Category Archives: Anne Mather

movies based on books

Movies Based on Romance Novels, Part II: Best-Selling Authors

movies based on books

Harlequin Romance Movies

We’ve found more movies based on romance novels. These are adapted from bestselling bookd in the 1980s.

By the mid-1970s, the romance genre was hot, from historical romances to family sagas to Gothics to category romances.

It was no surprise when Hollywood would come knocking at the door. Despite the vast number of romance novels written and sold, surprisingly few of them were adapted to the screen.

In the last quarter of the 20th century, there would be a smattering of romance novels turned into movies, from Harlequin, Pocket Books, and other publishers.

Leopard in the Snow by Anne Mather, 1974

The Book

Mildred Grieves, better known to romance readers as Anne Mather, was Harlequin’s best-selling author in the 1970s. Her Harlequin Presents novels were fresh, exciting, and sensual.

Her 1974 romance, Leopard In the Snow, was a hit with readers. It has been republished several times and was–at one point–available on Kindle, although it doesn’t appear to be so now. The original edition of this book is highly prized, hard to find, and expensive if you do.

leopardinsnow
Leopard in the Snow, Anne Mather, Harlequin, Don Sinclair art

The Plot

Helen simply couldn’t believe her eyes when, stranded in the snow in the wilds of Cumberland, she found herself confronted by a leopard! But luckily it was a tame one, and its owner, the mysterious Dominic Lyall, was able to offer Helen shelter in his house.

Soon, however, the situation turned into a nightmare as she realized that he intended to keep her there, virtually a prisoner – and no one had any idea where to start searching for her! How could she get away? And, as time went by, did she want to get away?

Yet she was only too well aware that if Dominic did decide to let her go, it would only be because he wanted to get rid of her for good…

Leopard In the Snow by Anne Mather
harlequin romance movie
Leopard in the Snow, Anne Mather, Mills & Boon, 1974, cover artist unknown

The Film

This Harlequin Presents romance was made into a 1978 romance movie starring Keir Dullea, star of 2001, A Space Odyssey, and Susan Penhaligon.

harlequin romance movies
Leopard in the Snow, Anne Mather, Mills & Boon, 1978, movie-tie edition

The film wasn’t very profitable and garnered mixed reviews. It would be a long while before Harlequin romance movies would hit the screens again.

You can watch Leopard In the Snow on YouTube.

Leopard in the Snow, film

Janet Dailey Romances Made Into Films

English-born Anne Mather sold millions of books worldwide for Harlequin. She had an American counterpart in Janet Dailey. By the end of the 1970s, Dailey was Harlequin’s only American writer and an extremely popular one.

After producing more than 50 books with Harlequin, Dailey signed a massive deal with Simon & Schuster to write category and full-length romances for their Pocket Books Division and new Silhouette imprint.

She and her husband Bill developed a movie studio of their own, Ramblin’ Films, to produce their own films.

Foxfire Light by Janet Dailey, 1983

The Book

Janet Dailey‘s Silhouette Special Edition #36, Foxfire Light, was from 1982 and was the Daileys’ first foray into filmmaking.

foxfire light
Foxfire Light, Janet Dailey, Silhouette Special Edition #36, 1982, cover artist unknown

The Plot

The original Special Edition version is hard to find, but the book is available on Kindle.

BUY FOXFIRE LIGHT

foxfire light
Foxfire Light, Janet Dailey, Kindle version

The Film

In the wooded Ozark hills Joanna met proud-hearted Linc Wilder. His gold-flecked eyes mocked her, his country-born spirit clashed with her city-wise ways. His lean body challenged her, sparking her senses till Joanna was as sweetly glowing as the foxfire that lit their nights.

This was no will-o’-the-wisp, to slip away in the dark, but a bright and shining love to show the way into tomorrow.

FOXFIRE LIGHT by JANET DAILEY

This was the Daileys production company’s only romantic adaptation to film. The movie came out in 1983 and was neither a commercial nor a critical success.

It starred Leslie Morgan and Tippi Hedren as the heroine’s parents and Faye Grant and Barry van Dyke as the young lovers.

foxfire light movie poster
Foxfire Light, 1983 Movie Poster

Ride the Thunder (aka When a Spider Bites) by Janet Dailey, 1980

The Book

A decade after the release of Foxfire Light, the Daileys would have another of Janet’s books transferred to the big screen. This time, it was one of her full-length novels, Pocket Books’ Ride the Thunder. Bill Dailey acted as an Executive Producer.

ride the thunder cover
ride the thunder
Ride the Thunder, Janet Dailey, Pocket Books, 1980, George H. Jones cover art

Ride the Thunder is still available on the Kindle version. If you can get your hands on the original copy, it is a collector’s item, as it’s one of the first stepback romances.

Buy Ride the Thunder

The Plot

From the Driving Power of Manhattan’s Penthouses to the High, Wild Beauty of Idaho’s Mountains, a Love Story That Rides the Thunder!

Jordanna Smith was the wild and willowy daughter of a prominent banker and a glamorous socialite, a globe-trotting huntress who sought the world’s big game at her father’s side. No man was her father’s equal in her eyes–until the night she met the rugged stranger who, in one frenzied and exalted moment, tapped the roots of a desire she had never known.

Fleeing to Idaho to join her father’s hunting party, she hoped to forget the bronzed stranger’s fiery touch. But there he was — her stranger, their guide, Brig McCord.

Their days were filled with the wild beauty of the hunt, their nights with the primitive fire of their passion. But soon their idyll was shattered by jealousy, betrayal and murder.

