Category Archives: year 1982

raptures rendezvous

Historical Romance Review: Rapture’s Rendezvous by Cassie Edwards

book review historical romance
Rapture's Rendezvous by Cassie Edwards
Rating: two-half-stars
Published: 1982
Illustrator: Unknown
Imprint or Line: Zebra Historical Romance
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Romance with Rape Element
Pages: 483
Format: Paperback, eBook
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooksOpen Library (BORROW FOR FREE)
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Rapture’s Rendezvous by Cassie Edwards

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

Rapture’s Rendezvous is not one of Cassie Edwards‘ bests.

First off, let me say that I am a Cassie Edwards fan. I love most of her books and hope one day to own all of them. Having said that, this book–a reprint of a book originally published in 1982–is not one of her best efforts.

cassie edwards 2nd
Rapture’s Rendezvous, Cassie Edwards, 1999 edition

The Plot

Maria Lazzaro and her twin brother Alberto are poor Italians dreaming of a better life in America. That is where their father, Giacomo, emigrated sometime earlier. Eventually, the twins are sent for and they travel on a ship in decrepit conditions to America. Once at sea, Maria and Alberto both lose their innocence. Maria gives hers willingly to the “hero” of the book, Michael Hopper.

Alberto loses his virginity in a far less pleasant way–more on that later.

Michael lies to Maria by telling her he is a buyer for a vintner in America. In actuality, he is a successful businessman investigating the cruel treatment of immigrant miners in one of the many business ventures of an individual named Nathan Hawkins. Why Michael is doing so himself instead of hiring someone isn’t fully explained.

After the ship docks in New York at Ellis Island, Michael and Maria part. They will find each other again in the future.

Maria and Alberto arrive in America thinking their father sent for them. They don’t realize until much later that they were actually sent for by Hawkins. Hawkins needs Alberto to work like his father in Hawkins’ dangerous, unsafe coal mine. Maria, Hawkins wants as his wife.

Brother and sister arrive in the Illinois town of Hawkinsville–also owned by Nathan Hawkins–to realize their lives have not changed for the better as they had hoped. Alberto goes to work alongside his father in the coal mine. Maria pines for Michael.

Maria and Michael find each other again and they have several intimate encounters. Later, Maria is forced to marry Hawkins after he threatens to deport her father and brother.

Eventually, Hawkins gets his comeuppance, Maria and Michael marry and they live happily ever after.

rapture's rendezvous cassie edwards new
Rapture’s Rendezvous, Cassie Edwards, 2011 edition

Sex

There’s a lot of sex, in Rapture’s Rendezvous though not terribly graphic. Or nice. As mentioned, Maria and Michael have several encounters. Michael also has sex with two other women–his secretary and a prostitute–while he and Maria are apart. There is some salaciousness.

Alberto is robbed and raped by a man/woman criminal duo on board the ship to America, which affects him later. Alberto also has incestuous feelings for Maria.

Maria is forced into a sex act by Hawkins after they are married.

Violence

Not much, but some. Alberto gets revenge on his rapist/robbers and hits both the man and woman.

There is also a fight scene in which Michael is assaulted and gets help from Alberto. Hawkins is eventually killed, and although he is shot, it is not graphically described.

Bottom Line on Rapture’s Rendezvous

As stated, Rapture’s Rendezvous is not one of Mrs. Edwards’ best books. The characters vacillate between whiny and barely likable. The “hero” isn’t really heroic, and the heroine, while being attractive physically, is less attractive because she is somewhat of a weak, whiny individual.

If one is interested in Cassie Edwards’ books, I recommend her “Savage” series. Those books are far better than wasting your time on this drivel.

Rating Report Card
Plot
2
Characters
2.5
Writing
2
Chemistry
3.5
Fun Factor
2
Cover
4
Overall: 2.7

Synopsis

A Woman’s Love
Maria Lazzaro was as ripe and as sweet as the full, juicy grapes that grew in her homeland’s vineyards. And as she boarded an immigrant ship for America, the olive-skinned, raven-haired beauty met the only man she could ever love. That night, with feverish desire, frantic passion, and wild, sensuous rapture, she gave herself to Michael in a moment she knew would bond them for eternity.

A Man’s Lies
Though they would have to part once they reached America, handsome Michael Hopper couldn’t deny himself the enticing wench. He had to take advantage of her innocent allure. Branding her satin throat with kisses, he promised his devotion forever. Searing her silken skin with caresses, he vowed his undying love. No matter what, he had to have her. And no matter what, he would have to leave her…Rapture’s Rendezvous

Rapture’s Rendezvous by Cassie Edwards
CATEGORIES: , , , , , , , , ,

***

forbidden ecstasy popp

Historical Romance Review: Forbidden Ecstasy by Janelle Taylor

book review historical romance
Forbidden Ecstasy by Janelle Taylor
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1982
Illustrator: Unknown
Imprint or Line: Zebra Historical Romance
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Colonial Era Romance, Native American Romance, Romance with Rape Element, Forced Seduction
Pages: 494
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooksOpen Library (BORROW FOR FREE)
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Forbidden Ecstasy by Janelle Taylor

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Forbidden Ecstasy (“Ecstasy/Gray Eagle Series #3″) by Janelle Taylor.

The Plot

The heroine of the first four books, Alisha Williams, and her husband, Gray Eagle, the “hero,” have been officially married for four days. They have only spent two days together, however, as Gray Eagle has left Alisha to obtain supplies.

When Gray Eagle doesn’t return to her, Alisha wonders what happened.

What she doesn’t know is that Gray Eagle was shot and left for dead by her friend, Powchutu.

There are two reasons he did this:

  1. To punish Gray Eagle for his abhorrent behavior toward Alisha
  2. Powchutu is in love/lust with Alisha.

Alisha believes Powchutu’s lies about why Gray Eagle hasn’t returned, and they set off together.

On their trip, which culminates in St. Louis, Alisha and Powchutu will meet, or meet again, four people who will play a major role in their lives. They are:

  1. Joe Kenny, a white trapper
  2. Jamie O’Hara, a lodgings owne
  3. Mary O’Hara, a mute young woman and niece to Jamie O’Hara
  4. And, sadly, Jeffery Gordon, the evil ex-Army lieutenant who somehow survived the attack on Fort Pierre.

As time goes on, Jeffery blackmails Alisha, threatening great harm to her and Powchutu if she doesn’t marry him. Alisha hedges and Powchutu is killed by Jeffery’s henchmen.

