The Lustful Turk : A Review (possibily NSFW but no pictures)

Regency Era Smut

You may recall that last week I mentioned a Regency-era tale called The Lustful Turk. I suppose it’s erotica. I had high hopes for this book going in. After all, it’s Regency-era smexiness. What could be better except maybe pictures, which the print version has?

On the whole I would rather troll Shakepeare for dirty puns. (I’ll be right over, Amanda.)

In Preview This Book on Amazon, the pictures looked nice and clear.  In the book? Not so much. I could tell the subject matter was racy, but in the print book, the pictures were too small and pixelated. What a disappointment, because there was some artistic merit in them.

The Text of The Turk

The text wasn’t a disappointment, but not in a good way. Early attempts to tell extremely racy stories (de Sade excluded since he could at least write his way out of a paper bag) were predictably bad since 1) the desire to write hot doesn’t necessarily coincide with a talent for such and 2) there was a fairly universal lack of elements we today consider necessary to an entertaining story. Things like plot, character development and something– some nugget of something– that readers can care about.

I don’t know for sure if this is something peculiar to men writing about sex but for pre-20th century raciness, the lack of story elements is the norm. More on that in a bit. Although, I’m pleased to say that this book did have a discernible plot. I’m not saying it’s a good one, but stuff happens!

Great Lines in Literature

However, plot points aside, The Lustful Turk is notable for what I consider one of the greatest lines of literature ever written:

“Seize the virgin!” repeated Ozman, ‘she will be only too honored and happy to escape the pollution of this blaspheming wine bibber.’ 

Imagine this Regency buck sitting at his club with pen and paper and writing his magnum opus between drinks and bad jokes. What should Ozman say, he probably wondered at this point. He wants his heroine to get kidnapped at her wedding and then nailed by the Lustful Turk, who is not Ozman, by the way. Yes, it’s quite a turning point and full of conflict. Will someone pop her cherry before the Turk gets his chance? Our erstwhile author is at least attempting to create tension. He has another drink and inspiration swells!

Rest assured, the Turk gets his virgin. Several of them actually.

In Which Carolyn Sighs. Many times.

The women are all horrified at being raped until the Turk convinces them they like it, and then hey! Turk-y baby I love you because you can get that big engine ready on a moment’s notice all night every night.

I was not convinced, I’m afraid.

It was authorial wishful thinking with a big dose of stupid ideas that need to die a horrible death. It’s a distasteful trope that lasted well into the 1980’s when Feminists saved all our asses by pointing out how absurd, destructive, hateful and just plain wrong it is to think a man can rape a woman and she’ll eventually like it. It’s pervasive in too much literature and lingers still.

In fact, you can probably yourself think of several literary books that include such false and damaging notions. And, of course, early Romances aren’t sometimes called Rapetastic for nothing. But, then, these women didn’t have a better example. That they often turned that trope on its head is something to celebrate as we also celebrate having moved past that in Romance.

There are all kinds of slurs, cliches and stereotypes. Everywhere you look. Religion? Yup. (An abbott demands sex in return for saving a womans’ life, otherwise, he leaves her to die) People who aren’t white? You betcha! (the whole damn book) The lower classes? But of course! (The heroine’s beautiful servant is badly beaten but the heroine? She is too white and tender and upper class.)

While the distasteful representation of female sexual agency is front and center there’s plenty more in the background. (Dear Anonymous Author: Worried much about women?) I get that he didn’t know any better, but did it have to take us 200 years before we did?

Meanwhile, Back in the Harem

Anyway, the story is told in epistolary fashion, with all the extreme awkwardness of that device that you could possibly imagine. No, imagine more. More. More….. Yes!

Now you’re close.

So more virgins get kidnapped and deflowered and the Turk is indeed very lustful. But he is also a nice guy. Because his very last conquest cuts off his penis and he is totally cool with that! He sends all his ex-virgin white girls home to their loving families.  To be fair, one of them is Greek or something.

There is also sequel bait in the form of the heroine’s baby. She’s knocked up at one point, and I think we never find out what happened to the baby. Or maybe we do. But I’m NOT reading through that again to find out.

Byron

Any connection with Byron is quite a stretch. He may be inextricably linked now with the revolution in Greece, but he’s not the only Englishman to go there or be aware of the politics of the revolution. Mentioning Greece in no way connects this book with Byron except for the modern reader who only knows, yeah, Byron — he went to Greece. I doubt very much the author was thinking of Bryon. He was thinking about whether the Turk should deflower another virgin.

Thoughts? Reactions? Opinions? Share in the comments.

About carolyn

Carolyn Jewel was born on a moonless night. That darkness was seared into her soul and she became an award winning and USA Today bestselling author of historical and paranormal romance. She has a very dusty car and a Master’s degree in English that proves useful at the oddest times. An avid fan of fine chocolate, finer heroines, Bollywood films, and heroism in all forms, she has two cats and a dog. Also a son. One of the cats is his.
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Audra
11 years ago

Sounds like a trainwreck, but not in the best way!

Jessica
11 years ago

I agree with Audra–definitely doesn’t sound like a good read. Thank you for reading this trainwreck so we don’t have to!

Victoria Janssen
11 years ago

I am stricken with the urge to seize a virgin!

Diane Gaston
11 years ago

I can’t believe you read the WHOLE thing….

Isobel Carr
11 years ago

OMG, now I must have this. Damn you! I wonder if The Lustful Turk has any relation to Rowlandson’s illustrations of The Harem and The Pasha?

Carolyn
11 years ago

Carr: I wouldn’t be surprised. They’re harem pics. if you were on twitter I could send you a snap.

: It’s not very long. Otherwise I don’t think I could have held up.

@VictoriaJanssen: Well, be gentle with him.

sonomalass
11 years ago

I’m glad he gets his dick cut off. That’s a little victory, anyway.

Carpe Virgo! (I like it.)

Word veri: “cravent” Is that a ventilated cravat or a cravat event?

Louisa Cornell
11 years ago

ROFLMAO !! Carolyn, that is service above and beyond the call of duty. Thank you for your sacrifice. And I think I’m like Isobel. I have to have a copy of this simply for the fascination factor!

librarypat
librarypat
11 years ago

Thanks for an interesting review and post.
When working at the library, I got tired of men commenting on all “those romance books that were just junk.” The men were checking out some of the western series we had. I decided to compare these Harlequin sized men’s western fiction. OMG they were aweful. Quiet hero (there are over 60 in this one series) rides into town. By page 10 he has caught the eye of the seasoned saloon girl with a good set of melons and they make their way upstairs so she can be impressed. Bad guys taking women, raping them, and keeping them captive. Hero goes to camp, is captured, beaten badly, staked out for the buzzards. One of the women cuts him free and he single handedly manages to wipe out these dozen or so bad guys, even though he can barely walk. Back to town as the savior of of women and children. He rides into the sunset with saloon girl watching him leave a sigh, “What a man.”
It was one of the worst books I have ever read. The only good thing about it was it was short.

Men seem to have a straight line thought process in many of their books. Man macho, woman appreciative of anything he wishes to do to or for her. A brain doesn’t seem to really be required.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many really fine male authors out there. However, I think if you look at the short series books out there, women authors as a whole write stories with better and more character, plot, and story development. Sex is emotional in women’s fiction rather than the mechanical type found in similar men’s fiction.

Jane George
11 years ago

No wine bibbing for me this evening, I had a Guinness.

Anonymous
Anonymous
10 years ago

‘women authors as a whole write stories with better and more character, plot, and story development’ ha ha ha ha ad infinitum et nauseum (i.e. my nausea)