Holly Witchell, the heroine of Penny Jordan’s Beyond Compare, suffers a bit from an overinflated ego combined with an oblivious nature. Thankfully, Drew, the wonderful hero of this book, sorts matters all out for her.
Holly was ignominiously dumped by her boyfriend Howard for the more sophisticated, Rosamund. That’s not something Holly will accept laying down, so she concocts a plan to get him back. Hadn’t Rosamund been dating old, reliable Drew Hammond before she’d gotten together with Howard? Well, who better than he to help Holly break up the new couple than Rosamund’s old former flame?
Holly approaches Drew, a farmer, whose the salt-of-the-earth type, with her plan. They’ll pretend to be a couple and make Howard and Rosamund jealous.
Drew isn’t exactly chomping at the bit at her plan to get Rosamund back, and Holly assumes it’s because Drew’s insecure. Holly assures him he has nothing to be insecure about. He’s handsome, even if–OMG–he wears glasses of all things, has a steady income from his farm, and any woman would want him.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Beyond Compare by Penny Jordan”
The Heart Remembers is Barbara Hazard’s sequel to one of the more poignant and beloved romance novels I’ve enjoyed reading: Call Back the Dream. In it, Camille Talbot, a mere vicar’s daughter, and Alexander Maxwell, a Viscount and heir to an Earldom, find love but are only reunited only after many years of separation and loss. Because of Alexander’s father’s nefarious machinations, Camille and Alexander married other people even though Camille was pregnant with their son Jack. Though a tearjerker for certain, Call Back the Dream ended happily, as all romance novels should.
However happy endings aren’t perfect endings because the actions of years past can have lasting and damning effects.
Camille and Alexander from Call Back the Dream suffer for the cruel manipulations enacted upon them, mainly those by Alexander’s father, a bigoted earl whose evil deeds brought down his own destruction as well as hurting the generations after him.
As I’ve said before, author Louisa Rawlings (aka Sylvia Halliday) wrote exquisite romances. She penned the sensational Stolen Spring, which took place during the era of Louis XIV. Wicked Stranger by Louisa Rawlings is the sequel to one of my all-time favorite books, Stranger in My Arms.
The Hero, the Heroine, & the Plot
Noel, this books’ hero, is the devil-may-care twin brother of Adam from Stranger in My Arms is as different from Adam in temperament as they are as similar in looks. Noel is a flirt, a charmer who always sees the positive in life, and prefers to live without responsibilities. Adam is broody, quiet, gruff, duty-bound, awkward with women, and suffers from the horrors of the Napoleonic wars as he was a general, while Noel was a mere corporal.
Lovely red-gold-haired, violet-eyed Lenore is the female protagonist of Valerie Sherwood’s This Towering Passion and the primary heroine of its sequel, Her Shining Splendor, which tells the tale of both Lenore and her daughter, Lorena, from the English Civil War to the Restoration eras.
Lenore’s beauty is of little use to her because while she can get a man, she has trouble keeping him.
First, as is standard in a Sherwood novel, the heroine gets together with her first lover, who’s typically a hunky block of wood. Here, Lenore becomes infatuated with the hottest guy in town, a big blond stud who’s a charismatic black hole. Although he’s a mite too friendly with other ladies, he and Lenore get handfasted.
But, alas, he leaves Lenore behind, looking for adventure by fighting against the English army. Lenore, who has no one else in the world, won’t be left all alone and seeks him out, only to find he’s killed in action.
Other than E. M. Hull’s masterpiece, The Sheik, the Dell-published Desert Hostage by Diane Dunaway would qualify as my most-liked sheik romance.
Harems and desert sheiks romances aren’t usually my cup of tea, as I prefer historical heroes to be swordsmen, cowboys, or knights. Nevertheless, a man like Karim who is passionately devoted to his heroine makes for a great hero, and a romance with such a male protagonist will certainly catch my interest.
