Category Archives: Will Davies

melting ice davies

Category Romance Review: Melting Ice by Rosalie Ash

category romance
Melting Ice by Rosalie Ash
Rating: three-stars
Published: 1989
Illustrator: Will Davies
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Romance (Special Subscription) #55
Published by: Harlequin
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 191
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: Melting Ice by Rosalie Ash

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

Melting Ice by Rosalie Ash is a hard little book to find in its original form. It was released by Mills & Boon in 1989 but only published as a special edition for Harlequin Romance subscribers. The book was #55 of that line.

The author has rewritten and “updated” Melting Ice as part of a trilogy, so the modern e-book version vastly differs from the original print copy.

This review refers only to the Mill & Boon/ Special Harlequin Romance edition of Melting Ice.

The Characters

Victoria Francis is an airy-fairy young woman living in the English countryside. The story begins as she’s walking on her hands outside and meets the hero while she’s upside-down. It’s a good metaphor for demonstrating Victoria and Julius’s opposite perspectives about life.

Julius Korda is a cold and calculating icicle. He is an avaricious businessman who wears power suits and ties. Julius works in the fast-paced world of… antiques.

(Wait a minute, that can’t be right. Let me double-check that. Nope, that’s correct.)

Julius Korda is a big deal in the throat-cutting world of old-time estates and furniture sales.

(I can see why Ash decided to give this book a rewrite. The hero’s occupation bugged the hell out of me. That did not fit his described persona. Not that there’s anything wrong with buying and selling antiques. But buying and selling stocks would have made it in line with how Ash wrote Julius to be.)

“Julius Korda is as cold as steel, as ascetic as a monk, and the only god he worships is the almighty dollar.”

The Plot

Despite their decade-and-a-half age gap, the innocent Victoria and the money-hungry Julius form a connection. Victoria finds herself falling for him.

In a surprising turn of events, the buttoned-down Julius has a moment of weakness, and he and Victoria make love. Victoria was a virgin, and a confused Julius leaves her.

Years pass. When they meet next, it will be under different circumstances. And Victoria will have a surprise in store for Julius.

(Sigh) Yes, this is a secret baby plot.

Yada, yada, yada, you get the deal. Julius and Victoria reconnect and form a new relationship. Passion reignites. Julius learns that there are things in life more precious than gold–or 19th-century golden candelabras.

Final Analysis of Melting Ice

I liked the idea of this book more than the execution. Generally, plots with uptight heroes paired with free-spirited heroines are a joy to experience. There were good elements here. However, they were wasted.

I shouldn’t be so shallow, but I couldn’t mesh Julius’ career with the identity the author had created for him. Antique dealing is a step above being a beautician in terms of macho jobs for a hero (See my review of Easy Lovin‘. I wasn’t overly fond of that hero’s profession as a hairdresser.)

The secret baby surprise came out of left field. Victoria was too young and childish; it didn’t seem right for her to become a single mother abandoned by her one-night stand. And where the heck was Julius for all that time? Polishing his silverware?

Melting Ice started out quite charming. However, I couldn’t get over a few issues, making this an average reading experience. Maybe the updated version is better, but I’m not curious enough to check it out.

3 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
3
Characters
3
Writing
3
Chemistry
2.5
Fun Factor
3
Cover
4
Overall: 3.1

Synopsis:

From the moment they met, young, carefree, Victoria was infatuated with Julius. But Julius made it clear that as far as he was concerned she wasn’t his type and in any case, she was far too young for him. However, everything changed one night — with far-reaching consequences for both of them.

MELTING ICE by ROSALIE ASH
hilltop tryst

Category Romance Review: Hilltop Tryst by Betty Neels

category romance
Hilltop Tryst by Betty Neels
Rating: three-stars
Published: 1990
Illustrator: Will Davies
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Romance #3071
Published by: Harlequin, Mills & Boon
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 192
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: Hilltop Tryst by Betty Neels

VERY MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

Hilltop Tryst is another sweet romance by the famous Betty Neels featuring–as always–a fair-haired doctor as a hero, although this time he’s British, not Dutch. Nor is the heroine a nurse. She’s the daughter of a local successful veterinarian and works with Dad.

The Set-Up

The title Hilltop Tryst makes it sound steamier than this book really is. It’s a very clean, closed-door Harlequin Romance, so no trysting here!

One morning, Beatrice is taking a walk with her dog, and she meets the hero, Dr. Oliver Latimer, a heart surgeon, along the way. Oliver’s a nice, stolid type. There’s a bit of trouble with another dog, and Oliver arranges to bring the pup to Beatrice’s father for a check-up.

