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Category: Pino

Covers of the Week #42

moon rider

Theme: Covers With Dresses Opened at the Back

One of the amusing aspects about clinch poses is that no matter who the artist is, no matter the publishing house or the author, there are only so many variations the couple can engage in, that some poses become ubiquitous. One of my favorite mainstays of cover art is when…well when a lady loses her stays!

Personally, I find it alluring when a gown is draping off a lady’s back as opposed to other more revealing shots. The sight of bare skin and delicates bones down to the waist is more seductive and mysterious rather than seeing heaving breasts front and center. What say you?

This Covers of the Week for Monday, January 24, 2022, to Sunday, January 30 displays pretty historical romance covers with couples in clinch poses and heroines losing their tops while having a grand ole time of it.

... Read more “Covers of the Week #42”

Covers of the Week #40

silver angel

The great poet William Blake wrote:

To see a World in a Grain of Sand/ And a Heaven in a Wild Flower/ Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand/ And Eternity in an hour.

This week’s romance cover theme takes to the Middle East. There’s something alluring about the desert-lands of the Orient. Whether it be a fantasy of being swept away by the leader of a caravan tribe or taken into a sheik’s private harem of one, passionate images exist for them all.

For the week of Monday, January 10, 2022, to Sunday, January 16, 2022, our latest Covers of the Week highlights romances set in the Middle East.

A Closer Look At Pino

pino at work
Giuseppi Dangelico Daeni, aka Pino

Pino Daeni

Giuseppi Dangelico Daeni is better known as Pino Daeni, or simply Pino. He was a romance industry icon who created over 3,000 book covers in about 15 years. He spent almost the last twenty years of his life working as a fine artist of great acclaim.

Pino’s childhood visual memories consisted of females left behind to keep the home fires burning. His mother, aunts, grandmothers, and cousins became a universe of attractive women in aprons. Throughout the uncertain times of World War II, they maintained domestic tranquility. Pino would always cherish the feminine ideal. That appreciation shone through his paintings.

Pino created portraits that celebrated the beauty of women, children, and families. A talent in the tradition of his Italian forebears, Pino’s artwork was a bridge between classical romanticism and contemporary realism.

“Almost Ready”

Early Life

Pino was born in Bari, Italy, on November 8, 1939, to a large family with numerous children.

His first-grade teacher recognized his talents and advised his father to encourage Pino’s gifts. His father was initially skeptical of this recommendation but changed his mind when he saw his son’s artwork.

“When I was eight, my older brother would have to draw for school.

... Read more “A Closer Look At Pino”

Historical Romance Review: Midnight Princess by Jo Goodman

midnight princess jo goodman
Midnight Princess, Jo Goodman, Zebra, 1989, Pino cover art

VERY MILD SPOILERS 😉

4 1/2 Stars

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Reviewed by Blue Falcon

The Book, Characters & Set-Up

This review is of Midnight Princess, book #1 in the “Marshall Brothers” series by Jo Goodman, a pseudonym used by Joanne Dobrzanski. Published by Zebra/Kensington, November 1989, the book was later reissued as Her Defiant Heart. (This series connects to Ms. Goodman’s “Dennehy Sisters” series). This review is of the original print book.

Heroine: Jenny Holland, 24. Brown hair and eyes. Mystery woman.

Hero: Christian Marshall, 31. Copper hair, aquamarine eyes. Publisher, New York Chronicle newspaper.

Location: New York City, New York. December 1866-May 1867.

Tropes: Historical Romance. Mystery woman. Newspaper publisher. New York City.

The Plot

The book starts in New York City, December 1866. Christian Marshall, the hero, one of the series’ eponymous titular characters, and publisher of the New York Chronicle newspaper is at a hospital for people experiencing emotional distress. He’s watching one of the “patients,” a woman known as Jane Doe, being treated. He feels sympathy for her and decides to help her.