This is another book where the half-European, half-Arab sheik carries off his object of desire into the sandy dunes and makes her his.
The story starts with a bang where we read about Karim’s mother and her desert abduction at the hands of a ruthless sheik. She plots and manipulates to have her son be taken to Europe where he will be educated and ”civilized.”
“I’d sooner kiss a snake than you!” When Sophie had angrily insulted New Zealand hotelier Jon Roberts, she’d never expected him to respond with a wager. If he managed to wangle her cherished homestead motel away from her, he’d announced, he would claim a kiss as his prize… Sophie had no intention of losing out to arrogant Jon! Until a fateful mountain snowstorm trapped them both together — and all her best laid plans went awry… In the wintry wonderland of the mountains, Sophie — the icy snow queen — began to melt with Jon’s charms. But chilling winds from their past still blew between them… .”
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Spell of the Mountains by Rosalie Henaghan was the first “adult” romance I read. I had read some Carolyn B. Cooney and the like, but never a love story about adults.
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.
“I’m in love with you, Cilla.” Slowly, his eyes steady on hers, he pulled her closer. “With every part of you.” Soft, persuasive, his lips cruised over hers. “I only want fifty or sixty years to show you.”
Silhouette Intimate Moments #365
SPOILER FREE REVIEW 🙂
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Night Shift Memories
If you follow my reviews, you may notice I inject some personal vignettes or anecdotes into them. If it’s TMI, apologies for oversharing. But like music or scents, each book I read is imprinted with a certain memory. When I hear “Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton, it takes me back to Junior Prom and my supposedly platonic date getting all clingy with me. I’ll think about a different man whether it’s Brut, Joop!, Davidoff Cool Water, or Grey Flannel cologne I smell. (Brut is my dad; the rest…are not.) If I have no memory of the book, there’s because there is no recollection to go with it.
“New Mexico 1846…Why would her heart not listen to reason?…Antonia Ramirez knew that the tall, blond American was not to be trusted. Hadn’t it been American soldiers who had killed her mother and left her father a cripple? Yet Tristan Hampton had awakened something deep inside her that would not be denied…Since the moment he’d first laid eyes on Antonia, Tris Hampton had been lost. He was haunted by her dark beauty. She made him feel he’d finally found the completeness he’d spent a lifetime searching for. But her father clearly hated him, and someone wanted to see him dead. Of Antonia’s love, he was certain. The question of her loyalty was still to be answered.”
Rating: 4 out of 5.
In Patricia Potter’s The Silver Link, Antonia and Tristan are from two different worlds. Nevertheless, their forbidden love unites them in a link that can never be severed.
Lover…or Deceiver? Julie Farroux had escaped the guillotine by marrying a withered old man who desired her only for her inheritance. Their loveless union had left her believing her heart was as shriveled as his, until she found the warmth of desire in the arms of a handsome stranger. In the glittering city that was Napoleon’s Paris, deception and greed were a way of life. Sebastian Ramlin had made a devil’s bargain with Julie’s husband … to seduce Julie — and give her husband an heir. But he never planned to fall in love with her. Could he find the courage to reveal his treachery … and risk losing the woman he loved?
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Mollie Ashton’s Terms of Surrender was my first Harlequin Historical, and it got me hooked on the series for a long time! It’s a wonderful gem of a book. Don’t believe me? Just read the seal of approval by historical fiction/romance legend Roberta Gellis on the cover.
Before erotic romance went mainstream and long before the Harlequin Blaze category line (now defunct) or the Dare line was Elaine K. Stirling’s Different Worlds. Published in 1991, this book had the first masturbation scene I had ever read in a conventional romance, where the heroine gets off thinking about the hero (this was several years before the often proclaimed “first mainstream romance to feature a masturbating heroine” in Robin Schone’s historical, Awaken My Love.) Come to think of it, many older bodice rippers weren’t afraid to have the heroine indulge in a little self-love, but as all sophisticated romance readers know, those horrid books don’t count (insert eye roll here.)
