Karla's Reviews > The Conqueror

The Conqueror by Brenda Joyce
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Apr 28, 10

bookshelves: bodice-ripper, historical-romance, medieval, heroine-annoying-and-way-annoying, peeves-illogic-lemme-sho-u-it, rape, early-norman-england, big-misunderstandings, hero-alpha, private-notes
Recommended for: people who like more romance than historical
Read from April 22 to 27, 2010

(See this review with pictures here.)
O hai! Meet Ceidre. She is a witch, and in the next 420 pages, there are no end of people on hand to tell you so. It's Ceidre's misfortune to have a knack with herbal remedies and also a wandering eye, which twists the superstitious knickers of those around her. Her eye is conveniently referred to whenever she needs to be an object of distrust or have her self-esteem crushed. There is nothing about her finding it a bit hard to focus on things or losing her balance at odd times because the eyes aren't quite working together. I know of what I speak, because I haz one. So the poor eye was trotted out to get the same convenient beating over and over, and then shut away in the author's Closet of Forgetfulness the rest of the time.

And who's that? Why, it's Rolfe! Or The Relentless, as his latest winning streak of rampaging and pillaging has earned him quite the fearsome rep. He's a tall boy, golden and glowing, a wencher and rogerer. He'll take you front, back, and sideways from dusk to dawn and his Little Rolfe will still be raring to go. A very tumescent shaft has he, and you will practically know its topography by the time you're done with the book. I would even go so far as to say that it is a character in itself, since it propels events as much as anybody else does and the very thought of it can completely confuzzle Ceidre. It has authoritah. Respect it.

Meet Alice, Ceidre's half-sister and a "Witch!"-spewing harridan of invective. She's not a very nice person, and if you turn her sideways, she's about as thin as a piece of paper. Or, in fancy talk, "one-dimensional." She has about one note that she plays on a screechy little instrument called her voice. She hates the physical side of sex, until Rolfe gives it to her rough, and then she taps into her kinky side, wanting to let her mean freak flag fly. She can scratch skin with her kinky little claws, but barely the surface of my interest.

These were the three main characters, and there was far too much of them as they circled each other in close confines. By about page 100, we had reached the height of their development and it was a slow circling of the drain from there on out. Rolfe and Ceidre were especially frustrating, as a cycle of betrayal, imprisonment, hate sex, love sex, betrayal, etc. was repeated over and over. Rolfe grows a little bit in his attitude towards Ceidre, but he regresses in a contrivance so he can be the rampaging brute from page 1 before snapping back to Good Rolfe for the last clinch. And the last 160 pages contained so much sex that I got bored, since the first 260 pages was packed full of sexual thoughts. In fact, the three main characters think of little but sex for about 80% of the time. Repetitive? Oh, a tad.

I've heard this 1990 book was a throwback to the old bodice rippers, and is quite controversial. I thought it was a mess of Old Romance Meets New Romance. The first chapter ends with Rolfe nearly raping Ceidre, and Rolfe is a total Alpha male, so the Old Skool stuff is well-represented. But Rolfe has that weird post-Heroine-meeting Revulsion of Female Flesh that drives him to jealous insanity. He must have her! No other! He sleeps with a peasant and also his wife, but it's the thought of Ceidre's sweet, tender flesh and those feelings he holds but can't name (i.e., Love) that turn him into a cartoonish Hulk Smash. It's that obnoxious priestly blue balls syndrome post-heroine that drives me loony in the new romance, because some authors practically fetishize it.

Maybe it was the over-emphasis on the sex that annoyed me. Everything else, plot and logic, took a backseat. For example - and I won't go into detail to spoil it for anyone - Rolfe proves himself a total imbecile of a jailer twice (TWICE!) and yet William the Conqueror remands Ceidre back into Rolfe's custody because "all my prisons are full." Sure! There was no other lord with a keep that had a spare room anywhere else in the kingdom? But Rolfe and Ceidre have to get back onto the same real estate for the sexual drama to continue unabated. Seriously, enough was enough with the leaky lady parts and exploding fruit imagery and the mental piledriving and writhing. I started out liking the book, but by the end they weren't a Norman lord and a Saxon wench but a walking penis and vagina. Not two brain cells between them to rub together, but they did plenty of rubbing anyway.

Blah. The more I think about it, the more annoying it was.

(Oh, and for all you squeamish ladies who hate those old clinch covers, how about some unsubtle symbolic penetration for the reissue?)
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Reading Progress

04/24/2010 page 143
33.81% "Oh yeah, that's the stuff mommy likes....."
04/26/2010 page 267
63.12% "Well, about time the blue balls got over with." 3 comments

Comments (showing 1-20 of 20) (20 new)

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Karla I saw Fabio chillaxing on the spine, but I'm not seeing him as Rolfe. I started to read it last night, and it says he has short, curling hair. Fabio's got long locks. My immediate thought was Kevin McKidd.