Powchutu’s death pushes Alisha into marrying Jeffery, who makes her life hell on many levels. What neither knows is that Gray Eagle survived his shooting by Powchutu.

Gray Eagle comes to kill Jeffery, finds Alisha, and takes her back to the Oglala camp, subjecting her to more emotional, mental, physical, and sexual abuse along the way.

Despite all of this, by the end of the book, Gray Eagle and Alisha reconcile, as they discover that the bad things they thought about the other were not true. They decide to continue the ruse that Alisha is Shalee, make up with each other, and are happy.

For now, anyway…

The Upside

When Janelle Taylor is at her best, she ranks with Rosanne Bittner as one of my go-to authors. Mrs. Taylor’s style is lyrical and evocative. she brings her readers and me into the lives of her characters.

I felt as though I were watching the lives of the characters instead of just reading about them. Only the best authors can make me feel like that.

The Downside

While I understand Gray Eagle’s feelings about what he believes is Alisha’s betrayal of him, that doesn’t defend/excuse/justify the abuse he inflicts on her. “This kind of derails the Gray Eagle Redemption Tour” Mrs. Taylor was on in Defiant Ecstasy.

Much of the rancor between Alisha and Gray Eagle was due to a lack of trust and communication, which they haven’t had since the beginning.

Sex

Very little and not terribly exciting. Mrs. Taylor does have a few books which have some spice to them. The first three books in the “Ecstasy/Gray Eagle” series are not among them.

Violence

There is, however, a lot of violence. Assault, battery, attempted murder, murder, and rape. None of the violence is super graphic, but it’s there.

Bottom Line on Forbidden Ecstasy

The fact that Gray Eagle is still an unrepentant bastard and the “Stockholm Syndrome romance” between Gray Eagle and Alisha keeps me from giving Janelle Taylor’s Forbidden Ecstasy a five-star rating. 

4 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
4
Characters
4.5
Writing
4.5
Chemistry
3.5
Fun Factor
3.5
Cover
4.5
Overall: 4.1

Synopsis

ALISHA was silk and satin, honey and fire. Never before did the possession of a man fill Alisha with such excitement as when she held her handsome Indian lover in her arms. That she was a white woman living in the red man’s world did not matter. They had promised each other their hearts forever – nothing could keep them apart.

GRAY EAGLE was fierce and gentle, powerful and possessive. He would never forsake his bride of two moons; he would never let her go. But when Alisha awoke to dawn’s first light her bronze-skinned warrior was gone. Her lips were tender from his fiery kisses; her body throbbed from his fierce passion – and still she longed for him. Lost between two worlds, she was desperate and alone. Betrayed by her savage lover, she hungered for their forbidden love!

Forbidden Ecstasy by Janelle Taylor
CATEGORIES: , , , , , , , , ,

***

defiant ecstasy janelle taylor

Historical Romance Review: Defiant Ecstasy by Janelle Taylor

book review historical romance

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Defiant Ecstasy Book #2 in the “Ecstasy/Gray Eagle” series by Janelle Taylor.

The Plot

Part One Defiant Ecstasy

Defiant Ecstasy begins by filling in details of what occurred at the end of the first book, Savage Ecstasy.

Then Gray Eagle, the “hero” of the series, shows up at Fort Pierre with 2,000 Indian warriors behind him. He has a demand for the denizens of Fort Pierre. They must release his white lover, Alisha Katrina Williams, to him, or he and his warriors will destroy the fort and everyone in it.

After some contentious debate, the Army decides to send Alisha back to Gray Eagle.

Gray Eagle and Alisha are both happy with the decision. Nevertheless, Gray Eagle orders his braves to destroy the fort, anyway, as payback for how the soldiers and others in the fort treated Alisha. For a while, they are happy.

Two events, however, happen to shatter their happiness.

The first: Gray Eagle’s “betrothed”, a Lakota woman named Chela, tries to kill Alisha. Gray Eagle stops this from occurring.

Part Two Defiant Ecstasy

What he can’t stop, at least immediately, is the second event. A Blackfoot woman concocts a ruse that Alisha isn’t really Alisha Williams, an English ex-pat, but Princess Shalee, a half-white, half-Blackfoot woman who was abducted years earlier. As part of the scheme, Alisha is taken out of the Lakota village and to a Blackfoot village to marry Shalee’s betrothed, a Blackfoot warrior named Brave Bear.

While in the Blackfoot camp, Alisha begins having romantic feelings toward Brave Bear, who treats her with kindness that Gray Eagle doesn’t. Gray Eagle, however, refuses to give Alisha up and challenges Brave Bear for the right to marry her. Gray Eagle defeats Brave Bear–but, at Alisha’s urging, does not kill him.

As they prepare for their joining ceremony, Gray Eagle and Alisha are plagued with problems, most of which are self-inflicted.

Some of these issues are eventually resolved, and Alisha and Gray Eagle marry and are happy…

For now, anyway.

defiant ecstasy alt
Defiant Ecstasy, alt cover

The Upside

Mrs. Taylor’s evocative, flowing writing style is on display here, as she brought me into the world of Gray Eagle and Alisha. The characters are well-developed.

The Downside

Having already established Gray Eagle as an emotional/physical abuser/rapist, Mrs. Taylor spends much of Defiant Ecstasy trying to rehabilitate him.

For some, it might work. For me…not at all. While I don’t believe it is necessarily fair to judge someone solely by one action–or a series of actions–Gray Eagle shows no remorse for his behavior. In fact, he blames Alisha for what he has done to her! And Alisha, on occasion, agrees with him! Not good.

Sex

Very little in the way of love scenes, and those that do happen are typically mild and flowery in the Janelle Taylor style.

Violence

The sacking of Fort Pierre occurs “offscreen.” Gray Eagle and Brave Bear’s fight is only mildly graphic.

Bottom Line on Defiant Ecstasy

I am a fan of Janelle Taylor and her works. Defiant Ecstasy is a decent book. However, I totally repudiate her efforts to try to defend/excuse/justify Gray Eagle’s behavior.

3.85

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

Synopsis

The longer Alisha Williams remained at Fort Pierre, the more she hoped her redskinned lover would rescue her from the taunts and tirades of the white pioneers. They would never let her forget she had been the mistress of the infamous savage warrior, Gray Eagle. As if the auburn-haired beauty could forget! Each night, Alisha sweetly remembered Gray Eagle’s bold caresses, burning kisses, his blazing passion. Each day, she scanned the vast horizon in hopes her Oglala brave would recapture her.