This was the first in a series of books in the Harlequin Temptation line, where four couples had to overcome some sort of separation/distance. Dawn and Michael meet in the jungles of Costa Rica. She’s an American scientist working in Central America, and he’s a businessman thousands of miles from his home in Canada. They’re not dumb kids falling for each other.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Different Worlds by Elaine K. Stirling”
His own sexuality he recognized as propinquity, tenderness, caring, the beauty, and gentleness of a woman’s body. The infliction of pain, even pseudo-pain, excited him not at all.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Zebra’s Texas Tempest features yet another great, steel-willed Deana James heroine. James has written many resilient heroines before, such as in the seafaring antebellum romance, Captive Angel, and the medieval romance, Lovespell.
The prologue begins with Eugenia Leahy getting beaten by her no-good drunkard of a husband, Cormac. When he goes after her daughter, that’s when mama bear springs into action, grabs a firearm, and shoots him, paralyzing the abuser for life!
We then flash forward 10-15 years later, and Eugenia is running her ranch and doing a great job at it! Tough, cold, and stern, Eugenia is known as “The Diamondback,” as deadly as her namesake. But she is still a woman in a world dominated by men, so she needs some muscle to enforce her rules. Enter the mysterious MacPherson, a gunslinger who saves Eugenia’s life and is just the man for the job.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Texas Tempest by Deana James”
Beloved Captive…To be a knight, chivalrous in deed and courageous in battle, was all that Drue had ever wished for. Dubbed Sir Drue, she had sworn to serve her king and seek revenge against her enemy, Connaught. She had vowed to slay the treacherous knight, yet one look into the depths of his fire-blue eyes and she knew she could never kill him… Though she had captured him fairly on the field of battle, it was Drue who was completely in his power, and she shuddered to think what the proud Connaught would do when he discovered that the ‘lad’ who had defeated him was nothing more than a woman.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
To Touch the Sun is an older Harlequin Historical by Barbara Leigh. This is the unique tale about a woman in Medieval England who is raised alongside her brother as a boy and eventually becomes a knight. Not just any knight, but one of the most virtuous, valiant, and admired knights in the kingdom.
It had been so long. He pulled her gown open and her breasts spilled out like ripe, round melons…
Rating: 4 out of 5.
I started reading Cynthia Wright’s Silver Storm, then put it down; it was sweet, but sometimes too sweet and I have enough cavities. Then halfway through it changes in tone. Our previously gentleman hero does a 180 and turns into a lecherous jerk. It was great and I wanted more!
The first half involves a sensuous French privateer Andre Raveneau escorting orphaned Devon Lindsay to her fiancé in Virginia at the end of the American Revolution. The girl is obviously not in love with her missing man but devoted to him out of a weird sense of commitment. All the while, this tall, gorgeous, gray-eyed Frenchman plays nice, and Devon stomps her foot and plays hard to get. Andre was such a gentleman; I wondered where this was going.
Margaret Pargeter’s Savage Possession begins like any ordinary Harlequin Presents, with the hero & H meeting under unusual circumstances with the situation soon getting heated afterwards.
In this case, Melissa’s car is trapped in the snow and along comes the hero, Ryan Trevelyan, to give her a lift. She’s dressed in bulky winter clothes so he assumes she’s a boy. As they’re driving along in his car he’s berating ‘him’ for driving under such horrible circumstances. When she takes off her cap, Ryan realizes, “Oh noes, she’s this unbelievably beautiful, green-eyed, redhead woman! How easily mistaken I was to think she was a boy because she was wearing a hat and coat! Well since she tricked me, I’ll force her to spend the night at my house even though there are plenty of other places in town that she can stay. That’ll her teach her a lesson!”
I wondered to myself just where this book was going. It was weird. It seemed all over the place on plotting.