Later, she shows up at his home.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Midnight Princess by Jo Goodman”

Covers of the Week #32

the game of love

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

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

Historical Romance Review: Crimson Obsession by Deana James

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

VERY MILD SPOILERS 😉

3 1/2 Stars

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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

The Revenge Based Plot

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

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

Historical Romance Review: Paradise and More by Shirl Henke

Paradise and More
Paradise and More
Paradise and More, Shirle Henke, Leisure, 1991, Pino cover art

MILD SPOILERS 😉

3 1/2 Stars

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Book and the Cover

Paradise and More by Shirl Henke is memorable to me for having one of the most eye-catching covers in romance. A dazzling beauty by Pino Daeni, it features a fully naked couple in a glorious clinch, their nudity covered by some strategically placed flowers and the book’s title. Lamentably, I have a later reissue, where their nakedness is hidden behind a respectable-looking stepback cover. Why would anyone want to hide that stunning beauty?

The Old World

A swashbuckling historical, Paradise and More is the first book in the House of Torres duo. The romance takes place in late 1400s Spain. This is a seminal time in history, where Columbus’ exploration into the “New World” began after the expulsion of Jews from Spain. The Catholic Monarchs of Castile and Aragon had reconquered the Iberian Peninsula from the Muslims who had entered Hispania 700 years prior.

Lady Magdalena Luisa Valdes–for some unfathomable reason–falls madly in love at first sight with Aaron “Diego” Torres, the son of a wealthy converso family (a Jewish family that converted to Catholicism).... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Paradise and More by Shirl Henke”

Covers of the Week #26

bandit's brazen kiss

We had a lot of fun a couple of months back doing Covers of the Week #12, where we posted images of when romance covers by talented artists go hilariously bad. So we’re doing it again!

As always, if you’d like to see more cover art, head over to our COVERS section, where you can view pages for individual COVER ARTISTS or take a gander at past Covers of the Week. If you want even more information about romance book covers, check out our COVER LINKS PAGE.

For the week of Monday, October 4 to Sunday, October 10, 2021 (which happens to be my birthday week), enjoy these silly or awful-looking covers that make us smile.

#1 Pino Daeni was a master artist. He was also prolific, producing 3,000 romance covers in a span of 20 years. Sometimes he had to work quickly. So it’s understandable that some of his works might fall short of his best. Bandit’s Brazen Kiss is actually a pretty cover until you realize this isn’t a paranormal romance, and the hero isn’t a centaur. We know he has to have legs to ride a horse, but where are they? Is he just a torso with arms and a head?... Read more “Covers of the Week #26”

Covers of the Week #22

quiet comes the night

At Sweet Savage Flame, we’ve been overlooking category romance covers in favor of flashier historical romance artwork, and it’s time to remedy that. Series cover art is just as lovely. However, sometimes the artwork is not as prominent as it is for historicals. In addition, the big-name cover artists usually produced illustrations for historical romance or full-length contemporary books. Sometimes they did step their toes into the waters of series or category romance and we’re happy that they did!

For the week of Monday, September 6, 2021, to Sunday, September 12, we’re looking at gorgeous category romance covers painted by some of the greatest artists of romance novels. Below are a few category romances illustrated by the legendary Elaine Duillo, Robert Maguire, Elaine Gignilliat, and Pino. Enjoy!

Covers of the Week #20

springs fury

In 1971 singer/songwriter Carole King wrote the lovely song: “You’ve Got a Friend,” which detailed the lasting strength of love. James Taylor recorded it to great acclaim. Other artists like Dusty Springfield and Michael Jackson would put their own twists on the tune. These simple lyrics always stick with me:

Winter, spring, summer, fall
All you have to do is call…

YOU’VE GOT A FRIEND

The power of love is as old as the Earth and as constant as the four seasons. To live is to love! At Sweet Savage Flame, romance is in the air all year long. So to celebrate, from Monday, August 23, 2021, to Sunday, August 29, our 20th edition of Covers of the Week highlights four beautiful romance covers set during Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter.

Do you have a favorite season for romance?

