Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Manview: Beyond Innocence by Joanna Lloyd

Welcome to another Manview. For those of you who are new to Manviews, these are reviews of romance novels specifically from a man's perspective, this one from my my beloved Steve. I've also added another Manview reviewer, Len Klumpp, and if you haven't seen it already, here's Len's first Manview. Stay tuned for more Manviews and I hope you enjoy this Manview.
 Book cover
Beyond Innocence by Joanna Lloyd
Purchase link: Amazon

My rating: star starstar star halfstar

Heat rating: Flame  Flame  Flame

Electra Shipley lies in a mite-infested bunk, weak from lack of food and seasickness. Imprisoned and sentenced to seven years’ transportation, she sails towards the penal colony of New South Wales, Australia. Despite the odds, she is determined to survive, to clear her name, and return to her life of wealth and ease in England.

William Radcliffe has fled the betrayals of his father and fiancée to make a new life in the colony. When a transport ship from England docks, William stumbles across much more than mere trade cargo. Haunted by the beautiful convict with wild hair and golden eyes, William decides a compliant and grateful convict wife might meet his needs without the complications of love. Electra must now decide whether a loveless marriage with a "colonial barbarian" is preferable to imprisonment.

William is unprepared for the deeply suppressed passion his new wife arouses within him. Against his conviction never to love, he begins to desire Electra and the sexual tension between them sparks into a fierce physical attraction he longs to satisfy.

But Electra has made enemies on the ship and a vicious act of revenge endangers her life and the lives of the people she has come to love. Can Electra and William’s love survive the perils of this land and its inhabitants, or will their pasts destroy their future?

Note: This is a new release of a previously published edition. 

ManviewWas this your first historical romance?
I am not truly familiar with romance sub-genres so that is difficult to answer. I have read a few Penny Vincenzi novels, which were historical, but not sure if you would classify that as romance or women’s fiction. I have also previously read a number of Nora Roberts’ books and while they were romance, only a few went back enough years to be considered historical. So by all accounts, this is the first classically defined historical romance I can remember reading.

How did you find the historical aspects of the story? Was it true to fact? was it authentic?
I was looking forward to the historical aspect and felt it held true to history and I learned a lot about a topic I was interested in which was the founding of Colonial Australia.  The British names, the way Aboriginal life was mixed into and enhanced the story line, and the convict culture were all interesting topics. Since I have not read much actual history on Australia, I could not determine if it was authentic or not, but it certainly felt like it was.

Did you learn anything of Australia as a penal colony from it?
Yes. I learned that a lot of good people who were troublesome to the gentry, noblemen and powerbrokers in England and might be considered problematic, got sent to Australia to be far away so as not to cause trouble.  I also learned that convicts could be pardoned, work off their sentences to be provided freedom, or as women, can be married for convenience to get out of jail, many were even given acreage so they could start their own productive lives.  Women who married for convenience where still convicts until their sentences finished, but they had a much better life on a homestead instead of staying in a working jail.

What did you think of the story overall?
I quite liked it. There was history, romance, suspense, brawls, relationship intrigue among many characters, along with good development of inter-racial, multi-generational and relationships between the classes which were developed well and that portrayed the human drama of daily life.

What did you think of the two main characters William and Electra?
I felt they were both true to themselves, but both had ‘baggage’ and not much experience which made them struggle to evolve their relationship.  Both were strong, decisive individuals with a sense of loyalty and duty which are the type of characters I like and want to identify with.  They were good people holding the bad guys to account!  With some romance I have read, I get annoyed at how irritating the lead female character is. I am not sure if this is because most romance is written by females for a female audience and they want to show that needy, desperate, flawed women can score an incredible male partner, but I usually find in romance it is the female protagonist who is the unlikable character. I liked Electra from the beginning and while she made some mistakes, she realized they were mistakes and continued to do better over time.  The same was true with William.

Therefore, what I really liked was that both the male and the female lead characters were equally balanced and working at making it work instead of a typically superior male needing to convince a screwed-up female character of their need to be loved and taken care of!  (Sorry, I might have pissed off a number of your females readers with that analysis, but you did ask for a ‘Manview!’)