Everything lines up making it seem as if Oliver’s interested in Beatrice. He’s kind to her, spends time with her family, and–in typical Betty Neels fashion–doesn’t make a move! When Beatrice’s father has a heart attack, they’re fortunate that Dr. Latimer is there to save the day.

Enter our other man, a more debonair and seemingly sophisticated vet. Have you known many vets? Most of them are really nice folks! But hardly dashing when compared to heart surgeons.

Sunnyvale’s Top Vet

The Plot

Anyway, this OM takes a liking to Beatrice as she to him. Oliver’s nice and all, but he’s so placid and just there. Unfortunately, Beatrice discovers that the OM has his sights set on taking over her father’s thriving business. Cozying up to Beatrice was simply part of his plan.

Ashamed, her heart in tatters, Beatrice turns to Oliver, who is there to save the day. He proposes a phony relationship with Beatrice and offers to take her on a Continental-speaking tour.

Along the way, Beatrice realizes she wasn’t really in love with Sam Losco, sleazy pet doc. She was just blinded by his flash. As Beatrice gets to know more of Oliver on their trip, she realizes it’s he whom she prefers.

There’s some bit of dull action before the two meet up again on that same hilltop. They declare their love for each other. Again, no trysting, but promises of marriage and forever are made.

hilltop tryst

Final Analysis of Hilltop Tryst

This was a charming Betty Neels romance, but not really very exciting. I was reading another Harlequin Romance at the same time as this (a Jessica Steele I’ll review later) and found that a saucy read more to my liking.

To my (not) surprise, reviews on sites rate Hilltop Tryst much higher than the other one I enjoyed. Oh, well, I like a little drama in my romances, even the sweet ones.

Hilltop Tryst, I’d mark as good, not great. Oliver gets points for being an animal lover, but not enough to change my overall sentiments.

3 Stars

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

Synopsis

A Dependable Man

When Beatrice’s world turned upside down, Oliver Latimer was on hand to pick up the pieces. There was something solid and reassuring about Oliver. Beatrice felt safe with him. But he wasn’t an easy person to get to know.

Accompanying him on a lecture tour to Europe convinced Beatrice that there was more to Dr. Latimer than she’d imagined. In fact, she came to believe he was the only man she could truly love. But Oliver kept his feelings hidden. What did he really think of her

HILLTOP TRYST by BETTY NEELS
song of the waves

Category Romance Review: Song of the Waves by Anne Hampson

song of the waves
Song of the Waves, Anne Hampson, Harlequin, 1976, Will Davies cover art

Harlequin Presents #209

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

4 stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

A Life Not Yet Lived

Wendy Brown is a not-yet-21-year-old Englishwoman who’s been given the worst news imaginable. She has an inoperable brain tumor and will die in a few months. Rather than spend her last days wallowing in despair, Wendy decides to make the best of her lot. Alone in the world, she sells her family home. She buys a ticket for the maiden voyage of a glamorous cruise ship that’s set to sail the world.

Thus begins Anne Hampson’s Song of the Waves, a vintage Harlequin Presents written in 1976, a year before I was born.

Even for a book so ancient (ha-ha), this romance comes off old-fashioned. It never delves deeper than a few kisses and severely-restrained passion. Anne Hampson’s books might have been among the first published for the Harlequin Presents line, but that sort of antiquated mindset would later cause the publishers to break ties with her in favor of more “modern” minded authors, such as Charlotte Lamb.

A Love That Saves a Life

Introduced into this “love boat” romance is a vast field of characters, couples, and individuals, who will get to know Wendy as she charms her way aboard the ship. Rumors abound that a man-eater movie star is onboard traveling incognito as an innocent naif. One shipmate who believes the gossip is Garth Rivers, the book’s hero.

Unfortunately, Garth puts 1 and 1 together and gets 11, as he thinks our Wendy darling is said actress. So Garth treats her with contempt at first. As he gets more familiar with Wendy, Garth realizes that her sweet demeanor is genuine, and he has trouble synthesizing his preconceptions with reality.

Wendy, for her part, quickly realizes her heart belongs to Garth. However, she hides the truth from him, as she would rather he think her a sophisticated woman of mystery, instead of a girl with a fatal disease.

song of the waves
Song of the Waves, Anne Hampson, Mills & Boon, 1976

Wendy faces her last days with aplomb, not letting her impending doom stop her from enjoying life. She makes the best of her situation, making friends, flirting lightly with would-be suitors, and taking awe of her new surroundings whenever the ship enters port.

Despite the misunderstandings due to lack of communication, our main characters do fall in love. But can love be enough to stop the Grim Reaper’s arrival?

Of course!

Not only is Garth the only man Wendy’s ever loved, but he’s also the only person who can save her. For Garth–serendipitously enough–is a brain surgeon. Only he can perform the complicated, live-sustaining operation on the woman with whom he wants to spend the rest of his life.

