Category Archives: Diane Sivavec

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Historical Romance Review: Sweet Savage Surrender by Kathryn Hockett

historical romance review
Sweet Savage Surrender by Kathryn Hockett
Rating: half-star
Published: 1990
Illustrator: Diane Sivavec
Imprint or Line: Zebra Lovegram
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Western Romance, Native American Romance
Pages: 480
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonThriftBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Sweet Savage Surrender by Kathryn Hockett

WARNING ⚠: MILD SPOILERS & SUPER-BORING BOOK 

The Book

Sweet Savage Surrender, a Zebra Lovegram that was written by mother-daughter duo Marcia Hockett and Kathryn Kramer, aka Kathryn Hockett, is a romance between two star-crossed lovers from different worlds.

It, unfortunately, includes a hated trope of mine, instant love. “Insta-luv,” or love at first sight, is acceptable if and only if there are exciting obstacles the couple has to overcome.

Oh, there are obstacles here, all right, but boring ones.

A Preamble

I always appreciate a Native American romance that attempts to delve deeply and respectfully into the cultures of the people written about. At least, I thought I did until I realized without an engaging plot or romance to go with said respect, the novel comes off pandering and weirdly self-debasing.

Was Sweet Savage Surrender so terrible to deserve my scorn, then? Scorn, no! However, it was incredibly dull, sad to say. The romance is lacking, as the main characters fall in love right away and don’t spend much time together. Everyone is so black-and-white here. The good guys are perfect and the baddies are very bad.

Instant Love and Not Much Else

Sky Raven of the Arapaho People is a half-Native, Half-American woman with fair skin and blue eyes. I don’t know where those blue eyes came from. I know Mendelian genetics alone no longer applies to eye color, but I always thought one has to have recessive genes on both parents’ sides to get blue eyes. Green or hazel would have made more sense.

Anyway, Sky Raven comes upon an injured Anglo-American soldier being held captive by her enemy tribe, the Utes. She arranges to save the man and then nurses him back to health. As her grandfather is her tribe’s medicine man, this knowledge comes easy to Sky Raven.

The soldier is Major John Hanlen of the United States Army. He takes one look at Sky Raven and is instantly smitten. It doesn’t take long before Sky Raven feels the same way about the Yankee soldier.

“The spirits have brought us together. This was meant to be. I love you, Skyraven,” declares Major John Hanlen at 17% into this dull read.

Some Hot Pipe Action

If this book had anything interesting about it, I would have added a half star. Alas, even the sex is snoozerific.

Foreplay includes SkyRaven describing the Arapaho peace pipe ceremony, which turns John Hanlen on:

“Explain more about the ceremony and your beliefs so that I can understand.”
“The peace pipe is our most sacred possession. It is really the heart of all our sacred ceremonies…”


“And could this peace pipe ceremony help to bring harmony between your people and my soldiers?”


“I believe it could be so. The spirits want there to be peace or they would never have led me to you.” Her soul knew the gentle power of love. His caress upon her was an affirmation of life and contentment.

“I care very deeply for you,” he said softly. There was no doubt in his mind as he looked into the innocent, sincere questioning eyes looking up at him. He did have deep feelings for this beautiful, brave young woman that went beyond his gratitude for having saved his life.


“And I, you,” she managed to say before his lips were again upon her own, tasting the honey, the sweetness, and the softness…

The Conclusion to This Boring Romance

John Hanlen returns to his army and tries his best to get them not to go after the Arapaho. But there’s a commanding officer named Colonel Chivington who hates the tribe and will stop at nothing to destroy them.

So the big obstacle in this romance is that he wants to exterminate the Arapaho and John Hanlen has to stop it from happening.

Sky Raven waits among her people waiting for John Hanlen to arrive (That’s what Sky Raven calls him, not John, but John Hanlen. It got pretty weird during intimate scenes where she calls him by his full name.)

Will he be able to prevent Chivington from wiping out the Arapaho people? Will true love have its day?

