Month: November 2021

Free Book Give-Away

two yellow emoji on yellow case
two yellow emoji on yellow case
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Sign-Up For a Chance to Win a Box of Books

I went book shopping again, so to make room on my shelves, we’re giving away a mystery box of assorted romances!

Please note these are previously read books, so they are in used condition ranging from good to excellent.

To be eligible to win, simply complete the registration form. Enter before December 24, 2021. We will choose one winner at random.

You will be notified via e-mail from @jacquelinediazromance by December 25, 2021, if you have won.

Unfortunately, due to several factors, we can only ship within the United States.

Complete & Submit

... Read more “Free Book Give-Away”

Historical Romance Review: The Silver Devil by Teresa Denys

the silver devil
the silver devil
The Silver Devil, Teresa Denys, Ballantine, 1978, H. Tom Hall cover art

He sat on his horse unmoving, a somber black figure in startling contrast to the vivid colors about him, the sun dazzling on his white gold hair… There was no laughter in his face, and his eyes were not searching the housefronts for diversion–instead, he was staring intently straight up at my window.

THE SILVER DEVIL

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

4 1/2 Stars

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

A Legendary Romance

I’ve put off posting an analysis of Teresa Denys‘ first book, The Silver Devil, for a long time because I didn’t quite know how to critique it. If you’re a hard-core lover of old-school romance or bodice rippers, you might be familiar with this legendary novel.

Teresa Denys was a magnificent author whose writing pulled the reader in from the first word and never lets go. Sadly, she died young in the mid-1980s’ after only publishing two books. The Silver Devil was followed by The Flesh and the Devil. Both are superlative works of fiction.

The Silver Devil is out-of-print, a hard paperback to find. And, if you do, it will cost you quite the penny!... Read more “Historical Romance Review: The Silver Devil by Teresa Denys”

Covers of the Week #34

exiled heart

Did you know George Bush was an artist? No, we’re not talking about that George Bush, although incidentally, he does dabble in painting. And no, we’re not referring to his papa, George Sr, either.

George Arthur Bush, also known as G. A. Bush, was a prolific cover artist in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. He was born in 1953 in Reading, PA. Bush worked in various genres and produced fantastic cover art for Jove, Charter, Fawcett, Dorchester, and Zebra, among other publishers. His use of light and color makes his covers stand out. To achieve that unique look, he would use various paints. For example, for The Exiled Heart, first, he coated a foam board with acrylic Gesso. Then he painted the artwork in oils, and finally, he covered it with a spray of acrylic clear varnish to get that beautiful glow.

Bush was also a fine art illustrator who worked in multiple mediums. He has created book covers, worked in comics, designed collector’s plates for Danbury Mint and the Bradford Exchange, and sculpted in clay. He’s also worked for film and television. Unfortunately, Bush suffers from debilitating MS and can no longer paint and sculpt.

Our Covers of the Week edition for Monday, November 29, 2021, to Sunday, December 5, 2021, highlights romance covers created by the very talented George Arthur (G.... Read more “Covers of the Week #34”

Romance Novel Title Generator

love word placed on pink surface

We’re having a little fun now that it’s the Holiday Season.

Romance novel titles can be so generic, they blend together. This has always been so in the genre, whether it was 40 years ago or in the present day. The popular trend now for historicals is to add “Duke” or another title, or “Rogue,” “Rake,” “Devil,” or “Scoundrel” to a previously known idiom or title. For example, take the books The Viscount Who Loved Me or I Kissed an Earl.

While some of the modern have me groaning, I can look back at older book titles and laugh at their silliness.

No one did formulaic titles better than the folks at Kensington/ Zebra. For over 20 years they released romances that adhered to certain naming conventions. Let’s see:

Happy Adjective/Angry Adjective + State/Location/Native American Tribe OR Another Adjective + Noun with Romantic Connotations = Wild Texas BrideSweet Stolen SurrenderSweet Silken Bondage

We created a romance novel name generator that takes after the Zebra naming conventions. Use the initials of your name to create a unique title. If you don’t have a middle name, that’s ok, this still works. My name, Jacqueline Diaz, would be Jubilant Destiny, which actually sounds pretty romantic.... Read more “Romance Novel Title Generator”

Category Romance Review: Falling Angel by Anne Stuart

falling angel
Falling Angel, Anne Stuart, Harlequin, 1993, Cover Artist TBD

American Romance #513

SPOILER FREE REVIEW 😊

3 1/2 Stars

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

Anne Stuart’s Falling Angel is yet another paranormal from the American Romance line. This is a holiday-themed romance that begins on Thanksgiving and culminates in a Christmas miracle.

