Category Archives: year 1989

romance-review-tangled-web-by-janice-bennett/

Historical Romance Review: An Intriguing Desire by Janice Bennett

historical romance
An Intriguing Desire by Janice Bennett
Rating: two-stars
Published: 1989
Illustrator: Walter Popp
Imprint or Line: Zebra Regency Romance
Book Series: Spy Duo #2
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Regency Era Romance
Pages: 356
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: An Intriguing Desire by Janice Bennett

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of An Intriguing Desire, the “sequel” to Tangled Web, both by Janice Bennett.

The Plot

In Tangled Web, readers were introduced to Therese de Bourrgerre and Charles Marcombe, the heroine and hero of An Intriguing Desire, as supporting characters. Here they take center stage.

As An Intriguing Desire begins, Therese shows up at Charles’ home to ask him another favor: to help her rescue one of her fellow Frenchmen from Bonaparte’s clutches. (Therese and Charles have a history together.)

Charles refuses to help her for many reasons, so Therese decides to go it alone.

That decision, however, doesn’t go the way Therese wants, as she is kidnapped by the man, Chevalier de Lebouchon, and taken to France.

Charles decides to undertake a dangerous rescue mission to free her. He does, but they spend much of the time bickering in between nearly getting and getting caught.

They come to discover an even bigger plot against British national security and thwart that plan.

In the middle of a firefight between British and French soldiers in Portugal, Therese and Charles finally realize they love each other. They later get married and have their Happily Ever After.

The Upside

Therese and Charles were the two most interesting characters in Tangled Web, so I looked forward to seeing them in their own book as lead characters. It’s a Regency book. The intrigue is mildly interesting.

The Downside

I’ve never found character development to be a strength of Ms. Bennett’s books, and An Intriguing Desire does nothing to change that view. I’ve yet to read a book by Ms. Bennett where I’ve truly cared about the characters.

Sex

Other than a couple of passionate kisses and some heavy petting, there is no sex.

Violence

Most of the violence takes place late in the book. A British soldier is killed in the fighting, and Charles kills de Lebouchon. The violence is not really graphic.

Bottom Line on An Intriguing Desire

In An Intriguing Desire, the intrigue is not intriguing enough, and there is no desire. Another disappointing Janice Bennett book.

Rating Report Card
Plot
2
Characters
1.5
Writing
2
Chemistry
1.5
Fun Factor
2
Cover
4
Overall: 2.2

Synopsis

Therese de Bourgerre couldn’t believe the man before her was the dashing spy she had known and loved in Paris. This was a man who had given up all hope. It was her duty to reawaken his passion without losing her heart. A delightful Regency from the author of Midnight Masque.

AN INTRIGUING DESIRE by JANICE BENNETT
Comanche Love Song

Historical Romance Review: Comanche Love Song by Cheryl Black

book review historical romance
Comanche Love Song by Cheryl Black
Rating: half-star
Published: 1989
Illustrator: Don Case
Imprint or Line: Zebra Heartfire
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Western Romance, Native American Romance
Pages: 416
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonThriftBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Comanche Love Song by Cheryl Black

The Book

This review is of Comanche Love Song a standalone Zebra Heartfire from June 1989 by Cheryl Black.

The Plot

Part 1 of Comanche Love Song

The book begins in Stonewall County, Texas, in 1855. A family is doing chores around their farm. Only one member of the family, a then-two-year-old girl, will be alive by the end of the day.

Fast forward 17 years. U.S. Army Major Walker Grayson meets up with a group of soldiers, who have a captive with them named Silver Dawn. She is the heroine of the book and is the girl–now an adult–mentioned earlier.

Silver Dawn has been raised by the Comanche since they took her from her family at age 2. She tries various times to escape Army custody but is always brought back.

Meanwhile, she and Walker are becoming attracted to each other, later becoming lovers–and married in Comanche tradition.

Soon after their first intimate encounter, Walker takes Silver Dawn to Fort Nacogdoches, Texas, where things don’t go well for her.

Part 2 of Comanche Love Song

The scene then shifts to Louisiana, where we meet Walker’s family. There is the father Samuel, stepmother Kathren, sister Amanda, brother Seth, and Camelia Rhinehart, Walker’s fiance.

Silver becomes aware of the Grayson family drama and starts a little of her own.

