Harlequin Presents #253
There are two Harlequin Present writers I absolutely adore: Miranda Lee and Charlotte Lamb. While Lamb wrote mostly in the ’70s and ’80s and Lee was a modern woman of the ’90s and 2000s, both authors shared an ability to portray great heroines from vastly different lifestyles: from poor, innocent virgins to victims who rise above tragedy to mature sexually experienced sophisticates.
In this book, Oriel Mellstock belongs to the latter group. Oriel and Devil Haggard were cousins who grew up together and grew to love each other. (If that registers an ick-factor, they’re only second cousins). Cruel fate separates them. Oriel leaves and marries a man 30 years older. She actually has a normal marriage, sleeps with him (albeit without much passion) and has a child. Her multi-millionaire husband dies, and she returns to her home town to get a little revenge.
Call Back Yesterday was Charlotte Lamb’s first HP. So it’s a bit milder than her later works. There is no consummation in this book, but she throws a bunch of HP tropes at you: the much-beloved manor the heroine fights to own; a darkly-brooding, bastard hero who rides on a black stallion; the manipulative wife who separates the lovers; a vicious other-woman; multiple men who vie for the heroine’s affections; and even a couple of cute kids.
One thing I love about older Harlequins is the quick-moving plots, and this one is no different. My favorite scene is where Oriel and Devil come face to face at last, and she whips him on the face with her riding crop, then he grabs her crop, takes her over the knee, and whips her backside. Then he forces a kiss on her, and Oriel is like, well, I deserved the beating, but the kiss was just too much! WTF!
The ending of Call Back Yesterday a bit unsatisfactory. I wanted more of a dramatic reveal at the climax to make this one perfect.