Intermezzo Review, an exciting Supernatural Romance!
Intermezzo is the second book in the young adult supernatural romance Birthright Legacy
series of three books, written by long time teacher and now vice-principal Melinda
Morgan. The first book was Etude, reviewed here.
You may want to read the Etude
Review before you read this one. The Birthright Legacy series has certain parallels
with the Twilight Saga, and you can read about that in the Etude review.
In the first book, we met Beth Arrington who is just older than high school age. She
has endured a terrible car accident which took her mom's life and left her with a
crippled left hand, ending a promising career as a pianist. Beth meets Jonathan Rollings
who is an immortal man born in the 1800s. He had been fond of a girl named Eleanor
who he knew during the Civil War. As the book ends, evil spirits are after Beth and
it is decided that she should be transported back in time by Jonathan's "traveling"
sister, in order to hide from the danger.
Intermezzo, according to Wikipedia,
is a musical term meaning a composition which fits between other musical or dramatic
entities, such as acts of a play or movements of a larger musical work. This second
and middle book in this series of three deals with Beth's time in the past. Beth thought
she was physically going back in time but only her spirit traveled to the past.
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Intermezzo, which can be read on its own but is best enjoyed after reading Etude,
is the story of Beth Arrington's spirit taking over the body of Eleanor Hastings.
There was some information about Eleanor in Etude. It seems that she was an old lover
of Jonathon, Beth's current lover. Eleanor is slightly younger than Beth and is deathly
ill and expected to die at any time, when Beth beams into her body and surprises her
family with her sudden and complete recovery. Beth now must deal with Eleanor's family
and social circle. We learn that Eleanor lives in her authoritarian father's large
estate along with a cold mother and a lively younger sister who loves her very much
and is happy to have her back, although she realizes that Eleanor has changed in many
ways. Some of the more delightful moments in the book are the times when Beth/Eleanor
interacts with her barely teen sister Christine.
The year is 1863, and the life and times are very different from what we experience
today. Society folk are expected to act a certain way and maintain a certain form
of behavior. They have obligations which take precedence over all else including personal
choice in whom to love and marry. Personal desires have to take a back seat to commitments
and duties to family and society.
I found the setting of the story to be quite interesting. It takes place in Marensburg,
Pennsylvania and of course the year indicates that the United States is in the middle
of it's Civil War. The Civil War era had this different culture of honor, and dedication
to your ideals and family could force you to do battle with others equally committed
to their own values. While the country was in an internal battle, so was the being
of Eleanor. Important events were about to happen in her life and the author told
the tale in an exciting way. I couldn't wait to see what would happen next, and therefore
I finished the book in three nights.
Beth is in Eleanor's head but Eleanor is in there too. Beth mostly has control, but
she is constricted and confined in what she can do. There is symbolism in the book,
as Beth feels constricted and confined in Eleanor's outfits which use tightly laced
corsets to cinch her waist to a very small diameter in order to meet the ideals of
femininity of the day. It was thought that a narrow waist would help to create contrast
with, and bring attention to, a woman's hips and bosom. This concept of constriction
and confinement plays such an important role that the author portrays on the book's
cover an illustration of a young woman in a corset with her back to us so we can't
see her face.
These mandatory restrictive styles of dress parallel the goings on in Beth and Eleanor's
mind as they think about what they would like to do and what they are required to
do. In the book, there is internal dialogue in which Beth thinks about whether her
breasts are restrained enough to stay in her low cut outfit while dancing so as not
to bounce out of her dress and give new meaning to "coming out party", and she vows
to not wear restrictive clothes for a month once she returns to her own time. In another
scene, she is in a similarly revealing gown and worries about becoming a "topless
bride". This symbolizes the constraint and restraint needed to maintain control of
her female desires in a time when culture was different. Also, Beth had to remember
that although her desires may be her own, her host body at this time belonged to another
and she was merely an occupying spirit, in a way similar to the spirit that possessed
her friend Eric, but with better intentions. Although in both cases there was a selfish
desire and we see it played out differently. Beth might have wanted to run away with
Jonathon, but she knew that Eleanor wanted to run away with James, and meanwhile she
was engaged to William. Lots of constraints and consequences to calculate and come
to terms with.
The story line proceeds in a manner that reminds one of a classic English Romance
novel such as Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, or Sense and Sensibility. But there
is a supernatural angle to it all, and it leads to disturbing turns of events. In
the first book, Beth is confronted with an evil spirit who had taken over her friend
Eric's body. Although Beth considered Eric just a friend, Eric wanted more, and the
spirit made him want even more once he took over Eric's body. This allusion to rape
also surfaces in Intermezzo. In fact, the same spirit is involved. In addition, there
is a rather strange section toward the end of the book in which Eleanor is confronted
by a band of soldiers who want to violently sexually abuse her. The wording in the
book is not explicit, but the point is made, and it is interesting that the subject
of rape surfaces in both books, which are aimed at a young adult audience.
Perhaps it can be instructive to young readers to see the full range of intentions
and behaviors that males can exhibit toward females. A girl should seek out male friends
and ultimately partners who are gentlemen and treat them with the utmost respect.
But they should be aware that there are others out there who have no regard for anyone
but themselves and want to use and abuse others in disturbing ways.
At the conclusion of this middle book, we are left with many unanswered questions.
The reader has come to identify with Beth and is interested in finding out what will
happen to her and what course her love affair with Jonathon will take. I have enjoyed
both books and would recommend them to readers who enjoy romance and supernatural
romance books, provided that they are mid teens or older, as there are some serious
circumstances described that may be too much for younger readers. Parents of teens
may want to read the book along with them and use the story to discuss matters of
freedom and responsibility, and the proper way to treat those we encounter in life.
The third and final book in the series is called Coda, and will be released in 2014.
I am looking forward to this final offering and will be interested to see how all
the pieces of the puzzle come together to explain the Birthright Legacy.
Kenny Crane has been writing about YouTube
videomakers and their videos at YouTubeStars.com since
June 2006. He also publishes the YouTube
Top 100 Weekly Chart of the Most Popular YouTube videomakers.
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