"The Pleasure Garden" is a delightful Victorian anthology set against the back-story of the May Queen, the Winter King and the Green Man.
In "sacred Vows" by Amanda McIntyre, the stage is set for three very enticingly romantic interludes starting with a chance meeting at the forbidden May Queen festival, near the fabled rundown Orchard House, between Lord Edmund Collier and Cara Ormond. The novella weaves an uncanny likeness to "A Mid-Summer's Night Dream" as it recounts its tale of Cara and Edmund's night of unbridled passion. One aspect of the novella that I really enjoyed is Cara's fortitude to forge on with her life given the aftermath of her tryst with Edmund. Edmund's initial rebellious attitude and his subsequent acquiesces, while not unexpected is refreshing considering the lengths that he employs in his parental defiance. The novella progress at a steady pace and makes a point of imparting snippets of the characters' lives as they traverse toward the conclusion. Romantically "Sacred Vows" is full of passion and excitement.
"Perfumed Pleasures" by Charlotte Featherstones is a Victorian novella that is brimming with passionate encounters and diabolical treachery. The Orchard House again is the backdrop for the newly returned home from the war Joscelyn. For ages Joscelyn has dreamed of nights within Catherine's arms, yet his injuries have left him presumably a shell of a man. Ms. Featherstone does such an excellent job of depicting the passion between the two lovers. Her equally haunting and villainous portrayal of Edward, Lord Fairfax is just as moving. The novella's rendition of life and the burdens that women faced during the time period resonates through the story-line. Ms. Featherstone presents a reader with a perfect bird's eye view of just how much women were thought of as pawns in the game of privileged.
"Rites of Passion" by Kristi Astor is a Victoria novella about learning to live and love again after a loss. As with the other novellas in the anthology, the story-line focuses on the new occupant of the Orchard House. Seems the Orchard House has been passed down to Mathilde Collins' relative upon her death, yet the house was not hers to bequeath. Emmaline Gage finds herself confronted with the rightful owner's son, Major Jack Wainscott. Jack has seen many atrocities during the war and they have left their mark on him. Stricken with influenza, Jack finds himself under the care of the Eammaline as she nurses him back to health. The novella has a rather homey feel to it. There is an abundance of passion, character angst and ultimately love.
"The pleasure Garden" hits the mark in its recounting of three love stories set in a time of war. The personal sacrifices and triumphs enhance the mystic of the Orchard House and the tale of the May Queen. I enjoyed the collection, although I would have liked to have read a snipped that included closure for the Green Man and the May Queen.
Many lifetimes ago, the beautiful May Queen exquisite seduction not with her husband, but in the arms of the Green Man—the passionate ruler of all that is warm and light. And thus began the earth's most torrid love triangle.
Now three women of diverse eras are drawn to the mystical site of the Celtic queen's tragic demise. Their fiery obsession ignited by Beltane Magic is barely perceived, but erotically felt. With each kiss, their passion would break an ancient curse— and reunite a love most profound….
Driven by an unseen force, a Celtic maiden seduces the one man forsaken by law and principle—an Englishman soon for the priesthood….
The future lady of Fairfax House yearns for illicit nights and perfect love in the arms of her betrothed's cousin….
She inherits a decrepit house and garden that awakens in her a raw sexual awareness, the likes of which she can abide alone no longer….