Category Archives: year 1987

liar's moon heather graham

Category Romance Review: Liar’s Moon by Heather Graham

category romance
Liar's Moon by Heather Graham
Rating: three-stars
Published: 1987
Illustrator: Unknown
Imprint or Line: Candlelight Ecstasy Supreme #159
Published by: Dell
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 286
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: Liar’s Moon by Heather Graham

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

Liar’s Moon, a Dell Candlelight Ecstasy Supreme by Heather Graham is an overwrought foray into romantic suspense.

There’s intrigue, murder, and a long-ago love affair between a teenage girl and a much older, close family friend.

Events lead to a dramatic and happy conclusion in this so-so-category romance.

The Characters and the Set-Up

Tracy Kuger has come to New York for her father’s funeral. Who was her father? He was Jesse Kuger, Liar’s Moon’s version of The Beatle’s John Lennon. Only in Liar’s Moon, these Beatles consisted of Jesse, Leif, Tiger, and Sam, and they called themselves The Limelights.

(Incidentally, this was also the name of a string of nightclubs run by entrepreneur and Ecstasy kingpin Peter Gatien. The most (in)famous of the clubs was located in an old, converted church in Manhattan. Lots of memories for me from the mid-1990s! Today it’s a gym. Do techno dance clubs even exist anymore? I’m old, so I don’t know about these things.)

Tracy’s father was inexplicably killed, and his murderer was shot dead by police in a subsequently prompt fashion.

Tracy’s instincts tell her this was not the work of a mere maniacal fan.

Leif Johnson was Jesse’s best friend. Years before the book starts, a “sexually precocious” yet virginal Tracy threw herself at Leif, and he being the mature Rock Star that he was, just couldn’t say no to his BFF’s daughter.

Tragedy and circumstances forced Tracy into exile to Switzerland for seven years. The Tracy who returns from Europe to bury her father is now a thriving and (supposedly) independent businesswoman.

The Plot

The plot may be uncomfortable for readers who dislike significant age differences. Tracy was 17 years old when she “seduced” Leif, who was in his late 30s. But she came on to him, not the other way around! You can’t blame the guy, right?

Complicating matters is that Tracy became pregnant from the fling. As a result, her parents conspired to make Tracy believe her baby died at birth.

Then they shipped the baby off to Leif, who raised his son with his wife Celia, whom he deeply loved. The reader knows from the opening pages about Leif’s happy marriage, even as his dreams are haunted by images of an alluring Tracy in the moonlight.

Leif (with a name like Leif, you’d think he’d be a blond, but no, he’s a dark and hirsute stud) is concerned for Jesse’s children’s safety. He, too, suspects the killing was not an isolated incident. Jesse’s 20-year-old son Jamie is an up-and-coming musician whom Leif has taken under his wing.

And of course, there is Tracy (an independent woman, remember?), who does not need Leif’s role as her–ahem–guardian. But guard her he will, whether she likes it or not.

Leif and Tracy are still hot for one another, and passion rears its purple head. All the while, danger lurks as the pair search for clues to the mystery.

Someone had reason to murder Jesse, who wasn’t the saintly icon everyone painted him as being. Assembled together is a cast of assorted characters, with members of the old band, friends, and family forming a list of potential killers.

In the end, major revelations come to light, the bad guy’s identity is revealed, and he/she receives their punishment.

The lovers get their happy-ever-after ending.

However, the conclusion left me feeling like I’d been forced to swallow a pint of sour, curdled milk.

My Opinion

Liar’s Moon has “sort of” an icky plot with a big age gap between the main characters. But that wasn’t the icky part of it.

What skeeved me out was Leif’s role as the best friend of Tracy’s father. He was practically an uncle to Jesse’s kids.

Even worse is how Leif rides roughshod over Tracy. He confronts her with the truth about their “dead” baby in a sadistically cruel manner. Leif dismisses Tracy’s pain over the perceived loss, then forcefully demands Tracy be his wife.

Finally, Leif introduces Tracy to her own child as the boy’s new stepmother. A cheerful epilogue doesn’t make up for Leif’s atrocious behavior.

Final Analysis of The Book

Liar’s Moon was an angsty read, for sure. Regardless, the unheroic hero’s faults were too numerous to overlook. I mean, how could Graham name the main male character Leif and not make him blond? Unforgivable.

Still, Heather Graham is a solid author, even when writing for a restrictive category line. I can’t blame her for trying.

Liar’s Moon is an alright story that could have been better if the hero hadn’t been such a pompous and domineering jerk.

