Tag Archives: historical fiction

Ruthless lady with a whip…

I wonder if I would have bought this vintage Bantam paperback book from 1949 if the lady on the cover wasn’t holding a whip…

…or if characters didn’t say things like this to her: “I love you–mean as you are!”

“Nothing could stop this calculating, gorgeous carpetbagger–nothing could satisfy her greedy desires.” Actually, she doesn’t seem  quite as heartless as the inside cover blurb has it, but hey, it sold me the novel. The cover was painted by Denver Gillen.



I guess I recognized kindred kinky souls in the cast of this tale, which isn’t femdom, though, but historical romance.

It’s a 1947 novel that, according to Kirkus Reviews, sold a million copies. It was reprinted in paperback in 1949, the edition that I picked up at a memorabilia show, and is about a Yankee schoolteacher who becomes a governess to the son of a decadent Southern family on the downhill slide after the Civil War. It’s well-written and absorbing, and I want to finish it, but it’s been slow-going. I’ve been reading it in snatches for at least five weeks.

Maybe I’ll finish a good chunk of it this weekend, as I’m in the homestretch, the last hundred or so pages. It’s not the usual noir that I’ve been perusing lately, but it holds the interest. Sometimes I imagine Olivia de Havilland in the role of the governess, who ends up marrying the effete head of the family and starts running their plantation herself, revitalizing it with her grit and determination while also falling in lust for the studly wastrel of the clan. It sounds hokey in synopsis but it’s an interesting look at the postwar South from different angles, including the racial one with some emphasis on the problems facing the freed slaves.

I had never heard of this author, Edna L. Lee, before, but it turns out she wrote a novel on which a very well-regarded 1955 Douglas Sirk/Rock Hudson film, All That Heaven Allows, was based, as well as the novel from which the 1955 Joan Crawford film Queen Bee was derived.  There are so many interesting but forgotten fiction writers, and I’m constantly delighted to find another to enjoy.

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Posted by on February 28, 2020 in Pulp fiction art


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Magnificent 1956 historical novel deserves to be read and remembered!

I recently read an excellent novel called The Three Legions by Gregory Solon. It takes place in 9 A.D. and is basically about how the German tribes revolted against the Roman legions which had conquered them a few years previously, culminating in a huge and devastating forest battle. It was published in 1956 and I had picked it up at the flea market a couple of years ago in a nice rare paperback edition for just a few bucks.


As I started reading it and examining the cover closely, I realized by the signature that it was done by the great Mort Künstler, veteran artist of the 1950s and 60s men’s adventure magazines and now an historical painter of great repute.  In fact I got to meet him briefly at a gallery showing of his men’s magazine illustrations a few years ago, and he was very friendly and personable.

Now, I like the cover as an image but it’s actually a red herring, as covers often could be in those days. It gives the book a kind of trashy aura that the text doesn’t have at all. “With a barbarian beauty lay the fate of 30,000 Roman soldiers” goes the heavy-breathing and, I must admit, exciting coverline. So when I began reading the book initially I thought it would be a fun kind of lurid historical epic; but I was pleasantly surprised when it quickly turned out to be an example of one of my favorite kinds of fiction: an intriguing combination of history with solid, complex characterizations, some thoughtful philosophizing, psychologically astute romance, and all beautifully written to boot. The author was a World War 2 veteran who flew 175 missions with the Ninth Air Force as a tailgunner in his early 20s, one of the most dangerous of all assignments; and he was awarded the Silver Star (it was difficult to find any information about Solon, but I got this from a short obit I located online). I wondered as I read if the novel was emotionally autobiographical about the experience of being a young soldier, transplanted from the author’s World War 2 life to that of a Roman legionary.

But the cast of characters in this compelling book—which would have made a fantastic movie back in the 50s days of epic sword-and-sandal cinema—is not limited to the young legionary, and covers the range of generals, commanders, tribunes, centurions, German female captives, German princes, kings, and tribesmen, and even a scribe/historian and a cameo by Augustus Caesar. It’s an epic story that combines the courageous with the tawdry, the heroic with the cowardly, the vile with the noble, all described with compassion and insight. There’s a beautiful German captive who’s desired by both the young virginal legionary and the melancholy but masterful commander of one of the legions; but the triangle is resolved in ways that are totally unexpected and uncliched. There’s a brute of a centurion who fights like a madman in the final battle even while his body is ravaged by disease; a foppish general who is more interested in how his armor looks than he is in fighting the Germans; an officer who lusts for a command in spite of the fact that he is too fearful in combat to be effective as a leader. And there is very tragically and memorably an embittered legionary, a career soldier, who taunts the young legionary about his inexperience, but then later himself suddenly commits a grievous act of drunken stupidity that echoes through the second half of the book. In short, the human condition is examined in the story of the three legions that found themselves suddenly attacked by the Germans they thought had become, if not their friends, then something like allies. Through its depiction of the Roman army and its adversaries The Three Legions shows the beginning of the decline of the Roman civilization, but despite this weighty angle it never forgets to be an exciting, visceral, and gripping story. Look for it at your library or on Amazon, as it is a novel well worth reading and remembering. I immediately ordered Gregory Solon’s second novel, Let Us Find Heroes, via Amazon, and am in the middle of it now.