Was their relationship convincing?
I felt it was. It evolved from a physical attraction and an initial spark they had for each other, to a mutual and bi-lateral recognition that they would both be better off being married as a matter of convenience to building a relationship that tested their strong wills against each other to trying to resolve if they were truly in love with each other or not.  The way their relationship evolved was done consistently and followed a believable path.

What other historical settings would you like to consider reading for other historical romances?
Well, since I am so besotted by Asian women and Asia in general, anything in Asia works for me!  Also I would be interested in relationships and the setting in Europe from 1300 – 1700 and stories around how the Europeans sailed forth to conquer the world (and the women they met along the way).  As a Caucasian guy, I liked the notion of the Caucasian male lead who has a boring or by-default wife or engaged-to partner at home in Europe who then falls into true love on his travels.  This is definitely sounding like a ‘Manview’ now!

Deanna: Ladies, if you have any recommendations for Steve, leave them in the comments below!

What did you think of this author's writing? Would you read other books by this author?
I thought it was very good to excellent. She was technically an excellent writer and wrote in an engaging style. The backstory evolved nicely over time and the dialogue was great. There were a few sub-stories I thought could have benefitted from another round of scene cuts and took slightly more time to build the story than they should have, but that was minor.  Overall, I would give the book a 4.5 out of 5.

I would definitely read more by Ms Lloyd, but it looks like she has only one other book published and the synopsis of story line is not as personally interesting to me as ‘Beyond Innocence’ was. Additionally the Amazon sales ranking of her other book is much further down the rankings than ‘Beyond Innocence’ is, thereby making me question if it is as good a book or not as the first one I read.  In all honestly, I bought the book because the main female’s name was Electra Shipley, which is my surname also, and I thought it would be a hoot to read a story taking place in Australia about my family surname. I did not expect to book to be as good as it turned out to be.

View all my reviews

About the author

auBorn in Papua New Guinea, I, like many other ex-pat's, were sent to boarding school in Australia. After thirteen years in Sydney, I gravitated to the lush warmth of Far North Queensland. Now that my two boys are safely married and raising their own families, I have the time to indulge my love of books and writing. I have always had a voyeuristic fascination with people, how they think and why they act in certain ways. This led to studies in Psychology and years of workplace and family law mediation. All of which convinced me it is impossible to know what another is thinking and the most bizarre fiction could never emulate real life.

What wonderful fodder for a writer! When the iconic John Lennon wrote "All you need is love", he knew that every living being seeks out love in some form. My novels are about love - romantic, passionate, parental, selfless and self-serving. I will spend the rest of my writing life exploring and writing about the many levels of love. Maybe the day will come when I truly understand it.

Author links: Website - Facebook - Twitter - Goodreads

About the reviewer

Steve ShipleyAuthor, Steve Shipley is a successful, recently retired businessman, best-selling author, blogger and wine enthusiast. He dedicates his time to wine and other writing and training and lives in the iconic Hunter Valley wine region two hours north of Sydney, Australia.

Reviewer links: Website - Facebook - Twitter - Amazon

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  1. Morning what a great review it is a while since I have rea a story about the convicts sent to Australia I need to add this one to my must get list :)

    Have Fun

    1. The writing is good for this book. I read bit and pieces of it while Steve was reading it in bed. It's very engaging.

  2. Sounds like we are not the only heroine haters. I think the boy should read Skye O'Malley by Bertrice Small!

    1. Hah! I see you picked up on that, huh? I'll have to check out Skye O'Malley. Bertrice Small is excellent.

    2. I think he would like the action and adventure. And Skye is one capable heroine.

    3. I need to put this on a list for the boy. In fact, I need to make a list for the boy.

  3. Sounds pretty good! I'd not heard of her before. I do love that about historicals and getting to explore all of the different times. They can be so interesting.

    1. This was a good read for Steve and he's a fussy reader. Plus I think being a man, getting him into a gripping romance and one he enjoys is a tougher sell. The whole Australian penal colony thing was interesting. I learned a few things myself reading over his shoulder.

    2. Another list for the buy - I can't wait! (Yours truly, Manview)