2.95 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
3.5
Characters
2.5
Writing
3
Chemistry
3
Fun Factor
2.5
Cover
4
Overall: 3.1

Synopsis:

She’d been a wild teenager willing to risk anything for revenge. But when she seduced Leif Johnston, she hadn’t counted on falling in love…hadn’t believed her family would intervene and sweep her off to Switzerland.

Seven years later, Tracy Kuger was a successful, independent woman. But her determination to find her father’s killer would carry her right back into New York’s deceiving limelight…into the treacherous bosom of her powerful family…into Leif’s lean, hungry arms. Passion and peril bound them together even as doubts and dangerous secrets tore them apart.

Tormented by the past, could Tracy face the truth and embrace the future—a love born under a liar’s moon?

LIAR’S MOON by HEATHER GRAHAM
Rebel Vixen

Historical Romance Review: Rebel Vixen by Dana Ransom

historical romance review
Rebel Vixen by Dana Ransom
Rating: five-stars
Published: 1987
Illustrator: TBD
Imprint or Line: Zebra Heartfire
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Civil War Romance, Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper
Pages: 445
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Rebel Vixen by Dana Ransom

MILD SPOILERS 😉

Love & Betrayal

The Beginning: Love

Rebel Vixen commences by diving right into the story.

As the Civil War rages throughout the United States, 21-year-old Savannah Russell is on a ship in the Caribbean bringing food and medical supplies to her Southern brethren when she spots a body floating in the water. She urges the sailors to bring him aboard.

However, when they see the man’s Union buckle on his uniform, everyone but Savannah wants to throw the enemy back into the sea. Savannah is defiant and swears to help save the Yankee sailor, despite what anyone says, including her Uncle, who’s in charge.

Savannah takes the officer on land and brings him to an inn. With a doctor’s aid, she helps him recover, saving his injured arm from amputation. She is instantly attracted to the blond-haired Lt. Commander named Skyler Reade. He, in turn, falls madly for the woman who saved his life.

Upon a tropical beach, Savannah and Skyler exchange their words of love, promising to be together forever.

The Beginning: Betrayal

As they begin to make love, an explosion shatters the silence. In horror, Savannah realizes that the Union army has taken her Uncle’s ship. Skyler tells her that the ship was loaded with weapons and ammunition, not medicine and supplies, and as a Union soldier, he had a responsibility to report it.

He vows his love for Savannah, as she sees that every man on board, including her uncle, is now a prisoner of war. In a rage, Savannah strikes at Skyler, reinjuring his arm, and flees away in horror, declaring her eternal hatred.

The Book: Rebel Vixen

Thus begins one of my all-time favorite romance novels, Rebel Vixen by Dana Ransom (aka Nancy Gideon).

Yes, it’s a cheesy-looking Zebra Heartfire, with a bosomy-clinch cover and cornball title. It must be read to be fully appreciated.

The scope is grand, spanning years across the American North and South, with war, death, love, and birth. This “bodice-ripper lite” was so well written and emotional that it made me cry tears of sadness and joy.

Seriously, Rebel Vixen is one of the best books I’ve read.

Not surprising, as Dana Ransom’s Zebras are almost all among my favorites, along with the great Deana James and, to a lesser extent, Penelope Neri.

The Plot: The American Civil War

Savannah

Savannah is the oldest daughter of three children. Her father was a casualty of war, her brother is off fighting, and now with her uncle imprisoned, she finds herself burdened as the head of the family with an enormity of responsibilities on her shoulders.

Unconventionally beautiful, she has no time for gaiety as the war rages on, destroying everything she ever knew. Saving Skyler was instinctive, as she deeply values human life. She has the weight of the world upon her, and despite her recalcitrance, Skyler is her one bright spot in the darkness.

Skyler

A Man Without Purpose

Skyler Reade has no real purpose in life, bouncing aimlessly along from adventure to adventure. As the middle son of an upper-crust Philadelphia family, he’s sort of flitting along in life when the war starts.

His father is a respected doctor, his older brother is settled down with a family and fighting for the Union, and even Skyler’s wayward younger brother seems to be following in the family’s footsteps of pursuing a medical degree.

Skyler has a “girlfriend” at home, not someone he feels serious about–although she absolutely does about him–who encourages him to pursue politics. To be a politician, he’ll have to have some military experience. But as Skyler was not keen on fighting a war he cared nothing about, he entered the Navy because he thought he’d see little battle action at sea.

A Genuinely Nice Guy

Although Skyler is a drifter suffering from middle child syndrome, he seeks to be virtuous. The main characteristic I adore about Skyler is that he is a nice guy. A decent, caring, empathetic human being.

Yes, he is a bit domineering at times, but if 19th-century women weren’t 3rd wave feminists, you damn sure can’t expect the men to have been. He is relentless in his pursuit of Savannah, vowing to make her love him once again. Most times, he’s generous and kind. Even so, other times, he can be demanding.