Then one day, Alish saw hundreds of Indian warriors riding to the gates of Fort Pierre–and at their head was the fierce Gray Eagle. Though her most fervent prayers had been answered, Alisha’s heart skipped a beat: Would Gray Eagle destroy her–or make her destiny his own? 

Defiant Ecstasy by JANELLE TAYLOR
Jennifer Wilde

Historical Romance Review: Love’s Fiery Jewel by Elaine Barbieri

book review historical romance
Love's Fiery Jewel by Elaine Barbieri
Rating: one-star
Published: 1982
Illustrator: TBD
Imprint or Line: Zebra Historical Romance
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper
Pages: 510
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Love’s Fiery Jewel by Elaine Barbieri

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

This review is of Love’s Fiery Jewel by Elaine Barbieri, a bodice ripper romance that Zebra books published in 1982.

The Plot

In 1775, an acting troupe called The American Company is boarding a ship, The Sally. The ship is captained by notorious privateer Damien Staith, the “hero” of Love’s Fiery Jewel, and is to sail from the Colonies to Jamaica.

Among those on the ship are actress Marian Greer and her daughter, Amethyst, the heroine. When the book begins, Amethyst is 9 and Damien is 26.

During the course of the book–which spans 510 pages and seven years–(keep in mind, she is 16 and Damien is 33), the hero does the following things to Amethyst:

Emotionally abuses her by belittling her, calling her derogatory names, and disregarding any of her wishes. Damien also threatens to kill two of her other suitors. He uses her love for her caretaker in Jamaica to blackmail her.

Mentally abuses her by letting her believe that he practices obeah, a form of black magic.

Physically abuses her by slapping Amethyst several times and shaking her so hard that she is bruised.

Sexually abuses her. Although Damien doesn’t rape Amethyst–big whoop–he does coerce her sexually, using his skills at sex and her desire against her. This is clearly a forced seduction trope, at best.

And yet, despite all of that, Amethyst falls in love with Damien! When she is finally free of him, she chooses to go back to him!

The Upside

Like most of Ms. Barbieri’s books, Love’s Fiery Jewel is well-written and emotionally deep.

The Downside

It’s rather appropriate that Damien Straith shares the name of the character from The Omen. The behavior of Damien in Love’s Fiery Jewel is just as horrifying as the character of the same name in the “Omen” movie franchise.

Amethyst, however, is not entirely blameless. She is very weak in regard to his actions. She constantly needs a man to take care of her–a weakness shared by many of the heroines in Ms. Barbieri’s books.

Sex

The sex scenes are mostly focused on the feeling of the act rather than the mechanics. They mostly focus on what the man doing to the woman.

Violence

In addition to the violence listed above, Damien beats up one of Amethyst’s suitors toward the end. Another man is seriously injured in an accident that Amethyst blames on Damien’s obeah.

At one point late in the book, Amethyst draws a gun on Damien and makes him leave her. If she had shot and killed the bastard, it would have made Love’s Fiery Jewel so much better!

Bottom Line on Love’s Fiery Jewel

Do you like books with heroines with zero pride or self-esteem? Women willing to allow themselves to be emotionally, mentally, physically, and sexually abused by the “men” who claim to love them? And then fall in love with said cretins?

If you do, chances are you’ll love Elaine Barbieri’s Love’s Fiery Jewel. For the rest of us, not so much.

Right after I finish posting this review, this “romance novel” is going into my trash bin.

.75 Stars (cover points don’t count)

Rating Report Card
Plot
0
Characters
0.5
Writing
3.5
Chemistry
0.5
Fun Factor
0
Cover
3.5
Overall: 1.3

Synopsis

THE SPARKLE OF PASSION glowed in Amethyst’s big violet eyes. She was on the verge of womanhood, ripe for love, and no one knew it better than Captain Damien Straith. He was intoxicated by her rare beauty. Her sensual innocence and fiery temper made her more alluring than any woman he had ever known. With just one fierce, long, lingering kiss he could possess her forever. Somehow he’d have to make her his own…

THE GLITTER OF DESIRE shone like a diamond in Damien’s piercing gray eyes. And each time Amethyst met his gaze her pulse quickened and she ached with desire. She wanted the handsome captain to bring her to the heights of rapturous pleasure, but what if she gave him her love and he cast her aside? Delirious with longing, yet afraid to give her heart, she hated the power he had over her body — and vowed never to give him her love! 

Love’s Fiery Jewel by Elaine Barbieri
mansion for my love donald

Category Romance Review: Mansion for My Love by Robyn Donald

category romance
Mansion For My Love by Robyn Donald
Rating: three-stars
Published: 1982
Illustrator: Len Goldberg
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Presents #567
Published by: Harlequin, Mills & Boon
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 188
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: Mansion for My Love by Robyn Donald

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

Robyn Donald, who authored romances primarily for the Harlequin Presents line, often wrote some of the most angst-filled books, with heroes so cruel, you’d swear they were the villains. Mansion for My Love is one of those books where you can’t believe what the supposed hero does to the heroine.

Mansion for My Love: A Hard Romance to Review

A 3-star rating is an odd thing. It can represent such varied levels of opinions on personal enjoyment. There are average reads which make for a pleasant way to pass the time, but likely are stories you’ll forget and/or never desire to re-explore.

Then there are those books that get you right away and seem like a guaranteed 5-star experience, but then result in disappointment somehow and fall to a barely favorable rating or vice-versa.

Some books are objectively terrible (either in plot development or editing like grammar/spelling, etc.). Yet they provide so much guilty entertainment that you can’t possibly give them a negative review, even if you’re ashamed that your friends and followers will know you enjoy such trash.

And, last, there are books like Mansion for My Love. This kind of book splits readers every which way, the kind no matter what you feel, everyone can’t stop talking about.

mansion for my love robyn donald
Mansion For My Love, Mills & Boon

The Plot

Faine is a great heroine, charming, independent, and open to love. She meets Burke Harding and is drawn to his strong magnetic presence.

He pursues her with a cold determination, and against her better judgment, she finds herself head over heels for him.

But while Burke is interested in her, he keeps himself at a distance.

So when Burke proposes, Faine says yes, but strangely love is never mentioned.

Finally, Faine and Burke get married, and that’s where the drama starts. This all hinges on a gimmick:

Girl meets guy, he pursues her like crazy, she falls in love, they have a whirlwind wedding, and on their wedding day, she overhears the hero declare his love for his sister-in-law who’s married to his sick brother.

What a betrayal. How can the hero ever be redeemed?

