Month: May 2021

Covers of the Week #4

Winter Roses

May is upon us! May your days be full of love and joy! Here are some beautiful May-deval romance covers to enjoy for the week of May 3 to May 9. (Groan) That’s an awful pun!

Left to right: Lovefire, Deana James, Zebra, 1985, Pino cover art; Winter Roses, Anita Mills, Onyx, 1992, Greg Gulbronson cover art; Legacy of Shadows, Warner Books, 1987, Sharon Spiak cover art; Rose of Rapture, Warner Books, 1984, Elaine Duillo cover art

Historical Romance Review: Sea Fires by Christine Dorsey

4 stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Plot

Sea Fires, a Zebra Lovegram written by Christine Dorsey, features bookish yet feisty Miranda Chadwick as the heroine, who’s embarking on an ocean voyage home to the colonies. Her only interests are her microscope (which had specially ground lenses designed by the Leuwenhoek himself) and examining the animalcules of various flora and fauna. (If I ever have to hear that irritating word “animalcule again,” I swear I will go screaming around like a raging madwoman.)

Our dashing hero is Captain Gentleman Jack Blackstone, who has to avenge the death of his family at the hands of the evil Spanish. (Sigh, I’ve seen that plot before, many TIMES over. Why can’t other folks be the bad guys in these pirate stories? Oh, well. Que sera sera.)

Miranda’s father has some shady dealings with Jack, as he is a smuggler himself. He’s under investigation and convinces Jack to kidnap Miranda for several weeks until the magistrate leaves town. Miranda is such a do-gooder that she won’t think twice about ratting out Jack to anyone and everyone, thus exposing his—and her father’s—pirate enterprise.

But Jack’s no villain. Jack is a pirate, but he was forced into the lifestyle to seek revenge.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Sea Fires by Christine Dorsey”

Belated Farewell to Emma Darcy

Farewell to a Talented Author

After writing my review for Emma Darcy’s Don’t Ask Me Now, I found out the sad news that she had passed away four months ago, on December 21, 2020, at the age of 80. Emma Darcy was a pseudonym for the husband-and-wife duo of Frank and Wendy Brennan.

Emma Darcy’s Life

Wendy was born in Dorrigo, New South Wales, Australia, on November 28, 1940. She was a bright student and achieved success in college. She was the first female computer programmer in the Southern Hemisphere.

Wendy and Frank married in 1964, and after having children, Wendy chose to leave the workforce and stay home to raise them. Frank was a businessman and a pharmacist.

Both were lovers of reading and they decided to join forces to write books together. Frank and Wendy wrote several books which they submitted to Mills and Boon. The legendary editor, Jacqui Bianchi, aka bodice-ripper author Teresa Denys, accepted their submissions but asked for them to be tweaked a bit before publication. In 1983, the couple released their first book as Emma Darcy, the Mills, and Boon/ Harlequin Presents Twisting Shadows.

Frank and Wendy wrote 45 books together before Frank passed away in 1995.... Read more “Belated Farewell to Emma Darcy”

Category Romance Review: Don’t Ask Me Now by Emma Darcy

Don't Ask Me Now
Don't Ask Me Now, Emma Darcy, Harlequin, 1987
Don’t Ask Me Now, Emma Darcy, Harlequin, 1987, cover artist unknown
Harlequin Presents #984
5 stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

***Spoiler alert***

The Unusual Plot

Emma Darcy‘s Don’t Ask Me Now is such an unusual Harlequin Presents. I had seen this love-triangle plot done similarly in the Temptation line, which was more sexually explicit, but to see it in HP was a bit surprising.

What’s the big deal? Well, this book features two heroes that the heroine sleeps with, although it’s not as tawdry as I’m making it out.

Many years ago, the heroine, Cathy, had a torrid love affair with Anthony Pryor-Jones of the Pryor-Joneses, part of Australia’s creme-de-la-creme. His family disapproved of her as he came from a wealthy heritage while Cathy was a nobody. Hero #1 was obsessed with her, and they had fantastic sex. But Cathy finally broke free of that toxic relationship and relocated to Sydney.