However, spoiler warning here: there is one bodice ripper-type scene.

A “forced seduction” occurs after Savannah taunts Skyler and tells him of her many lovers–a lie–for which he is instantly regretful and never repeats.

Skyler is genuinely kind to Savannah despite her shrewishness. He pursues Savannah across the North and South, confident that there is nothing that could ever shatter their love.

Then again, maybe there is.

A Sensitive Subject Matter

As this Rebel Vixen is set during the US Civil War, slavery is a large part of the plot. I can understand that the sensitivity on this topic repels a lot of modern romance readers from this era. However, there’s no sugar-coating it. Savannah’s family owns plantations, and as such, they own slaves.

As far as Savannah’s views on slavery, like the war, it’s complicated. Ever since she was a child, Savannah’s father has allowed one slave to be freed at her request on her birthday. Although Savannah herself questions the righteousness of slavery, she will not betray her family, her state, and “The Cause.”

On the other hand, Skyler is aghast at the practice. He finds purpose in life through two motivations: to reobtain Savannah’s love and trust and fight for his nation until slavery is eliminated.

I adore the conclusion of this book as it’s reminiscent of the end of John Jakes’ mini-series North and South Part I and the scene with Lesley Anne Downs and Patrick Swayze. It always makes me chuckle. What the hell, that series was so good, so it’s ok with me that Ransom borrowed a bit from that ending.

“Why me? Why would you want me?” she asked in bewildered frustration.

“You–you make everything else so unimportant… I’ve never had much direction in my life, nothing I wanted to devote myself to until you held my hand and sat with me when I prayed I would die. Just wanting to hear your voice made me fight to get through the hell of each day. I loved you before I even saw your face.”

Final Analysis of Rebel Vixen

Rebel Vixen is a book I go back and enjoy every few years. For me, it’s an old friend with reliable characters who go through tragic circumstances but come out of it united and secure in their love for each other.

I truly hope author Dana Ransom (aka Nancy Gideon) regains her rights to this book from Kensington and is able to republish it in digital format. It would be a shame for this romance to remain a hidden gem, for only lovers of old paperbacks to discover.

If you’re in the mood for an old-skool romance read that skirts with being un-PC but doesn’t have an over-the-top-Alpha hero you’d want to hit in the head with a frying pan, I can’t recommend a better read than Rebel Vixen.

5 Stars

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

Synopsis:

TENDER INNOCENCE
When Savannah Russell spotted the lone survivor drifting among the shipwreck’s debris, nothing could have stopped her from rescuing him. Not even that she was sailing on a Confederate blockade runner while he wore the uniform of the Union Navy. As a spirited Southerner, she hated to help the enemy, but as a woman she could not let him die. So she nursed him herself, rejoicing as pain left his startling gray eyes and strength returned to his lean, muscular body. And before she had time to guard against the unwanted desire his gentle touch aroused in her, she had given her enemy more than her compassion …. she had given him her heart.

WANTON PASSION
Skyler Reade felt more than gratitude for the raven-haired rebel who’d saved his life. Her courage had earned his boundless admiration; her beauty had sparked his limitless desire. She’d risked everything to help him and he knew that staying with her would only endanger them both. Still, he had to taste the beckoning sweetness of her lips, had to caress the ivory smoothness of her skin before he could leave her. Someday he would return to build a future with his seductive Savannah, but for tonight he could only give her the warmth of his embrace and the promise that she would always be his treasured, tantalizing REBEL VIXEN.

REBEL VIXEN by DANA RANSOM
texas triumph victoria thompson

Historical Romance Review: Texas Triumph by Victoria Thompson

historical romance review
Texas Triumph by Victoria Thompson
Rating: three-stars
Published: 1987
Illustrator: John Ennis
Imprint or Line: Zebra Lovegram
Book Series: The Cowboy and the Lady #2
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Western Romance
Pages: 496
Format: Paperback
Buy on: Amazon
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Texas Triumph by Victoria Thompson

MILD SPOILERS😉

The Book

This review is of Texas Triumph, #2 in the “The Cowboy and the Lady” series by Victoria Thompson. This is the follow-up to her book, Texas Treasure.

The Plot

Texas Triumph begins at the Circle M ranch near Canaan, Texas, where Rachel Anne McKinsey lives. Rachel is mourning the death of her father, Sean, who a rival rancher killed. To help her hold on to her ranch, Rachel proposes marriage to her foreman, Cole Elliot, the book’s hero. He accepts her proposal, and they marry.

Not everyone in their area of Texas is happy with their marriage. Among the unhappy is Will Statler, the rancher who killed Sean. Also unhappy: Hank Oliver, a mercantile store owner who had a thing for Rachel.

