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Master of Rosewood
Master of Rosewood
Author: Karl Tunberg and Terence Tunberg
She was Amelia Woodhull, Boston beauty, fervent abolitionist, yet in the arms of Pierce Taarleton, gambler, adventurer and owner of hundreds of slaves, she was only a young girl hopelessly enraptured. A whirlwind courtship flung her into marriage with the plantation owner and the unsettling reality of Southern life-the white-pillard mansions an...  more »
ISBN: 117161
Publication Date: 4/1980
Pages: 444
Rating:
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 1

3 stars, based on 1 rating
Publisher: Warner
Book Type: Paperback
Members Wishing: 0
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The book opens with Charleston dandy Pierce Tarleton breaking into the Boston home of Andrew Woodhull to retrieve his forgotten cigar case. Confronting the shadowy intruder is the scantily-clad daughter of the house, Amelia. Parts turn to water and they start a-courtin'. An abolitionist meeting goes awry with Pierce bound for the end of a lynching noose, but he and Amelia make their escape and run off to get married. Down in the South, Amelia finds no end of culture shock and things aren't made ...more The book opens with Charleston dandy Pierce Tarleton breaking into the Boston home of Andrew Woodhull to retrieve his forgotten cigar case. Confronting the shadowy intruder is the scantily-clad daughter of the house, Amelia. Parts turn to water and they start a-courtin'. An abolitionist meeting goes awry with Pierce bound for the end of a lynching noose, but he and Amelia make their escape and run off to get married. Down in the South, Amelia finds no end of culture shock and things aren't made any better when Pierce disappears for days on end and too many people are glad to tell Amelia of his past horndoggery. One of his haunts is the River Club, a converted plantation manor that is now a brothel and gambling parlor run by the curvy quadroon Henrietta Davis, a very cozy associate of Pierce's. Is Tarleton up to his usual bad boy shenanigans, or is there more than meets the eye? And just who is the Ace of Spades, the slave-stealing Underground Railroad bandit striking all the area plantations?

Well, the surprise, when it comes, was pretty obvious from a mile off and more ho-hum than even mildly a-ha. The plot was a crazy, uneven mix of The Scarlet Pimpernel Goes South and seedy exploitative plantation porn. Sometimes it clicked, other times it didn't. If it had come down completely on one type or the other, it probably would have been better. Thin characterizations abound, main cast and supporting characters alike. Amelia and Pierce are ostensibly hero and heroine, but they have little connection with each other and their come-to moment happens far too late to have much heartfelt meaning. The one exception was the opium eater, Captain Belgrave, who gets up to some interesting stuff in his lucid, self-piteous moments. He was pretty amusing.

Still, it was interesting as an example of the post-Mandingo glut of plantation-themed novels, and it read fast, but it wasn't more than an average read. Don't let the rather demure and romantic cover fool you. Inside are scenes of male sodomy (of a Haitian sorcerer on a kidnapped free black) and child rape (the master of the house rapes a girl over a nursery hobby horse while his wheelchair-bound wife looks on and masturbates). Because this book makes a stab at being a historical, there's a subplot with beginner detective Allan J. Pinkerton who is prowling around Amelia with an agenda of his own. However, Pinkerton also has a graphically-described case of explosive diarrhea whilst hiding out in an abandoned barn, and I had the image of the Tunbergs giggling and flicking literary boogers at each other as they invented the scene.

3 stars


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