Plot

Emerson Wyatt MacVey had lived only for the love of money. He was a corporate raider who thought nothing about ruining lives and impoverishing people, much less breaking women’s hearts—especially the heart of Carrie Alexander from the small town of Angel Falls, Minnesota. But living a life of depravity took its toll upon the blond, handsome Emerson, and he died of a heart attack at the young age of thirty-two.

Our story begins at the Pearly Gates, where the angels above try to decide how to judge Emerson. Instead of sending him to hell, where he will surely suffer torments for all eternity, he is given a second chance. He is allowed to return to Earth in a new form: the black-haired Gabriel Falcone on Thanksgiving Day. His job is to help people and undo the damage that Emerson had wrought.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Falling Angel by Anne Stuart”

Historical Romance Review: Texas Conquest by Caroline Bourne

texas conquest
Texas Conquest, Caroline Bourne, Zebra, 1988, Robert Sabin cover art

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

2 Stars

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Reviewed by Blue Falcon

This review is of Texas Conquest by Caroline Bourne. This historical romance is a Zebra Lovegram, published in 1988.

The Plot

Part II

The book starts in London, England, in 1810. Elsa Palmer is searching for her sister, Claretta, who became a prostitute after the death of her husband. He was a man their father didn’t approve of. Elsa convinces Claretta to travel to America with her and Elsa’s husband, William.

Fast forward 22 years. In Texas, on the Brazos River lives Mariah Palmer, 22, Elsa and William’s daughter and the heroine of the book. Mariah lives with Elsa (William has now passed away) and a younger brother, Jessie, who is away but coming home.

Mariah is a steadfast supporter of Texas independence from Mexico, which will place her squarely at odds with her new neighbor, Matthew Cade, the book’s hero. Even though he is an American, Matthew is the right-hand man for General Antonio Lopez y Santa Anna. Santa Anna has ordered Matthew to buy the home of Mariah’s neighbor, Francisco Gomez.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Texas Conquest by Caroline Bourne”

Covers of the Week #33

second to none

It’s time to appreciate category romance covers again! For this edition of Covers of the Week, we’re focusing on Harlequin publishing in the 1980s. Over the years, Harlequin romance covers utilized a stable of in-house artists. This made for a unified consistency in the covers. However, sometimes they seemed as if they all looked alike. Fortunately, there were artists talented enough to make their paintings stand out.

In the early days, covers were just painted, mostly with acrylic, but some illustrators used watercolor, like Will Davies. Eventually, photography and digital imaging would be implemented, but that was mostly later in the 1990s.

For the week of Monday, November 22, 2021, to Sunday, November 28, 2021 (boy, did November fly by, or what?), let’s look upon these passionate category romance covers from Harlequin.

How To Organize Your Bookshelves

books2
books in black wooden book shelf
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Your Personal Library

We’ve talked about posting books on Instagram and becoming a #bookstagrammer. What happens when you build up a substantial library? You’ll want to show off your reading material. We’ve got some ideas on how to organize your books and bookshelves in a few eye-catching ways.

Bibliophiles love their sorting their collections. Now that being bookish is all the rage, it’s natural to want to share images of books with friends and followers. But it’s possible to get too caught up in the aesthetics and ignore practicality. This past week I read a fascinating article from https://inews.co.uk/ on this topic.

I used to spend hours arranging my books until I realised it was a colossal waste of time and changed my ways.

Kasia Delgado wrote:

I support those who want to arrange their bookshelves in artful ways, but it can go too far. I had a dream before moving to a new flat this month in which I was arranging my shelf for so long that each book began disintegrating and I started to eat the pages. In the morning, I decided enough was enough and I vowed to change my ways… As I unpacked my moving boxes, I forced myself to put books on the shelves arbitrarily.

... Read more “How To Organize Your Bookshelves”

Category Romance Review: Hilltop Tryst by Betty Neels

hilltop tryst
Hilltop Tryst, Betty Neels, Harlequin, 1990, Will Davies cover art

Book Series #3071

VERY MILD SPOILERS 😉

3 Stars

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

Hilltop Tryst is a sweet romance by the famous Betty Neels featuring–as always–a fair-haired doctor as a hero, although this time he’s British, not Dutch. Nor is the heroine a nurse. She’s the daughter of a local successful veterinarian and works with Dad.