There’s more. Done wrong, the heroine, Faine, runs away from Burke, who tracks her down, demands a real marriage, pretty much forces his way into her bed, and makes her mad with love and lust.

Then the brother dies. And there is still lots of drama to come! That’s quite a bit of romantic angst to pack into a 188-page book.

“I carefully avoided telling you that I love you.”

Final Analysis of Mansion for My Love

Robyn Donald was certainly an above-average writer for the HP line. Her works evoke vivid visions of their natural settings, her heroes written in a similar brutal & obsessive vein, her heroines fighting their inner struggles to submit to cruel passion.

Mansion For My Love is genre fiction that grips you in the gut. It’s a controversial romance among its fans and detractors. It’s always a book I’ll remember, if not the tiny details, then the way it made me feel.

The heroine is great. If she were a weak pushover type, this story wouldn’t be as strong. What Burke did was so wrong, not just one deed, but another followed by another. Faine didn’t deserve to be wronged, but at the end of the day, she chose to be with Burke.

Mansion For My Love leaves me with a ton of questions.

Why did Faine love him so much? Is Burke’s transformation at the end believable? Is she second-best or first in his heart? Can he be forgiven? Does he deserve to? So many unknowns!

Despite the middling rating, an average read it is not. Mansion For My Love is not an easy book to pin down. It inspires conflicting emotions. It certainly did for me. I love this romance–and I hate it.

I don’t know if I could stomach ever reading this angsty “love story” again, but it holds a place on my keeper shelf.

3 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
3
Characters
4
Writing
4
Chemistry
3
Fun Factor
2.5
Cover
3.5
Overall: 3.3

Synopsis

“He’s not a good man to fall in love with!”

Faine had not ignored the warning, but even without his wealth, charm and good looks, Burke Harding had magnetism.

His determined pursuit and assault on her heart soon overcame her wavering resistance. She agreed to marry him, but some deep instinct of self-preservation kept her from revealing her love–and in time her decision was vindicated.

“I carefully avoided telling you that I love you,” he told her when Faine discovered she was a stand-in for the woman he really loved–but could not have.

MANSION FOR MY LOVE by ROBYN DONALD
Savage Rapture walter popp

Historical Romance Review: Savage Rapture by Sylvie F. Sommerfield

book review historical romance
Savage Rapture by Sylvie F. Sommerfield
Rating: four-half-stars
Published: 1982
Illustrator: Walter Popp
Imprint or Line: Zebra Historical Romance
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Native American Romance, Historical Romance, Western Romance
Pages: 542
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Savage Rapture by Sylvie F. Sommerfield

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Savage Rapture by Sylvie F. Sommerfield.

The Plot

Part One of Savage Rapture

Savage Rapture begins with two lovers parting company. Michael Holliday, a white doctor, leaves his wife, Waterflower, and their son, Cade, 2, with her people, the Cheyenne Indians. They make a pact: that one day, Cade will go to Michael in the white world and then return to the Cheyenne and assist them with the knowledge he gains.

Fast forward 15 years. Michael summons Cade to Washington, D.C. to expand his knowledge. Among those he leaves behind is Snow Blossom, daughter of village chief Tekata and the book’s heroine, who is deeply in love with him.

While with his father, Cade gains knowledge, becomes a doctor, and falls in love with and becomes affianced to Lauren Brent, a local heiress. However, their relationship comes apart from their disparate views on what their lives will be like.

Cade returns to the Cheyenne, as does his father Michael, with Lauren in tow.

As Cade returns to the Cheyenne camp, he falls in love with and later marries Snow Blossom.

Part Two of Savage Rapture

Her brother, White Eagle, falls in love with a white woman, Rebecca Wade, and later marries her.

When Lauren arrives, she thinks she can break Snow Blossom and Cade up and reunite with him.

Once she realizes this isn’t going to happen, Lauren becomes deeply depressed. This depression is lifted once she matures a bit and falls in love with Running Wolf, a brave from another Cheyenne band. For a while, the three couples are happy.

However, major–literally–trouble is brewing. Army major John Chivington, a known Indian-hater backed by factions in the government, hires three trappers–one with his own agenda–to kidnap the three women to try to force the Cheyenne off their land.

Snow Blossom eventually makes her way back to Cade, but not before learning a secret about his past.

Chivington is defeated–temporarily.

Snow Blossom and Cade, Running Wolf and Lauren, and Rebecca and White Eagle all extend their lineages with children, and all the couples have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

This is the first book by Mrs. Sommerfield where she really made me care about the characters. All of the characters are fully developed, and there is a strong vein of family themes running through the book.

Downside

This is more of a personal thing for me, but Savage Rapture could have been a little spicier regarding the love scenes. The ending was a little disappointing. I would have liked to see Chivington and the other evil characters get a little more comeuppance.

Sex

Mrs. Sommerfield’s love scenes are all about purple prose and euphemisms. Heat level: about a 2 or 3.

Violence

Multiple killings, which are mostly done “offscreen.” Physical violence, threats of violence, but nothing really graphic.

Bottom Line on Savage Rapture

Savage Rapture, for me, is great but not a 5-star read. More like a 4.25 or 4.5-star book.

4.38 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
4.5
Characters
4.5
Writing
4.5
Chemistry
2.5
Fun Factor
4.5
Cover
4.5
Overall: 4.2

Synopsis:

CAPTIVE OF HIS PASSION
Beautiful Snow Blossom had waited years for Cade to return to the reservation. His warm smile and sparkling blue eyes had promised her a lifetime of fiery passion. Just the thought of their first lingering kiss made her ache with desire. Without her even knowing it she had become a…

CAPTIVE OF HIS LOVE
But as soon as the handsome half-breed rode into the Cheyenne camp, Snow Blossom knew that he had changed. He had lived in the white man’s world too long; he was in love with another. Yet when he held her in his arms all else ceased to matter. He had made her a prisoner of his passion – somehow she’d make him a captive of her heart.

Savage Rapture by Sylvie F. Sommerfield
passionate affair oakley

Category Romance Review: A Passionate Affair by Anne Mather

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

In Anne Mather’s A Passionate Affair, the heroine, Cassandra, is a widow whom the hero pursues fervently. Eventually, Cassandra realizes she desires him as much as he does her, so they engage in a…passionate affair.

For a Harlequin Presents from 1982 to pull this plot off was revolutionary. Before this book, lovemaking in this line had been restricted to married couples or “forced seductions” of initially unwilling virgins whose bodies “betrayed them.”

