Karla's Reviews > Eden Rising

Eden Rising by Marilyn Harris
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's review
Nov 10, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: historical-romance, cover-artists-franco-accornero, eras-victorian, wusses-need-not-apply, eras-19th-century, insane-characters, keepers, rape, made-me-emotional
Read from November 06 to 10, 2011

"Marilyn picks you up and cuddles you and then hurls you back to the ground again. She's like the Mommie Dearest of writers."

I'm stealing that with permission from my sister, who has been a witness to my marathon reading of this series. Even though she hasn't read these books yet, she summed up my feelings perfectly. It's been a brutal, emotional trip and, by the time I picked this book up, I knew there was one hard and fast rule: BRACE YOURSELF FOR HEARTBREAK.

When we last left John Murrey Eden, he was all-out insane and had wrecked the lives of his loved ones through his various paranoias and psychoses. When we open this tale, four years later, he has been living in isolation at Eden Point with only the blind Lady Harriet for company. All the servants have left, and he is now a loathed local monster.

So when circuit nurse Susan Mantle is woken up one night and told that Eden is up on the battlements with a (dead?) woman in his arms, she finds the local populace encouraging him to jump. Deeply devout as both Christian and a follower of Florence Nightingale, she succeeds in rescuing him from his suicidal impulse and does her best to rehabilitate him. During this rather brief period, they both make an indelible impression on the other.

So the question is: Will John Murrey Eden redeem himself? He has quite a way to go, and he makes plenty of false steps. Embarking on a rescue mission to France - where his stepmother Elizabeth has been imprisoned for her activities with anarchist Louise Michel - John's temper is his own worst enemy and the situation becomes more dire for Elizabeth as time goes on. Throughout the book, the scenes tended to bounce around between Paris and England. At times it was annoying because the subplot with Elizabeth was so intense that I didn't like to see it interrupted; however, I think my blood pressure was grateful for the occasional lulls.

Without giving too much away - and it's damned hard with these books - I felt that, yes, John Murrey Eden is redeemed quite a bit. Perhaps not entirely believably, and the ending seemed far too fluffy for a Marilyn Harris book (hence the docking of 1 star), but I guess I've gotten used to moody endings and multiple tragic blows in the final chapters. That wasn't the case here, and it was therefore the most romancey installment of the series so far. Once John and Susan reunite after a long time apart (she in England and he in France), they have each reached a point in their lives that demand they be together. John has hit rock bottom again (this time in a redemptive way) and Susan has given so much of herself throughout her life that she wants something for herself for once.

I particularly liked the part of the story that took place in General William Booth's Salvation Mission, where John Murrey Eden finally realizes what has been his main corrupting influence and who he should have been emulating all along. The answer nearly tore my heart out.

If mainstream Christian fiction wasn't so watered down and saccharine (sorry, but that's the way I feel), I would highly recommend this book because there is a huge message about forgiveness and redemption in it. But what with the incest and rape and murder and all of John's past crimes against family - as well as the need to read the entire series to get the full backstory - I don't think this one would be palatable to readers in that genre.

A fluffy finale (absent one or two characters who won't forgive), but will it last? The next book, American Eden, starts 14 years later. So we shall see. I'm sure Mommie Dearest is about to drop me again.
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Reading Progress

