Category: Elaine Duillo

Covers of the Week #15

Bold Destiny

The Duillo family was filled with artistic talent. There was John Duillo, the great pulp cover artist. Of course, his wife Elaine was a pioneer for women in the field. She not only painted pulp covers but went on to become the “Queen of Romance Covers.” However, did you know their daughter, Melissa Duillo Gallo, was a talented artist as well?

In the 1980s – 1980s, Melissa, who used the surname Gallo after her marriage, was a prolific historical romance cover artist, creating works for publishers such as Avon, Dell, Warner, Zebra, and more. While she and her mother no longer illustrate romance covers, Melissa is still creating art as a talented painter. Melissa Gallo Paints is where you can get access to her current work. I also have a dedicated Pinterest page to her romance covers here.

For a long time, I used to get Elaine and Melissa’s artwork confused, unintentionally mislabelling one of the books below as Elaine’s! Now I can spot the differences between mom’s and her daughter’s work. For one thing, Melissa preferred her models to wear more clothes, and also, she was more conservative with the use of eyeshadow, especially for the heroes! Both ladies, Duillo, collaborated with supermodel Fabio many times.... Read more “Covers of the Week #15”

Covers of the Week #14

My Lord Monleigh

For the week starting Monday, July 12 to Sunday, July, 18, I thought some Historical Highland romance novels or Scottish-themed covers would be a bonny sight for your eyes to enjoy.

Historical Romance Review: Once a Princess by Johanna Lindsey

“Tanya, ya slut!”

ONCE A PRINCESS

2 Stars

Rating: 2 out of 5.

The Cover

Once a Princess was not one of my favorites by Johanna Lindsey. I’d put this in the unremarkable category with books like Glorious Angel and Tender is the Storm. Not her worst, by any means, but not her best either.

Perhaps it had to do with the book’s aesthetics. I’ve always been a curmudgeon who doesn’t like change simply for the sake of change when everything is fine. So it was a shock that particular June of 1991 to find the Lindsey covers had been revamped. The font was more “romantic” with its loops and curves. The book was a step back and I preferred an open clinch. Avon updated Johanna Lindsey’s pretty photo on the inside back to a less flattering extreme close-up. And the most glaring insult of all, where in the heck was Fabio?

The Plot

The plot about the search for a secret princess from a fictional country was all right. It was the main characters that made this one almost unbearable.

It’s the mid-19th century, and Stefan Barany from the kingdom of Cardinia is in Mississippi, USA, to find the long-lost Princess Tatiana.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Once a Princess by Johanna Lindsey”

Historical Romance Review: Savage Conquest by Janelle Taylor

Savage Conquest, Janelle Taylor, Zebra, 1985, Elaine Duillo cover art

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

4 stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This review is of Savage Conquest, the 9th and final book–although the 6th published–in the “Ecstasy/Gray Eagle” series by Janelle Taylor.

The Plot:

Savage Conquest begins in 1873, approximately 17 years after the previous book, Forever Ecstasy, ended. It is not a happy time for Miranda Lawrence, the “heroine” of the book–only the second half–and her fraternal twin, Amanda, the heroine of the first half, both 18. Their parents, Joe and Marie “Morning Star” Lawrence, are presumed dead in a boating accident. (Their bodies have not been recovered.) Amanda, who is seeing fellow shipping company owner Weber Richardson, decides to take over the family business. She also later meets Reis Harrison, a man whom she is attracted to, and starts to fall in love with. There are, however, issues standing in their way: Reis is not entirely truthful about why he came to Virginia, and he has a long-standing beef with Weber, who feels similarly predisposed towards Reis.

Amanda and Reis become lovers and later marry surreptitiously, and Reis sets into motion a plan in which he hopes to trap Weber and expose him for what he really is.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Savage Conquest by Janelle Taylor”

Historical Romance Review: The Heir by Johanna Lindsey

2 stars

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Was this tepid, dull romance actually penned by Johanna Lindsey? The Heir was the first book that I noticed a weird change in her writing. Previously, if there was a Lindsey I didn’t like, it was due to a dull plot or excessive fighting between the leads. In this one, there is friendship for sure, but romantic isn’t what I’d call the relationship between Duncan and Sabrina.

The Plot: Friends to Lovers

Duncan, a Highland Scot, is the new heir to be an English Marquess. Everyone is eager to meet this new laird, er lord, especially the young ladies in town. Sabrina has no designs on Duncan; she’s plump, plain, orphaned, and not anyone’s ideal candidate for a wife. Certainly not for an heir to a Marquessate.

Then there’s the manipulative, beautiful Ophelia, who desperately wants Duncan’s title.

Slowly, painfully slowly, Sabrina and Duncan’s relationship turns physical, and one night they make love. But Ophelia’s scheming makes it appear as if Duncan has ruined her, so the red-haired idiot decides to do the honorable thing: marry Ophelia. Duncan is too young and he flounders in areas where a more mature man might have acted differently.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: The Heir by Johanna Lindsey”

Covers of the Week #8

Gentle Rogue

“A bird, bird, bird, b-bird is the word!” For the week of May 31 to June 6, can you spy the birds on these Elaine Duillo and John Ennis illustrated historical romance novel covers? Enjoy!

