Shanna (1977) by Kathleen Woodiwiss, my edition
"This book will change the way you feel about love...always."
- "Izzy" Isabella Duncun, book review (Providence, RI, 2005)
I suspect that every avid reader has a shelf (or three) devoted to their all time favorite novels. Novels that span girlhood to womanhood. Novels that intimately and indelibly informed a part of their being. A precious collection to revisit time and time again - I sure do ;-) Well, although Chicago weather is unseasonably cold, it's that time of year when I compile my summer reading list. Of course the novels I choose are primarily books I have not yet read (but am eager to), but I always add a few from my 'all time favorites' list - a tangible way to reconnect with my past lives and hang out with 'old friends.' For this Show & Tell Friday, I offer up one of my all time favorite novels: Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss (1977).
Shanna is a good old fashioned Bodice Ripper - the largest selling novel genre (actually, Mrs. Woodiwiss is credited with being the mother of the 20th century Bodice Ripper genre). Quick synopsis: our heroine - Shanna Trahern - clandestinely meets and strikes a deal with our hero - Ruark Beauchamp. Of course nothing goes according to plan and all sorts of adventurous torrid naughtiness ensues! Heat factor? Pretty high, especially considering that this novel was published nearly 35 years ago.
The novel begins in London, moves to the Caribbean, and ends in the then North American Colonies. There are pirates, scoundrals, heroes, villains, lords, ladies, merchants, and common folk. There are sword fights, gun fights, fistfights, sea chases, horse chases and battles. There's intrique, mystery, deception, betrayal, and triumph. There's blazing passion and the discovery of true and abiding love. All wonderfully written; characters and places leaping from the page.
Shanna Trahern is willful, intelligent, arrogant, fierce and free. Ruark Beauchamp is 100% alpha male (yummy): noble, arrogant, self-assured, self-made, intelligent, fierce and free. I was 14 or 15 when I first read this novel (has it really been nearly 30 years? YIKES!) and I loved every line in the 650+ pages.
While the hero and heroine had their flaws and some truly magnificent fights, they were in love with each other, devoted to each other and unfailingly loyal: to each other and their ideals. Perfect fictional characters, for a girl living in an imperfect real world. But here's the thing: I was fully aware, even at that tender age, that Shanna and Ruark just could not exist in the real world, but I didn't care. At somepoint while reading, I decided that that was what I wanted from my lover, my husband - yeah I know, sigh.
But the seed was planted. As Izzy said: "This book will change the way you feel about love...always." It did. Ruark had become my model of the ideal man - strong, self-made, intelligent, gorgeous and willing, ready, and able to deal with Diva-me. I knew what I wanted and what I had to give to find my true love. And I was willing to be alone rather than settle. Shanna revealed a world of possibility that I wanted to explore, that I wanted for myself. Shanna encouraged me to shape my own destiny, no matter how unprobable my dreams may have been. Well I met, fell in love with, married, and had a bunch of babies with my Mr. Gorgeous. Thank you Mrs. Woodisiss.
You can purchase Shanna at Amazon, used for $3
Previous Show & Tell: Coco
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