Mmmmmm..... *goes off into happy place*


Karla I don't normally like blonds, but he and Daniel Craig are the two exceptions that I can name. And their facial features are somewhat alike....I just noticed...

Would make nice matching bread in a sandwich. ;-)


 Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads) Mmmmm. Daniel Craig. He's on my Blond exception list, too. So is Kevin.


Karla Danielle "The Book Huntress" wrote: "Mmmmm. Daniel Craig. He's on my Blond exception list, too. So is Kevin."

I know, there's just something about those two boys that overcomes my aversion to blonds.


Karla And now I have the image of Lestat jumping up and down on a couch. :P I haven't seen Valkyrie, but the photos from it make him look nicer than he ever has. Maybe it's the eyepatch & uniform.


message 6: by Karla (last edited Apr 30, 2010 04:05AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Karla LOL, I just wasn't in a forgiving mood. Wondered if my snark was getting away from me and I was being too mean. :P

And yes, Ceidre should have shown a fault or two. Loving her brothers SO MUCH doesn't count.

Only thing that made me get through to the end was the Kevin McKidd mind-perving.


Jennefer Jeanine wrote: "Karla - great review, you have me LMAO! :) I'm also second thinking myself now and wondering if I rated it a little too high? Because everything you said is dead on. The thing that annoyed me ..."

Yes! Great review Karla! You are right on (and amusing as always). I am starting to wonder the same thing Jeanine... I enjoyed the read and was not necessarily annoyed at the time, but if I really break it down and think about my "great romance checklist" this really fell short, big time. Maybe I was in too forgiving of a mood. And yet I still think I want to read Promise of the Rose~ hmmm.... on second thought(or third) maybe I will leave my rating it as it is. I don't know, I just kinda liked it. Go figure.


Karla I think this is definitely a book where one should live their inner Spock behind and enjoy. However, sometimes I can't shake that pesky little Vulcan.

Usually I end up giving harsh ratings to books that I enjoyed up to a point, and then it went to crap. Seems more unforgivable, IMO. So books that I didn't like = books I felt betrayed by. LOL


message 9: by Lisa Kay (new)

Lisa Kay I'm still LMAO over your great review, Karla. And hee-heeing over some of these comments. Lestat jumping up and down on Oprah's couch. Ha! I never read this book, though I really liked some of her others. I think I'll pass b/c, even if I took into account medieval times and what men got away with, I don't think it could be as good as this review. I'm still laughing.


Karla It wasn't an auspicious intro to Brenda Joyce, but that hasn't deterred me. I shall read her again! *strikes pose*

Thanks for liking the review! :D


Eastofoz HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! That was beautiful Karla :D (Thanks Lisa Kay for pointing me to this review!). I clicked the link to your blog with the pics (couldn't post there for some reason so I'm posting here) and they were hilarious! I hated the h/h and Rolfe and his wiener just gave me hives. He was such a loser and a moron and whatsherface was the queen of the doormat heroines :-o She needed to whack him one but she just kept kowtowing and forgiving him --get a life sister for your own sanity!

I have her other book "The Game" to read but if it's anything like this bit of crap them I'll be passing. The Conqueror came so highly recommended too.


message 12: by Lisa Kay (last edited Mar 02, 2011 11:01PM) (new)

Lisa Kay I saw Karla's drawing at her blog site also. Heehee. I almost fell out of my chair. I saw where one woman said she spit tea all over. Glad my mouth was empty! I have The Game (de Warenne Dynasty, #4) by Brenda Joyce. Guess I'll have to re-read it. Or did Karla do a review I should read first? Maybe I'll have to look up another word like 'authoritah'.


Karla I too was more than a little bummed about it because of the hype that it was a throwback to the older bodice rippers, but it wasn't IMO. Some of those old BRs actually have characterization and plot where this one didn't. It was more of a prison picture with the two main characters circling each other, naked and with engorged organs. Maybe if I'd been in a certain mood I'd have enjoyed its utter silliness (like I did with Captive Passions), but the stars weren't aligned.

But this HAS been the only book I've read that's inspired me artistically. LOL


Ayesha Dear Karla - I'm only library requesting this book because your review gave me a gigglefest, so thanksies! :)


Karla Wise decision, Ayesha. ;)


Ashley Great review! I agree with you!


message 17: by Misfit (new)

Misfit Library has this coming in on Kindle loan. I might be tempted.


message 18: by Misfit (new)

Misfit The kindle is so awesome with books like these. Just zapping all those quotes to my Amazon kindle page for copying and pasting instead of retyping warms my heart :p


Karla ♥ Cheshire Catt ♠ wrote: "Oh boy - I'm actually wondering why I rated my review so high"

I don't think either of us will ever get the gumption to re-read this one to see if I was too mean or you were to forgiving. This is one rating that I think I'm going to let be because the thought of reading about Rolfe's huge throbbing dick every other page makes me run for the hills.


message 20: by Nelly (new)

Nelly OMG I luv your review with the pictures :D


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