After a period of time, Rachel and Cole consummate their marriage. Later they become parents to a daughter, Colleen. Rachel and Cole are happy for a while, especially because they believe Statler is dead.

They’re wrong. Statler is very much alive and joining together with Hank to try to kill Cole and get Rachel. These efforts are thwarted, and Rachel, Cole, and Colleen have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

I frequently criticize authors for failing to reach their characters’ emotions. That certainly isn’t the case with Ms. Thompson, who goes into Rachel and Cole’s emotions in very deep detail. Very. Deep. Detail.

Downside

This detail, however, can also be construed as a weakness. Much of Texas Triumph is about Rachel and Cole not communicating with each other. They assume things that are not based on facts until about page 400, when they finally begin to talk with each other. There isn’t a great deal of character development here.

The ending of the book could have been more exciting.

Sex

The love scenes are not graphic or exciting.

Violence

Assault and battery, and two shootings. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line on Texas Triumph

Reading Ms. Thompson’s work is frustrating for me, as she has a good foundation for a good book in Texas Triumph, but she doesn’t quite get there.

3 Stars

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

Synopsis

HE SAID “I DO”
Ranch foreman Cole Elliott couldn’t say no to his enticing boss Rachel McKinsey when she proposed they have a marriage in name only. The virile gunslinger had had his eye on the shapely filly since he first hired on and dreamed of her raven hair caressing his broad chest, her full curves filling his strong hands, and her luscious mouth questing for his heated kiss. Even though he’d promised to protect her property and not lay a finger on her, the hot-blooded cowboy never intended to wed the arousing beauty without getting a real honeymoon in the bargain!

SHE SAID “I WON’T”
Nothing was more important to determined Rachel McKinsey than the Circle M – and if it meant taking a near-stranger as a husband to scare off rustlers, she would do it. Still, the gorgeous rancher felt a secret thrill that towering Cole Elliott was going to be her man. But now that Rachel had sworn they be business partners, she could never ever admit that all she really wanted was to consummate their vows and have Cole release her sensual response in the glorious moment of their…TEXAS TRIUMPH

TEXAS TRIUMPH by VICTORIA THOMPSON
woman hater palmer

Category Romance Review: Woman Hater by Diana Palmer

category romance
Woman Hater by Diana Palmer
Rating: three-stars
Published: 1987
Illustrator: TBD
Imprint or Line: Silhouette Romance #532
Published by: Silhouette
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 188
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: Woman Hater by Diana Palmer

SPOILER FREE REVIEW 😊

The Book

Woman Hater (what a title!) by Diana Palmer is a 1987 Silhouette Romance that seems to be typical of the author’s style. The heroine is a young virgin, escaping from a tragic past. The hero is a macho, “alpha-male” who was also burned by the past. He is an unabashed “woman-hater.”

The Plot

Nicole White is a secretary at a prominent Chicago firm. She comes from a well-heeled family from Kentucky, blue-bloods to the core, plus cold and unloving. Her parents’ marriage was unhappy. Her father was a serial adulterer. When Nicole decided to cut contact with her family, her fiance dumped her. Then he got engaged to another prominent heiress, breaking Nicole’s heart in the process.

Distraught, Nicole has now moved to the big city to start over. Currently, her boss is suffering from an ulcer. The doctor recommends relaxation for a month. As he still has business matters to attend to, he requires the services of his secretary. So Nicole accompanies her boss to his family ranch in Montana.

There she meets Winthrop Christopher, her boss’s brother. Winthrop is a hairy-chested, cigarette-smoking cowboy stud who makes the virginal Nicole quiver with desire.

Regardless, he can’t deny his attraction to sweet Nicole. He pursues her even as he spurns her.

Years ago, Winthrop was in a car accident and almost lost his leg. His beautiful girlfriend summarily dumped him rather than deal with a disabled partner. Embittered by the past, Winthrop makes no bones about being a “woman-hater.”

Winthrop doesn’t trust women, and he knows Nicole has secrets. Her great sin? She denies her wealthy roots and lies to Winthrop when he asks her if she’s related to the wealthy Whites of Lexington. Winthrop and Nicole are drawn inexorably together, but when Winthrop discovers Nicole’s “treachery,” he dismisses her as having no honor, like all other women.

Will Winthrop realize that women–Nicole in particular–aren’t to be despised?

He groaned her name as he bent, his mouth so tender, so exquisitely gentle with hers that tears ran hotly down her cheeks. He was the world, and everything in it. She loved him so.