Final Analysis of Song of the Waves

Song of the Waves is a cozy romance that’s bound to tug at your heartstrings. Wendy is a delightful heroine. While the plot is set up as a tearjerker love story, fortunately, this is a romance novel. Any tears of sadness are guaranteed to turn into tears of joy with the uplifting conclusion.

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.”

Category Romance Review: Game Plan by Rosemary Hammond

Game Plan, Rosemary Hammond, Harlequin, 1990, Will Davies cover art
Harlequin Romance #3026
3 1/2 Stars

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I cut my romance teeth on Harlequin Romances back in the early 1990s when I was a preteen. They taught me so much about the world! 😛 Rosemary Hammond’s Game Plan was the second adult contemporary romance I read. It was the first where the protagonists consummated their relationship. Sex in a book! Shocking! And, of course, the not-at-all sexy heroine was a virgin! This book is over 35 years old, so yes, it was very tame and innocent. But what did I know back then?

The Plot

Remember that Flock of Seagull’s song “I Ran”? The lyrics went: “I never thought I’d meet a girl like you/ Meet a girl like you/ with auburn hair and tawny eyes/The kind of eyes that hypnotize me through…”

Well, it was in Game Plan that I learned that very tall, voluptuous redheads who put their hair up in buns, dress in severe, drab suits, and wear glasses are seen as plain. Honestly, what kind of man would be attracted to that type? 😁

The story is this: a serious young college professor refuses to give a football star a passing grade and then clashes with his coach. There are plenty of fireworks as they butt heads and experience sexual tension.

For the heroine, Claire, the only men who are interested in her are mature males (read: old dudes in walkers). Plus there’s a dumb, hulking student who’s described looking like actor Bill Fagerbakke who played Dauber on the series “Coach” and voiced Patrick Star of “SpongeBob Square Pants”. Poor Claire, the pickings are so slim when you’re cursed with wretched plainness!

Then enter Jake, the tall (much, much taller than Claire), green-eyed, former athlete whose alpha maleness makes him one of the rare few who can see through the facade of glasses, bun, and plain suits and appreciate the hot, sexy woman beneath. He pursues her, and 3/4 of the way through the book, he thaws through her frosty demeanor.

Final Analysis of Game Plan

Today, after reading about 1,000-1,500 romances, Claire and Jake’s love story would probably not blow me over as it did then. Back then, it was a simple romance about an ultra-macho football coach and a shy, undersexed college professor who drove men wild, although she didn’t know it. I guess Game Plan was one of those right books at the right time. This was a pleasurable read to my easily impressionable mind.

(PS) The Will Davies cover is nice to look at, but did the hero resemble a young Michael Douglas or am I seeing things?

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don't call it love

Covers of the Week #5: Will Davies

Artist: Will Davies

Since this week will be short and hopefully end up sweet, we’ll celebrate some short and sweet romances. One of our favorite category romance illustrators was Will Davies.

His artwork is our pick for covers for this week!

The Covers

They may be late, but here are Will Davies romance covers to enjoy for the week of May 10 to May 16.

Category Romance Review: Call Back Yesterday by Charlotte Lamb

category romance
Call Back Yesterday by Charlotte Lamb
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1978
Illustrator: Will Davies
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Presents #253
Published by: Harlequin, Mills & Boon
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 188
Format: Paperback, ARC
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: Call Back Yesterday by Charlotte Lamb

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

Call Back Yesterday is the first Harlequin Presents written by Charlotte Lamb.

There are two HP writers I absolutely adore: Miranda Lee and Charlotte Lamb. Lamb wrote mostly in the ’70s and ’80s. Lee was a modern woman of the ’90s and 2000s. Both authors had the ability to portray great heroines from vastly different lifestyles.

From poor, innocent virgins to victims who rise above tragedy to mature, sexually experienced sophisticates, they were wonderful to read about.

The Plot

In Call Back Yesterday, 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 gives you 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 hometown to get a little revenge.

As Call Back Yesterday was Charlotte Lamb’s first HP, 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
  • Even a couple of cute kids.

One thing I love about older Harlequins is the quick-moving plots, and this one is no different.

My favorite scene is where Oriel and Devil come face to face at last, and she whips him on the face with her riding crop, then he grabs her crop, takes her over the knee, and whips her backside.

Then he forces a kiss on her, and Oriel is like, well, I deserved the beating, but the kiss was just too much! WTF!

Final Analysis of Call Back Yesterday

The ending of Call Back Yesterday was a bit unsatisfactory. I wanted more of a dramatic reveal at the climax to make this one perfect.

Still, this was a fine outing for Charlotte Lamb.

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