Black Silk

Black Silk - Judith Ivory It's hard to review this book. I know it's amazing, but I'm at a loss to explain why I know that.I guess it's because of the characters. The plot is kinda humdrum - Submit Channing-Downes's husband just died and his will tasks her with delivering a small black box to his wayward cousin, the notorious earl of Netham, Graham Wessit. Her husband's will is also being contested by a vindictive illegitimate son who resents how little he was left, leaving her penniless and homeless. Submit and Graham then run into each other, first to deliver the box, then at the inn she stays at and finally at a house party at Graham's country estate.The two form a tenuous friendship and romance eventually follows, completely unbidden. After all, Submit is recently widowed from a husband she loved dearly and Graham is currently involved with a married American woman.But it's getting to know the characters that makes the book worthwhile. Both are rich, flawed, seemingly real people. I enjoyed seeing how Graham both was and wasn't the degenerate rake everyone assumes he is. Yes, he's done all manner of risque things - posed for x-rated illustrations, kept an upstairs maid as a mistress, is involved with a married woman - but we spend the entire book seeing more and more of the whole picture, until his decisions begin to look entirely rational. He wasn't just a stock Earl of Slut, indiscriminately screwing his way through society, nor was he at all a good boy. He was just a lonely, unhappy man trying to do what was fun.As for Submit, she initially comes off as a bit of a stuffy bluestocking. And, well, she is. But she's also irreverent, honest and passionate. She's a worthy adversary and companion for the undisciplined Graham. Where he indulges too much, she reins him in, and vice versa. While nearly opposite, they seem to realize they crave what it is that the other has in abundance. Watching them dance around each other, and grow as people while doing it, was just fascinating.This is my first Judith Ivory book, and it's definitely not going to be my last.