Final Analysis of Woman Hater

Woman Hater was my second foray into the world of Diana Palmer. I appreciated this one more than the other Palmer I read, Nelson’s Brand. The heroes in both books were manly caricatures who thought they ruled the roost. They kept their heroines at arm’s length, even as they lusted after them. Thankfully Winthrop wasn’t as emo as Gene Nelson. I can’t stand a whiny hero. Although Winthrop had his dark moments, overall, an allure about him made him intriguing.

Nicole’s issues with her family come to a head, and she deals with her insecurities. Of course, love wins out in the end. Together Winthrop and Nicole are healed through its power.

I wouldn’t consider Woman Hater exceptional, although it was a solid read. The emotional connection between the main characters was a nice touch. I can see why Palmer has millions of fans, using a tried and true formula that sells.

Rating Report Card
Plot
3
Characters
3.5
Writing
3
Chemistry
3
Fun Factor
3.5
Cover
3
Overall: 3.2

Synopsis:

Everyone in Nicole White’s office knew their boss’s mysterious older brother kept away from women at all costs. After being burned in the past, brooding Winthrop Christopher was now twice shy, to say the least. So when Nicole traveled to Winthrop’s Montana home, she was prepared for a standoffish host…and instead found the most intriguing man she’d ever met.

After his ex-fiancée left him high and dry, Winthrop refused to give any woman the time of day. Despite his determination to keep young Nicki at bay, however, this Montana man unexpectedly found himself desiring love again. Could Winthrop learn to put aside his deep-seated mistrust and learn to love the innocent beauty who stole his heart? 

WOMAN HATER by Diana Palmer
savage surrender case cassie edwards

Historical Romance Review: Savage Surrender by Cassie Edwards

book review historical romance
Savage Surrender by Cassie Edwards
Rating: two-stars
Published: 1987
Illustrator: Don Case
Book Series: Savage Secrets #1
Published by: Charter, Dorchester, Ace, Leisure
Genres: Historical Romance, Western Romance, Native American Romance
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Buy on: Amazon

Historical Romance Review: Savage Surrender by Cassie Edwards

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book and Characters

This review is of Savage Surrender, book #1 in the “Savage Secrets” series by Cassie Edwards.

(Reviewer notes: The original version was published by Charter/Ace in August 1987. Savage Surrender was later republished by Jove (May 1991) and then Leisure (May 1996). The “Savage Secrets” series is NOT to be confused with the “Savage” series, which Mrs. Edwards also wrote.).

Heroine: Brenda Denise Pfleugger, 17, Red hair, blue eyes. Pioneer’s daughter.

Hero: Striped Eagle, 25. Black hair, brown eyes. Future chief of the White Bear band of Ojibwa Indians.

The Plot

The book begins in Minnesota, circa 1840, at the home of the Pfleugger family, consisting of father Harrison, mother Carole, and their two children, daughter Brenda Denise, 17, and the heroine of the book, and son Tommie, 5. Sadly, this will be the last night the Pfleuggers spend together. Soldiers, led by the villainous Major Joseph Partain, attack their home.

Only Brenda survives the attack. She escapes to the woods. Striped Eagle, the hero of the book and an Ojibwa Indian, finds her and saves her life. He takes her to his village. There, they become lovers.

Brenda gets into constant battles, pulled in different directions. On the one side is her love for Striped Eagle. On another side is her desire for revenge. And on yet another side: Striped Eagle’s sister, Morning Flower, and her hatred of Brenda.

In the end, Brenda and Striped Eagle marry. Major Partain is killed. Morning Flower grows to accept Brenda as Striped Eagle’s wife, and they have their Happily Ever After.

Savage Surrender, Cassie Edwards, Dorchester, 1999, cover artist TBD

Upside

Mrs. Edwards is an excellent atmospheric writer, meaning she describes scenes in a way that allows me, as a reader, to feel like I am there as an observer as opposed to simply reading words on a page or screen. One other highly underrated and appreciated part of Mrs. Edwards’ work is the research she has done into her Tribe of the Book language and customs; there are many books about Native Americans that don’t do so the way Mrs. Edwards’ books do.

Downside

Let’s start with the characters. Although Brenda checks off some boxes for romance novel heroines: she’s beautiful and has a great body, she is also young–she’s 17–and impetuous. These qualities lead her into trouble multiple times, which Striped Eagle has to rescue her from (she extricates herself in one instance). It’s not fair to call Brenda a Simpering Sara but rather a Perilous Penelope.

At the beginning of the book, Striped Eagle is a bit of a bastard. Almost immediately upon meeting Brenda–and knowing she just witnessed her family’s murders–he’s pressing her to have sex with him, which is at best insensitive and at worst incredibly sleazy.