Historical Romance Review: Halfway to Paradise by Emily Bradshaw

HALFWAY TO PARADISE
Halfway to Paradise, Emily Bradshaw, Dell, 1993, Elaine Duillo cover art

2 Stars

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Judging a Book by Its Cover

Brooklyn-born artist Elaine Duillo, who, in her long and storied career, earned the well-deserved moniker of “The Queen of Romance Cover Art,” did it to me again! How many books have I purchased simply because I was dazzled by the hypnotic painted covers, only to find disappointment within the pages of those supposedly lurid novels?

The best thing about Emily Bradshaw’s Halfway to Paradise is its stunning jacket, which is an excellent representation of Duillo’s flair for making even the most mundane tale seem enticing. This one is done primarily in purple hues, with the heroine’s long blonde locks that flow down to her knees providing a bright complement to the hero’s dark-violet doublet.

Back in the day, an Elaine Duillo cover guaranteed you were reading a juicy bodice ripper. That was not the case with this book.

Why have I spent so much time in this review discussing Duillo’s talent rather than the content of this Halfway to Paradise? Because, lamentably, the book put me halfway to sleep.

The Plot

It took me six weeks to finish this dull story about a widowed Puritan lady who adopts an imprisoned Cavalier’s son.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Halfway to Paradise by Emily Bradshaw”

Historical Romance Review: Call Back the Dream by Barbara Hazard

175
Call Back the Dream, Barbara Hazard, , Harlequin, 1991, Elaine Duillo cover artist TBD
5 Stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

***SPOILERS***

As I prefer to read older works, many of my favorites go way back (30+ years), so unfortunately, most are widely unknown and/or out of print. One of these is this dazzling gem, Barbara Hazard’s Call Back the Dream. The Elaine Duillo cover is stunning, with the heroine in a glorious pink gown and rare red-haired hero. And yes, in this case, you can judge a book by its cover.

Camille Talbot is a vicar’s beloved daughter who loves and is loved by young Alexander Maxwell, an earl’s son. Their romance is one of the sweetest I’ve ever read, but there is a lot of sadness and suffering before they can be together (no violence, just heartache). This story spans 15 years. There is only one brief love scene that is exquisitely written, which the entire plot hinges upon, but other than that, the sensuality is mildy warm. Don’t expect any bodice-ripping, but do expect a lot of sentiment.

Barbara Hazard just had a wonderful way of straddling the line between beauty and tragedy.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Call Back the Dream by Barbara Hazard”

Historical Romance Review: This Towering Passion by Valerie Sherwood

4 stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

***Spoiler alert***

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.

The Plot

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.

Meanwhile, the dashing Cavalier, Geoffrey Wyndham, is on the run himself. He and Lenore meet on the road, and within hours of finding Lenore’s “husband’s” dead body and with Roundhead troops hunting them down, Geoffrey says, “What the hell, life’s too short!”... Read more “Historical Romance Review: This Towering Passion by Valerie Sherwood”

Historical Romance Review: Enchantress Mine by Bertrice Small

Enchantress Mine, Bertrice Small, Signet, 1987, Elaine Duillo cover art
2 1/2 stars

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

***Spoiler alert***

Like in all Bertrice Small novels, the history in Enchantress Mine is richly detailed, the villains are just whacked-out, and there’s a lot of WTF situations that make you shake your head, blink and wonder, “What just happened?” But, I don’t know… I guess I just don’t enjoy some of Bertrice Small’s books as much as I do other bodice rippers.

A Too-Perfect Heroine

Enchantress Mine is set in the Middle Ages, during the height of the Byzantine Empire. The heroine, Mairin, is a foundling raised by adopted parents.

Oh, Mairin, how to describe her? The cover art is the best thing about her. I both hated and pitied the poor girl. So many horrific things happened to Mairin, but I didn’t care because she was SOOOO perfect, SOOOO beautiful, SOOOO resilient!

Every man that wasn’t either her relative or 100% gay desired her and had to have her (stop me if you’ve heard this before)! She was just the typical most beautiful-woman-on-earth, the kind of heroine that Bertrice Small adored to write about, and I had no patience nor love for her.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Enchantress Mine by Bertrice Small”

Covers of the Week #4

Winter Roses

May is upon us! May your days be full of love and joy! Here are some beautiful May-deval romance covers to enjoy for the week of May 3 to May 9. (Groan) That’s an awful pun!

Left to right: Lovefire, Deana James, Zebra, 1985, Pino cover art; Winter Roses, Anita Mills, Onyx, 1992, Greg Gulbronson cover art; Legacy of Shadows, Warner Books, 1987, Sharon Spiak cover art; Rose of Rapture, Warner Books, 1984, Elaine Duillo cover art

Historical Romance Review: The Magic of You by Johanna Lindsey

“I want you, Warren Anderson.”

THE MAGIC OF YOU
5 stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

No Time for Historical Romance

From 7th to 9th grade, I was obsessed with romance novels, reading everything from Lady Chatterley’s Lover to category romances to thick, door-stopper historical epics. By the time Johanna Lindsey’s The Magic of You was published in June 1993, I was finishing my sophomore year in high school. I was not as fanatical about reading for fun due to having a full course load at school, with no lunch period and little time for extra-extracurricular activities.

On the day I came upon that blue Elaine Duillo and Fabio step-back paperback at a Waldenbooks in the local mall, I squealed in delight to see it was a sequel to one of my favorite of Lindsey books, Gentle Rogue. I excitedly plunked down $5.99 plus tax (oh my, how expensive books had gotten; only 3 years earlier, a mass-market paperback could go as low as $4) and hurried home to read it.

To do this day, it remains the only book I ever read and finished TWICE in one day.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: The Magic of You by Johanna Lindsey”