Shanna Book Review
Book Reviews

A Man’s Review of Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss

I convinced my friend and fellow author, Ian, to read Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss, and his review is gold.

Shanna: A Book Review by Ian Tennent

Okaaayyy, so I finally finished reading Shanna last night. All 666 pages of her.

Yup, that’s 666 pages…on the button…no more, no less….

Not my normal fare it must be said, but the gauntlet was laid and it would have been churlish not to accept. Thankee ever so kindly Carmen Baisley Bailey and Melissa Delport.

First off, it’s not hard to see why books in this genre are referred to as ‘Bodice Rippers’, for indeed clothes are shed with stunning regularity. But, the bedroom scenes are pretty mild and I must say, at the heart of this book is a good old adventure yarn. In Shanna, Kathleen Woodiwiss has created an epic period piece in all its flamboyant trappings. The writing is sumptuous in the extreme, with words and sentences swirling delightfully around one’s literary sensibilities…a bit like wading through warm treacle…naked (or so I’m told).

Take the below excerpt as an example which also summarizes the plot:

“Nay, Shanna, my love.” His voice was hushed but sounded hollow in the cell. “You are beautiful beyond my imagination. And I have enjoyed this repast so much I would not see it end. But please consider this. If your cause is really so dear, I will bargain with you for my name, but the price will be high, Shanna. And I ask that you say me yea or nay before you leave, for that suspense I could not bear.”

Shanna held her breath in fear of what he was about to say.

“My price is this.” His words echoed through her brain. “The marriage will be one in fact as well as vow. I am condemned to hang, and I would elect the chance to leave an heir. The cost is that you spend the night with me and consummate the vows in deed as well as words.”

Dun, dun, dahhhh!!

Against such a rich tapestry of language, that almost borders on Shakespearean at times, it’s all too easy to allow yourself to be enfolded in the story’s voluptuous bosom. And why not?

To be sure some of the characters are over the top, this is the velvet standard in escapism after all, but some of the characters are very nicely crafted, while the Georgian/Colonial setting certainly feels real enough. I suspect a deceptively large amount of research went into this book which I can appreciate.

Personally, would I leap at the chance to read another? Probably not. 666 pages is an elegant sufficiency for me. Would I recommend it to aficionados of historical romance? Absolutely. Gets 4 out of 5 stars from me.

Right, I’m off to go and crush a beer can against my head or something….

[end of review]

I’d like to thank Ian for being such a good sport, and for consenting to let me share this review with the world. Shanna has long been a nostalgic favorite of mine, and I re-read it every few years when I need a healthy dose of swashbuckling romance.

A sneak preview!

Until next time, read hard!

MD x