He only becomes more sensitive and caring when his father dies, making him the chief of his band of Ojibwa. There is no character development or depth, and the supporting characters only exist as foils for Brenda and Striped Eagle, neither of whom is strong enough to truly lead a book.

Sex

Mrs. Edwards usually writes great love scenes. Her love scenes are quite muted here in Savage Surrender.

Violence

Assault, attempted rape, battery, knifing, shootings, and killings take place in the book. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line of Savage Surrender

Savage Surrender is not a great start to Mrs. Edwards’ “Savage Secrets” series.

Tropes: Historical romance. Native American hero.

Location: Minnesota, 1840.

2.24 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
2
Characters
2.5
Writing
2
Chemistry
3
Fun Factor
2.5
Cover
4
Overall: 2.7

/


Synopsis:

Love’s Captive
Strong-willed and beautiful, Brenda had escaped the brutal muderers of her pioneer family. Her anguish and fury were then challenged by the savage wilderness, where her only hope for survival lay in the forceful bronzed arms of an Ojibwa warrior. Striped Eagle was the kind of man she had been raised to fear – the kind of man whose dark, smoldering gaze unleashed her heart’s forbidden temptations.
Passion’s Slave
She was his – body and soul. The burning touch of his lean, muscled torso against her tender flesh aroused the sweetest rapture of desires unknown. The probing heat of his kiss blazed a trail of unexplored ecstasy. And his loving embrace awakened a hunger for more. While defying her future and daring to avenge her family’s enemies, Brenda would share with Striped Eagle a love that triumphed in the flames of eternal desire and…

SAVAGE SURRENDER by CASSIE EDWARDS
texas blonde

Historical Romance Review: Texas Blonde by Victoria Thompson

Synopsis:

When dashing Josh Logan rescued her from death by exposure petite Felicity Morrow realized she’d never survive rugged frontier life without a man by her side. And when she gazed at the Texas rancher’s lean hard frame and strong rippling muscles, the determined beauty decided he was the one for her. To reach her goal, feisty Felicity pretended to be meek and mild: the only kind of gal Josh proclaimed he’d wed. But after she’d won his hand, the blue-eyed temptress swore she’d quit playing his game–and still win his heart!

After a long day in the saddle the last thing hot-blooded Josh Logan wanted was a clinging wife. All he needed was a hot bath, a warm a meal, and a loving little lady who knew her place. Then golden-haired, Felicity came into his life and the virile cowboy knew he’d have to marry her if he ever wanted to taste her pouting lips and stroke her satiny skin. The reward of her charms was reason enough to give her his name – but the proud man vowed he’d never give up his independence…not even for his sultry, sensuous…

TEXAS BLONDE by VICTORIA THOMPSON 

Reviewed by Blue Falcon

VERY MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book & Characters

This review is of Texas Blonde, book #3 in the “The Cowboy and the Lady” series by Victoria Thompson. (Zebra/Kensington, October 1987). This review is of the ebook version of the book.

Heroine: Felicity Storm, 18. Blonde hair, blue eyes. Photographer.

Hero: Josh Logan, 28. Silver/white hair (it’s a hereditary thing), gray eyes. Owner, Rocking L ranch.

The Plot

Texas Blonde begins with the hero, Josh Logan, a rancher, rescuing Felicity Storm, the book’s heroine, from several calamities –flash floods, homelessness, hunger. As they spend more time together, they become attracted to each other, become lovers, and decide to marry. We also learn about their respective histories. However, Josh is determined not to fall in love with Felicity.

Even so, Felicity and Josh do fall in love and get married. However, many threats, both internal and external, challenge their happiness.

In the end, the external threats are vanquished, the internal threats are discussed and addressed, and Felicity and Joshua have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

Ms. Thompson has once again written a very emotional book with likable, well-developed characters.

Felicity begins the book as a young woman with a transient lifestyle. She’s looking for security, stability, and someone to love. She finds all of these in Josh. I liked the fact that Ms. Thompson gave Felicity a skill–photography–and allowed her to use it. Felicity began the book as a little girl; she ended it as a woman. It was great to see her growth.

Joshua is a slightly unusual hero, in that he has white hair (it’s a hereditary thing among Logan males). At first, all he cares about is his land. He tries really hard not to fall in love with Felicity but realizes that things aren’t important if you don’t have anyone to share them with. Josh comes to realize that Felicity completes him and opens himself to loving and being loved.

The storylines take a lot of twists and turns that are very well-written and unexpected.

Downside

Not much, but Ms. Thompson uses the overused “Lack of Communication” trope in Texas Blonde. Some of the issues Felicity and Josh have could have been settled earlier had they actually TALKED with each other. However, as I’ve written before, if couples actually talked with each other, romance novels wouldn’t probably exist. So maybe it’s not a bad thing after all.

