"Entertaining Futuristic Fantasy with Reverse Regency Theme"

RITUAL OF PROOF takes place in a colony on the moon Forus,which had developed as a matriarchal society where women of noble blood rule and their sons are kept innocent, sheltered and protected, to preserve their veils for the women who would choose to fasten (marry) with them.

Marquelle Green Tamryn is a powerful She-Lord in her mid- thirties. Though many had suggested that it was time she fastened and produced heirs, she was in no hurry to do so. In fact, she wasn't sure she wished to at all. Her pleasurer, River, more than satisfied her physical needs, and she had her hands full, dealing with the sabotage to her properties that she is certain Claudine D'anbere, a vindictive childhood rival, is responsible for. She had had no desire to attend the evening's soiree, but meeting come- out Jorlan Reynard again, had made it worthwhile -- a grownup, and incredibly handsome Jorlan, untamed and not at all happy to be on display. It brought back fond memories, for she'd admired his spirit even when he'd been a child. Perhaps she'd been a bit hasty in her refusal to entertain the idea of fastening.

Jorlan, the grandson of a Duchene, is a much sought after veil who wants nothing to do with the social whirlwind he's been subjected to. He wants more from his life than to be controlled by a name-giver, to spend it tending to her children. Jorlan is a free spirit who longs to control his own destiny, to have the rights that women take for granted, to be seen as an equal. His grandmother expects him to make a good match, however she had promised to gain his approval of her choice before signing any agreement. He never intends to approve of anyone. At twenty five he is relieved that this will be his last year on the market. However Green awakens feelings in him that he doesn't really understand. He had been secretly fascinated with her as a boy. The worldly older woman cannot resist teasing and tempting him just a little. He is willing to explore the feelings she stirs in him, within reason of course, but has no intention of being trapped by her.

His fate is sealed when Claudine makes an offer for him and receives a verbal agreement from the Duchene. Green suspects blackmail, for Jorlan is highly prized, and much loved by his grandmother. Claudine had used, abused, and disposed of several name-bearers already. Green had already decided to fasten with Jorlan, Claudine's arrangement merely forces her hand. Riding through the arc storms she so fears, Green manages to convince the Duchene to honor her suite instead of Claudine's, but makes her promise not to inform Jorlan of the circumstances surrounding the contract.

Jorlan feels a deep sense of betrayal. He had thought Green to be a kindred spirit. As a last bid for freedom, Jorlan claims prior sexual experience, but Green calls his bluff by forgoing the ritual of proof that the fastening ceremony requires of young veils wedding nobility. Still Jorlan is not going to make things easy for her. He fights her every step of the way, but Green is a unexpectedly thoughtful lover. When his sensual nature kicks in, she begins to suspect that he is one of the rare Sensitives, a true treasure. Jorlan can only hope that Green will respect his feelings and allow him to live his life as an equal within their relationship. He has already lost his heart to her.

Claudine has not taken being thwarted well at all. She is determined to have Jorlan, and hatches a scheme to raise a scandal, to cast doubt on his virtue, bringing the validity of his union with Green into question. Green is not about to let the man she loves go to her sadistic archrival, and comes up with a countermeasure that strips Jorlan of his free will, causing him to believe that she does not care for his feelings, perhaps doesn't even love him. He is crushed, but when her plan does not produce the desired result, she is willing to risk her life to keep him safe. In his heart Jorlan knows he cannot let her do this for him. He believes that he must be the one to protect his family, even though he will lose her either way. If he defeats Claudine, breaking the stereotypes his society has set for men, he will be surely be punished. If he fails, he would be subject to her will as her new name-bearer.

I have always loved older woman/younger man scenarios. There is something refreshing about an earnest and innocent male. But this was something more. It was quite interesting to visualize the hero in a role traditionally held by females. To have his fate lie in the whims of the women of his society. I loved this parallel to their feelings of helplessness and frustration with their lot. I enjoyed watching the play of emotions, as this young man experiences doubts as to whether he is desired for himself, or for his name and wealth, by the woman he's fallen hopelessly in love with. I love that he cannot separate sex from love. I'm a sucker for a man who can cry! I enjoyed his triumph.

It is clear that Green and Jorlan are soul mates. It is the fact that she is so receptive and indulgent, that he is so deeply hurt by what he feels is a betrayal of his nature. Green relishes his high spirits and sensual nature. She guides him with a gentle hand, only enforcing her will when she feels he is endangering himself. But, for the sake of his pride, she is able stand back and allow him to determine his own fate regarding Claudine. He will probably never know just how capable she truly is. In doing so, she gives him what he wants most - equality. What she gains is a unique and passionate man who is more special than anyone will ever know. He gains a woman who that he not only respects but who respects him. Mutual love is a given.

I enjoyed this satire very much. Though Ms. Joy has created her own vocabulary, in keeping with the futuristic setting, it was easy to match up to its historical counterpart. My only complaint is that I'd truly like to know what becomes of River, Green's pleasurer, who is very gallant and appears to have secrets of his own, and of Claudine's daughter, who is noble in more ways than one. Who knows? Perhaps someday they will find their way into another tale. One can only hope!

Mass market paperback becomes available from Harper, 4/2/02. ISBN:0380812525

Copyright 2002

Reviewed by Leslie Tramposch
Posted March 21, 2002


In a world where women are all-powerful, Marquelle Green Tamryn is one of the most influential of all. The time has come for this woman to choose a husband from the unclaimed males in society's Top Slice. She decides upon Jorlan Raynard, heir to a fortune, a man perfectly suited to be her mate.

Against a sweeping canvas of intrigue and power, Jorlan and the Marquelle are fated to follow their hearts' desire. And when her life is threatened by one of her enemies she learns to rely on Jorlan in ways she is not used to...and to love him in a way she never thought possible. With this dazzling new work, Dara Joy transcends genre fection to create a vivid new world readers will never forget.


Ritual Of Proof
by Dara Joy

William Morrow & Co.
June 1, 2001
ISBN #0380978342
EAN #9780380978342
368 pages
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Other Books by
Dara Joy

Death By Ploot Ploot!
Wildcat Arrows
That Familiar Touch
The Night Before Christmas
Ritual of Proof
High Intensity
Tonight or Never
Mine to Take
High Energy
Knight of a Trillion Stars

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