Month: April 2021

Updates #4

Hello, everyone! T.S. Eliot wrote that April is the cruelest month, and it’s certainly been a tumultuous one. I’m thankful it’s almost over, and that May will soon be upon us in all its flowery glory.

It’s hard to believe this vintage romance blog is only a month old, as it’s taken up so much of my time trying to put it together. Besides researching authors, publishing houses, and cover artists, I’ve been reviewing books and tweaking the site to make it more user-friendly with plenty of links and additions to the menu.

Used Book Store

You may have noticed there’s now a STORE attached to this blog site. I’ve decided some Spring cleaning is on the agenda, so I’m reducing my library by selling used books. I have many, many books to sell, but there are few, if any, doubles, so it’s first-come, first-serve if you find something you’d like to purchase from my vintage-and-not-so-vintage collection.

The conditions of the books range from excellent to acceptable for reading, and they are priced to sell. Shipping and handling is a default flat rate of $4 for Media Mail anywhere in the US. If you wish for a faster delivery method, please amend your order to First Class, which is a $6 flat rate, or to Priority Mail, which is a $9 flat rate.... Read more “Updates #4”

Historical Romance Review: Passion’s Chains by Catherine Creel

Passion’s Chains, Catherine Creel, Zebra, 1991, Pino cover art

From the back of the book:

“HE HAD BETRAYED HER
Lady Eden Parrish stared in shock at the bare-chested, blue-eyed rogue who stood so proudly on the Bridgetown auction block– he was none other than her husband, the despicable Roark St. Clair! Eden had been sent to Barbados in disgrace after her brief, scandalous marriage to the unscrupulous American spy…after the way he’d betrayed her, she ought to let his contract of indenture be sold to the highest bidder. But memories of how it felt to be embraced by those strong arms and held tight against that well-muscled chest flooded her mind and body, and soon Eden was offering a fortune for the right to claim him as her
own!

SHE STILL LOVED HIM
Roark had come to Barbados for only one reason–to reclaim his runaway bride. Of course, getting captured by the British and sold into slavery hadn’t been part of the plan, but t situation was working out nicely, things considered. He would find a to escape and take the luscious along, with or without her consent. The little minx might be his mistress now, but he’d soon be her master.
... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Passion’s Chains by Catherine Creel”

Category Romance Review: Crescendo by Charlotte Lamb

Crescendo, Charlotte Lamb, Harlequin, 1980, Will, Davies cover art
Harlequin Presents #451

“Hello Red Riding Hood. I’m the Wolf.”

Crescendo
5 stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

***Spoiler alert***

A Mysterious Beginning

Crescendo by Charlotte Lamb starts like a hazy dream. A beautiful girl stands at the cliffs, and a strange man, thinking she’s about to jump, runs to save her. She isn’t; she’s just admiring the savage beauty of her coastal home. There is an instant connection between the girl, Marina, and Gideon, the stranger, who is much older. Marina lives alone with her grandfather, plays the piano beautifully, and at night shares her thoughts with her best friends, two dolls. There are secrets hidden in this tale that slowly unravel to reveal a different story altogether.

The Plot

Crescendo deals with an issue that has always puzzled me. Why are so many heroes in romances absolute horndog sluts? It’s not simply about being good in bed. A man doesn’t need to sleep with legions of women to know how to do this! He only needs to know a few, or just one, very well. There is a perceived allure of getting–and keeping—the one man that no other woman could keep.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Crescendo by Charlotte Lamb”

Category Romance Review: My Heart’s Undoing by Phyllis Halldorson

My Heart’s Undoing, Phyllis Halldorson, Silhouette, 1986, cover artist TBD
Silhouette Special Edition #290

From the back of the book:

“Colleen had been in love with Erik Johansen for as long as she could remember. And now, in just forty-eight hours, her green-eyed Viking was getting married to another woman, a beautiful model–her own cousin… But when her cousin left him stranded at the altar, Colleen was there to pick up the pieces. She knew Erik had always thought of her as a little sister, but this night he needed her. And she had never stopped needing him. In one night of unforgettable passion, their lives were inextricably joined. But suddenly Colleen had a decision to make. Could Erik learn to return her love, or was she tied forever to a man she would never really possess?”

3 stars

Rating: 3 out of 5.

***Spoiler alert ***

What a frustrating read was My Heart’s Undoing by Phyllis Halldorson. This one was definitely filled with lots of anguish.