I’ve been perusing many more interesting novels and non-fiction over the last few months, and I’ll be writing about them here too. I hope to give some good recommendations people might not otherwise have heard of.

Erotica is my trade, and good writing of many kinds is my pleasure.


Posted by on October 31, 2018 in Erotica


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Femdom seduction during the American Revolution!

Eighteenth century ladies have always been icons of erotica to me.

Self-portrait of 18th century artist Marie-Gabrielle Capet

My parents took me to see the blockbuster historical comedy Tom Jones when I was twelve in ’63 or ’64. That might’ve started this fetish for me, I guess! But it’s not a major fetish, I want to emphasize; just pleasant daydreams of decorous ladies or feisty wenches in frilly finery…

I had an adolescent yen for the movie’s “bad girl” Diane Cilento and “nice girl” Susannah York


Or maybe when I was eight years old I saw some foxy doxy on an episode of The Swamp Fox, the 1959 Disney tv series starring the pre-comedic Leslie Nielsen as the Revolutionary War Hero Francis Marion. I remember I had a 45 rpm yellow vinyl record of the theme song which is here on YouTube, a ditty which I just heard for the first time in maybe 58 years while writing this post! 😉

Way back before The Naked Gun series, Leslie Nielsen was a standard leading man type


Currently I’m in a state of “withdrawal” from a fantastic novel I picked up around Christmas that took three months to read. It was Eagle in the Sky by F. Van Wyck Mason, a story of the last year of the American Revolution from the viewpoint of three young doctors. Reading this skillfully written historical fiction was like taking a trip into 1780-1781. It was 500 pages long of small type, and I read slowly both to savor the story and to study the writer’s techniques and take notes. When I was done the other night, I really felt a pang of withdrawal, like: “You mean, there’s no more?”

The aged dust jacket is a bit tattered, but I kind of liked that…had a certain charm like that of beautiful ruins…


Among the many entertaining, informative, and enlightening aspects of the book, besides its depiction of 18th century medical methods, sea and land battles, morals and etiquette, clothing, and living quarters, were the romantic entanglements of its characters. And to my delight, one of the doctors gets entangled with a femme fatale wealthy young widow named Emma who is clearly out to entrance him and nab him for her own:

She totally manipulates Lucius into doing exactly what she wants, against his usual survival instincts which are the result of his  rough, low-born upbringing.

Now, finding femdom images and writing on the Internet or especially Twitter these days is of course commonplace, but finding the same kind of “hypnodomme” concepts in the context of a novel published in 1948 about the War of Independence is especially pleasurable! Did you note in the excerpt above how she entrances him with her eyes? And the vivid description of her hair, lips, and clothing is quite sensual.

Mason is unjustly forgotten today, but he had an amazing life and the three novels of his I’ve read were all exciting combinations of history, romance, and action. His characters tended to be stereotypes in the central casting mold (for example, when I read Eagle in the Sky I imagined young versions of Randolph Scott, Henry Fonda, and Zachary Scott as the three male protagonists) but nonetheless Mason’s people come vividly and intimately to life through their passions and adventures. Here are his two other books I read:

Both were set in the ancient world, and the sexy Tom Dunn covers well portray what’s actually inside the stories


When I was reading Eagle in the Sky I kept picturing who might play the female characters in a film of the 1940s. And Linda Darnell, a superb cinema temptress in that era, would have been perfect as Emma. Here she is in the 17th century drama Forever Amber.

One of the greatest femmes fatale of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

In my own writing, I’ve only done a handful of historical stories, one being my ebook The Sins of Dr. Jekyll (available here on Amazon), but it’s something I’d like to do again, so that’s why I read these books carefully to pick up tips from a master about how to evoke bygone eras. And when I read F. Van Wyck Mason I feel like I’m in a different century. He puts you in the scene but doesn’t explain all the historical references about the physical world or the culture–which makes a reader feel either like a contemporary of the characters, one who is assumed to understand all the details of life in those days; or like a time traveler gazing in mute wonder at how things were so different in the past…not necessarily understanding all the references and customs, but happy to observe and go along for the ride.

So do check out F. Van Wyck Mason’s books if you enjoy historical fiction!

I will have to admit my version of Victorian London owes more to Hammer Films than any in-depth historical research! 😉







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