Wait! More Minor Irritations…

Rather than focusing on romance, I’ll just note some nits I have to pick with this book:

Nocturnal animals out in the daytime:

“The beaver was busily building a new home for themselves, the squirrels were storing food in a hole in a tree, a large mother raccoon was teaching her kits…”

A mother raccoon with her babies out in the day? Maybe just before dusk, not in broad daylight. They could be rabid.

“There was an old Arapaho saying that Skyraven thought of now. ‘Let tomorrow take care of itself.’”

Didn’t the Bible say that? Yup, I checked. It’s in Matthew 6:34. Okay, I’ll ignore that because Hockett was probably trying to demonstrate how similar Arapaho are to European-descended Americans.

The word “thug” was used, and it took me out of place. I know from my 9th grade Social Studies “thug” referred to a certain criminal element from India in the 1800s, not to Native Americans of that same time period.

People shake their heads yes. I nod my head yes and shake it no. Okay, maybe body language was different in post-Civil War America.

These are minor irritations, but honestly, they were the most interesting facets of this read.

Final Analysis of Sweet Savage Surrender

In its attempt to be a respectful tale about the Arapaho people–a noble intent, which is admirable–Sweet Savage Surrender forgot to add a little spice to its sweetness. The villains are one-dimensionally evil, and the good guys are one-dimensionally good. It’s very paint-by-numbers and boring.

Sky Raven and John Hanlen fall in love right away, then spend most of Sweet Savage Surrender separated as he tries to prevent atrocities from being committed against her people. He succeeds, and they meet up and live happily ever after.

I wouldn’t recommend this book unless you enjoy romances where the love story takes a back seat to the action and history. Then again, there’s not much action here, either, just talking, worrying, and introspection. This was not a fun book to experience.

Rating: 1/2 Star (The cover points don’t count!)

Rating Report Card
Plot
0.5
Characters
0.5
Writing
1.5
Chemistry
1
Fun Factor
0.5
Cover
4
Overall: 1.3

Synopsis

CAPTIVE ENCHANTMENT
With skin of creamy satin and hair of ebon silk, Skyraven was the pride of her Arapaho tribe. But the voluptuous maiden had not yet met the warrior who could stir her blood… until the day she came upon the golden-haired man in the clearing — a man as sleek and powerful as the most magnificent brave. She quickly freed the handsome stranger from the cruel bonds that held him captive… only to succumb to his seductive charms once he’d regained his awesome strength. And though their passion was forbidden, the hot-blooded half-breed soon burned for the fiery rapture of her lover’s embrace!

TENDER TORMENT
After his capture by the Utes, Major John Hanlen thought death was a heartbeat away. Instead, he opened his eyes to see an enchanting, indigo-eyed angel sweetly tending his wounds. He knew he shouldn’t jeopardize his peace-seeking mission by making love to the young beauty, but just the sight of her aroused him to distraction! And once he’d tasted the secret sweetness of her deepest desires, he became her willing slave, yearning only to savor, again and again, her Sweet Savage Surrender…

SWEET SAVAGE SURRENDER by KATHRYN HOCKETT

texas-temptation-gina-robins-maybe-sivavec

Historical Romance Review: Texas Temptation by Gina Robins

book review historical romance
Texas Temptation by Gina Robins
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1989
Illustrator: Diane Sivavec
Imprint or Line: Zebra Lovegram
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Western Romance
Format: Paperback
Buy on: Amazon
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Texas Temptation by Gina Robins

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book and the Characters

This review is of Texas Temptation a standalone by Gina Robins (a pseudonym for author Connie Feddersen, aka Connie Finch) published by Zebra/Kensington, October 1989.

Heroine: Catlin Quinn, 22. Honey-blond hair, violet eyes. Becomes a newspaper reporter upon arrival in San Antonio.

Hero: Lucas “Doc” Murdock, 31. Black hair, brown eyes. Cowboy/rancher.Owner, Flying Spur ranch.