Colleen had been in love with Erik for years, but as she stood in her more beautiful cousin’s shadow, Erik had no interest in her. They had briefly dated in the past, but Erik dumped her when he met her much more sophisticated (read: slutty) cousin, Brett.... Read more “Category Romance Review: My Heart’s Undoing by Phyllis Halldorson”

The Washington Post Reports: How the Romance Genre Found Its Happily Ever After

The Flame and the Flower, Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, Avon, 1972, Robert McGinnis cover art

How Has the Romance Genre Changed Over the Years?

On April 15, 2021, The Washington Post journalist Angela Haupt spoke with a dozen major players in the romance novel industry to write this engaging article about the evolution of the romance genre:

How the Romance Genre Found Its Happily Ever After

From the roots in bodice rippers like Kathleen E. Woodiwiss’ Flame and the Flower to the softer, sweeter writings of LaVyrle Spencer, to Harlequin’s dominance in publishing, to Fabio-mania, to the industry today, the article highlights the major points of the romance genre’s history. The two constants in this ever-changing field are the requirement for a happy, satisfactory ending for the protagonists and the ubiquitous nature of people who read and write romance. I think Beverly Jenkins did an excellent job summing it all up:

“There’s so many different women writing romance. You’ve got marine scientists, you’ve got biologists, you’ve got physicists. You’ve got waitresses. You’ve got stay-at-home moms. So, you know, everybody writes romance, and everybody reads romance, and all of that together generates billions of dollars a year. We’re the people that keep the lights on in publishing.”... Read more “The Washington Post Reports: How the Romance Genre Found Its Happily Ever After”

Category Romance Review: Carnival by Jenna Ryan

Carnival, Jenna Ryan, Harlequin, 1990, unknown cover artist

Harlequin Intrique #138

3 stars

Rating: 3 out of 5.

***Spoiler alert***

The Plot

Carnival, a Harlequin Intrigue by Jenna Ryan, is set (naturally) in a carnival on the dark, dreary English moors.

There’s been a violent murder committed. American attorney Lexie Hudson has been hired to represent the accused killer, Diana. She young and inexperienced at her job, but idealistic and hardworking.

Then there’s Rick Matheson, a handsome casual worker who is anxious to help Lexie seek out clues and also keep her out of harm’s way. But Rick is no ordinary laborer; he’s a Scotland Yard detective, secretly employed undercover to find the real murderer, as well as the missing treasure that’s the motive for the homicide.

Lexie and Rick work together following a labyrinthine trail of clues as they try to solve this mysterious puzzle. In the meantime, they also fall in love, having quite a sexy relationship. Rick was a nice, protective hero, and I really liked him.

The Ending

Carnival was one of those mysteries with a HUGE twist at the end because the person who committed the crime was the least likely person to execute it.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Carnival by Jenna Ryan”

Category Romance Review: Beloved Deceiver by Flora Kidd

Beloved Deceiver, Flora Kidd, Harlequin, 1988, cover artist TBD
Harlequin Presents #1058
3 1/2 stars

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Lately, I’ve been trying to write as many reviews as I can, before I forget what I read. Even though I read this book in the early Noughties, Flora Kidd’s Beloved Deceiver still sticks out in my mind for one big reason: it’s the only Harlequin/Mills-and-Boon I’ve read to feature a hero from the Dominican Republic, which is my parents’ birth country. There have been plenty of Hispanic, Latino, and Latin-American born heroes in the HP line, but up until this one I’d never encountered a Dominican and a blond one, to boot! That, for me, was like hitting the romance lottery jackpot.

The Plot

Our heroine, Glenda, is an independent divorcee whose first marriage ended when her husband decided fidelity was too taxing on him. Glenda’s a magazine writer from Canada visiting the Dominican Republic on holiday. Her former college classmate, Cesar Estrada, is now a bestselling author and Glenda seeks him out for an interview. Upon meeting Cesar again, Glenda notices some changes, mainly her attraction to him. Back in Montreal, they’d just been friends, however, this tanned, tropical hunk makes her motor run at super high RPMs!... Read more “Category Romance Review: Beloved Deceiver by Flora Kidd”

Historical Romance Review: Captive Angel by Deana James

Captive Angel, Deana James, Zebra, 1988, Pino cover art

The frightened, pampered child-woman who had been deserted by her husband ten months ago was gone forever. In her place stood a self-confident, independent creature who would not hesitate to dare the devil.

CAPTIVE ANGEL

5 stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

*** Spoiler alert ***

An Unusual Romance

How do I begin to review this amazing, conflicting journey through a woman’s incredible 19th-century life? I have to tell it all, so this review is pure spoilers.