Historical Romance Review: Rangoon by Christine Monson

Rangoon
Rangoon
Rangoon, Christine Monson, Avon, 1985, Pino cover art

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

3 1/2 Stars

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Reviewed by IntrovertReader

Christine Monson was best known for her infamous, shocking bodice-ripper Stormfire, which is legendary for the protagonists’ abusive revenge-based romance. Her second book Rangoon significantly turns down the crazy factor, but still retains the sensitive writing that made Stormfire so haunting and memorable.

West Meets East

It’s the late 19th century. Boston-bred Lysistrata travels all the way across the world with her father, a doctor, to Burma to start a new life. Nursing a broken heart from an ill-fated romance, Lysistrata tries valiantly to navigate her way through her new environment and its rigid class system. She meets Richard “Ram” Harley, a half-Burmese, half-British man she can’t help but find attractive. Harley is a pirate who seduces married women and callously threatens to ruin Lysi when she discovers one of his illicit amours.

With a name like Lysistrata that should give a hint about her independent, determined nature. At first, her feisty, “I’ll do it my way!” attitude tested my patience, however, I warmed up to her as the book evolved. She’s not the typical foot-stomping, the face-slapping heroine (at least not when it comes to the hero) who was so common in old-school bodice rippers.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Rangoon by Christine Monson”

Historical Romance Review: Midnight Captive by Penelope Neri

Midnight Captive
Midnight Captive, Penelope Neri, Zebra, 1989, Pino cover art

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

5 stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This review is of Midnight Captive, a standalone Zebra historical romance from March 1989 by Penelope Neri.

The Plot

The book begins ominously. A man finds a cache of gold and wishes everything he touches would turn into it. Hearing him, the Devil appears and makes the man a bargain; if the unnamed man sells his soul to the Devil, the Devil will grant his wish. The man agrees. He later realizes, however, that such a bargain has unintended consequences. This is the theme running through the book.

We later meet Krissoula Ballardo, the heroine of the book, and her business partner, Hector Corrales, in Spain. Their business: rolling rich men and stealing from them. When they see Esteban de San Martin, the hero of the book, they try to rob him. This plan fails, and, rather than have Krissoula arrested, Esteban blackmails her into helping him get revenge against his uncle, Felipe Aguilar, in Esteban’s home country of Argentina. (Felipe is the brother of Esteban’s late father, Alejandro, and there is significant bad blood between uncle and nephew, the reasons for which are revealed).... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Midnight Captive by Penelope Neri”

Historical Romance Review: Texas Storm by Deana James

texas storm
Texas Storm, Deana James, Zebra, 1986, Pino cover art

MILD SPOILERS 😉

3 1/2 stars

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Plot

It’s the mid-1830’s and Scottish immigrant Reiver MacPherson has been granted lands by the new Texas government. The dilapidated property he acquired belonged to an old Spanish family, but the place is now abandoned. Or at least Reiver thinks it is, because to his surprise, there he finds an emaciated young wisp of a girl, Mercedes-Maria, whose family once owned the lands but has fled to Mexico, leaving her behind. So begins Deana James’ Texas Storm.

Mercedes is a bit of a wild child, and Reiver has no patience for her at first. She insists the land is hers; he claims it’s is. The two butt heads but eventually agree to work together. Slowly, a romance unfolds as the pair get to know one another—sexual attraction forms. With James’ trademark earthy sensuality describing the passages, their passion results in vivid lovemaking sessions.

Mercedes & Reiver get married more out of convenience than love. However, their love grows as they experience adventure after adventure.

They tame wild horses across the Llano Estacado (The Staked Plains) & amass a substantial sum of money, turning Reiver into a respected patron.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Texas Storm by Deana James”

Historical Romance Review: Sea Jewel by Penelope Neri

seajewel
Sea Jewel, Penelope Neri, Zebra, 1986, Pino cover art

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

5 stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A Five-Star Book, Albeit a Rating I Give Reluctantly

After deliberation, I decided to give Sea Jewel by Penelope Neri five stars, although I do so with some high degree of reluctance. The explanation why follows.

