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A Review of

A Love for All Time

by Bertrice Small

 

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Summary

This is Book 3 in a series of novels by Bertrice Small referred to as the "Skye O'Malley Family Saga".

This historical romance novel begins its story in England during the Renaissance. A young woman is betrayed by someone she trusted, leading to her being confined in a Turkish harem.

A Love for All Time

 

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Fact Sheet

Title

A Love for All Time

Author

Bertrice Small

ISBN

0-045-14044-16

Publisher

Onyx Press

Category

Historical Romance Novel

Rating

StarStarStar

Number of Pages

613

Published In

1986

 

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Description

This historical romance novel is a sequel to All the Sweet Tomorrows, but instead of continuing with the lead characters in that book, it shifts to tell the stories of others connected with the same family.

The story opens at Queen Elizabeth's court in England in the 16th century, then takes the reader on a journey to a Turkish harem and back to England. It tells of how Aidan St. Michael and Conn O'Malley found love during the era of Queen Elizabeth of England in the 1500's, then found their love challenged when life threw obstacles in their way.

The reason I've included a review of this book on my web site is that part of it is set in Turkey. I don't want to give away too much of the plot by telling you how Aidan got there and what goes on once she gets there, but suffice it to say that she was betrayed by someone she had once trusted.

Like most romance novels, this book contains some sex scenes. However, its scenes are more explicit than those I've seen in many other romance novels. Steamy sex scenes are very much part of author Bertrice Small's writing style. Although these scenes didn't bother me, readers who prefer books to be less lusty probably wouldn't appreciate this one. Although Aidan is a somewhat innocent heroine, she endures some rather unpleasant activities in her effort to survive the tribulations that life has forced on her.

Will the man she loves manage to rescue her from the harem and take her home to England? You'll need to read the book to find out!

 

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Is It Right for You?

 

You Will Probably Enjoy This Book If...

  • You enjoy historical fiction.
  • You enjoy romance novels.
  • You are fascinated by Ottoman harems of the 16th century and would enjoy a story that sets part of its action in one.
  • You would enjoy the author's penchant for offering detailed descriptions of the women's fashionable attire.

 

This Book Probably Isn't Right for You If...

  • You prefer romance novels whose sex scenes are less explicit.
  • You prefer stories with more complex character development.

 

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What I Liked, What I Didn't

 

What I Liked:

  • The lead characters are strong, likeable, and intelligent. I always enjoy a book more when its primary character appeals to me.
  • Bertrice Small clearly did extensive research when preparing this book. Although I certainly would not encourage anyone to think of a romance novel as being a legitimate source of historical or cultural information, the author clearly did her homework.
  • A Love For All Time's plot introduced a variety of characters, and took them through many twists and turns.
  • I think a number of Western women fantasize about life in the Ottoman harem, imagining it to be a place of beauty, pampering, and sensual delights. This book portrays the dark side of what it's like to be snatched away from everyone you love, be enslaved, and be subjected to the whims of someone who has ultimate power over you. It portrays harem life as a world in which very few women have any rights at all, a world embroiled in intruigues and betrayal. It reveals the policy of fratricide employed when Sultans took power. In short, it debunks the fantasies and exposes some of the cold realities of that world. I applaud the author for her courage in addressing these issues head-on.
  • This book is actually quite good, and I feel it is one of the stronger books in the Skye O'Malley Family Saga series of books.

 

What I Didn't Like:

  • The author unnecessarily parades a number of the characters from the first two books in the Skye O'Malley series in and out of this story without adding much value to the plot. Even though I had read the earlier books, I found these walk-on appearances by characters who did little or nothing to further the plot to be somewhat irrelevant, annoying, and gratuitous. I imagine I would have found them even more annoying if I hadn't read the earlier books.
  • This book doesn't explore Turkish harem life very much. What it provides is good, and matches well with my independent historical research. But because this book skims over that topic a bit, it doesn't offer much satisfaction to readers who want to immerse themselves in stories about the Middle East.

 

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Conclusion

This book is the third in a series known as the Skye O'Malley Family Saga. It would be possible to enjoy this book without first reading the prior two, because this one focuses on different characters from those who were at the center of the first two. However, if you enjoy reading series in order, then you might want to start with the first book, Skye O'Malley and work your way to this one.

Compared to most other romance novels I've read, A Love for All Time is actually well-written and entertaining. The author, Bertrice Small, is a skilled story teller. However, if you're looking for a book that will let you immerse yourself in Ottoman Turkey, The Kadin and Valide are more suitable choices. There's nothing wrong with the view this book offers of the Turkish harem — it just doesn't provide the level of depth in its descriptions of that world that the other books do.

If you're the kind of person who enjoys historical romance novels, particularly ones with a hefty dose of passionate sex scenes, then you'll probably like this book very much. However, if you've never appreciated romance novels, or if you are squeamish about books with a large amount of explicit sex including some variations that wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea, this is not the right book for you.

Aidan's sojourn in Turkey provides a mixed view of the historical Middle East. For a time, she is able to find happiness there, but for a time she also finds misery. I think this blend is good — it appropriately debunks the romanticized fantasy view of life in a Turkish harem being filled with pampering and beauty. It reminds the reader that the world of the harem was a world of slavery, a world where women were denied control over decisions affecting their own lives.

 

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Related Books

After finishing this book, if you'd like to read other books by Bertrice Small presenting other adventures in the Middle East and North Africa, there are many available to keep you reading for some time to come. Here is the order I would suggest reading them in, with links (when available) to reviews of them elsewhere on this web site:

  • The Kadin. This was Bertrice Small's first book, and everything else follows it. It is the first in the Leslie Famly series, sometimes called the Cyra Hafisa series.
  • Skye O'Malley. This is the first book in a series about a strong woman named Skye O'Malley and her extended family. Her adventures take her to Algeria at one point.
  • All The Sweet Tomorrows. This is the sequel to Skye O'Malley. Although I was a bit disappointed with this book, I would still recommend that if you liked Skye O'Malley enough to read more in the series, then you should read this before the others. Otherwise, you'll find some of the references to past events and characters in the later books confusing. Part of it takes place in Algeria and Morocco.
  • A Love For All Time. This one comes third in the Skye O'Malley family of books. Part of it takes place in Turkey, and it makes some references to characters who were originally introduced in The Kadin.
  • Love Wild And Fair. This is the sequel to The Kadin and part of the plot takes place in Turkey. It is the second in the Leslie Famly series, sometimes called the Cyra Hafisa series.
  • This Heart Of Mine. I don't plan to review this one for my site, because the heroine's adventures take her to India, which falls outside my geographical scope. But if you've enjoyed the other books about Skye's family so far, you'll want to read this one, which is number four in the series.
  • Lost Love Found. Bertrice Small takes you back to Turkey in this one, the fifth book in her story about Skye O'Malley and her family. Don't tackle this one unless you've read everything above. I made that mistake, and felt entirely confused at all the flashbacks explaining what had gone before.
  • Wild Jasmine. This is the natural sequel to This Heart Of Mine. I don't plan to review this one for my site, because the heroine's time outside of Europe takes place in India, which falls outside the geographic scope that I focus on for this web site. But if you're hooked on the Skye O'Malley series, you'll want to read this one, which is the sixth book in the series.

 

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Disclosures

There is nothing to disclose. I have never had any contact with anyone associated with this book.


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