1 star

Category Romance Review: Tangled Hearts by JoAnn Ross

Tangled Hearts, JoAnn Ross, Harlequin, 1990, cover artist TBD

Harlequin Temptation #333

1 1/2 stars

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

I have to give it JoAnn Ross for her book Tangled Hearts, in that she tried to do something unique for a category romance novel. It’s just unfortunate for me that I didn’t like where she went with it.

The cover of this Halequin Temptation tells it all, pretty much. There’s a couple engaged in a sexy embrace while in the background is a black and white image of lone man.

The Plot

Alanna Cantrell got married to Mitch Cantrell six years ago. Their whirlwind courtship was passionate and thrilling. But soon afterward, terrorists captured Mitch, a journalist, who was taken hostage and presumed killed.

Over the years Alanna has picked up the pieces of her life. By the time the story opens, she’s seeing Jonas Harte, a staid, steady, predictable kind of guy, certainly not the type to gallivant off to war-torn countries for the thrill of reporting a story. Just as Alanna and Jonas are about to announce their engagement, who should turn up from the dead, but Mitch, Alanna’s husband?

Through flashbacks we are shown how Mitch and Alanna met and see their brief time together before his disappearance. This was the first category romance I recall where the heroine slept with two different men (albeit one in the past and the other in the present).

Although shocked to see Mitch, Alanna’s happy he’s alive, but not necessarily happy he’s back in her life. Alanna claims she’s content with Jonas, an architect, as he’s not the type to ever do anything outrageous and dangerous. Back in her youth, a wild man like Mitch appealed to her. Now that she’s older, she needs a more solid type.

The Two Men

Jonas overhears Alanna complimenting him for his “boring’ qualities and seeks to prove that, in his own way, he’s just as adventurous and passionate as her ex. He is determined to win her over.

Mitch hopes desperately to resume his relationship with his wife, shocked that he’s returned to a much different woman than he remembered.

In the end, too many years have passed for Alanna and Mitch to bridge the gap. Alanna has changed, and so has Mitch, but they didn’t do it together, so they are too far apart to be together once more.

I felt so bad for Mitch, who spent years in captivity, with only his thoughts of Alanna to bring him hope and comfort. When he’s finally released and runs home to meet his wife, a woman who has been more of a fantasy in his mind than substantive reality, she’s moved on.

Final Analysis of Tangled Hearts

I just never warmed up to Jonas, who was sort of milquetoast for my tastes. He was a nice guy but dull. So I think Alanna got with the wrong hero. However, there was a sequel to this book, Tangled Lives, where Mitch met a woman more in tune with his lifestyle.

Again, I appreciated the love triangle aspect of Tangled Hearts, where the two men vying for the heroine’s love are both fundamentally decent people. But I’ve seen this done better in other romances and couldn’t help but feel that poor Mitch got a bad break. My “hated it” rating is a bit harsh, but this romance left a sour taste in my mouth, which I’ve never forgotten.

2 replies »

  1. So sorry you didn’t like this one, Jacqueline. I’ve read several books by Ms. Ross when I devoured Harlequin Temptation books like candy back in the day, but it sounds like this one is a bit disappointing.

  2. I appreciated the unique story; I simply had a soft spot for the “loser” guy. I did enjoy the JoAnn Ross book I read before this one, Guarded Moments, a great story about a bodyguard and a princess. I remember it vividly and will review it here soon to come!

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