Now Jordanna would have to face the hidden truths about her father and her brother, and a secret that already had claimed one life and threatened to destroy her newfound love.

Ride the Thunder by Janet Dailey

The Film

The title was changed from Ride the Thunder to When a Spider Bites to make the film sound less pornographic, more suspenseful.

When A Spider Bites had a small budget of $350,000. The film starred Andrew Lamond as Brig McCord and Sharon Young as Jordanna ‘Dannie’ Smith. It was released in 1993.

janet dailey movie
When a Spider Bites, Movie Poster, 1993

When Jordanna Smith accepts an invitation to accompany her father & three others on a hunting trip into the Idaho mountains, she doesn’t know the trip will lead to both romance & murder – & that the motive for each will be revenge.

WHEN A SPIDER BITES, IMDB

Movie Based on a Lavyrle Spencer Romance

Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer, 1989

The Book

LaVyrle Spencer’s 1989 romance novel, Morning Glory, is a romance about:

The book is available on Kindle, but the original Jove edition with the James Griffin stepback is also a collector’s copy.

Buy Morning Glory

morning-glory-outside
morning glory griffin
Morning Glory, LaVyrle Spencer, Jove, 1989, James Griffin cover art

The Plot

LOVE IN A STRANGER’S EYES…
ELLY
In town, they called her “Crazy Widow Dinsmore.” But Elly was no stranger to their ridicule–she had been an outsider all her life, growing up in a boarded-up old house under the strict eye of her eccentric grandparents. Now she was all alone, with two little boys to raise, and a third child on the way.
WILL
He drifted into Whitney, Georgia, one lazy afternoon in the summer of 1941, hoping to put his lonely past behind him. He yearned for the tenderness he had never known, the home he’d never had. All he needed was for someone to give him a chance.
Then he saw her classified ad: WANTED–A husband. When he stepped across Elly Dinsmore’s cluttered yard, Will Parker knew he had come home at last … 

Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer

The Film

Morning Glory was made into a film in 1993, starring Christopher Reeve as Will Parker and Deborah Raffin as Elly Dinsmore. Although it was not a box office hit by any means, it received some critical acclaim.

The movie has gone on to be an appreciated romance classic.

morning glory movie

You can watch Morning Glory on Youtube:

Your Opinion

Have you seen any of these movies based on romance novels? Have you read the original books? Let us know!

Please drop a comment, and let’s talk romance!

moon witch sinclair

Category Romance Review: Moon Witch by Anne Mather

anne mather category romance
Moon Witch by Anne Mather
Rating: three-half-stars
Published: 1970
Illustrator: Don Sinclair
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Presents #38
Published by: Harlequin
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 189
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: Moon Witch by Anne Mather

SPOILER WARNING ⚠

The Book

Anne Mather‘s Moon Witch is an early Harlequin Presents that features a far-too-young heroine paired with a much older wealthy man who’s assigned to be her guardian after she is left orphaned.

Yeah, this sounds like a wholesome romance! /sarcasm

Personal Anecdote Before Reading Moon Witch

That 70’s Show

Around the time I read this, my (at the time) 18-year-old daughter was about to graduate from high school. I was then catching up with “That 70’s Show.” Although I refuse to watch the final season of the show, the first 5-6 seasons were entertaining. I loved the retro 1970s shtick. A group of teens hang out, fall in love, and act stupidly.

Since watching “That 70’s Show,” I’ve realized something about myself as a parent. I am Red Forman. He was right! 17 to 18-year-olds are dumb-asses.

What the heck does any of this babble have to do with Anne Mather’s Moon Witch? Well, “That 70’s Show” depicted Mid-Western American teens doing what dumb-ass teens do: obsess over sex, TV, drugs, candy, and Rock ‘n’ Roll.

What Does That Have to With the Price of Tea in England?

Neither being a teen in the ’70s nor being British, I can’t attest if that depiction is also accurate for average UK teens of that era. Still, I’m going out on a limb and ass-u-me that in rural 1970s England, dumb-ass 17-year-old kids were aware of their own existence

The barely post-adolescent heroine of Moon Witch is more than a dumb-ass, specifically because she has zero clue about life. And even less about love.

For full disclosure, I met my husband-to-be when I was 18. He was 22, and we were both dumb-asses. Somehow we’ve made it together for almost 25 years. So some dumb-ass kids can make the right decision when it comes to love.

anne mather romance

The Set-Up

Little Sara’s grandfather has just died. She’s a 17-year-old orphan who only finished her freaking O levels at school. Now she has no one. A cranky neighbor with 7 kids temporarily cares for her, but fortune is on its way to save our heroine from ending up on social services.

In his will, Sara’s grandfather left her guardianship to his former boss and CEO of Kyle Industries, Jarrod Kyle.

However, he didn’t specify exactly which Jarrod Kyle. So in a bizarre twist, Sara is made the ward of Jarrod Kyle Sr.’s son, Jarrod Kyle Jr., the new CEO.

Instead of being an old grandfatherly sort, this Jarrod is more of a fatherly sort as he’s only twice Sara’s age. He’s a silver-blond-haired, tanned, cheroot-smoking, sex-god who drives a Mercedes one day, a Ferrari the next, then a Rolls Royce on Sunday. Junior flies planes and sails his yacht. He has multiple girlfriends (who practically come to a catfight over him near the book’s denouement). Plus, he’s got an overbearing mommy who wants to run Jarrod’s love life. Good thing he ain’t listening to her.

The Plot

So that’s the setup. A sheltered, beautiful teen is made the legal ward of a 34/35-year-old playboy guardian.