Years have passed, and Cathy’s made a new life for herself. She’s got a great friend and business partner, Tom. Tom, Hero #2, has always wanted Cathy, but he’s been friend-zoned for some time. Finally, when he thinks he’s breaking through her icy reserve, they bump into Anthony at a ball.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Don’t Ask Me Now by Emma Darcy”

Category Romance Review: Changing the Rules by Gina Wilkins

Changing the rules
Changing the Rules, Gina Wilkins, Harlequin, 1990, cover artist unknown
Harlequin Temptation #299
4 1/2 stars

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Plot

Changing the Rules is a sweet Harlequin Temptation from Gina Wilkins. Elise Webber and Dustin Chandler are two career-oriented people living in Georgia. He’s a high-powered attorney, she’s a news anchor for Atlanta’s top station. They’ve been dating for six months. Dustin is not a marriage-minded type of man, nor is Elise looking for anything more than a short-term relationship. The pair have an active, satisfying sex life and Elise has been diligent about taking her birth control pills. However, as Jurassic Park taught us, life always finds a way.

Elise’s pregnancy is a shock to both her and Dustin. Elise was the product of a single mother, who resented being a parent, and so Elise never thought about having children herself. But now that she’s pregnant, Elise knows what she has to do. Elise graciously allows Dustin an “out.” While Dustin might not be a lifetime commitment kind of guy, he’s not an irresponsible deadbeat, either. He has just as much to do with the pregnancy as Elise does and he vows to support her whether she chooses to keep the baby or give him/her up for adoption.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Changing the Rules by Gina Wilkins”

Historical Romance Mini-Review: Raven by Evelyn Rogers

Raven, Evelyn Rogers, Zebra, 1995 cover artist TBD

From the back of the book:

A WOMAN OF SECRETS
Haunted by memories of the terrible night that left her innocence shattered, Raven Chadwick prefers the world of make-believe to the cruel realities of everyday life. So she leaves her girlhood home of Savannah to pursue a stage career — and uncover a mysterious family secret.

A MAN OF MYSTERY
In London, Raven meets Marcus Bannerman, the enigmatic Earl of Stafford. Powerful and hotly sensual, he fills her with doubt — and awakening desire…

A WORLD OF PASSION
Then Raven discovers the truth that was once hidden amid the shadows of the elegant Stafford mansion — a secret that could change her life. Only if she believes in herself and the man she adores will Raven be able to take on her greatest role: a woman ready to fight for her true, undying love!

4 1/2 stars

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Plot

Evelyn Roger’s Raven was one of those books with a little bit of everything: of course, there’s romance–the chemistry between the protagonists Marcus and Raven was sizzling, but there’s also adventure, painful tragedy, and a dash of gothic intrigue.... Read more “Historical Romance Mini-Review: Raven by Evelyn Rogers”

Category Romance Review: Four Dollars and Fifty-One Cents by Lass Small

Four Dollars and Fifty-One Cents, Lass Small, Silhouette, 1991,
Four Dollars and Fifty-One Cents, Lass Small, Silhouette, 1991, cover artist unknown
Silhouette Desire #613

From the Back of the Book:

GOING ONCE, GOING TWICE…The truth was, Jan Folger had never really given Junior Busby a second thought–even though he’d lived next door to her for about a million years. But her charity group was holding a bachelor auction. They needed one more eligible man to put on the block…and she supposed Junior would just have to do. Then the local paper went and ran a photo of the fully grown Junior–wearing jeans and a five o’clock shadow–and suddenly it seemed like every woman in Byford, Indiana, wanted to know him better–a whole lot better. And Jan was starting to wonder if maybe she hadn’t overlooked a hot property right there in her own neighborhood …

5 stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Four Dollar and Fifty-One Cents–what a great title–is one of the best Silhouette Desires I’ve ever read. It’s a funny romance, passionate, sexy, and did I mention funny?

