"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
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
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
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,
Copyright © 2002
Reviewed by Leslie Tramposch
Posted March 21, 2002