By all rights Captive Angel is the kind of romance I should have tossed into a blazing fire and gleefully cheered, “Burn, book, burn! Bad, bad book!”

Perhaps it helped that I knew exactly what I was getting into before I started. Plus, having read a few of Deana James’s books, I knew it couldn’t be that horrible. The cover even had a quote from Johanna Lindsey, stating: “Delightfully different, emotionally involving, and impossible to put down,” which is 100% true.

Captive Angel surpassed my expectations with probably one of the greatest romance heroines ever, paired with one of the most piggish, most oblivious, POS heroes I’ve ever come across in an old-school historical other than Regan Van Der Rhys from Fern Michaels’ Captive Series.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Captive Angel by Deana James”

Category Romance Review: Love Unspoken by Carole Mortimer

Love Unspoken, Carole Mortimer, Harlequin, 1983, Ray Olivere cover art

Harlequin Presents #636

“You’ve forgotten how to be a woman!”

LOVE UNSPOKEN

4 1/2 stars

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

*** Spoiler alert ***

It must be the change of seasons. Something in the air, because I can’t explain it, I really liked this one—almost loved it, actually, until the end. Carole Mortimer’s Love Unspoken is one of those infamously controversial Harlequin Presents where readers can’t stop talking about it, even though it’s not necessarily well-loved.

The Set Up

The book begins with the heroine, Julie, a jet-setting journalist, having been just released by terrorists who held her and her fellow flight-mates hostage. She’s a little bruised and reeling when her boyfriend, Steve, shows up with concern. Julie and Steve have been dating for six months—by her own admission, some of the happiest she’s ever spent—but Julie, a mature gal in her mid-twenties just can’t make the jump from heavy petting to sex.

She likes keeping Steve on a firm leash, while he pants for more from her, but she’s not giving him any biscuits! Steve knows Julie was involved with the Zack Reedman in the past, in fact, had a year-long affair with him, so could it be old feelings for him that hold her back?... Read more “Category Romance Review: Love Unspoken by Carole Mortimer”

Category Romance Review: Knight to the Rescue by Miranda Lee

Knight to the Rescue, Miranda Lee, Harlequin, 1994, cover artist unknown
Harlequin Presents #1702

From the Back of the Book:

Damsel in distress…Audrey needed someone on her side for once, and Elliot Knight appointed himself. But playing gallant rescuer was harder than it looked, especially for someone as vulnerable as Audrey – fresh on the rebound and tempting as sin…Audrey knew she was deliberately playing on Elliot’s capacity for compassion, but she couldn’t let him walk out of her life, good deed done. The oh-so-brief feel of his lips on hers had been heaven. Somehow she had to convince her enigmatic hero that this was no fairy tale – but the real thing.

4 stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Knight to the Rescue is a cute, enjoyable Miranda Lee romance about a stranger who comes to mousy young Audrey’s aid when her boyfriend cruelly informs he’s cheating because she’s no good in bed.

The handsome stranger’s name is aptly, Elliot Knight, and he and Audrey become fast friends. More than friends. After Audrey has a makeover, Elliot proves to her that her boyfriend was very, very WRONG!

Elliot was amazing. He’s always popping up to save the day for Audrey every time something went awry.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Knight to the Rescue by Miranda Lee”

Category Romance Book Review: The Secret Baby by Day Leclaire

Harlequin Romance #3457 The Secret Baby, Day Leclaire, Harlequin, 1995,
The Secret Baby, Day Leclaire, Harlequin, 1995, cover artist TBD
Harlequin Romance #3457
2 1/2 stars

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

*** Spoiler alert ***

The Plot

The Secret Baby (wow, I bet the editors stayed up nights trying to think up that title!) was a rather predictable story with a paint-by-the-numbers plot. This could have been pulled from an old daytime soap opera. Former lovers, a secret baby, a marriage-of-convenience, and revenge are just a few of the tropes in this Harlequin Romance.

Damien Hawke and Sable Jameson (oh those names!) were lovers who worked together, or rather, she worked under Damien…in various positions. They were in love until Sable seemingly betrayed Damien by selling company secrets. Sable denied it, yet Damien wanted nothing more to do with her.

Shortly afterward, Sable found out she was pregnant but couldn’t turn to Damien, who had tossed her callously out on her butt. Who did she turn to? Why the decrepitly aged head of the rival company Sable had supposedly sold (or not sold) those secrets to! Their marriage was one of convenience, so naturally, they never had sex (they never do in these books). She had the baby and hid his true parentage from Damien.... Read more “Category Romance Book Review: The Secret Baby by Day Leclaire”