The Set-Up

The title Hilltop Tryst makes it sound steamier than this book really is. It’s a very clean, closed-door Harlequin Romance, so no trysting here!

One morning, Beatrice is taking a walk with her dog, and she meets the hero, Dr. Oliver Latimer, a heart surgeon, along the way. Oliver’s a nice, stolid type. There’s a bit of trouble with another dog and Oliver arranges to bring the pup to Beatrice’s father for a check-up.

Everything lines up making it seem as if Oliver’s interested in Beatrice. He’s kind to her, spends time with her family, and in typical Betty Neels fashion, doesn’t make a move! When Beatrice’s father has a heart attack, they’re fortunate that Dr. Latimer is there to save the day.

Enter our other man, a more debonair and seemingly sophisticated vet.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Hilltop Tryst by Betty Neels”

Historical Romance Review: Sunset Temptation by Jane Toombs

sunset temptation
Sunset Temptation, Jane Toombs, Zebra, 1989, cover artist unknown

SPOILER-FREE REVIEW 🙂

1 Star

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Reviewed by Blue Falcon

This review is of Sunset Temptation, a standalone novel by Jane Toombs (Zebra/Kensington Heartfire, June 1989).

Heroine: Jennara Gray, 29, Brown hair, green-amber eyes. Healer.

Hero: Bramwell Sumner, 34. Brown hair and eyes. Attorney.

The Plot

The book begins at an unspecified time in Minnesota. Jennara Gray, the hero of the book, has just been confronted by Philadelphia lawyer Bramwell Sumner, the hero. Bramwell’s stepbrother, Ronald Claridge, and Jennara’s sister, Susanna, have run off together. Jennara and Bramwell make an uneasy alliance to bring the couple back. Easier said than done.

As they travel to try to find Susanna and Ronald, Jennara and Bramwell meet a Datoka boy named Cub, encounter various perils and become lovers.

Jennara and Bramwell eventually find Susanna and Ronald in Missouri, but also find more peril. In the end, Susanna and Ronald marry, as do Jennara and Bramwell. The latter couple has a baby together and both couples find their Happily Ever After.

Upside

My record of finishing every book I paid for with my own money remains intact.

Downside

Sunset Temptation is a BORING book.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Sunset Temptation by Jane Toombs”

Category Romance Review: Song of the Waves by Anne Hampson

song of the waves
Song of the Waves, Anne Hampson, Harlequin, 1976, Will Davies cover art

Harlequin Presents #209

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

4 stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

A Life Not Yet Lived

Wendy Brown is a not-yet-21-year-old Englishwoman who’s been given the worst news imaginable. She has an inoperable brain tumor and will die in a few months. Rather than spend her last days wallowing in despair, Wendy decides to make the best of her lot. Alone in the world, she sells her family home. She buys a ticket for the maiden voyage of a glamorous cruise ship that’s set to sail the world.

Thus begins Anne Hampson’s Song of the Waves, a vintage Harlequin Presents written in 1976, a year before I was born.

Even for a book so ancient (ha-ha), this romance comes off old-fashioned. It never delves deeper than a few kisses and severely-restrained passion. Anne Hampson’s books might have been among the first published for the Harlequin Presents line, but that sort of antiquated mindset would later cause the publishers to break ties with her in favor of more “modern” minded authors, such as Charlotte Lamb.

A Love That Saves a Life

Introduced into this “love boat” romance is a vast field of characters, couples and individuals, who will get to know Wendy as she charms her way aboard the ship.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Song of the Waves by Anne Hampson”

Our Favorite Non-Romance Books and Authors

black and white books education facts
black and white books education facts
Photo by Pixabay

Our team at Sweet Savage Flame reads other kinds of books besides romance novels. We have a wide variety of tastes. Consequently, we’ll be asking our reviewers about their reading preferences. In this post, Introvert Reader talks about some of her favorite books, series, and authors outside of the romance genre.

Introvert Reader’s Favorite Books

Genres I Like to Read

Just as I’m a fan of old-school romance, I enjoy classic science fiction. Most of them are were published from about 1950 to the 1980s. Space Operas and weird slipstream sci-fi are my favorites. In addition, I enjoy potboilers, pulp, and trashy reads. Plus, I’m a big history buff. The Medieval period and anything about Spanish history are my preferred eras. Therefore, books that combine the two are my siren song. I also read humorous non-fiction, true-crime novels, philosophy, and, occasionally, a self-help book.