Fortunately, Jarrod’s father, JK (as in Just Kidding about this nonsensical plot!), steps in and takes responsibility for Sara. Meanwhile, Jarrod galivants around the world, both for business and pleasure trips.

Moonwitch is not a love story of a middle-aged man paired up with a 20-year-old college student–who in the US might be too young to buy alcohol legally, but at least would be armed with some basic skills: how to drive a car, how to read a bank statement, how to type, or do some filing.

Sara is 17, and her only skill is how to ride a horse or a pony. Her favorite subjects in school are Art and English. She’s never had any feelings for a man before, no stolen kisses with boys, no harmless dates to the soda shop. She’s just a pink-cheeked little girl who looks nothing like the sophisticated auburn-haired beauty on the original cover.

The first time our hero lays eyes on the heroine, the chick is decked out in a sexy pinafore.

 photo sexy doll pinafore.jpg

The Crazy Plot Continues

There’s lots of hinting at the attraction between our leads. It comes full force when the kid, er heroine, starts dancing to some of her favorite tunes—hits from Sammy Davis, Dave Brubeck, & Dean Martin.

Mather could have gone with Led Zeppelin, the Doors, Rolling Stones, Elvis, or even freakin’ Tom Jones. Instead, she chose older adults’ music. Harlequin Presents were always anachronistic. No matter what decade they were written in, they were at least 15 years out of style.

(Side note: that’s a reason why I’m not too fond of the recent batch of Harlequin Presents. They abandoned the weird, old-timey fantasy setting in favor of some chick-lit/50 shades/new adult sex fusion. That is perfectly fine for just about every other contemporary romance, but not HPs! Harrumph to that, I say!)

So, anyhow, Sara’s alone, shaking her butt, dancing to the “latest” sexy beats. Then she turns around, and there he is: Jarrod, lusting after her.

Turning the volume up she allowed her own inhibitions to melt away, closing her eyes, and dancing with the same abandon she had seen teenagers on television adopt…Sara halted abruptly, conscious of the informality of her attire, the bare feet, and the damp untidy tangle of her hair. She switched off the radiogram, and for a moment the silence seemed as deafening as the music had been. He did not speak but continued to look at her, his eyes slowly following the length of her body and back to her face again resting for a heart shaking moment on her mouth…

As I said, wholesome, right?

The Thrilling Conclusion

Jarrod gives Sara a car. She starts driving lessons and gets to experience one measly party where all the boys her age are hot for her. Unfortunately, she gets pneumonia immediately afterward.

Thus Sara is out of commission, lying around doing nothing for the rest of the book until Jarrod decides to take her with him on a glamorous trip.

First to NYC for some wining and dining in the finest Manhattan restaurants, shopping trips, and carriage rides through Central Park.

Then it’s off to Jamaica to meet his disapproving mother.

Mather introduces another man into the story near the end: a rich, sexy friend of the hero who’s the same age as Jarrod. Sara rejects him, which confirms she truly knows her heart. Jarrod’s her only love, like 4-eva!

The pair share their first kiss a few pages from the end. Jarrod reminds Sara there is more to male-female sexual relations than just kissing.

To which Sara’s eyes open wide with awe and surprise. She must have been absent from school the day they taught Sex-Ed.

moon witch sinclair

My Opinion

I’ve read tons of historicals with 16, 17, and 18-year-old girls paired off with heroes in their mid-30s through early 40s. And I rarely ever am bothered by that. Historicals play by different rules.

Yet, in a contemporary romance, this is a fine line to walk. The plot should be approached with an understanding of the difficulty such a relationship faces. In Moon Witch, the older man/younger woman thing is… creepy. Even the hero knows it, so he spends half the book avoiding the heroine.

Admittedly, Anne Mather’s Moon Witch is not a “modern” contemporary. Plus, this is a Mills and Boon/ Harlequin Presents we’re talking about. This is as far away from real romance as Star Wars is to space travel and history, so eventually got on board. Despite my admitted prejudices, I ended up liking this book, even though it takes a while to get going.

Hey, if Courtney Stodden’s marriage is still going strong, [ETA: No, it’s not! They divorced in 2020.] then the readers of Moon Witch can hope that Sara and Jarrod will be happy together for many long years.

That is until Jarrod gets cancer 15-20 years later from all the smoking and tanning he does and leaves Sara a wealthy widow before she hits 40.

Anne Mather did not write Moon Witch in a psychologically intense way Charlotte Lamb would handle the older man-younger woman trope, as she did in the wonderful Temptation and Crescendo. But Anne Mather is no armchair psychologist.

Nevertheless, she did write some oddly entertaining books. She utilized plots involving large age differences, cheating (married or engaged), and evil mothers-in-law who try to break up the protagonists. Mather wrote many controversial romances. Moon Witch was one of them.

All-Time Favorite Best Seller

Moon Witch wasn’t just a hit with readers. For Harlequin, it was an “All-Time Favorite Best Seller.” 

moonwitch
9th printing
 photo Monnwithc back.jpg
All-Time Best Seller

My copy is the 9th printing since the original 1970 hardcover release. Who knows how many times it’s been reprinted or rereleased since 1982? 

 photo moonwitch ninth.jpg
Many Reprints

And of course, Moon Witch is now on Kindle for a new generation to enjoy!

moon with alt

Final Analysis of Moon Witch

Moon Witch reminded me of another book by Anne Mather, Stormspell. That was a full-length novel, with a similar older-man younger woman scenario, although without the guardianship-ward/ temporary daddy “ick” factor.

In that romance, the hero was a cheating sleaze who “initiated the heroine into womanhood” before leaving her to back to his fiancée. Still, the readers got to see inside the hero’s mind to understand him better. Except for his sexual attraction to Sara, Jarrod is inscrutable.