The Story: Part One

This Zebra Lovegram begins with the hero of the book, Freya Jorgenson, being born. Her father, Thorfast, is a warring Viking who wanted a son. He orders his man, Sven, to kill Freya. Sven, however, being a kind soul, chooses not to and, with the help of a captured English slave, raises Freya as his daughter.

Earlier, Sven did a similar thing. Years earlier, when Thorfast and his men went a-Viking–i.e., murdering, pillaging, and raping–they sacked an English village, killing all the males and raping the females. One of the women, Wilone, wife of the head of the earldom whom Thorfast killed, offered herself as a sexual slave to Thorfast in exchange for sparing her life and the life of her unborn child. Thorfast raped Wilone and ordered Sven to kill her and her child, which he did not do.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Sea Jewel by Penelope Neri”

Covers of the Week #12

I’ve been a bit behind things this past week so I haven’t been focusing on the site as I should have. So to make up for it, I’ve chosen a selection of covers by good artists gone bad. These covers have made me smile, laugh, or just raise my eyebrows and wonder what they were thinking. For the week of June 28 to July 4 2021, enjoy this small sample of silly or awful looking covers from romances from four different artists.

#1 They’re getting it on at the docks, her hair is in the water, but at least she knows to hold on to that parasol for sun protection. Priorities. (Wild Magnolia, Wanda Owen, Zebra, 1992, Pino cover art)

#2 – Is it just me or does that poor cat look like an experiment from “The Island of Dr. Moreau”? Is it supposed to be a Scottish wildcat or a Lynx? Either way, it looks so sad. Put the poor dear out of his misery! (Wildcat Tamed, Mary Wibberley, Harlequin, 1977, cover artist Don Berco)

#3 – This infamous cover is notable for the three-armed heroine, one hand on the ground, the other at her side, and the last holding the hero’s arm.... Read more “Covers of the Week #12”

Historical Romance Review: Dakota Dreams by Constance O’Banyon

Dakota Dreams
Dakota Dreams, Constance O’Banyon, Zebra, 1988, Pino cover art

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

3 stars

Rating: 3 out of 5.

This review is of Dakota Dreams, a standalone Zebra Lovegram romance by Constance O’Banyon.

The Setup:

The book starts on November 1, 1833. On this day, in a blizzard, two lives will end and one will begin. The lives that end are those of Lady Cillia Remington and her husband, Lord Holden Remington, ninth Marquess of Weatherford. The life that begins is that of their son (Cillia gives birth to her son with the help of Two Moons, an Arapaho war chief. Before she dies, she asks Two Moons to raise her son). Two Moons names the child Dakota, and Two Moons and his wife raise Dakota alongside their biological son, Black Otter.

At first, the two boys are friends and brothers, but as they grow to adulthood, their relationship becomes strained, mostly from Black Otter’s end of the world. After Two Moons’ death, Dakota, now 23 and the hero of the book, leaves to go to England. (Two Moons asked Daktoa to do so before he passed for two reasons. One, for Dakota to truly embrace his heritage, and two, because he feared what Black Otter would do to Dakota).... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Dakota Dreams by Constance O’Banyon”

Historical Romance Review: Sweet Fire by Jo Goodman

sweet fire
Sweet Fire, Jo Goodman, Zebra, 1991, Pino cover art

VERY MILD SPOILERS 😉

4 1/2 stars

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Sweet Fire by Jo Goodman is an action-packed romance filled with the requisite passion you’d look for in a Zebra Heartfire, but also adventure, murder mystery, and drama.

The Plot

Nathan and Brigham are former Australian prisoners & best frenemies now residing in San Fransisco, California. The pair are competing for the hand of Miss Lydia Chadwick. She’s a wealthy heiress, pretty enough, but she pales in comparison to her much more sophisticated and unsurprisingly young stepmother. But, of course, stepmom is the wicked type, and she’s secretly sexing it up with Brig.

