Saturday, October 28, 2006
'Phyllida and the Brotherhood of Philander: A Bisexual Regency Romance' by Ann Herendeen
TITLE: Phyllida and the Brotherhood of Philander: A Bisexual Regency Romance
AUTHOR: Ann Herendeen
GENRE: Gay & Lesbian/historical
POINT OF SALE: Authorhouse
'Phyllida and the Brotherhood of Philander" both is, and is not, your mother's Regency romance. It is a love story with a plucky heroine and a dark, brooding aristocratic hero, there are some balls (yes, I mean dances) in pretty frocks, there is a marriage of convenience, a string of misunderstandings (531 pages worth!) and a happy ending. There are also the husband's new and former male lovers, a rent boy and his girlfriend, a club for wealthy sodomites, intrusive and eccentric relatives, friends and associates, French and British spies and quite possibly (somewhere in the mix) both a kitchen sink and a partridge and a pear tree. One gets the feeling that in limiting herself to these mere 500-odd pages Ann Herendeen was in fact showing a significant degree of restraint. Perhaps this story would really like to be one of those three novel sets a lady novelist of the era would have produced!
The plot rumbles off to a fairly standard beginning with an impoverished Phyllida being offered marriage by Andrew Carrington--although a quirky twist is apparent because Andrew makes his sexuality known from the beginning and Phyllida is revealed as an shockingly open-minded authoress of high gothic romances. On cue the two find themselves victims of hit-and-miss sexual chemistry (the latter being not all that surprising given a mutual lack of experience with heterosexual coupling). Things escalate from there, thanks to the interference and advice of many parties and Andrew’s secret sideline in espionage. In trying to protect each other the happy couple manage to… well, you really have to read the book to see what a truly tangled web they weave and just how many people get caught up in it.
By the end there is dire peril all around, emotions reach a fever pitch, people are hidden away in various rooms and basements, guns are going off, secret codes are passed around along with a strong of interlocking personal secrets and misunderstandings, and although no balls are in frocks Phyllida is trying to squeeze her ample charms into the disguise of male garb (with a distinct lack of success). 'Phyllida and the Brotherhood of Philander' is a book that is easy to like, easy to read, and a fun way to spend a day--preferably lounging on a chaise lounge and exclaiming in mock horror at every salacious detail. For a fan of regency romance and gay themes in fiction ‘Phyllida’ truly is a confection almost to good to be true!
AVERAGE RATING: 9/10