Book review: Gilded Cage by Catherine George (Mills & Boon, 1992 )
Luc Fonseca had whirled into Emily’s quiet life in her Cotswold village home like a tornado, and before she knew what was happening they had fallen in wildly in love. But all that had been eighteen months ago, and in that time Emily had become the mother of Luc’s son, and Luc had taken himself off and she had seen no more of him. Somehow Emily had survived it all and was settling down once again to a quiet life with her baby — when Luc turned up again, demanding that she marry him and come live with him in Brazil. But, apart from anything else, all the love Emily had once felt for Luc had gone now…
CW: Mention of rape.
This Mills & Boon/Harlequin novel is twinned with Devil Inside, and is set before it in time. I don’t know in which order they were published originally (I’ve been reading a “duet”, i.e. both novels in one volume), but if this came first, I wonder how readers had the will to continue. Anyway, plot spoilerage ahoy:
Little Virgin Orphan Emily is a guide at a National Trust property. One day, suave Brazilian rich man Lucas Fonseca takes a guided tour and asks her out to dinner. Love and passionate lovemaking ensues. He’s suddenly called home, and she goes WOE IS ME for a few weeks (pages), and by the beginning of the next chapter, 18 months have passed and in that time, she’s had a baby and married someone … who conveniently has just passed away. Cue Luc’s return!
Why has he not been in touch? Because he, conveniently, had a car crash on the way from one airport to the other those 18 months ago, and suffered AMNESIA. And it just so happens that he’s only just remembered Emily. Emily is less impressed. Whatever she once felt for him is gone, and oh by the way, her husband just died.
Because you meet the love of your life, who (so you think) dumps you and then you marry and have a child and lose your new husband to leukaemia in one and a half years. As it happens the baby boy, Jamie, looks EXACTLY LIKE LUC, gasp. And, conveniently, she never actually married the guy that the whole village thinks she’s married to – they just pretended to be married to keep up appearances, what with Emily otherwise being a single mother and all, and so on.
Luc, on seeing his mini-me, blackmails Emily into coming to Brazil – as his wife, because anything else wouldn’t be proper. He basically says “I’m a dad, I want my son, and I’m not afraid of going to court and take him from you … unless you come along as my wife and his mother”, because that’s not a dickish thing to do at all.
Emily soon settles into the new house, becomes chums with Luc’s English grandmother Thurza, and then spends most of the book in a cold war against Luc because she really doesn’t love him anymore, honest, and she doesn’t have anything to do because of the servants, and all she can do is taking care of Jamie now and again and nothing much happens. They take baby steps to reconcile, until Luc decides to speed things up by raping Emily.
But because this is a severely outdated 1980s romance novel, she’s only reluctant to begin with – she soon realises that this sex thing is perhaps kinda nice, let’s do it again, and is TOTALLY FINE WITH IT and wants to do it again. It gives me the creeps! For crap’s sake, she’s so unwilling to have sex that she tries to put up a fight, and when she can’t, she cries. But he kisses the tears away, and aww, it’s so cute. No it isn’t!! For goodness sake, why do women feel the need to perpetuate rape culture, and then have the audacity to say that it’s so romantic? Ughhh.
Of course, by the end of the novel, she realises that she’s been in love with him the entire time and oh gosh let’s be happy families and live happily ever after.
I’m sorry, but if this is what romance novels were like in the 80s, I can see why the genre has got such bad rep. It’s deplorable. And as far as this novel goes, it’s just … well, slow. Emily plods along in Brazil being grumpy and working her way up to realising Luc is a nice guy, but it’s not engaging, and just a little bit dull.
Seeing as how I gave Devil Within a 2, and liked this one even less, it’ll have to be a 1.5 out of 5 screeching macaws.