I had heard through the Romancelandia grapevine that Anne Weale’s  1983 release, Ecstasy, was the first HP where an unmarried heroine has a consensual, no-strings-attached fling with the hero. However, A Passionate Affair was published long before Weale’s book. So this book is technically the first to employ that revolutionary plot point. Ecstasy was the first where a virgin heroine practiced her autonomy to enter a sexual relationship.

The Characters

Cassandra’s first marriage was a disaster. Her husband, a race car driver, had enjoyed living on the edge, driving fast cars and seducing faster women. His antics were fodder for the tabloids. He’s dead now, and Cassandra has moved on in life. She does have a flourishing career and a normal sex drive. This was very refreshing to see in an old-school Harlequin Presents. Unfortunately, her unhappy marriage left deep insecurities. Cassandra’s doubts about herself prevent her from seeking relationships with men.

Enter Jay Ravek. Her life will never be after they meet.

A Passionate Affair, Anne Mather, Harlequin, 2014 reissue

The Plot

Jay and Cassandra encounter each other at a party. Their attraction is instantaneous and powerful. Jay chases after Cassandra, while she is hesitant to date him, as he has a reputation. Cassandra is all too familiar with that type of man he is. She is reluctant to give in to the attraction with a cold marriage behind her.

Despite her wariness, Jay’s charm melts through her icy demeanor. He’s handsome, funny, kind, and most of all, he wants her.

Cassandra and Jay embark on an amorous romance, throwing caution to the wind.

Their affair leads to an unexpected pregnancy. Fearing that Jay will abandon her, she flees, keeping her pregnancy a secret. It doesn’t help that her supposed best friend is whispering malicious gossip into her ears.

Cassandra runs away, yet Jay runs after her. He does much of the chasing in this romance. Her bad marriage left her with emotional issues. Even though Cassandra wants more than a short-term fling, she runs because she doesn’t want to get hurt again. Thank goodness Jay knows his own mind and is a man of integrity.

In the end, the villainy of the “friend” is revealed, and Jay expresses his love for Cassandra.

Final Analysis of A Passionate Affair

For all its radical plot, A Passionate Affair was still a typical Harlequin. The story was somewhat marred by a heroine who did not have the fortitude to follow through on her romantic wishes while listening to poisonous rumors. Rather than facing her fears head-on, she ran. And ran.

Jay, on the other hand, was a wonderful hero. He had all the characteristics that make up a great one. This was quite a deviation for Mather, whose heroes could be quite cruel and overbearing.

Despite the wishy-washy heroine, this was a solid romance. Anne Mather doesn’t usually awe me, but she rarely ever disappoints.

3.5 Stars


Synopsis:

“He’s quite famous—and notorious.”

Cassandra had been warned, and she didn’t care. After enduring a disastrous marriage, she was now ready for an affair with no strings attached.

But Jay Ravek was not like any man she’d known before. He was a totally new experience, and quickly she realized she wanted much more than a casual relationship.

If she was foolish enough to put her heart in his keeping, she might never recover. Better for her to run now than to suffer the inevitable anguish.

A Passionate Affair
Savage Ecstasy Popp

Historical Romance Review: Savage Ecstasy by Janelle Taylor

native american romance
Savage Ecstasy by Janelle Taylor
Rating: three-stars
Published: 1982
Illustrator: Walter Popp
Imprint or Line: Zebra Historical Romance
Book Series: Savage/ Gray Eagle #1
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Western Romance, Native American Romance
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: Amazon
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Savage Ecstasy by Janelle Taylor

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Savage Ecstasy by Janelle Taylor. This is the first book in her Ecstasy/Gray Eagle series, which is known by two different names.

There’s a lot to unpack here in this Zebra Native American historical romance.

The Story

Part One of Savage Ecstasy

The year is 1776, and English expatriate Alisha Williams is 20 years old. Our heroine (who’s also the heroine of the first four books in the series), has journeyed west to find happiness with her only surviving relative, her uncle Thad.

One day, the “men” in her settlement bring a captured Oglala Lakota Indian brave into their camp. that brave is Gray Eagle, the “hero” of the book. Their treatment of him sets the stage for what follows. The whites emotionally and physically abuse Gray Eagle in the camp.

Only Alisha shows Gray Eagle kindness; his response to this is to bite her hand. (This is only the beginning of what he has in store for her over the course of the series.) Despite this, Gray Eagle and Alisha develop romantic feelings for each other.

Part Two of Savage Ecstasy

Gray Eagle, with the help of his best friend, White Arrow, escapes. Shortly thereafter, Gray Eagle, White Arrow, and a hundred of their fellow Oglala braves sack the fortress, killing most people in the camp. The only survivors include three men, and women Gray Eagle keeps alive because he has special plans for them and Alisha.

As the days go on, Alisha and Gray Eagle’s relationship takes the form it will take for the majority of the book and series. Sometimes, Gray Eagle treats Alisha with great emotional, mental, physical, and sexual cruelty. Other times, he’s kind and loving to her. Both people are conflicted with their emotions toward the other.

Sometime later, while the braves are away on a hunt, Alisha is “rescued” by the Army and taken to Fort Pierre. There Alisha meets two men who will affect both her and Gray Eagle’s lives. They are: Powchutu, a half-white, half-Lakota scout for the Army who becomes Alisha’s only friend at the fort. And there is Lieutenant Jeffrey Gordon.

Later, Gray Eagle and a few thousand of his closest friends show up at the fort. They demand Alisha be returned to him, or he and his braves will kill everyone inside. After a short deliberation, the Army decides to hand Alisha back over to Gray Eagle. This is also a tone-setting action for Alisha and Gray Eagle’s relationship and lives.

Upside

At her best, Ms. Taylor is right up there with Rosanne Bittner for writing evocative, lyrical novels. In many ways, Ms. Taylor’s writing in Savage Destiny fits that category. I felt as though I were with Alisha and Gray Eagle, watching their lives. The descriptions of Lakota culture show that this is a well-researched book.

Downside

The biggest downside of this book–and the books in the series he is in–is Gray Eagle. As mentioned above, Gray Eagle is extremely cruel to Alisha throughout the book. Ms. Taylor tries to defend/excuse/justify this behavior in the following ways (my paraphrasing):

  • Alisha is white.
  • She is Gray Eagle’s slave. She should be submissive to him.
  • Because she is not submissive all the time, he has to treat her poorly. In other words, she made him do it.
  • Lakota culture, tradition, and religion.
  • He has to treat her poorly in order not to lose face with his people.