Also, in Stormspell, the heroine spread her wings a bit before she and the hero settled down. Sara got to live independently for a week before getting engaged.

Even so, I can see why Moon Witch appealed to the romance-loving masses.

Moon Witch, you are an awful book, straddling a fine line between romantic and pervy. I hate myself for liking you.

Gods above, forgive me, but I do.

3.5 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
3.5
Characters
3
Writing
3
Chemistry
2
Fun Factor
4
Cover
4.5
Overall: 3.3

Synopsis:

Jarrod guarded Sara even against himself.

Sara Robins had never even heard of Jarrod Kyle until he became her guardian. He was far removed from anyone Sara, at seventeen, had known in the small, quiet world she’d lived in until her grandfather’s death

Jarrod Kyle was just twice her age, handsome, rich, successful and surrounded by sophisticated women. Perhaps it was inevitable that Sara would fall in love with him.

But was it love or only a teenage crush? Whichever, Sara couldn’t imagine Jarrod’s returning her feelings!

MOON WITCH by ANNE MATHER

Borrow Moonwitch for free at Library Thing

passionate affair oakley

Category Romance Review: A Passionate Affair by Anne Mather

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

In Anne Mather’s A Passionate Affair, the heroine, Cassandra, is a widow whom the hero pursues fervently. Eventually, Cassandra realizes she desires him as much as he does her, so they engage in a…passionate affair.

For a Harlequin Presents from 1982 to pull this plot off was revolutionary. Before this book, lovemaking in this line had been restricted to married couples or “forced seductions” of initially unwilling virgins whose bodies “betrayed them.”

I had heard through the Romancelandia grapevine that Anne Weale’s  1983 release, Ecstasy, was the first HP where an unmarried heroine has a consensual, no-strings-attached fling with the hero. However, A Passionate Affair was published long before Weale’s book. So this book is technically the first to employ that revolutionary plot point. Ecstasy was the first where a virgin heroine practiced her autonomy to enter a sexual relationship.

The Characters

Cassandra’s first marriage was a disaster. Her husband, a race car driver, had enjoyed living on the edge, driving fast cars and seducing faster women. His antics were fodder for the tabloids. He’s dead now, and Cassandra has moved on in life. She does have a flourishing career and a normal sex drive. This was very refreshing to see in an old-school Harlequin Presents. Unfortunately, her unhappy marriage left deep insecurities. Cassandra’s doubts about herself prevent her from seeking relationships with men.

Enter Jay Ravek. Her life will never be after they meet.

A Passionate Affair, Anne Mather, Harlequin, 2014 reissue

The Plot

Jay and Cassandra encounter each other at a party. Their attraction is instantaneous and powerful. Jay chases after Cassandra, while she is hesitant to date him, as he has a reputation. Cassandra is all too familiar with that type of man he is. She is reluctant to give in to the attraction with a cold marriage behind her.

Despite her wariness, Jay’s charm melts through her icy demeanor. He’s handsome, funny, kind, and most of all, he wants her.

Cassandra and Jay embark on an amorous romance, throwing caution to the wind.

Their affair leads to an unexpected pregnancy. Fearing that Jay will abandon her, she flees, keeping her pregnancy a secret. It doesn’t help that her supposed best friend is whispering malicious gossip into her ears.

Cassandra runs away, yet Jay runs after her. He does much of the chasing in this romance. Her bad marriage left her with emotional issues. Even though Cassandra wants more than a short-term fling, she runs because she doesn’t want to get hurt again. Thank goodness Jay knows his own mind and is a man of integrity.

In the end, the villainy of the “friend” is revealed, and Jay expresses his love for Cassandra.

Final Analysis of A Passionate Affair

For all its radical plot, A Passionate Affair was still a typical Harlequin. The story was somewhat marred by a heroine who did not have the fortitude to follow through on her romantic wishes while listening to poisonous rumors. Rather than facing her fears head-on, she ran. And ran.

Jay, on the other hand, was a wonderful hero. He had all the characteristics that make up a great one. This was quite a deviation for Mather, whose heroes could be quite cruel and overbearing.

Despite the wishy-washy heroine, this was a solid romance. Anne Mather doesn’t usually awe me, but she rarely ever disappoints.

3.5 Stars


Synopsis:

“He’s quite famous—and notorious.”

Cassandra had been warned, and she didn’t care. After enduring a disastrous marriage, she was now ready for an affair with no strings attached.

But Jay Ravek was not like any man she’d known before. He was a totally new experience, and quickly she realized she wanted much more than a casual relationship.

If she was foolish enough to put her heart in his keeping, she might never recover. Better for her to run now than to suffer the inevitable anguish.

A Passionate Affair
for the love of sara don sinclair

Category Romance Review: For the Love of Sara by Anne Mather

Synopsis:

Rachel had tried to escape the torture of her thoughts and memories. She had loved Joel–loved him with all the wealth of tenderness and passion she possessed. He had taken her love and destroyed it… Now she heard Joel say, “I know what I always said. And I used to believe it, too. But not any longer. I’ve been a fool, Rachel. You don’t know how much of a fool.”

But it was too late; she couldn’t let herself believe him now.

For the Love of Sara

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book & Characters – For the Love of Sara

For the Love of Sara isn’t one of Anne Mather‘s bests. It features a rather unlikeable hero, which is par for the course for Mather. He’s named, pompously enough, Joel Kingdom. It doesn’t help that he’s a functioning alcoholic who keeps cans of beer in his glove compartment to help him deal with stress.