I have another blog dedicated to reviewing all types of books and romances published after 2000. So some of what I list here are reviewed on my IntrovertReader site.

Favorite Books

  • Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (This is a tragic, beautiful tale about a woman who yearned for joy and love.)
  • Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (Flaubert is a master wordsmith.
... Read more “Our Favorite Non-Romance Books and Authors”

Covers of the Week #32

the game of love

The Regency era is the most popular setting in historicals. From classic, traditional romances to longer, more sensual ones, the time period evokes a sense of manners and wittiness. We’ve reviewed but a few on this site, so to remedy that, let’s take a look at some of their dazzling covers.

For the week of Monday, November 15, to Sunday, November 21, 2021, our theme for the covers of the week is Regency romances. Enjoy!

Flashback: The Biggest or Noteworthy Romance Novels 30 Years Ago (1991)

flashback 1991
flashback 1991

Let’s Look Back At Romance’s Past

At Sweet Savage Flame we love to look back to the past. After all, old-school romances are what we review! Now that we’re nearing the year’s end, there’s even more reason to look back at what came before us.

Let’s rewind all the way to…1991.

Back In Time 30 Years Ago

What was I doing back then? I was 14 on January 1, 1991. It was my confirmation year. In the Autumn of ’91, I started high school.

On tv I watched my soaps, Loving, All My Children, One Life to Live, then General Hospital in the daytime. Sitcoms to watch at night included Roseanne, Coach, The Golden Girls, and The Simpsons. On Nickelodeon, I watched Ren and Stimpy, Rugrats (I had little siblings), and the Canadian teen soap opera, Fifteen.

As far as music went, grunge was in full swing. As an avid metalhead I therefore avoided mainstream rock. Hits by bands like Color Me Badd, C+C Music Factory, TKA, and Mariah Carey had me dancing to the radio.

For romance reading, I subscribed to Harlequin Temptations, Harlequin Historicals, and Zebra Lovegrams. I read Lady Chatterley’s Lover and loved it.... Read more “Flashback: The Biggest or Noteworthy Romance Novels 30 Years Ago (1991)”

Historical Romance Review: Crimson Obsession by Deana James

Crimson obsession
Crimson Obsession, Deana James, Zebra, 1988, Pino cover art

VERY MILD SPOILERS 😉

3 1/2 Stars

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I’ve read about half of the romances Deana James published and I must say Crimson Obsession is probably my least favorite of her works. It’s not a terrible romance, not at all. It simply pales in comparison to her other books. Due to my high expectations of James’ writing, Crimson Obsession was a bit of a disappointment, although if penned by another author, I daresay I might not have been so critical.

The Revenge Based Plot

It’s Victorian-era England and Cassandra MacDaermond is on a mission of revenge. She’s a beautiful red-haired orphan left penniless. Her father died after losing the family fortune by gambling. Cassandra blames Edward Sandron, owner of a gaming hall, for this. She’s determined to see Sandron pay for taking advantage of an elderly man. Cassandra disguises herself as an old, plump maid and gains employment in Sandron’s household.

Edward Sandron not only runs a gambling establishment, but he also is the head of a sex cult. He calls himself Baal and wears funky devil costumes.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Crimson Obsession by Deana James”

Category Romance Review: The Jade Affair by Madeline Harper

the jade affair
The Jade Affair, Madeline Harper, Harlequin, 1990, Cover Artist TBD

Harlequin Presents #326

SPOILER FREE REVIEW 🙂

4 1/2 stars

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

A Gem of a Romance

Madeline Harper’s The Jade Affair happens to be one of my top Harlequin Temptations due to its engaging reunited lovers’ plotline. The duo of Madeline Porter and Shannon Harper wrote historical romances as Anna James and Gothic romances under the pen name of Elizabeth Habersham. They published several category romances for Harlequin by combing one first name and last name. In this, The chemistry between the protagonists is fantastic as they play detectives to find some missing jade artifacts.

Clea and Reeve had been dated as teenagers and fallen deeply in love. But their relationship could never be as they were from different social classes. Clea’s family was part of the upper-crust echelons, while Reeve was a tough boy from the wrong side of the tracks. They ran off to be together, but Clea’s parents tracked them down. Through lies and manipulation, they were able to separate the couple for years.

But Clea and Reeve each held a special place for the other in their hearts, never forgetting their forbidden romance.... Read more “Category Romance Review: The Jade Affair by Madeline Harper”

Author Spotlight: Debbie Macomber

Debbie Macomber
(Image from debbiemacomber.com)

A Standout in Romance

Debbie Macomber has been a standout romance novelist for an astonishing 40 years. She’s written women’s fiction, full-length contemporary, and category romance. Her work has been adapted for the small screen numerous times, for both movies and series. Over 200 million of her books have been out in print.