Sex

Multiple love scenes between Felicity and Josh. Ms. Thompson’s love scenes are not particularly graphic nor erotic.

Violence

Assault, attempted rape, battery, shooting, and killing all take place here. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line on Texas Blonde

Readers who like slow-burn romances with a great payoff at the end will find much to like in Texas Blonde. It’s the best book in the “The Lady and the Cowboy” series.

Location: Prospect, Texas. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 1867-1868.

Tropes: Historical romance. Photographer heroine. Rancher hero. Zebra historical romance.

4.87 stars

lady of fire anita mills

Historical Romance Review: Lady of Fire by Anita Mills

historical romance review
Lady of Fire by Anita Mills
Rating: five-stars
Published: 1987
Illustrator: Gregg Gulbronson
Book Series: Medieval Fire Series #1
Published by: Onyx
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Medieval Romance
Pages: 432
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: Amazon
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Lady of Fire by Anita Mills

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

Anita MillsLady of Fire is one of my most beloved historical romance novels. This gripping medical epic took me places I never knew I could go.

I admit it has some flaws, especially toward the end. Even so, I adore it.

The Plot

Lady of Fire takes place in Normandy, not long after William the Bastard has conquered England. Eleonor of Nantes is a renowned beauty, hungered by many, and bartered as a political pawn. William’s son Henry desires her as his wife, but it’s the man she believes to be her half-brother, Roger Fitz Hugh, for whom she’s destined.

Roger knows Eleonor is not his sister and has always loved her. Eleonor doesn’t know, yet she desires Roger. This fact may be off-putting to some. But, knowing from the outset that they’re not siblings, it was easy for me to overlook this semi-incest.

Eleonor is sent off to a nunnery as part of her mother’s dying wish. But rather than take her vows, she finds herself betrothed to a man she despises. Roger will do what he must to make sure the marriage doesn’t take place. It’s a race against time to see who gets to her first.

For complete disclosure, let it be known that I love blond heroes like Roger. I married one in real life and adore them in fiction. Roger is one of the sweetest, kindest, most loving male protagonists I’ve ever read. His devotion to Eleonor is undeniable, and he and Eleonor are meant to be.

However… He is not the main reason that I’m crazy about this book.

“I Roger…do swear on this sacred relic that I will be Eleonore of Nantes’ man, to champion her causes and give her her justice, yea, even to the end of my life.”

The Charismatic, Wicked Villain

The villain Robert Talvas, Count of Bellesme, with his black hair, green eyes, and evil, evil disposition, positively steals the show in Lady of Fire. He is so hot that every scene with him singes the pages of this book.

Robert is absolutely malevolent and beyond redemption. He coolly lies to priests and nuns, sleeps with his mother, rapes without remorse, and murders innocents.

In the sequel Fire and Steel, Robert is so evil he tears a baby out of his own mother’s womb, killing both!

Utterly irredeemable, Robert is the devil incarnate and is based on a medieval legend.

There is more to Robert, though, whose obsession with the lady Eleonor drives the plot. His unwavering love and reverence for her are spell-binding and captivating. In a bodice ripper written ten years earlier, Robert might have even been the hero.

Disturbingly, despite the fact that he kidnaps and ravishes Eleonor, I found myself hoping, “I know you love Roger, but Eleonor, just once submit to Robert!”

That’s really sick, but that’s what Bellesme’s character made me feel. He was like a hypnotic vampire or incubus, a Lucifer fallen. However, Eleonor never gives in, and I think that is one reason why the dark Lord Robert adores Eleonor so much. She has purity and goodness.

I am so glad Anita Mills never redeemed him nor gave him a sequel to find love with another woman. In his heart, Robert was eternally faithful to Eleonore.

Robert does find a sort of salvation in the sequel, Fire and Steel, which is entertaining, if not as enjoyable, read. The third book in the series, Hearts of Fire, the story of Eleonor and Robert’s grandson, is an even better follow-up.

Final Analysis of Lady of Fire

Lady of Fire is one of my most-loved romances in a sub-genre–medievals–that consist of many of my favorites. It skirts the rules of romance while being faithful to them. For a writer to allow the villain to overshadow the protagonists may be a source of frustration to some readers. Anita Mills does it so skillfully that I fell for it from the opening chapters.

Alas, to Robert’s great unfortunate downfall, Eleonor and Roger are destined for each other, and that’s the way it should be.

Lady of Fire is not only a fantastic medieval romance or even just a fantastic romance. It’s a phenomenal book all around.