Plus, Joel has horrible fashion sense. He’s one of those cheroot-smoking males so prevalent in Mather’s books. He shows off his vintage 70’s wardrobe, wears silk shirts open down to his waist, revealing his hairy, medallioned chest. He decks out in maroon velvet tuxedos, lots of tight-fitting corduroy bell-bottoms, and even a sexy matching blue suede suit.

blue suit

Joel Kingdom is a successful artist from a highborn, wealthy family. His father disowned him when he refused to go into the family banking business.

The heroine, Rachel Gilmour, isn’t any better. She’s a professional martyr who’s made a lot of poor life decisions. When the book opens, she’s about to embark on another bad choice, but in this case, she’s doing it to save someone she cares for.

The Plot

Joel’s younger half-brother is concerned he may get written out of their father’s will. Their elderly father is about hop into a third marriage, this time with Rachel.

The kink in the ironworks is that Rachel and Joel had a brief affair several years back. Joel taught art, and Rachel was one of his young students. The fling ended rather abruptly when Rachel thought they had a serious relationship after making love. Joel, for his part, was not ready for anything long-term but was willing to cohabitate. Rachel, who had been a virgin, wanted a lifetime commitment or nothing, so she left him.

Joel is gobsmacked to hear that his father plans to marry his former girlfriend. He finds that Rachel works as a maid for an aged Colonel and seeks her out. What he discovers shocks him. Rachel has a six-year-old daughter named Sara. At first, Rachel tries to convince Joel she’s a widow, then she concedes that Rachel is the result of their one night together.

Because Joel had been so adamant that he was unready for marriage and family life, Rachel didn’t turn to him. Instead, she went to his father, asking for money for an abortion. Of course, she planned for no such thing but needed some income to help her get on her feet until she could find gainful employment.

Rachel reveals she is marrying Joel’s father because he has the financial resources to help Sara, who has a fatal blood-borne disease. Joel is determined to put a stop to this. He never abandoned his child and wants to be in her life now.

However, Rachel’s bitterness regarding Joel’s refusal to marry her in the past controls much of her emotions. She’ll marry James Kingdom, and that’s that.

Joel’s father wants revenge upon his son for refusing to be a part of the family business.

Joel has another woman in his life, but his attraction to Rachel never died out. Now that he knows they share a daughter, he pursues her, intending to marry. Even so, Rachel is irrationally stubborn. What will it take to get these two together?

For the Love of Sara, Anne Mather, Harlequin, 2015 Reissue

Final Analysis of For the Love of Sara

Rachel was a tough character to understand. Her pride was so great; she refused to do what was best for her daughter. Instead, she made a bad situation worse.

Joel didn’t abandon Rachel in her time of need. He simply declared at 28, he wasn’t ready for marriage. That didn’t mean he would have tossed Rachel and his child aside. Rachel really needed to have a deep heart-to-heart with Joel before throwing in the towel and leaving him.

The problem in For the Love of Sara is one so common in romances: a major lack of communication.

These were two people who–in the present time–wanted each other and had a daughter who needed stability. Joel had more than enough money to pay for Sara’s medical bills. Joel was a bit of a player but compared to Rachel’s stupid idea of marrying her daughter’s grandfather (which wouldn’t have been a marriage of convenience, but a real marriage!), displayed a lack of common sense and pettiness I couldn’t get over.

Mather’s prose is always engaging, but this book was a dud.

2 Stars

tangled-tapestry-mather-full

Category Romance Review: Tangled Tapestry by Anne Mather

BOOK REVIEW vintage
Tangled Tapestry by Anne Mather
Rating: two-half-stars
Published: 1969
Imprint or Line: Mills & Boon Romance #419
Published by: Mills & Boon
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance, Vintage Romance
Pages: 18
Format: Paperback, eBook
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: Tangled Tapestry by Anne Mather

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

Admission

I’m cheating a bit with the date range we have here for books on Sweet Savage Flame. Tangled Tapestry was published in 1969 and never was reprinted in paperback in English in North America. This book was released in e-format a few years ago. Still, it’s close enough for government work, as the expression goes.

The Book

Thanks to Anne Mather‘s Tangled Tapestry I realize publishers don’t always put accurate copyright information in the front of e-books. Going into this read, I knew it was a vintage romance, but I only found out it was published in 1969 when I finished.

I’m only stating this because, like many things written in the mid-20th century, it’s aged as if… it was written in the mid-20th century! Tangled Tapestry may offend some readers’ sensibilities. Or, if you’re twisted like me, it will make you laugh as I did at this legendary panel from a Batman comic:

It’s funny because he keeps talking about his boner.

The Plot

British school teacher, Debra Warren, is on a work-exchange program in San Francisco educating underprivileged children. She takes them on a field trip to visit one of the local major movie studios because everyone knows San Francisco is right next to Hollywood.

(Anne Mather got her geography off in this one; it would be like going to Boston and taking a trip to visit the Lincoln Memorial, wouldn’t it?)

The staff at the studio are amazed by Debra’s similar looks to the deceased movie star, Elizabeth Steel, and instantly demand she take a screen test.

Before she knows what’s going on, Debra is whisked away by L.A. writer, Dominic McGill, to meet movie producers. Her appearance to Elizabeth is too close to be just a coincidence and, eventually, the orphaned Debra learns Elizabeth Steel was her real mother. Everyone’s dying to remake one of Steel’s old films that Dominic wrote starring our innocent heroine.

Debra is feeling pushed into a life she’s not sure she wants. She only knows that Dominic makes her feel all tingly, so much that she gives bitchy looks to the nubile females who cling to him. Then there are the unspoken rumors concerning Dominic and her mother. Could Dominic–gasp–have been her mother’s toyboy lover?

