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Reader, I Married Him by Janet Mullany (2010)

Novella review: Reader, I Married Him by Janet Mullany (Loose-Id, 2010)

Wow, a book that comes with a warning from the author: “if you really, really love Jane Eyre and consider Jane the archetypal romance heroine–don’t buy this book!” – and here’s why:

readerimarriedhimTwo con artists descend on the heroic Miss Jane Eyre, presenting themselves as her cousins Diana and St. John Rivers, and discover the dark secret of Thornfield Hall. Edward Rochester, whom Jane was to marry, is her prisoner and sex slave, but he’s tiring of the game.

Diana frees him and herself, finally able to choose love and the life she wants. St. John, who fears he’s lost his nerve as a con man, becomes Jane’s lover with reenactments of her sadistic Lowood School memories, and love sets him off on a new adventure in pursuit of Jane.

Publisher’s Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: Captivity, partner swapping, voyeurism.

What she means is, if you’re looking for anything that’s close to the book, look elsewhere. This is an erotic novella using a couple of characters from Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, albeit in a way that CB’s characters never would.

Here, the fire occurred the night before the wedding, and Rochester died, leaving Thornfield to Jane. Except he didn’t die at all, Bertha did. All they found was a horribly burned body, everyone assumed it was Rochester – but him, Jane locked up in the attics because she was pissed off that he lied to her about Bertha. And there she’s kept him as a sex slave, except she’s never actually, you know, had full-on intercourse with him.

Cue the two con artists, who quickly set the tone by having it off in the carriage on the way to Millcote. They had encountered Grace Poole in London, and got the idea to play the parts of Miss Eyre’s cousins St. John and Diana Rivers in order to get some money off the the heiress.

Spoilers ahoy!

The imposotors arrive at Thornfield, have it off with each other again, and after dinner (during which Jane has mainly been staring at “St. John”‘s crotch), “Diana” discovers some rather saucy drawings locked away. They then follow her to the attics and, um, have it off while watching Jane having her wicked ways with the tied-up and tormented Mr. Rochester.

Jane then discovers the two and walks off with “St. John”, who decides to teach her a few lessons in the art of making love, leaving “Diana” to release Rochester … in more ways than one. Next morning, Jane is gone (as her Big Secret is now out, even if it’s not publicly) and “St. John” rushes after her, while Rochester and “Diana” start a new life together.

So yeah.

My spontaneous reactions were, in chronological order, something along the lines of: “Okay what’s this? Err, ooookaaaaay … ? Oooh, Jane! Umm … Right … What the …?! … LOL! Aww … LOL!” I thought it was hilarious – just the whole concept of Jane (from the original) keeping Rochester (from the original) prisoner and him resenting her for it and all that. No, it’s not what Charlotte Brontë ever had in mind (or maybe she did – maybe she had a very dirty mind under that bonnet? Who knows?). I take this story for what it is, an erotic novella, not a serious attempt at making an erotic take on the original Jane Eyre. It’s a bit of fun, not meant to take at anything but face value, realistically.

It’s got a lot of graphically detailed sex, so if you can’t stomach that sort of thing, you’d be advised to stay well clear of this one. If you don’t mind, then it’s a pretty good erotic story. I read excerpts from it to the Squeeze, who wasn’t too impressed, but said it sounded like standard porn fic. I agreed, and even defended it, saying that I’ve read a lot worse. At least the events make sense and the language and writing style is good, although by gods, how many times could you get the word “quim” in there?

It’s not high literature, but it’s not meant to be. It’s … mostly harmless. Definitely not something for a Jane Eyre purist, and definitely not something for a prude purist. And when it comes to sex scenes, I am still very curious to find out what’s going to happen in the Rochester sequel. At least it’ll be more along the lines of the original than this. 😉

The book can be purchased for a $4.99 download at Loose-Id, for those who dare! When I said the file contains 64 pages (the story itself, only 59) and what I paid for it, the Squeeze said I should be writing novellas and sell them as e-books as well. “It’ll take you, what, two hours? Three? You could make a bundle!” Flattered that he thinks so highly of my writing abilities, but I cannot possibly churn out 60 pages in a couple of hours! o.O It’s physically impossible. On the other hand, writing e-books … yeah, that’s something that would be of interest. Perhaps not erotic novellas of Jane Eyre losing her virginity to a con man with graphic details containing oral sex and all the rest of it, but hey, let’s keep the options open, eh? Ya never know. 😉 (And I am kidding. Just to make that clear.)

