Some books are written with a passion and enthusiasm so great that their flaws are easily overlooked. This is the case with White Rose Ensnared by Juliet Hastings, a kinky historical romance from the now near-defunct Black Lace line of erotica.
Set in fifteenth-century England, White Rose Ensnared is the tale of a heroine and the two very different men after her. Lady Rosamund de Verney is in many ways a contradiction: beautiful, religious, and passionate, she is also married to a far older man and inexperienced and naive when it comes to romance and sex. She also has a submissive side, though with little outlet for it or knowledge about it.
The villain of the piece is Sir Ralph Aycliffe, an evil and greedy lord who kills Rosamund's elderly husband and wants to seize what are now her lands for himself. He also has a reputation for debauchery and ruthlessness, and he plans to take Rosamund as well.
Enter the hero, Geoffrey Lymington. A squire in the service to King Richard, Geoffrey and Rosamund fall in love at first sight and he vows to protect her. But what can one good man do against an evil army? What happens when the young lovers fall into the clutches of the villain? (Quite a lot.) And what happens next?
In a sense, White Rose Ensnared is a historical bodice-ripper, with the heroes and villains so clearly defined the could be wearing white and black hats; there are plenty of breathless, passionate declarations too. There is more to this book, though, in terms of exploration and discovery. Sir Ralph may be a one-dimensional selfish scoundrel, but there's a part of him that Rosamund cannot deny. (This book has lots of what I call "beautiful distress," something a person knows they should hate, but...) The kinky parts of this book (and there are many) are not for everyone, but for those not easily offended this will be a book you won't soon forget.
Overall, White Rose Ensnared is a wonderful read in the world of erotica. This is not a book for the timid, and it is sadly out of print, but for those looking for a thrill it's definitely worth finding.
(As an aside, the top image is the original cover to White Rose Ensnared, the second image is the cover when it was reissued, and below is when the photo was reused for a skin care booth in the mall. I didn't have the heart to tell the person at the booth where I first saw the photo...)
Overall grade: A
Reviewed by James Lynch