Tangled Tapestry Anne mather
Tangled Tapestry, Anne Mather, alternate Mills and Boon

The Romance

There is little romance here. Oh sure, there are a couple of sweet kisses and a whole paragraph at the end of the book where Dominic declares his love for Debra. But Dominic’s not the kind of man who chases women, so when Debra hurts Dominic’s pride, it’s she who follows him, she who does the “big grovel.”

Personally, I don’t care much for groveling, neither from the hero nor the heroine, (unless they really did do something horrid & then groveling is only a drop in the bucket!), so it didn’t bother me, although I know some readers like that sort of comeuppance when the hero’s a bit of an alpha-hole. And yes, Dominic is overbearing, cold, inscrutable, and unyielding, but I wouldn’t have vintage heroes any other way.

I mean, he needed to be a little stoic. It’s bad enough he’s in his late 30’s, parties with teenagers, hosts surfing parties, and dances the Watusi.

(I couldn’t figure out how to post a gif so here’s a picture of a huge Watusi bull.

Yeah, I know it’s 2021. I’m still clueless. I just learned to pronounce the word, for goodness’ sake!)

The Watusi. Not to be confused with the Batusi.

Time Stands Still For No Man

Oh, about the dated aspect of this book?

  • The meals: Hamburgers and coffee. Yuck. Why did people in the ’50s and ’60s eat that way? Yes, I know sodas are just as bad to have, but at least they taste good with food. Coffee is a morning drink and for occasional desserts.
  • The alcoholic drinks: LOTS of them and half of them gin martinis.
  • The smoking: Debra swears she hardly ever smokes, but she’s a liar because she smokes like a mesquite BBQ grill. I counted 48 references to cigarettes in this book! Plus another 10 to smoke/smoking.
  • The language: YMMV about taking offense. There are about a 1/2 dozen observations using old-timey racial terminology.
  • The music: Anne Mather really dug Dave Brubeck, didn’t she? She’s referred to him in other books. I looked him up. Don’t think this is what the teenagers in 1969 were hip to, but if that floats your boat, *shrug.*
Dave Brubeck. Did all the gals in the late ’60s dance erotically to this guy’s tunes?

Since the setting is mostly California, Anne Mather wanted to make sure we knew her hero was American so the book is peppered with cheesy epithets like:

  • Baby – 18 times
  • Kid – 12 times
  • Honey – 29 times
Tangled Tapestry Anne mather

Final Analysis of Tangled Tapestry

As I said, there wasn’t much romance in Tangled Tapestry. Debra basically allowed herself to be carried away by others to do their bidding. She didn’t want to be a movie star, so why didn’t she just open her mouth and say so? Then she pined away for Dominic was pathetic! I swear Anne Mather must have had at least ten heroes with that name!

Dominic played it hot and cold with her. He was never open with Debra until the very end.

Even so, this book wasn’t awful, because there was something charming about how dated it was. Anne Mather’s books are rarely timeless; you can almost always tell what decade they were written by the clothes. T

This sweet vintage romance (no sex, just mild kissing) was even more old-fashioned than Mather’s usual stuff. The characters were partying to old jams and shaking to the latest dances. (Aside: that’s one reason why I avoid modern contemporaries. I have zero interest in reading about a hero/heroine who grinds or twerks.) But their morals were somewhere in the 1950s. Quaint and old-fashioned. Although I can appreciate that when reading vintage romance.

Too bad the romance was lackluster here.

Rating Report Card
Plot
3
Characters
2
Writing
2.5
Chemistry
2
Fun Factor
2.5
Cover
3
Overall: 2.5

Synopsis

Debra Warren had believed during all her life that she was orphaned, until she went to San Francisco to work. She found she was the daughter of the famous actress Elizabeth Steel. There she knew Dominic McGill.

TANGLED TAPESTRY BY ANNE MATHER

Covers of the Week #17

I enjoy playing the game of “I Spy” with my vintage book romance covers. Can you guess this week’s theme? Spot the common thread in the covers, and the first one to mention the correct answer in the comments wins the satisfaction that they were right! 🙂

For the week of Aug 2 to Aug 6, here are some contemporary and historical covers for you to look over and play “I Spy.”

Sirocco

Category Romance Review: Sirocco by Anne Mather

category romance
Sirocco by Anne Mather
Rating: three-half-stars
Published: 1983
Illustrator: Len Goldberg
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Presents #683
Published by: Harlequin
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 192
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: Amazon
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: Sirocco by Anne Mather

The Book

Sirocco is a solid read, worthy of my time, but not without its flaws. It’s consistent with the kind of writing I’m used to when I pick up an Anne Mather book.

An Anne Mather Harlequin Presents is what I consider to be an “old reliable.” She wrote romances that are almost guaranteed to entertain me, or if not, then at least not bore me. Although usually satisfactory, Mather rarely wrote books I would place on an all-time best list. Sometimes she does surprise me, so it makes reading her works an experience to look forward to.

In this category romance, Anne Mather employs one of her commonly used tropes: a hero in pursuit of an already “attached” woman.

The Stalker vs. the User

One night, Rachel Fleming comes across a man whom she thinks requires help. The man is slumped in his car, just sleeping, but Rachel doesn’t know that. He turns out to be Alexis Roche, a blond half-Arab, half-French, sheik ruler of a tiny nation (Rachel doesn’t know that either until later).

Alexis is instantly intrigued by his would-be savior and begins to stalk her.

Seriously.