At the end of the book, Alisha blames herself for his abuse of her. None of these excuses hold water in my view. All of the above turn the “romance” between Alisha and Gray Eagle into a Stockholm Syndrome relationship.

The secondary characters–except for Gray Eagle’s best friend, White Arrow, who is also in love/lust with Alisha (as just about every male in the book ios)–are one-dimensional. The white characters hate Indians. The Indian characters hate whites.

As strong as Alisha is on many levels, she is extremely weak when it comes to her relationship with Gray Eagle, accepting and attempting to justify his abhorrent behavior. Although in the interest of fairness, Alisha has no money and no family to help her after her uncle, Thad, was killed in the raid on the fortress earlier.

Sex

Ms. Taylor’s love scenes are very flowery, with a lot of euphemistic expressions for sex rather than a nuts-and-bolts description of the act.

Violence

Plenty of emotional and physical violence. Assault and battery, attempted rape, actual rape, and torture are all featured here.

Bottom Line on Savage Ecstasy

I deleted an earlier review in order to reread the book to give this Native American romance a more nuanced review. On a lot of levels, Janelle Taylor‘s Savage Ecstasy is a very good book.

However, the deliberate, misogynistic violence–and the lame attempts to excuse it–bring the book down quite a bit in my eyes.

3 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
3
Characters
3
Writing
3
Chemistry
3
Fun Factor
3
Cover
4
Overall: 3.2

Synopsis

It was like lightning, the first time they looked into each other’s eyes: Gray Eagle, the captured Indian brave, and Alisha, the beautiful young settler. As the proud Oglala warrior was being tortured by his white captors, only Alsiha seemed to notice he was a human being – handsome and strong, and one who took her breath away.

But if Alisha could have read Gray Eagle’s thoughts she would have been even more disturbed…Because from the moment he saw her, the Indian knew he had to possess the fair-skinned one – and his life would not be complete until he had made her his slave!

Savage Ecstasy by Janelle Taylor
highland velvet 2

Historical Romance Review: Highland Velvet by Jude Deveraux

historical romance review
Highland Velvet by Jude Deveraux
Rating: five-stars
Published: 1982
Illustrator: Harry Bennett
Book Series: Montgomery Velvet #2; Montgomery/Taggert Family Saga #3
Published by: Pocket Books
Genres: Highland Romance, Historical Romance, Medieval Romance
Pages: 368
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Highland Velvet by Jude Deveraux

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

Jude Deveraux‘s Highland Velvet, the second entry in her Velvet series about four Montgomery brothers set in the early 16th century, is one of my favorite romances.

Highland Velvet, Jude Deveraux, Arrow, 1984

The Plot

Forced into marriage to the English nobleman Stephen Montgomery, Scotswoman Brenna Mac Arran, the leader of her clan, vows to make his life miserable.

Deveraux’s heroes in the Velvet Series had their bad moments, particularly Gavin, and to a lesser extent, Miles and Raine. In Highland Velvet, Stephen Montgomery was made from the stuff of girlish dreams.

“You’ll regret that! Someday you’ll know that one drop of my blood is more precious than any angry feelings you carry!”

Stephen was kind and loving to his sister-in-law, Judith, always taking her side whenever Gavin preferred his evil mistress. He stayed by her bedside during her painful miscarriage and supported her throughout.

When Stephen saw Bronwyn for the first time, he fell instantly in love with her. He worked his butt off to get the approval of the men in Bronwyn’s clan and had to fight that creepy Roger Chatworth for her hand in marriage, even though they were already betrothed.

Heck, he even changed his last name so that her Mac Arran family name wouldn’t die out. And he was no wussy male, but a deadly soldier willing to work hard and rethink his value system when faced with contradictions.

If anything, Bronwyn was the “bad” one: she stabbed him on their wedding night; she was the one who betrayed Stephen again and again. He deserved a much better heroine.

“Together,” he whispered. “For once, let’s do something together.”

Final Analysis of Highland Velvet

After over thirty-plus years, Jude Deveraux’s Highland Velvet‘s Stephen Montgomery remains one of my most beloved heroes in romance. He was a real nice guy, the kind of man any woman would be happy to have in real life.

I wonder why the terms nice guy and beta male get conflated so often. A man can still be an “alpha,” a leader to his people, but that doesn’t mean he has to be an over-bearing, woman-hating douchebag.

Bronwyn was awful, but her woe-is-me attitude wasn’t enough to overshadow Stephen, who was such a great character that he made this book. Other pluses were the wicked antics of Roger Chatworth and the doomed love story of his brother Brian with the Montgomery’s sole sister.

I really loved this one. Highland Velvet is a keeper. Of only I had the British Arrow edition of this book!

5 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
5
Characters
4.5
Writing
5
Chemistry
5
Fun Factor
5
Cover
5
Overall: 4.9

Synopsis

Bronwyn MacArran was a proud Scot. Stephen Montgomery was one of the hated English.

He came to Scotland as a conqueror, saw her beauty and was vanquished. But still she would abhor him.

She owned a temper hot enough to forge the armors of battle or inflame a valiant soldier’s passion. Yet still she would resist him.

She became his reason to live, his reason to love. And still she would deny him.

But while clan fought clan, while brother took up sword against brother, and the highlands ran with blood — their destiny was made… and this mighty warrior pledged himself to his woman’s pride, her honor and her name — and made of their love a torch to burn through the ages

HIGHLAND VELVET by JUDE DEVERAUX
surrender to love

Historical Romance Review: Surrender to Love by Rosemary Rogers

historical romance review
Surrender to Love by Rosemary Rogers
Rating: three-stars
Published: 1982
Illustrator: Unknown
Published by: Avon
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Victorian Era Romance
Pages: 612
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Surrender to Love by Rosemary Rogers

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

Rosemary Rogers, the “Grande Dame of Bodice Rippers,” wrote a few exceptional epic romances. Alas, Surrender to Love wasn’t one of them. It’s my least liked of her books I’ve read so far.

The Heroine

Surrender to Love begins in the hot, sultry nation of Ceylon, where the British heroine Alexa lives. Alexa is so spunky. She hates convention. Why-oh-why do rules have to be so strict for women, and why couldn’t she have been born a man?

Look, I like feminist heroines in my bodice rippers. A meek, wishy-washy heroine in one is no fun, but Alexa… It just never ended with her. Everything was political. That attitude is very draining.

But the worst aspect about her is reading her inner monologues. They’re jam-packed with randomly italicized words, sometimes just a couple per page, sometimes dozens. It made me crazy.