In the end, the Grayson family loses several members but gains others when Silver Dawn and Walker add to the family, and they have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

I made a vow to finish every book I purchased with my own money. That vow remains intact.

Downside

Where to begin? Comanche Love Song is a hot mess. First, Walker captures Silver Dawn, then has sex with her despite having a fiance back in Louisiana!

When Walker takes Silver to Louisiana, the book changes to a 1980’s soap opera with mostly unlikeable characters and storylines that are convoluted and beyond stupid.

There is no character development at all.

There is no romance between Silver Dawn and Walker. Basically, the only time they’re together is when they are having sex. They’re apart from each other for about 75% of the book. And most of that is due to Walker locking her up. Yes, a great way to show you love someone is to imprison them.

Sex

The love scenes between Silver Dawn and Walker are fairly mild, don’t generate any heat, and are not erotic.

Violence

Assault, battery, shooting, and killing all take place during Comanche Love Song. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line on Comanche Love Song

Comanche Love Song by Cheryl Black has now passed Eugenia’s Embrace by Cassie Edwards as the worst book I’ve ever read.

At least Eugenia’s Embrace had sex scenes going for it. Ms. Black’s book has absolutely no redeeming qualities whatsoever. I’d give this zero stars if I could.

.5 Star

Rating Report Card
Plot
0.5
Characters
0.5
Writing
1
Chemistry
0.5
Fun Factor
0.5
Cover
4
Overall: 1.2

Synopsis:

RHYTHM OF RAPTURE

Though her skin was milky white, lovely Silver Dawn never thought she was anything less than all Comanche. And when she first set eyes on the despicable Major Walker Grayson, the savage beauty could only hate the man who was out to kill her red-skinned grandfather. Yet somehow his green eyes made her pulse hammer with excitement, his rock hard frame made her yearn for his loving touch. And even as her mind vowed to stab the treacherous paleface, her body swore her total surrender!

DANCE OF DESIRE

If the ambitious Major Grayson could kill the infamous Horse Back, he’d be assured of an important position back East. Then he captured the Indian chief’s “daughter”, the wild, spirited Silver Dawn, and Walker calculated he’d earn more prestige by returning the white squaw to civilization. But as the hot-blooded officer struggled to tame her, primal lust made him forget his career. Now all that mattered was dominating her each day, fulfilling her each night, and forever falling under the spell of her… COMANCHE LOVE SONG

COMANCHE LOVE SONG by CHERYL BLACK
comanche bride merrit

Historical Romance Review: Comanche Bride by Emma Merritt

comanche bride emma merritt
Comanche Bride by Emma Merritt
Rating: three-stars
Published: 1989
Illustrator: Gregg Gulbronson
Imprint or Line: Zebra Lovegram
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Native American Romance, Historical Romance, Western Romance
Pages: 472
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Comanche Bride by Emma Merritt

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Comanche Bride, a standalone January Zebra Lovegram from 1989 by Emma Merritt.

The Plot

Comanche Bride starts at an undisclosed time–later stated as sometime after the Civil War–as a caravan is making its way from Chandlerville, Texas, to Mexico on a humanitarian mission. There is a cholera epidemic in Mexico. Seven people are in the caravan: six men and Dr. Zoe Ellen Randolph, the heroine.

They won’t make it to Mexico, however. The caravan is attacked by Comanche Indians, the six men are killed, and Zoe is captured.

She is taken to a Comanche village, where two men will fight for her. One of the men is Matt Chandler, the hero of the book (Matt is half-white and half-Comanche).

Matt wins the fight, but then he has to marry and make love to Zoe to seal his victory. Matt soon discovers that marrying Zoe has an added benefit: it helps him get revenge against Weber Fielding, a man Matt has a long history of bad blood with and also is Zoe’s fiance.

Soon after their marriage in the Comanche camp, Matt takes Zoe to Candelaria, Mexico, to complete her humanitarian mission there.

A near tragedy occurs when Zoe is bitten by a snake, falls, and hits her head, suffering a concussion.

Matt later takes her back to Chandlerville, Texas–named after his family–where she recovers. While there, Matt reconciles past issues with his stepmother, Dora, and grandfather, Uriah.

We also learn why Weber wants to marry Zoe. It’s not because he loves her. When Zoe tells Weber she won’t marry him, he doesn’t take it well.