If it’s not him, he has his “people” trail her. Alexis finds out where Rachel lives, where she works, and that she’s currently engaged to a wealthy man, Roger what’s-his-name. He’s a spoiled “mama’s boy” who uses the heroine for his own selfish desires.

Seriously.

I read this on Kindle but knew it was written long ago. The copyright date is 1983, so it’s “reasonable” to assume social values here would be similar to those found in the early 1960s as this is an old-school, vintage Harlequin Presents.

What blew me away was even though the heroine was a virgin, she gets sexually intimate with her fiance:

“Roger was singularly old-fashioned when it came to relationships, and although he had taught her ways to please him without their going to bed together, they had never actually made love.”

Then Roger tells Rachel later during a passionate moment together: 

“”Oh, sweetheart, I’ve missed you,’ he murmured, drawing her reluctant hands to his body. ‘Hmm, that feels good. Go on, go on: make love to me.'”

I was, as they say, in these books, gobsmacked. The heroine WAS doing what I thought she was doing! How Anne Mather got that past the editors in 1983 is beyond me, but sometimes, as I said, Mather does surprise me.

sirocco alt
Sirocco, Ane Mather, Mills and Boon, 1983, artist unknown

The Rest of the Plot

Anyway, Alexis is able to manipulate his way into Rachel’s life, hawking her, hounding her, and preying upon her until every aspect is turned completely upside down. Alexis is typical of Mather’s heroes, self-centered, arrogant, and determined to have his way.

She also describes the awful clothing her characters wear, so you can imagine the hero in his velvet suit, his silk shirt unbuttoned down to his navel to reveal his masculine, suitably hairy chest as he smokes cheroots while he contemplates seducing the heroine.

Alexis manages to blackmail Rachel into his arms as he uses her father’s outstanding gambling debts to force her to do whatever he wants. Alexis then whisks her away to his little sheikdom, where he has his way with her (and she with him), all while Alexis’ family looks upon Rachel with scorn.

About the heroine, Rachel. She tries to carry herself as a confident, modern woman, disdainful of the type who’d sit back and allow a man to run her roughshod. However, many awful characters weigh her down: her fiance, her father, Alexis’ family members, and Alexis himself. Rachel poses as this strong character but is she really?

Alexis is certainly the take-charge type, and though she opposes him, in the end, we all know how this winds up.

Final Analysis of Sirocco

I sort of hated this book and liked it at the same time. I enjoyed Alexis’ pursuit of Rachel, although it’s hard to see when desire turns to love with Mather’s male characters. Was this just a power play for Alexis?

Rachel attempts to fight for the right to live life on her terms. She’s just not very good at it. I had mixed feelings about this one, but there was something so engaging about the tale I read it super quickly.

As I feel now, it’s a 3.5-star read, which is what I usually rate an Anne Mather book.

3.5 Stars


Synopsis

Rachel Fleming wished she had never stopped to help the stranger in distress. But it was too late now. The tables had turned.

Alexis Roche was no helpless victim. He was a seasoned hunter committed to the chase. He found out Rachel’s name, address, even where she worked and set out to systematically change her whole life. First he toyed with her engagement, and then he closed in on he dangerously frazzled emotions.

Rachel’s mind bid her to run…but her heart was tiring from the chase.

SIROCCO by ANNE MATHER
no gentle possession

Category Romance Review: No Gentle Possession by Anne Mather

No Gentle Possession, Anne Mather, Harlequin, 1980, Don Sinclair cover art

Harlequin Presents #105

SPOILER-FREE REVIEW 🙂

3 1/2 stars

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Anne Mathers No Gentle Possession consists of two plot points she’s employed many times in her works like Stormspell: separated lovers and cheating.

The Plot

Well, in this book, it wasn’t so much a case of separated lovers as two people who briefly dated in the past. The heroine broke it off with the hero when she thought his relationship with his young stepmother was a bit too close for comfort and creepy.

Karen Sinclair likes her life just how it is. She has a job and a boyfriend and lives in a nice little town. Sure she’s not wealthy like some other families in town, but she’s happy. What more could she ask for? To her shock and dismay, she meets up again with Alexis Whitney, a man from a well-heeled family she’d been involved with years earlier and never forgot. For Alexis, however, their relationship hadn’t been significant (they didn’t have sex), so he doesn’t even remember Karen.

Karen’s pride is a bit wounded, although she tries to put on a brave face. While Alexis may not recall their time together, he seeks to remedy that by starting a new relationship. So he begins pursuit of Karen, which baffles and insults her while intriguing her at the same time. But she has that steady boyfriend who’s a better suit for her than the love-them-and-leave-them type. Besides, Alexis’s stepmother is still in the picture and still seems to have an unseemingly interest in him.

Nevertheless, Alexis always seems to be wherever she goes, and soon enough, Karen is having those old feelings for him. Despite her commitment to her current boyfriend, she finds it hard to resist Alexis’s aggressive passes at her. I sort of wanted to give Karen a good kick in the rear to get her to wake up; she’s so inconsistent in her feelings. Even so, I like Alexis as a hero. He was an arrogant douchebag, but an arrogant douche bag with style and charisma.

Fun Fact

No Gentle Possession was—like many other HPs—offered free with dish detergent:

 photo No Gentle Possession FREE.jpg
No Gentle Possession free with Ivory Liquid Detergent

Anne Mather must have been the bomb back in the 1970s and early 1980s. Her books were often reprinted to great success, and one of her Harlequins, Leopard in the Snow, was made into a movie starring Mr. 2001 Space Odyssey Canadian cutie, Keir Dullea. Despite being a box-office failure, it was quite a big deal for a little category romance to be made into a major motion picture.

