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:
Two 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.
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.
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.