On the other hand, Lydia is a woman of social conscience, as she tries to help orphans and prostitutes better their lot in lives. Unfortunately, Lydia’s charity work gets dangerous when a killer is on the loose, killing women on the streets. Sadly, the mystery was no mystery to me, as it’s telegraphed early on who the killer was, but I went with it, anyway, knowing the love story was the real centerpiece of this book.

Lydia lets Nathan and Brigham know she’s onto their game and is having none of it!... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Sweet Fire by Jo Goodman”

Historical Romance Review: Fires of Winter by Roberta Gellis

firs of winter gellis
Fires of Winter, Roberta Gellis, Jove Books, 1987, Pino cover art

“I had a long row to hoe before I could plunge my spade into Mellusine’s earth and plant a seed there.”

FIRES OF WINTER

3 Stars

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Told through alternating first-person perspectives, Roberta Gellis’s Fires of Winter starts with a bang.

The Plot

In the first chapter, we experience young hero Bruno of Jernaeve’s life as his castle gets invaded. As an illegitimate child, he is overlooked and left uncared for. He and his sister must hide from the marauders. Later on, it switches to heroine Mellusine of Ulle’s more placid point of view as a child. Although I enjoyed the different perspectives, I found Bruno’s side more interesting than Mellusine’s.

As Bruno matures, he becomes a master in the arts of war. His success earns him Melusine, as a “spoil of war,” for Bruno to wed. Despite their differences, Mellusine and Bruno forge a strong relationship built on sexual attraction, companionship, and trust.

I loved the authentic earthiness Gellis imbued her works with. I don’t think I’ve ever read a romance where the heroine has to take a dump before. Here Melusine squats away without a care in front of the hero.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Fires of Winter by Roberta Gellis”

Historical Romance Review: Tender Feud by Nicole Jordan

tender feud
Tender Feud, Nicole Jordan, Harlequin, 1991, Pino cover art

MILD SPOILERS 😉

4 1/2 Stars

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Book

Nicole Jordan’s Tender Feud is an engaging Harlequin Historical where the enemies-to-lovers trope is used against the backdrop of 18th-century Scotland.

The Plot

Katrine Campbell has left staid England behind for adventure in her ancestral Scottish homeland. Unfortunately, her Campbell relatives are feuding with the Macleans. On her first night in her family home, Katrine gets caught in the middle of it all and is kidnapped.

Her captor is hunky Raith Maclean, leader of his clan. Maclean is a widower, not looking for remarriage, and certainly not looking for love with his half-Scots-half-English enemy.

There are tons of sparks flying between the fiery Katrine and stubborn Raith. They argue lots but are secretly attracted to one another. The romance takes time to unwind, as Katrine is one of those “spunky” heroines, and Raith is determined to “dominate” her by his will.

Instead, the two learn to build a relationship on trust. Raith has a young female relative with whom Katrine builds an endearing friendship. Raith’s sexy cousin Callum flirts with Katrine. Although she’s not interested in him beyond friendship, Raith glowers and disapproves.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Tender Feud by Nicole Jordan”

Historical Romance Review: Lovespell by Deana James

lovespell deana james
Lovespell, Deana James, Zebra, 1984, Pino cover art

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

4 1/2 Stars

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Book

Lovespell is yet another great romance by the eclectic Deana James, who wrote wonderful, complex novels like Captive Angel.

The Plot

Gillian is an English fletcher who poses as twins, the male Gil & female Gillian. A Norman knight named Brian is badly beaten and his armor has been stolen by an errant squire. He is rescued by Gil who cares for him and helps him heal. Brian is a man often too proud for his own good. His honor demands he must pay recompense to Gil for saving his life so he helps him/her make arrows. To satisfy his life debt, Brian must help Gillian bring the arrows to arm the English, the enemies of his people.

In due time Brian figures out Gil’s true identity. He falls for her, as she does for him. This is just the beginning of their love story.