In the end, Zoe kills Weber after his henchman shoots Matt in a violent confrontation. Matt recovers from his wounds, and he and Zoe have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

When Comanche Bride was published, romance publishers were beginning to veer away from the–to use a Victorian term: ”fresh out of the schoolroom”–heroines and toward different types of female leads. Zoe is one of them. She is 29, a doctor, and very independent. Both she and Matt are developed mature characters.

Downside

There isn’t a lot of hot passion or chemistry between Zoe and Matt. Having read several of Ms. Merritt’s books, I can say with some certainty that hot passion and chemistry between leads aren’t strengths of Ms. Merritt’s writing.

Sex

Three love scenes involving Zoe and Matt. They are mildly graphic.

Violence

Abduction, assault and battery, and multiple killings take place. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line On Comanche Bride

There are things to like about Emma Merritt’s Comanche Bride. But there are also enough negatives that bring the book’s final grade down.

3 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
3
Characters
4
Writing
3
Chemistry
2.5
Fun Factor
2.5
Cover
4
Overall: 3.2

Synopsis:

SHE’D USE HIM TO ESCAPE
When stunning Dr. Zoe Randolph headed to Mexico to halt a cholera epidemic, she didn’t think twice about traversing Comanche territory… until a band of bloodthirsty savages attacked her caravan. The gorgeous physician was furious that her mission had been interrupted, but nothing compared to the rage she felt on meeting the barbaric warrior who made her his slave. Determined to return to civilization, the ivory-skinned blonde decided to make a woman’s ultimate sacrifice to gain her freedom–and never admit that deep down inside she burned to be loved by the handsome brute!

HE’D TAKE HER IN REVENGE
The virile half-breed Matt Chandler couldn’t help but admire the paleface prisoner who resisted her captors. One with such fire and spirit would surely be a lioness upon his sleeping mats. Then the Indian discovered that the wildcat was his most hated enemy’s fiancee, and he had all the more reason to ravish her. Matt planned the worst for Zoe… but when his hard-muscled body met her graceful curves, all thoughts of the past vanished, as he initiated her into love’s passionate secrets and made her his COMANCHE BRIDE.

Comanche Bride by Emma Merritt
trAITOR'S KISS TERRI VALENTINE

Historical Romance Review: Traitor’s Kiss by Terri Valentine

historical romance review
Traitor's Kiss by Terri Valentine
Rating: three-stars
Published: 1989
Illustrator: George A . Bush
Imprint or Line: Zebra Heartfire
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Georgian Era Romance, Historical Romance
Pages: 415
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Traitor’s Kiss by Terri Valentine

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Traitor’s Kiss, a standalone by historical romance Terri Valentine. The plot spans over seven years, from 1784 to 1791.

The Characters and the Set-Up

In the Bahamas, Calypso Collingsworth, a young gentlewoman, is caught by her evil older brother, Evan reading–Gasp! Shudder!–a romance novel. Evan blackmails Calypso into working as a serving wench at a tavern to allow him to have a romantic assignation with the waitress Calypso is to replace for the night.

While at the tavern, Calypso is told to “warm the bed” of the patron in the room. That patron is Lord Rhys Winghusrt, Earl of Flint. Calypso discovers that she and Rhys have differing views of what “warming the bed” means, and they end up having sex.

Nine months later, Calypso is pregnant and on the verge of giving birth to the baby conceived during her encounter with Rhys. At the same time, Calypso and Evan’s mother, Cathleen is also giving birth. Sadly, Cathleen’s baby is stillborn. In rage and anger, Cathleen’s husband and Calypso and Evan’s father, Lord John Collingsworth, hatches a cruel plan. He tells Calypso that her son–who was born alive–is dead and claims the boy as his and Cathleen’s son.

The Plot

The Plot Part 1

Fast forward six years. John tries to push Calypso into marriage and invites four men to his estate as potential husbands for her. Among the men is Rhys, who at that time doesn’t recognize Calypso. (He will remember later). In part because of this, Calypso tries to get revenge on Rhys. this backfires, spectacularly and she is arrested and accused of being a spy.

Rhys rescues her and in the process discovers that he is Tristan’s father. After this, Rhys takes Calypso and Tristan to Philadelphia in America where he plans to marry her.

Plus, he must stop a plot that, if not halted, could change the course of American history. For although Rhys was born in the U.K.–Wales to be exact–and is a peer of the realm, he is, by choice and heart, an American.