There are two Harlequin Present writers I absolutely adore: Miranda Lee and Charlotte Lamb. While Lamb wrote mostly in the ’70s and ’80s and Lee was a modern woman of the ’90s and 2000s, both authors shared an ability to portray great heroines from vastly different lifestyles: from poor, innocent virgins to victims who rise above tragedy to mature sexually experienced sophisticates.
In this book, Oriel Mellstock belongs to the latter group. Oriel and Devil Haggard were cousins who grew up together and grew to love each other. (If that registers an ick-factor, they’re only second cousins). Cruel fate separates them. Oriel leaves and marries a man 30 years older. She actually has a normal marriage, sleeps with him (albeit without much passion) and has a child. Her multi-millionaire husband dies, and she returns to her home town to get a little revenge.
Call Back Yesterday was Charlotte Lamb’s first HP. So it’s a bit milder than her later works. There is no consummation in this book, but she throws a bunch of HP tropes at you: the much-beloved manor the heroine fights to own; a darkly-brooding, bastard hero who rides on a black stallion; the manipulative wife who separates the lovers; a vicious other-woman; multiple men who vie for the heroine’s affections; and even a couple of cute kids.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Call Back Yesterday by Charlotte Lamb”
Mark this down as one of those books where the hero first catches sight of the heroine bathing.
Ruy and Mirjana are from two different cultures: she is a princess from Al-Andalus, while Ruy is a knight for the kingdom of Castile y Leon. She will become his captive, but will he become the captive of her heart? For despite their great disparities, the pair quickly bond and engage in a forbidden romance.
No matter the obstacles that fall in their way, the betrayals, lies, and tragedies, they still love each other. Ruy’s and Mirjana’s relationship is intense & steadfast.
For that reason, let me get this right out of the way: the ending is not a conventional one. Even so, I was satisfied with the conclusion because there is no denying Ruy and Mirjana desperately love each other and will do their best to succeed.
Despite the unorthodox-yet-still-happily-ever-after ending there is no denying Ruy de Bivar’s and Mirjana’s deep and abiding affection for the other. You know they will make it through together until their deaths.
Passion’s Proud Captive by Melissa Hepburne is not a book for modern readers, but it’s tailor-made to suit my tastes.
As far as “romance novels” go, I am stuck in a time warp. This 50-year old genre has more variety now than ever… I find modern romances lacking. I’ll read a keeper on a rare occasion, but they just don’t do it for me for the most part. I know they’re well-written, insightful, witty, with mature sexuality. It’s simply that most of them bore me. I’m a troglodyte, ok! I like cheese! Spare me your Ivy-league educated authors with professional doctorates who create such works of literature like Seven Scandalous Secrets to Seduce a Man-Slut–oops–Scoundrel. Give me those 21-year-old-housewives, those retired grandmothers, those crazy cat ladies! Now they knew how to write the crap I like… Crap like Passion’s Proud Captive.
If ever you’ve wondered if a book was so trashy, so poorly written yet so awfully enjoyable that it could be considered to romance novels what Manos the Hands of Fate or The Room is to movies, look no further than Passion’s Proud Captive or Miss Jennifer van der Lin’s Ribald Tales of Rapetastic Adventures in White Slavery featuring ugly, greasy men and a few good-looking ones, too.... Read more “Historical Romance: Passion’s Proud Captive by Melissa Hepburne”
[Women] had faces like angels and bodies to drive men wild, and yet they lied, cheated, and would merrily rip a man’s heart from his body for the sheer joy of watching him writhe.
WHILE PASSION SLEEPS
Rating: 4 out of 5.
While Passion Sleeps by Shirlee Busbee made me feel really old. It wasn’t the plot or the characters; it was the actual book itself. This just-under-500-pages of an epic is printed in a tiny font on yellowed paper (my edition is 38 years old). Reading it strained my eyes something awful. I’ve been nearsighted all my life, but now things up close are getting blurry. I’ll be going to the eye doctor this week for a new Rx because I need bifocals. *Sigh.* Damn you, the passage of time!