Alexa is one of those wild heroines who courts danger and is susceptible to intense mood swings. I got the suspicion it was the author’s menopausal mania slipping in. (I’m feeling it myself these days.)

I got a strong sense of Alexa’s mental instability with her long internal rants. Or when she’s scratching the hero Nicholas’s face off. Or sobbing hysterically in front of him. Basically, every scene underscores her fluctuating moods.

The writing was erratic. For example, POV changes without warning, just within one paragraph.

And did I mention those italics?

The Plot

Alexa wants to be independent in a society constricted by stultifying rules. She meets Nicholas Dameron, who’s as wild as she is.

Their relationship is a tug-and-pull game that goes on for too long. There’s no consummation until page 337 of this 612-page brick, which ticked me off.

The tempo in Surrender to Love is more sluggish than the other Rogers books I’ve encountered, even the profoundly introspective The Wildest Heart. The pacing plods on.

It turned around after Part Two, but it was rough when a book doesn’t have not much happening for the first 200 pages. Alexa gets involved in a few scandals and then marries an older husband who brings her to the “Temple of Venus” to catch a naughty peep show or two.

She is soon widowed and goes to England to take society by storm.

Eventually, I saw where Rogers was going with the plot; it’s a tale of a woman who defies the stifling conventions of the Victorian Era through her overt sexuality.

I wondered if Rogers was ever a fan of Mexican telenovelas. The hidden family secrets, brutish hero, and spunky heroine reminded me of Alondra, which was about a “beautiful, rebellious girl, with very independent and progressive views for that time” (i.e., she has sex with other men besides the hero) who looks and acts just like Alexa.

rosemary rogers bodice rippers
The cast of the Mexican telenovela Alondra.

Random Observations on Surrender to Love

All the Viscounts of this-and-that running around got confusing. But at least they weren’t Dukes!

Nicholas Dameron was too nebulous, too enigmatic for a hero, which is unusual for me to criticize. Despite learning the history of his first wife, I didn’t understand him at all.

As always, Rogers drew upon themes of women’s liberation. This time it came on a bit thick.

Yes, Alexa, we get it. Being a woman in the 19th century was smothering and oppressive. However, she was part of the wealthy upper class, plus beautiful & widowed. Alexa had privileges that the average woman of her time did not share.

Alexa’s rash impetuosity was a major flaw. She never thought about her actions first. She was capricious and blamed her troubles on outside forces.

Nobody forced her to move to London and deal with the repressive London ton, but she had to have her “revenge” on Nicholas for ruining her in Ceylon.

Sure, Alexa, it was revenge you were after.

The world was that woman’s oyster, but she had a hankering for geoduck:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
That’s a shellfish. What did you think it was?

The first two hundred pages could have been condensed to half that amount. The ending was weird (although not the “trial” and a whipping scene, which was awesome). One moment Alexa is engaged to Charles, her consummation with him is glossed over, and then she ends up married to Nicholas.

Happy ending, I guess?

Final Analysis of Surrender to Love

Surrender to Love wasn’t Rosemary Roger’s best romance. She’s written far better.

Strong characterization, a staple of her works, is missing here. The heroine was a manic mess. Nicholas, the hero, was too distant and mysterious to be appreciated.

The villains weren’t exciting. Although I liked Alexa’s evil grandma, she was the Diet Coke of evil: just one calorie, not evil enough. Same opinion of the Marquess. But as long as I kept imagining Mexican actress Beatriz Sheridan as the evil Dowager Marchioness, I had a good time with that particular villainess.

Beatriz Sheridan

I would have given Surrender to Love a less than favorable rating but settled on three stars because the pluses slightly outweighed the negatives.

But, oh, those annoying italics made it difficult. 

3 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
3
Characters
2.5
Writing
3
Chemistry
3.5
Fun Factor
3
Cover
2.5
Overall: 2.9

Synopsis

Under the midnight moon of Ceylon, on the night of her debutante ball at the Governor’s palace, Alexa Howard met her cousin, Nicholas Dameron. And in the sardonic curl of his hard, sensuous lips, in the commanding arrogance of his eyes, Alexa beheld the fierce, implacable passion that would render her helpless to the trembling slavery of desire…

Every kind of love a woman can be made to feel…
Within the golden softness of Alexa’s alluring gentility flowed the insatiable fires of an innocent woman’s awakening to lvoe — and the fury of a betrayed woman’s lust for revenge. Through the nightworlds of Naples, Rome, Paris and London, she was pursued by the man who heartlessly wanted her beauty. But her soul was possessed by the man whose touch was unbearable ecstasy, whose cruelty was ravishing torment, whose tenderness was passion’s fulfillment. Nicholas Dameron had taken her virtue and mocked her pride. But his love was the offering of every pleasure a woman has ever dared to dream of…

Surrender to Love by Rosemary Rogers
Stormspell Anne Mather

Contemporary Romance Review: Stormspell by Anne Mather

Stormspell by Anne Mather
Rating: four-half-stars
Published: 1982
Illustrator: Len Goldberg
Published by: Harlequin, Worldwide
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 379
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Contemporary Romance Review: Stormspell by Anne Mather

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

Written in 1983, Anne Mather‘s Stormspell was anachronistic even for its day. A rare full-length, single edition romance from Mather, it’s certainly chock-full of crazy Harlequin antics.

The Plot

First, the big age difference that skirts legal lines: The heroine is 17 and the hero is 33.

Ruth was raised on a small Caribbean island by her elderly father and is so sheltered she makes your typical Harlequin Presents heroine look like a fusion of legendary romance sluts Skye O’Malley & Anita Blake!

Ruth rescues a stranger when he washes ashore after a shipwreck. A couple of stolen moments later, she’s in love and they consummate their relationship.

Then Dominic–he’s the supposed hero of this book–drops the anvil: he’s engaged and has no intention of dumping his fiancée!

Fast-forward to England a few months later. Ruth’s an orphan now and has come into money. She gets a sophisticated makeover. Dominic pursues Ruth while still engaged.

Oh yeah, they’re gonna do it again.

Final Analysis of Stormspell

Anne Mather’s Stormspell was a fun read.

The hero is a complete dog, but I guess I like jerk heroes because I really enjoyed this Stormspell.

What’s interesting about this is one–at least by 1982 romance standards–is the first half of the book is purely from the heroine’s perspective. So when Dominic betrays Ruth, you really eel it, as the reader has been a voyeur in Ruth’s head witnessing all her turbulent emotions.