There are many misadventures along the way, as a cast of multi-faceted secondary characters soon takes the stage, adding more drama, romance, and tragic elements to this story.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Lovespell by Deana James”

Covers of the Week #6

deception

A pair of Pino covers! For the week of May 17 to May 23 let’s admire some historical romance novel stepback covers illustrated by Giuseppe Dangelico Daeni, aka Pino, a legendary artist we will explore at length very soon here at SweetSavageFlame.com! Aren’t these gorgeous works of art?

Left to right: Deception, Amanda Quick, Bantam Books, 1993, Pino cover art; Dangerous Anita Mills, Topaz, 1996, Pino cover art

Historical Romance Review: Pirate’s Angel by Marsha Bauer

pirate's angel
Pirate’s Angel, Marsha Bauer, Zebra, 1991, Pino cover art

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

5 Stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Book

First of all, I love the original Pirate’s Angel Zebra Heartfire cover, but man-oh-man, have you taken a look at the e-book version? Authors, why are you doing this to your books? Lots of folks love to mock old-school covers and Fabio, but there are e-book covers that make clinches look like Rembrandts. Even a plain black cover with white Comic Sans font would be sexier than whatever the heck that new version is.

Besides loving the original Pino cover, I loved just about everything else in Marsha Bauer’s 1991 Zebra Heartfire pirate romance. Sure, the heroine is a two-faced hussy, as she has a dependable guy back home whom she plans on marrying while she enthusiastically partakes in lovemaking sessions with the hero. But I couldn’t blame Ivy. Drake was wildly attracted to her.

Plus, he was hot. (God, I’m so shallow.)

The Plot

Part One

Our story begins with a lovemaking session some 20+ years prior to the start of the main plot, with the pirate Keils Cauldron making love to a beautiful woman he calls Sunny.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Pirate’s Angel by Marsha Bauer”

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 Silver Link by Patricia Potter

The Silver Link, Patricia Potter, Harlequin, 1990, Pino cover art

Harlequin Historical #63

4 stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Book

In Patricia Potter’s The Silver Link, Antonia and Tristan are from two different worlds. Nevertheless, their forbidden love unites them. They share a link that never can be severed.

The Plot

Tristan Hampton is a Virginian military man. He is on a mission to ensure Albuquerque’s stable transition from Mexican rule to American governance.

Antonia Ramirez is from a noble, land-owning Spanish family whose New Mexican roots go back generations. Her family– and more importantly her would-be husband, Ramon–are wary of the Yanqui soldier.

When Antonia and Tristan meet, it’s an instant love that threatens both their worlds.

This was one of my first Harlequin Historicals. It was a romantic tale of two people from different societies whose lives are entwined through love. I enjoyed how Tris and Tonia would always find times to meet in secret. Forbidden love is at its best here.

Just a warning for those who shrink from violence: The Silver Link is also very violent and bloody. Tristan is shot, beaten, and has to save Antonia numerous times.

If you’re interested in a love story with some action, or like reading about the Mexican-American War era, The Silver Link is a great book.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: The Silver Link by Patricia Potter”

Historical Romance Review: Captive Angel by Deana James

Captive Angel
Captive Angel, Deana James, Zebra, 1988, Pino cover art

The frightened, pampered child-woman who had been deserted by her husband ten months ago was gone forever. In her place stood a self-confident, independent creature who would not hesitate to dare the devil.

CAPTIVE ANGEL

5 stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

*** Spoiler alert ***

An Unusual Romance

How do I begin to review this amazing, conflicting journey through a woman’s incredible 19th-century life? I have to tell it all, so this review is pure spoilers.

By all rights Captive Angel is the kind of romance I should have tossed into a blazing fire and gleefully cheered, “Burn, book, burn! Bad, bad book!”

Perhaps it helped that I knew exactly what I was getting into before I started. Plus, having read a few of Deana James’s books, I knew it couldn’t be that horrible. The cover even had a quote from Johanna Lindsey, stating: “Delightfully different, emotionally involving, and impossible to put down,” which is 100% true.