In Philadelphia, Calypso and Rhys marry. However, Rhys soon takes Tristan and goes to Wales, in part to introduce Tristan to his heritage. Rhys is also angered at Calypso’s intransigence over acknowledging Tristan’s maternal parentage.

The Plot Part 2

Upon hearing where they’ve gone, Calypso arranges a trip to Wales. Big mistake, as the ship’s captain she hired plans to sell her to an African harem. Calypso escapes by telling the captain that Rhys will pay a hefty ransom for her. He doesn’t have to, as the evil captain is arrested once they reach England.

Calypso, Rhys, and Tristan reunite, and she discovers who is the mastermind of the evil plot mentioned above.

Calypso and Rhys foil the plot. However, this comes at a heavy cost to both of them.

In the end, Rhys gives up his title to stay in America with Calypso and Tristan, and the family has their Happily Ever After.

Upside

Calypso and Rhys are both fairly strong characters. Calypso has to deal with emotional abuse from all the males in her life, including Rhys. Even so, she manages to come out okay.

I didn’t like Rhys at first–he was a bit of an unfeeling jerk–but grew to like him more as the book went on. I also liked that once he found out that Tristan was his son, he loved him immediately. He didn’t use him as a pawn in his relationship with Calypso much, although that does happen to an extent.

Downside

There is a noticeable lack of depth to Calypso and Rhys. Although Ms. Valentine made me believe that Calypso and Rhys loved each other, there wasn’t a lot of hot passion between them. The ending of the book could have been more exciting.

Sex

The love scenes between Calypso and Rhys are fairly tame.

Heat level: pretty lukewarm.

Violence

Two characters are killed, neither completely on-screen. No graphic violence.

Bottom Line on Traitor’s Kiss

Terri Valentine’s Zebra romance Traitor’s Kiss is a good book. It simply lacks the passion and juice to be a great book.

3 stars


Synopsis:

Loyal To His Lust
There was only one way Rhys Winghurst knew of to relieve the pressure of his latest undercover assignment a romp in the hay with a beautiful lady. The red-blooded male was impressed when the innkeeper sent up the voluptuous light skirt, but when he crushed her lips and fondled her curves, his passion was unexpectedly ignited as never before! The skillful captain showed the young wench the myriad ways of pleasure and then showed her the door. But Rhys never figured that the memories of rapture would haunt him nor that he’d need that one incredible woman by his side to successfully fulfill his mission.

True To Her Heart
Spirited Calypso Collingworth didn’t expect more than an aching back and injured pride during her one-night masquerade as a tavern’s serving girl. But when she was sent to “serve” the Captain in Room Nine, the innocent redhead never thought her work included unmentionable intimacies…nor that the gentleman would be the tall, dark hero of her dreams! Calypso struggled with the handsome stranger even as her silken flesh begged for his touch. Then when she suffered his callous disregard only moments after such glorious ecstasy, the hot-tempered miss vowed she’d wreak vengeance on the humiliating cad for his insincere whispers and his Traitor’s Kiss

TRAITOR’S KISS by TERRI VALENTINE
tender savage phoebe conn

Historical Romance Review: Tender Savage by Phoebe Conn

tender savage phoebe conn
Tender Savage by Phoebe Conn
Rating: three-stars
Published: 1989
Illustrator: Pino
Imprint or Line: Zebra Lovegram
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Western Romance, Native American Romance
Pages: 480
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Tender Savage by Phoebe Conn

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Tender Savage, a standalone Zebra Lovegram by Phoebe Conn.

Tender Savage starts in Wilmington, Delaware, in June 1862. The book spans from June 1862 to September 1863 during the American Civil War.

The Plot

Part One of Tender Savage

The book begins with Erica Hanson and Mark Randall kissing passionately. The night won’t end happily for either, unfortunately. Mark and Erica’s father, Lars, a physician, are going to leave the next day to join the Union army.

Erica is being sent to New Ulm, Minnesota. She is to live with Lars’ sister, Britta, and her husband, Karl Ludwig, who owns a store there. However, Erica wants to marry Mark–or at least become his lover–before leaving for war. Mark refuses. This is the source of the conflict between them.

When Erica arrives in New Ulm, she meets Viper, a half-Lakota, half-white Indian. They share kisses and are attracted to each other.