Final Analysis of No Gentle Possession

Anne Mather was one of Harlequin Presents most popular authors, especially in the line’s early years. She rarely disappointed, and No Gentle Possession is a good oldie romance. There are a few loose ends with the stepmother, and the conclusion is a bit abrupt, but all in all, I liked this one.

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the waterfalls on the moon

Category Romance Review: The Waterfalls of the Moon by Anne Mather

Reviewed by: Introvert Reader

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Spoiled Anti-Heroine

In Anne Mather‘s The Waterfalls of the Moon (I love the old Harlequin Presents titles), the teenage heroine is in pursuit of a much older man, but the hero’s not taking the San-Quentin tail so easily.

I can’t say many of Anne Mather’s works number among my all-time favorites, but, for the most part, I had a good time reading them. She could make unlikeable heroines that were somehow fascinating, and Ruth is one of them. She’s a spoiled teen, rich beyond reason, bored, and chases after Patrick with a cold calculation.

All you have to do is change record players to iPhones (although record players have made a huge comeback) and there’s no difference between this shallow youth’s mega-rich lifestyle and that of the pampered princesses of Bravo & MTV reality TV. She parties, she lunches, she shops, she dates…casually. As this is a 1970’s era Harlequin, Ruth is not sexually experienced.

She is, however, quite cunning, and when circumstances lead to Patrick getting black-out drunk they’re together, she takes advantage of the situation to suit her desires.

The Plot

Patrick is in England temporarily, and the last thing he needs is a woman, let alone a privileged girl nearly two decades younger, whose Daddy will buy her whatever she wants, including him.

Regardless, Patrick’s body wants what his head does not, and so a battle rages within him: “I want you, I don’t want you, I want you, I don’t want you… I’m stalking you & now I have to get pass-out drunk because I am so jealous thinking about you with other men!”

And Ruth thinks: “I love him! He passed out in my bed & thinks we did it! Of course, we didn’t, but I won’t tell him the truth until it’s too late.”

So Ruth manipulates Patrick into thinking that they spent a drunken night together. Worse, to come, she makes him believe she’s pregnant.

Patrick, being the old-fashioned type, agrees to marry Ruth. However, he’s got work in Venezuela, so that’s where Ruth is to live for the next several months. One thing about Ruth is that she’s no wishy-washy person; she knows her mind, as devious as it is. It’s in for a penny, in for a pound with her.

So Ruth goes to Venezuela, into the depths of the jungles, to be with her man. Then he finds out the shocking truth, and our love story unfolds from there.

Final Analysis of Waterfalls of the Moon

I enjoy a good heroine-in-pursuit romance, and The Waterfalls of the Moon was mostly that. I wish there were more happy interactions between Ruth and Patrick, but the plot setup took a bit of time in this short category romance. Still, if you’re looking for a vintage romance where the heroine isn’t the usual epitome of moral perfection, this one has a tangy bite to it.

3.5 Stars

Stormspell Anne Mather

Contemporary Romance Review: Stormspell by Anne Mather

Stormspell by Anne Mather
Rating: four-half-stars
Published: 1982
Illustrator: Len Goldberg
Published by: Harlequin, Worldwide
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 379
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Contemporary Romance Review: Stormspell by Anne Mather

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

Written in 1983, Anne Mather‘s Stormspell was anachronistic even for its day. A rare full-length, single edition romance from Mather, it’s certainly chock-full of crazy Harlequin antics.

The Plot

First, the big age difference that skirts legal lines: The heroine is 17 and the hero is 33.

Ruth was raised on a small Caribbean island by her elderly father and is so sheltered she makes your typical Harlequin Presents heroine look like a fusion of legendary romance sluts Skye O’Malley & Anita Blake!

Ruth rescues a stranger when he washes ashore after a shipwreck. A couple of stolen moments later, she’s in love and they consummate their relationship.

Then Dominic–he’s the supposed hero of this book–drops the anvil: he’s engaged and has no intention of dumping his fiancée!

Fast-forward to England a few months later. Ruth’s an orphan now and has come into money. She gets a sophisticated makeover. Dominic pursues Ruth while still engaged.

Oh yeah, they’re gonna do it again.

Final Analysis of Stormspell

Anne Mather’s Stormspell was a fun read.

The hero is a complete dog, but I guess I like jerk heroes because I really enjoyed this Stormspell.

What’s interesting about this is one–at least by 1982 romance standards–is the first half of the book is purely from the heroine’s perspective. So when Dominic betrays Ruth, you really eel it, as the reader has been a voyeur in Ruth’s head witnessing all her turbulent emotions.

Then Anne Mather switches gears and the second half is mostly from the hero’s POV. He’s still slimy, but he’s set up sympathetically despite being such a callous love -them-and-leave-them cheater.

Mather’s writing was at her best here. As a full-page-length novel, this book allowed her to explore deeper avenues that had been restricted in a Mills & Boon/ Harley with half the page count.

If you like cheesy romances–(and I do!)Stormspell is a keeper.

Rating Report Card
Plot
4.5
Characters
4.5
Writing
4.5
Chemistry
4.5
Fun Factor
4.5
Cover
4
Overall: 4.4

SYNOPSIS

Ruth was young, she was beautiful, she was ripe for love…but she was innocent, until Dominic invaded her island home, and her heart…

Dominic was rich and powerful, bored and world-weary, fighting a temptation he had never before had to face…

Indigo was the island, Indigo: Warm and colourful, and seductively romantic; drenched by the tropical sun and washed by the turquoise waters of the Caribbean…

And in the aftermath of the storm, it cast its own spell…

STORMSPELL by ANNE MATHER