5 Raunch: 4/5