Captive Angel surpassed my expectations with probably one of the greatest romance heroines ever, paired with one of the most piggish, most oblivious, POS heroes I’ve ever come across in an old-school historical other than Regan Van Der Rhys from Fern Michaels’ Captive Series.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Captive Angel by Deana James”

Historical Romance Review: Texas Tempest by Deana James

texas tempest
Texas Tempest, Deana James, Zebra, 1986, Pino cover art

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.

TEXAS TEMPEST

4 stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

***Spoiler alert***

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 Heroine

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”

Historical Romance Review: Viking Rose by Ashland Price

Viking Rose , Zebra, 1993, Pino cover art
From the back of the book:

SHE WAS A SPIRITED IRISH MAIDEN

When Alanna sighted a blond giant of a man bathing in a nearby stream, the Irish maiden guessed he was one of those dangerous raiders she’d heard tales of. Though she should have fled, Alanna could not draw her eyes away from his bronzed muscles, long sun-gold hair, and piercing blue eyes. Before she knew it, the Norseman had captured her…. Outraged, Alanna planned her escape; yet when his rock-hard arms enveloped her and his demanding kisses set her pulse on fire, she marveled that a man from a frozen land could evoke such a rapturous heat in her own blood…

HE WAS A FEARLESS VIKING RAIDER

Intent on scouting the alien country for his Viking raiding party, Storr had no time for a furious Erse maiden! Yet, he could not let her sound an alert, so he took her captive. And what a choice beauty he’d gotten! Her lush curves, cocoa-colored eyes, and dark auburn-streaked hair made her a prize beyond compare, But it was the brave but gentle spirit in this fair rose of Erin that finally made the fierce warrior wish to brand her as his alone.

... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Viking Rose by Ashland Price”

Historical Romance Review: Edin’s Embrace by Nadine Crenshaw

edin's embrace
Edin’s Embrace, Nadine Crenshaw, Zebra, 1989, Pino cover art

The world was a colder, darker place then. It was an axe age, a wind age, a time when men didn’t dare give mercy, and a time when the powerful exacted what they could and the weak granted what they must.

EDIN’S EMBRACE

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

5 stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Book

Wow… What an experience! Edin’s Embrace by Nadine Crenshaw is a Zebra Lovegram romance published way back in 1989. With a shimmering Pino Daeni cover featuring a muscled guy who looks a lot like Fabio, embracing a blonde on a Viking ship (spot the horse on the cover!) this could just have been another ho-hum romance.

But it’s not.

The Set-Up

This is how the tale begins:

The world was a colder, darker place then. It was an axe age, a wind age, a time when men didn’t dare give mercy, and a time when the powerful exacted what they could and the weak granted what they must.

Ok, that definitely piqued my interest.

The ominous effect is spoiled a bit in the next paragraph with a glaring misspelling, thanks to the ever so diligent Zebra editors (who were so lackadaisical that even I could’ve easily found work there ;-).... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Edin’s Embrace by Nadine Crenshaw”

Historical Romance Review: Stormfire by Christine Monson

Storm fire
Stormfire Pino
Stormfire, Christine Monson, Avon, 1984, cover artist Pino

His spirit, like the lonely, windswept sea, was ever-restless, ever-changing, sometimes howling down to savage the unyielding land, then caressing it with a lulling embrace, inevitably wearing away its resistance.

STORMFIRE

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

5 Stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Most Controversial Bodice Ripper Ever?

So, after a couple of decades of reading romance, I finally got around to Stormfire by the late Christine Monson. Whew! They do not write them like this anymore. The ultimate in bodice-ripping, Stormfire, is a tale of two mentally unstable people and their violent, intense love. And it’s great!

The main attraction of Stormfire is its writing. If it were a poorly written book, no one would still be talking about it 30-plus years after it was published. The chapters each have titles such as “Silken Irons,” “Into Eden,” or “The Nadir.” When the heroine meets the hero, her first thoughts are of Milton’s poetry: 

“His form had not yet lost

All his original brightness, nor appeared

Less than Archangel ruined…” 

PARADISE LOST, JOHN MILTON

The prose is evocative and compelling, but not purple. We agonize over Catherine’s enslavement.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Stormfire by Christine Monson”