The Plot

Part 1

As the book begins, Catlin Quinn, the heroine, is arriving in San Antonio, Texas to live with her aunt, Martha Lewis. This is after her life in post-Civil War Louisiana becomes too hellish to bear.

When her stagecoach is robbed, Catlin seeks medical attention. Caitlin receives it from Lucas Murdock, the hero, whom she thinks is a doctor (he’s not). They are attracted to each other, but both try to fight it.

Eventually, Catlin and Lucas give in to their attraction and become lovers. However, Catlin is forced to leave Texas by a vengeful man, Dr. Emmet Blake, who tries to control both her and Lucas.

Part 2

Catlin flees Texas, disguises herself as a male, and joins Lucas’ cattle drive to Colorado. He soon realizes her disguise and exposes her. Soon, Catlin and Lucas are continuing their relationship, albeit not without a lot of tempestuous moments.

Meanwhile, another person, Jace Osborn, has also joined Lucas’ crew. His motives, however, are far less sanguine.

Part 3

Catlin returns to San Antonio to confront Emmet, which leads her into more trouble (Emmet is later killed).Later, after a few revelations, arguments, and lots of making love, Catlin and Lucas agree to marry and have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

Readers who know the “Carol Finch/Gina Robins” name know that they can expect a rom-com type of book, and that is certainly the case here in Texas Temptation. Catlin and Lucas are a high-spirited, well-matched couple with good chemistry that jumps off the pages.

Downside

If you’ve read one of Ms. Feddersen’s books under the “Carol Finch/Gina Robins” name and then read this one, you might feel like you’ve read this story before, it’s because you basically have.

Every one of the “Carol Finch/Gina Robins” books features the same premise. A beautiful, curvaceous, shapely, spirited heroine falls in love with a roguish hero. Lots of witty banter, dangerous situations, and love follows. It’s basically the same script in every book.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, I’d just like to see a little more variety sometimes.

Sex

As usual, Ms. Robins’ love scenes are full of purple prose where the characters are “seeking ultimate depths of intimacy” and more flowery language.

Violence

Assault, battery, and murder all take place in Texas Temptation. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line on Texas Temptation

Texas Temptation isn’t Ms. Robins’ best work, but it’s pretty good.

***

Location: San Antonio, Texas, post-Civil War.

Tropes: Displaced Southerners. Historical romance. Romantic comedy. Texas.

3.63 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
4
Characters
4.5
Writing
4
Chemistry
3
Fun Factor
3.5
Cover
4
Overall: 3.8

Synopsis:

SHE’D SWORN TO HATE ALL MEN

Men! They had brought pretty Catlin Quinn nothing but trouble, destroying her family, burning her plantation, and stealing her land. So when the distrusting beauty stumbled into Lucas “Doc” Murdoch, she wasn’t about to give him a friendly “hello.” She threatened him, insulted him, reviled him… but even as the golden-haired spitfire warned the cowboy away, her body was inflamed by his nearness. Her curves ached for his caress, her blood clamored for fulfillment-and her heart yearned for the wild rapture only he could give!

HE VOWED HE’D NEVER LOVE AGAIN

After losing the first love of his life, rancher Lucas Murdoch knew he could never love another woman. The handsome rakehell had moved to San Antonio to blot out his bitter memories by taming broncs, driving cattle and bedding females. Then the hot-tempered Catlin Quinn fell into his arms and all of a sudden, Lucas could think of nothing else. Vowing to possess her body and soul, he pursued the luscious vixen, stealing kisses and snatching embraces, determined to learn all the secrets of his seductive Texas Temptation.

TEXAS TEMPTATION by GINA ROBINS
The Perfect Marriage, Laurey Bright 1995 Diane Sivavec

Category Romance Review: A Perfect Marriage by Laurey Bright

The Book

It’s difficult for me to give Laurey Bright’s* A Perfect Marriage a coherent review because it’s a romance novel that deals with adultery.