11/06/2011 page 1
0.0% "Let's see if Marilyn can believably rehab this bugfuck insane sumbitch." 3 comments
11/06/2011 page 26
6.0% "Harris is expertly spinning out this first scene, dropping details about our heroine Susan and setting the mood of the decaying Eden Castle, as Susan is trying to get to the top of the parapet where John Murray Eden (holding a dead Harriet) is apparently threatening suicide."
11/07/2011 page 130
28.0% "JME's been into the abyss, but while on the mend he's showing signs that bad habits are real hard to break."
11/07/2011 page 154
33.0% "Is it wrong that I'm warming up the teensiest bit to John Murrey Eden? O__O Susan's lack of "history" with the Eden family is giving JME a blank canvas to redraw himself, with just enough lapses carried over from the previous book to still make him unlikable." 4 comments
11/08/2011 page 182
39.0% "Well, that was quite the twist. I wondered if it was a case of He Doth Protest Too Much. :D"
11/08/2011 page 209
45.0% "Seven days until Elizabeth is due before the firing squad. Will John get her out of La Rochelle before then? *bites nails*"
11/09/2011 page 295
63.0% "[image error]" 3 comments
11/10/2011 page 390
84.0% ""Now throughout the room she heard others weeping, but could not look away from that one delicately cupped white hand which continued to caress the back of his neck in a gesture that signified merely all the love in the world.""
11/10/2011 page 408
87.0% ""We seem to fall apart with predictable regularity, you and I, and we both do a pretty fair job of putting the other back together again. I just thought it would save time and be wise to stay conveniently...close."" 2 comments
11/10/2011 page 445
95.0% "

I....I think there just might be a fluffy happy ending..... O__o


Comments (showing 1-16 of 16) (16 new)

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message 1: by Kerrie (new) - added it

Kerrie Even the blurb on the back of the book is like a sucker punch to the gut - can't imagine how the entire book feels. Why are these books OOP???

Karla Well, I'd have appreciated it if the whole first paragraph wasn't a bigass SPOILER. Granted, Harriet's death is revealed in the first few pages, but not the cause, and JME hasn't had a stroke yet. So it would have been nice if the blurb writer had been a bit more circumspect about the setup. Gah.

message 3: by Kerrie (last edited Nov 06, 2011 05:49AM) (new) - added it

Kerrie That sucks! :( It's kind of like a movie trailer where you just know you pretty much saw the entire movie.

Also... that blurb was enough to turn off one easily-squicked reader below!

Karla The last time there's any active incest is partway through Book 3. :P Though JME's attitude towards his cousin/half-sister Mary is pretty darn creepy in Book 4. He doesn't act upon it, though.

And in Book 5 someone says that, depending on who you talk to, Harriet is JME's aunt, mother, lover or mistress. While not technically the fourth one, she was the first 3. I'm sure if I looked hard enough, it would be shown that JME was his own grandpa. LOL

message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

You're killing me! I must find these books.

message 6: by Sarah (new) - added it

Sarah I read the back of my copy when it arrived, then wanted to howl with the injustice of such a ruthless spoiler! Argh. Incompetant blurbs = FAIL. But you did find the name of cover artist, so I salute you. ;)

message 7: by Karla (last edited Nov 07, 2011 04:34AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Karla The person who wrote this one is probably from the same school of assholes that produced the blurb writer for Books 2 & 3 of the Coltrane Saga. FFS, dude. But I've come across quite a few - especially the books by Pocket/Richard Gallen - that give the whole fucking plot away! Srsly, guys. Stop it. I'd rather have vague stuff about blazing ecstasy and limitless passions than giving me a 1 minute summary of the whole dang story.

message 8: by Kerrie (new) - added it

Kerrie Although it is frustrating to have a back cover just filled with words that don't say anything. :D But I'd rather have that then know what's going to happen.

Karla Hey, you're supposed to obnoxiously italicize your emphases, like Julie Anne Long. ;)

message 10: by Kerrie (new) - added it

Kerrie I considered it.... But starting my own awful trend. :P

message 11: by Sarah (new) - added it

Sarah You are a fiend.

Karla Nothing bitter about it. I love this type of angsty pain. :D

message 13: by Kerrie (new) - added it

Kerrie I like how Harris seems to seamlessly throw history in with her fiction. Can't say the same for the series that I'm reading right now.... Are you sure you want those or can I take them to the UBS for some much needed credit??? :D

Karla Oh, I guess I'll give them up so you can get your credits. (If I should read #2 for some Nathan Hale squee, I'll want that one.)

message 15: by Kerrie (new) - added it

Kerrie That's #3, and he's dead by pg. 70, I think...

Really, they're not worth the time required since they're so long. :P

Karla OK then, I'll be big and sacrifice them. :P

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