I’m not sure how to rate this, to be honest. Humm … 2 out of 5 sex slaves, maybe? As long as it’s made clear that you have to leave the idea of Jane and Rochester at the door or you won’t be able to read it at all.

Traxy Thornfield

A Swedish introvert in Robin Hood Country (Nottingham, UK) where she lives with a husband and two cats. She's an eager participant in tabletop and play-by-post roleplaying, woodworking, photography and European travel. Will get a novel out one of these days, if she doesn't get too distracted on the way.

11 thoughts on “Reader, I Married Him by Janet Mullany (2010)

  1. I’m picturing the Ciaran Hinds Mr. Rochester and I’m kinda liking it. I think I’ll give a look. For research purposes.

  2. @tct: Why yes, of course. Research purposes. 😉 I think picturing Mr. Hinds as Rochester would work quite well with the descriptions given, but umm … I’m not sure I want to picture Ciarán Hinds in umm that kind of detail …

    @Laura: You’re not wrong! There’s also the book Disciplining Jane which I believe is of similar ilk. Have yet to obtain it, but it’s on the shopping list! (The things I do for the love of Jane Eyre …)

  3. There is also a sequel to “Disciplining Jane” called “Jane and Her Master” by Stephen Rawlings.

    Neither book is for purists or the faint of heart.

  4. “(And I am kidding. Just to make that clear.)”

    That is the single most disappointing sentence I’ve read for the last 7 days or something…

  5. @jpmel: There are TWO? Haha, my task of reading all JE-spinoffs is never going to end! Okay, that’s another one for the to get-pile!

    Can’t help but giggle at the author’s name being “Stephen Rawlings” – without the final S, that’s what we named a Slytherin NPC once upon a time. o.O

    @Anon: V064, that you? 😛

  6. I like the warning, but hey at least the author was up-front.

    Told you I was looking forward to your next review and what a very interesting pick as always.

  7. Hey there, thanks for the review!

    Just one point–if you’re looking for anything that’s close to the book, look elsewhere. If you know the text of Jane Eyre reasonably well you’ll recognize bits and pieces I incorporated from the book into the text (rather like Pride & Prejudice & Zombies inserting the undead into Austen, although I used only the occasional phrase of Bronte’s original). For instance, I use Bronte’s first line as my last.

    One of the odd things about this novella is that I wrote it about five years ago and at that time it horrified NY editors. Now it’s pretty tame.

    And–never resisting an opportunity to pimp myself–I have a full length erotic contemporary released from HQN Spice in August, 2011, Tell Me More.

  8. Hi Janet! Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

    I forgot that, actually, but of course you’re right – you wrote it, after all! I really liked the way it ended because of that, but I forgot about it when I wrote the review.

    Funny how it horrified the editors. It’s raunchy, but that is to be expected due to the erotic genre. It’s not shocking as such, not really. Perhaps a bit “oh gosh!” with regards to Jane being a dominatrix, but if it was another character? Not really.

    Good luck with your upcoming novel! If I can get a hold of it in the UK, I might have a look. 🙂

  9. I was curious, it was cheap on Kindle, so Reader, I bought it….

    Two thoughts…first of all, I had never heard the word “quim” before. Now my curiosity is satisfied.

    Second…I was a little old for such shenanigans, but I hear that years ago there was a drinking game involving the Police song “Roxanne”. Everyone pours shots, listens to the song, and every time you hear the word “Roxanne”, you take a shot. Supposedly you end up quit plowed by the end. My idea is a drinking game involving “Reader, I Married Him.” You get a bunch of literature buffs in the room, and someone starts reading this book aloud. Every time you hear the word “quim”, you take a shot. I’m thinking you end up even more plastered then you would after a round of “Roxanne”.

    Other than those two thoughts, I’m not sure what to say about this book. “Oy vey” is the only thing that immediately springs to mind.

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