The Plot

Jan needs a bachelor to auction off for a local charity. Her harmless friend and neighbor Junior should do. Jan has never really noticed Junior, but he’s always been very aware of her.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Four Dollars and Fifty-One Cents by Lass Small”

Category Romance Review: The Lion Rock by Sally Wentworth

the lion rock
The Lion Rock, Sally Wentworth, Harlequin, 1983,
The Lion Rock, Sally Wentworth, Harlequin, 1983, cover artist TBD

Harlequin Presents #662

3 Stars

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Plot

The Lion Rock by Sally Wentworth has an exotic setting, but plot-wise is your typical Harlequin Presents/Mills & Boon.

Cordelia, a young British woman, visits her birthplace of Sri Lanka with her emotionally distant father. Her father has a heart attack, and Marcus Stone, an older, sophisticated gentleman, comes to her rescue. They both experience a deep, instant attraction, but Marcus is cold and pushes her away for some mysterious reason. There’s a nasty other-woman who makes trouble and a younger guy who’s mad about the heroine. Cordelia dates him and makes him think she likes him even though she’s in love with Marcus. Drama ensues. Some mild nookie. Happy ending.

The Weird Stuff

This was a perfectly adequate book, not exciting, but worth a couple of hours reading. One thing I found funny was that Marcus kept pushing Cordelia away because he thought she was only wowed by his celebrity status. His claim to fame? He’s a writer of popular non-fiction books about history and global politics, not unlike Francis Fukuyama or Thomas Friedman. Fine, worldly men, true enough, but I hardly consider them glamorous sex-symbols, who seduce legions of 20-year-olds out of their panties.... Read more “Category Romance Review: The Lion Rock by Sally Wentworth”

Historical Romance Review: Taken By You by Connie Mason

Taken By You
Taken By You, Connie Mason, Avon, 1996, cover artist TBD

From the back of the book:

He is Morgan Scott, an English nobleman once held captive on the high seas by the brutal Spanish master and crew who murdered his family. Now he sails the seas as a British privateer, taking his revenge by attacking and plundering Spanish ships.

She is Luca Santiego, forced from the shelter of a convent and destined for a marriage arranged by her father. When her ship is attacked by pirates, she dons the garb of a nun and prays for mercy. Yet amid the flames of the sinking ship, the blue-eyed captain is seized by an unbidden passion for the beauty who kneels before him. Driven by a wicked desire to claim her as his spoils in an act of vengeance against the Spanish, he is torn by an overwhelming response to Luca’s sweet innocence, and aches with need for her. Yet he vows he will have her only when his tender kisses bring about her willing surrender to a magnificent, undeniable love.

2 stars

Rating: 2 out of 5.

I read Connie Mason’s Taken By You back when it was in early 1996, so my memory of it is fuzzy.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Taken By You by Connie Mason”

Historical Romance Review: The Magic of You by Johanna Lindsey

magic of you2

“I want you, Warren Anderson.”

THE MAGIC OF YOU

5 stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

No Time for Historical Romance

From 7th to 9th grade, I was obsessed with romance novels, reading everything from Lady Chatterley’s Lover to category romances to thick, door-stopper historical epics. By the time Johanna Lindsey’s The Magic of You was published by Avon in June 1993, a rising Junior in high school. I was not as fanatical about reading for fun due to having a full course load at school, with no lunch period and little time for extra-extracurricular activities.

On the day I came upon that blue Elaine Duillo and Fabio step-back paperback at a Waldenbooks in the local mall, I squealed in delight to see it was a sequel to one of my favorite Lindsey books Gentle Rogue. I excitedly plunked down $5.99 plus tax (oh my, how expensive books had gotten; only 3 years earlier, a mass-market paperback could go as low as $4) and hurried home to read it.

To do this day, it remains the only book I ever read and finished TWICE in one day.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: The Magic of You by Johanna Lindsey”