Then Anne Mather switches gears and the second half is mostly from the hero’s POV. He’s still slimy, but he’s set up sympathetically despite being such a callous love -them-and-leave-them cheater.

Mather’s writing was at her best here. As a full-page-length novel, this book allowed her to explore deeper avenues that had been restricted in a Mills & Boon/ Harley with half the page count.

If you like cheesy romances–(and I do!)Stormspell is a keeper.

Rating Report Card
Plot
4.5
Characters
4.5
Writing
4.5
Chemistry
4.5
Fun Factor
4.5
Cover
4
Overall: 4.4

SYNOPSIS

Ruth was young, she was beautiful, she was ripe for love…but she was innocent, until Dominic invaded her island home, and her heart…

Dominic was rich and powerful, bored and world-weary, fighting a temptation he had never before had to face…

Indigo was the island, Indigo: Warm and colourful, and seductively romantic; drenched by the tropical sun and washed by the turquoise waters of the Caribbean…

And in the aftermath of the storm, it cast its own spell…

STORMSPELL by ANNE MATHER
Escape From Desire

Category Romance Review: Escape From Desire by Penny Jordan

category romance
Escape From Desire by Penny Jordan
Rating: three-half-stars
Published: 1982
Illustrator: Tom Bjarnason
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Presents #569
Published by: Harlequin, Mills & Boon
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 186
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: Escape From Desire by Penny Jordan

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

Penny Jordan’s Escape from Desire was a very satisfying yet silly read.

A Tropical Vacation

Tamara is on vacation on the island of St. Stephen, all by herself, as her stuffy fiancé has no time for frivolities like lounging in the sun.

Tamara is typical of Penny Jordan‘s heroines, slightly repressed due to an overbearing aunt who raised her. But as she sunbathes on the beach, Tamara’s doubts about her engagement come to a head.

While Malcolm is everything Tamara thought she wanted in a husband–staid, unemotional, professional–she recalls her parents’ happy, loving marriage and ponders if she can go through a loveless union so different from her deceased parents.

Meanwhile, a mysterious stranger on the beach admires her bikini-clad body with his eyes. When he notices her engagement ring, he’s cruel to her, thinking she’s just out in the Caribbean for one last hurrah.

A Jungle Nightmare

Tamara signs up for a jungle trek to take her mind off her worries when who should show up, but the mysterious stranger from the beach, our hero Zach Fletcher. However, what should have been a three-hour tour turns into a nightmare when the guide lures them into a trap.

Rebels armed with Ak-47s take the group hostage for the usual political reasons. Zach manages to convince the terrorists to release all the hostages except himself. Unfortunately, the terrorists, thinking Tamara is Zach’s woman, demand Tamara stay as well.

Days pass, and eventually, when the terrorists make a supply run, leaving behind just one man to guard the pair, Zach makes his move.

It appears that Zach is no run-of-the-mill Harlequin Present m/billionaire hero. He’s a member of the Special Air Service of the British Army and was recently scarred in a melee in Africa. As their captor attempts to force himself on Tamara, Zach stabs him dead, and the couple flees through the jungle.

The near-death/near-rape experience is traumatizing for Tamara and Zach, and they make love. Zach is shocked to find that she’s a virgin. Rather than handling the situation with normal, human-like emotions (this is, after all, a Penny Jordan Harlequin Presents), he accuses her of having held on to her virginity to tease her fiancé.

Tamara gets bitten by a lethal spider on their march through the rainforest. She awakens in a hospital, safe and sound, but dismayed to hear that Zach hightailed it back to England.

escape from desire penny jordan
Escape From Desire, Penny Jordan, Harlequin, 2017 re-issue

A Bunch of Silly Coincidences

The life-and-death trauma awakens something in Tamara, and she vows to change her repressed ways, first by getting a makeover and then by dumping her stuffed-shirt fiancé.

But as I said, this being a Penny Jordan Harlequin Presents, normal human-like behavior is not be expected. So instead of breaking up with her boyfriend ASAP, Tamara waits until they’re on a weekend trip at his parents’ home in the Cotswolds. Then, Malcolm asks Tamara to pretend their engagement is still on to save face temporarily.

Who should show up but Malcolm’s parents’ new neighbor… Zach!

Zach is disgusted with Tamara and accuses her of being a slut. Sure, she was a virgin when she slept with Zach, but now that she’s not a virgin, indeed, she’s sharing all her newfound sexuality with her fiancé. (None of this sounds like standard human thinking, but something like Tommy Wiseau would come up with.)

Tamara goes on with her life as an assistant to an editor when she finds out she is pregnant. She’s delighted by the fact but vows never to let Zach know the truth. Why? I don’t know, Zach was mean to her, and that’s reason enough to hide her child’s parentage.

But Zach is still not out of her life because, in coincidence number #2, who should be the secret client her boss has been trying to lure? Why it’s Zach, of course! Zach’s writing a book demands Tamara as his secretary.

Unfortunately, Tamara’s morning sickness is of the virulent type, and Zach realizes she’s pregnant. With her fiancé’s child, of course, the slut!

How Will They Ever Get Together?

Sure, she was a virgin until she met Zach, but virginity was only a tool to get her fiancé. Then after Zach initiated Tamara in the ways of love, she used that knowledge to dig her claws into her fiancé some more. And now she’s utilizing the oldest trick in the book to keep her fiancé. The tramp!

Despite it all, Zach can’t keep his hands off Tamara, who he believes is engaged and pregnant with another man’s child. And Tamara loves Zach, although she can’t let him know. Why not?

Will these two crazy kids ever get over their hang-ups and just be honest with each other?

Sure, they could, but it’s more dramatic when a letter reveals all the truths because communication is for human adults on Planet Earth, not for our heroes and heroines of Harlequin-Presentslandia.

Final Analysis of Escape From Desire

What a crazy, unforgettable read was Escape From Desire! Penny Jordan really upped the zaniness in this romance.

It’s not her best, although it’s definitely a memorable one.

3.75 Stars

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

Synopsis:

When Tamara’s Caribbean holiday turned into a nightmare, there was only one man shecould turn to—Zach Fletcher! With their lives in jeopardy, in the heat of the jungle, Zach took Tamara’s innocence for his own. They escaped from danger—but not from the consequences of their passion!

Neither of them could know that their heated fling would leave Tamara pregnant. Reunited in London, Tamara is reminded of the claim Zach has on her body. And he’ll doanything to prove their chemistry means more than just an affair…

ESCAPE FROME DESIRE by PENNY JORDAN