Things look bleak as Viper and his fellow Lakota will soon be at war with the white citizens of New Ulm after promises from the government fail to materialize. During the uprising, Viper kidnaps Erica. He does so for two reasons. One is to keep her from being killed, and two, because he’s hot for her. It’s not so bad, as she is also hot for him. Erica and Viper become lovers and are married in the Lakota tradition.

Soon, however, hardships emerge. Viper’s aunt, plus an evil-other woman who is in lust with him, causes problems for Erica.

Part Two of Tender Savage

An even bigger problem will soon present itself in the form of Mark. He arranges a transfer to Minnesota to find Erica and marry her. Mark arrives in Minnesota, finds Erica with Viper, and arrests him. Viper must stand trial in a military tribunal, where he is tried and convicted.

After this, Viper asks Mark to marry Erica, which Mark agrees to. Erica and Mark marry, and he is sent back to Wilmington to rejoin the Union Army. Happiness and sadness soon follow as Erica discovers she is pregnant with Viper’s child. Meanwhile, Mark is seriously injured during the war, gets blinded, and becomes an invalid who needs constant care.

Back in Minnesota, Viper’s conviction is vacated. He leaves the state heading to Delaware to find Erica. Adopting the name “Etienne Bouchard” (his French grandfather’s name), Viper finagles his way into becoming Mark’s companion, which severely irritates Erica.

Soon after “Etienne’s” arrival, Erica gives birth to a son who looks exactly like Etienne. This creates a rift between Erica and Etienne on one side and Lars and Sarah Randall–Mark’s sister–, on the other. Poor, hapless Mark doesn’t know he’s not the child’s father.

In the end, Mark conveniently passes away. Erica and Viper go back to Minnesota–to a different part of the state. Lars and Sarah marry, and both couples have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

The backdrop of Tender Savage is the Minnesota Sioux Uprising of 1862, an actual occurrence. Mrs. Conn does a fairly good job melding her fictional characters with real people and events.

On some levels, Tender Savage tries to be like Nancy Henderson (Nan) Ryan’s excellent romance, Kathleen’s Surrender. Like that book, Tender Savage takes place in part during the Civil War and features a love triangle. That, however, is where the similarities end.

Downside

Mrs. Ryan had the ability to make me, as a reader, care about her characters and feel their emotions. Mrs. Conn–although she tries–sadlyTender Savage does not.

Tender Savage is the seventh book I’ve read by Phoebe Conn. Like the other six, Tender Savage lacks both emotional depth and character development.

I also had issues with the heroine and hero. Erica checks off the basic romance heroine boxes: she’s beautiful, young, sexy, and has a great body, but… That’s it. There really is no substance to her.

Viper is worse. Mrs. Conn would have been better served to name him “Etienne Bouchard” because Viper is basically a white Indian. Although she researched the uprising, it is clear that Mrs. Conn did none about the Lakota tribe.

There is almost nothing about Viper–besides living in a teepee and eating pemmican–that would identify him as a Native American. The only depth to his character is that we learn he has French ancestry.

There is very little romantic chemistry between Erica and Viper. The beginning of their relationship in no way indicates love; they are in lust with each other. Although Mrs. Conn tries at the end, she falls well short of creating the type of characters I can genuinely care about.

Also, I didn’t particularly appreciate that after he gained access to the Hanson home, Viper spent a great deal of time trying to have sex with Erica even though she was married to Mark.

I also didn’t buy the “Erica and Mark didn’t consummate their marriage; therefore, they weren’t legally married, and Viper’s actions were okay” excuse at the end of the book, either.

Sex

I will give Mrs. Conn credit for writing slightly better love scenes here than in her previous books, but that is damning with very faint praise.

Violence

Most of the violence takes place “off-screen.” However, there are “on-screen” scenes of assault and battery, and a slashing occurs.

Bottom Line On Tender Savage

There was the foundation for a good book in Tender Savage.

Unfortunately, Mrs. Conn was not the author to mine the gold that might have been there. Instead, the book ends up in “pewter territory.” 

3 Stars

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

Synopsis:

TOO FAST TO STOP
When innocent Erica Hansen fled to Minnesota to escape the Civil War’s horrors, she had no idea she was stepping right into the middle of an Indian uprising. And until a painted, whooping brave swept her onto his stallion, she never guessed how unsafe her new home really was. The curvaceous blonde struggled against her captor’s grip, but the farther they rode from civilization, the wilder her response to him became. The passionate beauty knew she should bite, scratch and kick the warrior, but before she could think of the consequences, Erica began to caress, kiss and embrace him!