The Plot

Max and Celine have had a comfortable, friendly marriage for 12 years, however with no passion nor love. The two had been hurt prior to their marriage and agreed that a union based on friendship–not love–was best. Then things take a sharp left turn when the male protagonist “falls in love” with another woman, his co-worker. She’s much younger than he is of course. Max sleeps with her and then leaves his Celine.

But after a night of unexpected passion with Celine, Max gets his estranged wife pregnant. Finally, Max realizes, almost too late, that it’s his wife he’s loved all along.

This was a difficult romance to stomach. The heroine is way too good for the “hero,” a pathetic man in the throes of a mid-life crisis.

Despite the fact that Bright tries to make Kate, the other woman, seem like a naïve, beautiful virgin who is as much a victim as Celine, she wasn’t. In my eyes, she was a manipulative beeyotch. Kate was no innocent schoolgirl. She’s an educated attorney who had no qualms about breaking up a marriage. She even dared to ask a pregnant Celine to let Max go.

Max never sufficiently redeems himself. It is only through Celine’s love and forgiveness that reconciliation is possible.

Final Analysis of A Perfect Marriage

A Perfect Marriage by Laurey Bright was an emotional roller-coaster. The author does a wonderful job showing how separation and divorce can affect not just the spouses, but the whole extended family.

Ultimately, as hard as this book was to handle at times, it deserves a positive rating because of how it portrays the healing power of love.

A Perfect Marriage was awarded the Romance Writer’s of America’s RITA Award for Best Long Contemporary Romance in 1996.

*(Laurey Bright is a pseudonym for Daphne Clair)

3 Stars


Synopsis

Broken Vows

To their friends, family and neighbors, Celine and Max Archer had a perfect marriage. Only the Archers knew they’d never been in love, and that nights of passion were few and far between. Still, both thought the other happy with the dry-eyed deal they’d made instead of vows…

Until Max broke the bargain—by wanting more. And suddenly, after twelve peaceful years, the perfect marriage was over…

But when Celine realized how much she loved her husband, was it too late to get him back? For unbeknownst to Max, they’d been blessed with a new beginning…”

A PERFECT MARRIAGE by LAUREY BRIGHT
sheik 1

Covers of the Week #21

male cover models

Male Romance Cover Models

We all know Fabio, John DeSalvo, and Steve Sandalis. But what about other men who modeled during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s?

Looking at these attractive men, we can see how the image of the romance cover hero has evolved throughout the years.

The Models

The four men whose artful forms we’re appreciating are pictured on the covers below, left to right:

  • Guy Bishop – Guy Bishop was an internationally famous model who lent his face to countless magazines and book covers. He appeared in glitzy advertisements and walked the runways of Paris and New York, showing off designer clothes.

  • Chad Deal – Deal posed for hundreds of romance covers in the late 1970s and into the 1980s. Perhaps one of the first cover model icons, Deal had a long and successful career. He posed for twice as many covers with Elaine Duillo as Fabio did (40+ vs. 19).

  • Mike Dale – Dale has worked for Bantam Loveswept, Silhouette/ Harlequin, Zebra, and many other publishers. His face was ubiquitous in 1990s romance covers, and his down-to-earth appeal made him a natural for category-romance. A true example of a silver fox, Dale now runs a life management business, teaches yoga, and models for catalogs and fashion magazines.

  • Cherif Fortin – With smoldering green eyes, Fortin’s features are as much a work of art as his covers. This cover model was the muse of photographer/artist Sara Lynn Sanders. The pair first worked together on the 1997 stepback reprint of Marsha Canham’s A Pride of Lions. Now Fortin and Sanders work together as artists and writers, crafting medieval romances and covers.

The Covers

This week Sweet Savage Flame is highlighting male romance cover models! Enjoy!

Your Opinion

Is there a model you’d like us to highlight? Do you have a favorite old-school cover model?

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