4 stars and a half

Dueling Historical Romance Review #2: Desperado Dream by Karen A. Bale

Desperado Dream, Karen A. Bale, Zebra, 1990, Robert Sabin cover art

Dueling Review Introvert Reader and Blue Falcon #1

In this new segment, we have two reviewers offering their opinions on a single romance. Blue Falcon gives Karen A. Bale’s Desperado Dream a positive review and found the book emotionally captivating. Introvert Reader, on the other hand, explains her negative perspective of the historical romance in her review.

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

4 1/2 Stars

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

This review is of Desperado Dream, the sequel to The Forever Passion by Karen A. Bale.

The Story:

It is 11 years in publishing time, but only 1 year in book time as the relationship between Lisa Jordan Anderson and her husband, Eric Anderson, continues. The couple and their daughter, Raya, live on a ranch in Monterey, California. The relationship between Lisa and Eric was tumultuous in The Forever Passion, and nothing changes in this book. After Eric and Lisa’s brother, Tom, go to San Francisco on a legal matter, they become involved in rescuing a woman, Teresa Torres, who falls for Eric, and he becomes attracted to her too. Meanwhile, back at the Del Mar ranch, Lisa has been kidnapped by a bandido named Cruz Estacan, who has orders to kill her, Eric, and Eric’s grandfather as a means of retaking the land Cruz and his cohorts believe belongs to them.

Cruz is falling in love with Lisa, so he makes a deal with his boss to save Lisa’s life. The bargain: Her marriage to Eric will be dissolved, and she and Cruz will be married. Cruz decides to take Lisa back to his ranch in San Diego. Along the way, they stop at the home of an old friend of Cruz, Miguel Figueroa, who is Teresa’s cousin and is engaged to be married. The shock: Miguel’s future bride is Cruz’ wife, Soleda. Cruz and Soleda are not legally divorced; therefore, Cruz and Lisa are not legally married, either.

Cruz eventually takes Lisa back to his ranch, where they live together until Eric, Tom, and Teresa arrive. A tragedy takes place and Eric, Lisa, and Cruz are plunged into a dramatic love triangle. Who does Lisa choose? The answer is…you’ll have to read the book to find out!

Upside:

Ms. Bale is a very evocative author. I felt her characters’ emotions and understood–if not always agreed with–their motivations for their behavior. The characters of Lisa, Cruz, Eric, and Teresa are fully developed. Ms. Bale made me feel as though I was watching real people instead of reading a book, a huge thing for me. Only the best writers can make me feel that way.

Downside:

The “man or woman falling in love with two men or women” trope is, sadly, one Ms. Bale has used before; in at least 8 of Ms. Bale’s books that I’ve read. (Ms. Bale has 18 titles to her credit: Source: FictionDB. I’ve read 17 of them.) I do understand that creative individuals will repeat themselves, but to do it on 40% of your work is a bit much to me. Eric is a hypocrite. He hates the fact that Lisa was with Cruz but got upset with her when she objected to his sleeping with another woman in The Forever Passion. Do as I say, not as I do. The storyline about Cruz and his henchmen is somewhat weak.

Sex:

There are sex scenes in the book, but they are quite mild.

Violence:

Multiple scenes of assaults shootings, knifings, and killings. Most of the scenes are not graphic.

Bottom Line:

Desperado Dream is not good enough for a five-star rating, but it is a good low-to-mid 4-star book. 

3 replies »

  1. Dear Blue Falcon,

    Although you and I differ on this one, I can say this is a review well done! I do see where you’re coming from. You read this book after The Forever Passion and perhaps if I had, it would have altered my perception of this romance. Regardless, I still would have preferred Lisa end up with Cruz! 💔

    • Thanks, Jacqueline and Blue Falcon. I’ve read both your reviews. “Desperado Dreams” still doesn’t sound like my kind of read. But I always enjoy your reviews!

      For the record, I don’t mind cheating in romance fiction. In real life, if it happened to me, I’d go nuts. More nuts than I already am. And probably do something I’d later regret.

      But this is fiction, folks. It’s just a story. There’s a lot of stuff going on in fiction of all types that I don’t approve of. Or condone. Or am even comfortable reading about.

      But if it’s there for a good aesthetic reason, it should be. It’s part of the overall experience of reading the story. And as I’ve already indicated elsewhere in this blog, the overall experience matters far more to me than any specific element in a story.

      Should infidelity be there in a particular story? That I can judge only on a case-by-case basis. And even then, it’s just my opinion.

      Not that I have much opportunity to do so. A generation or two ago, infidelity could be found in some bodice rippers. And in other subgenres, in some romances on the border with women’s fiction. Nowadays? Forget it.

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