TOO FAR TO RETURN
From the moment he beheld the golden-haired paleface, the Sioux fighter named Viper swore she’d never meet the white captives’ fate of torture and degradation. This was a woman created for the most ecstatic kinds of lovemaking … and the virile male would make sure he’d be the one to show her the myriad ways to enjoy pleasure. He promised himself he’d release her when the furor of the battle died down. But once the jet-haired Sioux trapped her in his arms, he realized a lifetime was too short to savor her ivory skin, to exult in her lavender scent, to take her time and again as her Tender Savage. 

TENDER SAVAGE by PHOEBE CONN
pirates wild embrace

Historical Romance Review: Pirate’s Wild Paradise by Kate Douglas

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Pirate’s Wild Paradise a standalone Zebra romance from February 1989 by Kate Douglas.

The Plot

Part One of Pirate’s Wild Paradise

Pirate’s Wild Paradise starts in Port Royale, Jamaica, with the heroine James Allison Morgan–yes, that is her name, but hereafter she is known as Jamie–about to get married.

She won’t be wed, however, as her ceremony is interrupted by Francisco “Franco” Alonzo Montenegro DeCortega, our hero, and Jamie’s former lover.

We then flashback to how Jamie and Franco came to know each other.

Part Two of Pirate’s Wild Paradise

Jamie is the only child of notorious English pirate Captain Henry Morgan. One day, Captain Morgan attacks and sinks a ship with Franco on it. Henry plans to kill Franco, but Jamie stops him. Henry then decides to hold Franco for ransom.

As to how Jamie got the name James Allison, Henry decided that was what he was going to name his child, regardless of gender. We also learn about Jamie’s mother, Antoinette Duvalle, who was kidnapped and impregnated by Morgan; she later committed suicide.

After a drunken wager, Jamie and Franco become lovers. He leaves her, however, upon learning that his father, Carlos De Cortega, is dead. The DeCortega family consists of the late Carlos, mother Isabella, Franco, and his older brother, Lorenzo–who hates Franco–and two sisters, Maria and Teresa.

Franco goes to Spain to stop Lorenzo from destroying the family in many ways. Meanwhile, Morgan sends Jamie to England to attend a finishing school for ladies.

Part Three of Pirate’s Wild Paradise

The scene then shifts to London, where Jamie spends two years learning how to be a lady. While in London, Jamie is told by Henry–now Sir Henry and Governor of Jamaica–that Franco returned to Jamaica and never asked about her, and meets Peter Alexeivitch, a.k.a. Russian Tsar, Peter the Great. Peter offers Jamie marriage. She refuses!

Jamie then returns with Henry to Jamaica.

Back in Jamaica, we meet up with Franco again. After he was released from Morgan’s captivity, he went to Spain to confront Lorenzo. It didn’t go well for Franco. With no money and no way to fight Lorenzo’s power, Franco was forced to become what he didn’t want to be: a pirate.

He still has plans to defeat Lorenzo, but he has to balance that with having Jamie back in his life, as they reunite when she returns to Jamaica.

Jamie also gains an uncle, as she meets Antoinette’s brother, Bertram, for the first time.

Franco, Jamie, and Bertrand then make their way to Europe–France and Spain to be specific–to help Franco settle his family affairs and help his revenge against Lorenzo. The latter won’t happen, however, as Lorenzo passes shortly after Franco’s arrival. He was gravely ill when Franco got to Spain.

After seeing to his sisters’ welfare and regaining his inheritance, Franco and Jamie plan to marry. Another roadblock is put in place, though as Morgan angrily refuses to bless their union. Franco kidnaps Jamie and returns her to Jamaica.

More problems soon follow as Morgan passes away and Jamie finds Franco in a compromising situation.

Part Four of Pirate’s Wild Paradise

After Henry’s death, Jamie has no money, thanks to a codicil in Henry’s will requiring her to marry someone he would approve of, thus giving the money to her future husband.

So she decides to follow in her sire and Franco’s footsteps and becomes a pirate. Her crew consists of some of Henry’s former crew and two surprising additions.