5 Stars

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

Synopsis:

In 11th century Normany, a passionate story of romance, chivalry, and forbidden love. Beautiful Eleanor of Nantes is pursued by many great noblemen, including the evil Robert of Belesme and charming Prince Henry, son of William the Conqueror. But it is the dashing Roger FitzGilbert, born a bastard with no title to his name, who sweeps her off her feet. Their love may be forbidden, but their passion is undeniable…

LADY OF FIRE by ANITA MILLS
beloved enemy jane feather

Historical Romance Review: Beloved Enemy by Jane Feather

Synopsis:

DEFIANT BEAUTY
Ginny Courtney faced the tall intruder with cool mockery in her wide gray eyes and prayed he would not sense her fear. She could not let this Roundhead colonel cast her out of her home! For the sake of the royalist fugitives hidden on the estate, she had to remain …even f it meant being at the mercy of the man who stood so arrogantly before her. She wanted to hate him, but as she watched his handsome face soften with compassion and felt his green-brown eyes shower her with unexpected warmth, her defenses began to crumble, leaving her heart as vulnerable as her trembling body.

BOLD CONQUEROR
Alex Marshall was not a man who took defiance lightly, but somehow the impertinent chestnut-haired beauty intrigued him. He had the power to destroy everything the girl held dear, yet she taunted him with her glances, challenged him with her words, showed her willfulness with every graceful move of her slender frame. A
lex couldn’t help but wonder if she would respond to his kisses with that same spirit and fire, and he swore he’d have his answer before too many nights had passed. He would take her in his arms and caress her silken curves until she begged for the tender touch of her BELOVED ENEMY. 

BELOVED ENEMY by JANE FEATHER

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

When my cat destroyed the cover of my edition of Jane Feather’s Beloved Enemy, chewing it to shreds, I lamented the loss. It was a pretty cover, although I cared nothing for the book. Beloved Enemy begins with an intriguing premise, then about 20 pages in, the annoying “insta-luv” trope rears its head. Everything goes downhill from there.

I’ve read Jane Feather’s books before. They’re the kind one loves or hates, and usually, I’ve enjoyed them. One positive about this was that it was originally published as a Zebra Heartfire in 1987, and compared to other Zebras, the writing is like Tolstoy.

The Plot

Ginny Courtney is a war widow. Her older brother is presumed dead, and her family remains fiercely loyal to the crown. At the same time, Alex Marshall is a Colonel in Cromwell’s Army. He takes command of her family home as his army looks for fugitives.

The hero is…not charismatic. All he does is shout and yell at Ginny. He gives Ginny one of the worst pet names I’ve heard a hero say to his heroine. Alex calls her his beloved “chicken.” No, not his “henny” or something cute like “chickadee” or even “pigeon.” If Ginny ever reciprocated in kind by calling him her “cock,” Feather never let us readers know, more’s the pity.

The two fall for each other instantly, although why I don’t know. He has zero charm, and she never trusts him and hides various secrets. Even though Alex is her enemy and her “captor,” Ginny chooses to be Alex’s personal camp follower. I don’t know how authentic it was for a supposed Puritan Colonel to have his high-connected Loyalist lover follow him from camp to camp. Then again, how important is historical accuracy in these books?

Beloved Enemy, 2013 Zebra Re-issue

Ginny even gets to talk to King Charles and acts as his spy, passing on information to other agents.

Alex and Ginny move from location to location. They bivouac and decamp from town to town as occupying an occupying army would do. That’s about it for the first half. Unfortunately, Beloved Enemy takes about three hundred pages for any action to start. When it does, it’s a bit wild, from accusations of witchcraft, death of an interesting secondary character, a return from the dead, and more death.

Final Analysis of Beloved Enemy

If it takes more than half the book for a story to get going, it’s too late for me to care. I don’t mind a slow burn build-up, but this book was one half of nothing happening, then for the other half, everything was tossed into the plot but the kitchen sink. As a result, the pacing was uneven, the book took an excruciating 500 pages to tell its story when it should have been cut down to a tight 350.

Beloved Enemy blew like a Category 4 Hurricane. It could have been worse, yet it wasn’t a fun time.

My disappointment was such a shame as I love English Civil War and Restoration Era romances filled with priggish Roundheads & debauched Cavaliers.

All through the dull parts, I kept thinking, “Why am I reading this boring book?” Sure it ticked boxes of categories I love, such as: an illicit romance among enemies; a redheaded, stoic military hero; and a pretty Zebra cover by Ray Kursar. However, it was so tedious. Still, I finished it.

As said, boring it may have been, for what it was, it was written by Jane Feather, an author with some literary skill talent. For that, I’ll give it a two-star rating. I am doubtful, though, that I’d have been so generous if I’d read the reissue or Kindle version and not have been so dazzled by the Kursar cover.

So take this review with a grain of salt.

2 Stars