Because I don’t watch too much television or read many modern romance novels, I had no idea how huge Debbie Macomber was. I merely thought of her as another category writer who had crossed over to be successful in women’s fiction.

Debbie Macomber is a 13-times #1 New York Times bestselling author. Her books have spent over 1,000 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. She is a publishing superstar.

Early Life

Debbie Adler was born on October 22, 1948. She graduated from high school but did not attend any university.

Adler married Wayne Macomber just before her 20th birthday in September 1968. They had four children together. At first, Macomber never dreamed of becoming an author, as she had learning disabilities that hampered her ability to read and write.

After she had children, however, she had so much time helping her kids in their education she felt confident enough to create a romantic novel.... Read more “Author Spotlight: Debbie Macomber”

Historical Romance Review: Passion’s Bride (aka The Captain’s Lady) by Jo Goodman

passion's bride
Passion’s Bride, Jo Goodman, Zebra, 1984, Ray Kursar cover art

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

4 Stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reviewed by Blue Falcon

This review is of Passion’s Bride, aka The Captain’s Lady by Jo Goodman.

The Plot

The book begins in 1809, where the fledgling American navy hopes to enlist the services of the pirate Alex Danty to help sink British ships. One person, Captain Tanner Cloud, this book’s hero, knows Danty won’t help. Cloud knows this because he knows Alex Danty and knows that SHE–the heroine of the book–was already attacking British ships for her own personal reasons. Primarily to kill a certain Captain Conrad Travers for revenge.

Alex and Cloud become lovers, both knowing that Alex will escape him if she gets the chance. She does, and for two years, they are apart. Cloud later arrests Alex, who is charged with inciting war with Britain. However, she would be let go if she agreed to help the Americans fight the British and help enlist Jean Lafitte to help, which Alex won’t do.

Alex is broken out of prison by Cloud, who is then arrested himself for springing her. Alex, her crew, and his crew work together to get Cloud out of jail.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Passion’s Bride (aka The Captain’s Lady) by Jo Goodman”

Covers of the Week #31

temptations touch

We love giving attention to overlooked romance book cover artists. Like many fine artists working today, Leslie Pellegrino-Peck got her start in commercial art.

Leslie Anne Pellegrino was born in Buffalo, New York. She attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art. In 1987 Leslie spent a year studying art in Italy at the Scuola di Lorenzo De Medici in Florence. She then apprenticed in Rome with renowned illustrator Alessandro Biffignandi.

Pellegrino-Peck began a freelance career in romance book cover illustration in 1988. She has enjoyed two decades of success painting in that genre, creating covers for St. Martin’s Press, Pinnacle, Zebra, Jove, and numerous other publishers. While still enjoying tremendous success in the publishing field, Pellegrino-Peck’s love for the beauty of people and animals has found its expression in her most recent oil paintings.

For the week of Monday, November 8, 2021, to Sunday, November 14, here are some fabulous Leslie Pellegrino-Peck romance covers to look over and admire. Enjoy!

Historical Romance Review: Dark Before the Rising Sun by Laurie McBain

Dark Before the Rising Sun
Dark Before the Rising Sun, Laurie McBain, Avon, 1980, Tom Hall cover art

SNOOZE ALERT ⚠

1 1/2 Stars

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

Great Title, Beautiful Cover, Too Bad About the Book

Dark Before the Rising Sun is the last installment in Laurie McBain‘s trilogy that began with Moonstruck Madness. This is a direct continuation of that book’s sequel, Chance the Winds of Fortune. I am breaking my rule for reviewing books that I have didn’t fully read, as I made it fairly far into this book and then skimmed to the end. Yes, it was that bad.

Perhaps I would have enjoyed this book more if it had been combined with the first book, and halved by length.

As I said in my review of Chance the Winds of Fortune, the second and third books combine for over 1000 pages. In the previous installment, the pride and joy of the Dominic family, the eldest daughter Rhea Claire was kidnapped. Events led her to be an unwilling passenger on a ship sailing the Caribbean, captained by Dante Leighton, former English Marquis turned pirate. Rhea charmed the pants off of the ship’s men, metaphorically speaking for the crew, but literally speaking of Captain Dante.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Dark Before the Rising Sun by Laurie McBain”

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