Later, Jamie’s ship, The Lady Morgan, captures a British naval ship, taking the crew hostage. She then blackmails the ship’s lieutenant, John Terry, into marrying her so she can get her inheritance. The marriage doesn’t happen, as Franco sees to that.

Jamie is arrested and will be hung for piracy, but Franco vouches for her.

In the end, twin catastrophes-an earthquake and a wave-destroy Port Royale, which is rebuilt. Jamie and Franco survive, she gives birth to a son, and they have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

Readers who follow my reviews know I love heroines with spirit, who are strong and fight against the tide of patriarchal society. Jamie fits into that category.

She and Franco are fairly well-developed characters. Franco is a good hero; although he has some alpha characteristics, he is overall a decent man. I liked the fact that Ms. Douglas showed us both Franco and Jamie’s emotions.

Downside

I didn’t like the way Ms. Douglas handled the storyline involving Lorenzo. After Carlos died, Lorenzo:

  • Cheated Franco out of his inheritance.
  • Framed Franco on charges that, had he not left Spain, would have had him arrested and hanged.
  • Forced Maria and Teresa into marriages to an abuser and an adulterer, respectively.

I like when villains get their comeuppance, and that didn’t happen here. The ending of the book is too simplistic and kind of lame.

Sex

Multiple love scenes involving Jamie and Franco. However, the scenes are fairly mild and not very erotic.

Violence

Assault, battery, and one killing. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line On Pirate’s Wild Paradise

Pirate’s Wild Paradise is a good romance, with a fantastic female pirate as a heroine, but has too many issues to make it a great one.

3 Stars

*Book Trivia: The clinch image of Pirate’s Wild Paradise was used by Zebra as their new Lovegram logo design starting in 1990.

pirate's wild paradise kate douglas zebra

Synopsis:

Unexpected Surrender
Daughter of the infamous Henry Morgan, beautiful Jamie Morgan could hold her own against any pirate on the high seas…except Franco DeCortega. The handosme Spaniard bested her with his saber, then spared her life at the risk of his own. His compassion unsettled her; the desire in his dark eyes intrigued her. But Jamie had treasured her independence too long to surrender it in the heat of passion. Though she would yield to the dizzying sensations he aroused in her innocent flesh, she swore she’d never give him her heart!

Inevitable Conquest
Franco DeCortega was enthralled by the spirtied vixen who now held him captive, body and soul. Her violet eyes sparkled with mischief and daring; her ebony tresses danced about her creamy shoulders as she frolicked in the surf. It would take more than sweet promises to tame this tempetuous beauty..but Franco knew exactly how to make her his. With soul-searing kisses and masterful caresses he would tempt her with the ecstasy that awaited them both in a seductive unforgettable…Pirates Wild Paradise!

PIRATES WILD PARADISE by KATE DOUGLAS
Bold Texas Embrace

Historical Romance Review: Bold Texas Embrace by Victoria Thompson

historical romance review
Bold Texas Embrace by Victoria Thompson
Rating: two-half-stars
Published: 1989
Illustrator: TBD
Imprint or Line: Zebra Lovegram
Book Series: The Cowboy and the Lady #4
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Western Romance
Pages: 478
Format: Paperback
Buy on: Amazon
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Bold Texas Embrace by Victoria Thompson

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

This review is of Bold Texas Embrace, #4 in the “The Cowboy and the Lady” series by Victoria Thompson (Zebra/Kensington December 1989).

The Characters

Heroine: Catherine Eaton, 23. Blonde hair, blue eyes. Teacher. Originally from Philadelphia.

Hero: Sam Connors, 32. Black hair, black eyes. Owner, The Spur ranch.

The Plot

As the story begins, Catherine Eaton has arrived in Crosswicks, Texas, from her home in Philadelphia to teach the town’s children. One of the children, David Connors, 15, has great drawing skills and wants to be an artist.

This interest, however, puts him at odds with his older half-brother Sam Connors, the hero of the book. Sam, who is also David’s guardian, has his own goals for David, and soon Catherine finds herself in conflict with Sam, even as she is becoming attracted to him and him to her.

Catherine and Sam become lovers, however, he is also dealing with a range\war, as well as trying to keep David from falling for a grasping, scheming young woman.

In the end, the range war doesn’t happen. David goes to Philadelphia. Catherine and Sam marry, have a child, and have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

Bold Texas Embrace is pretty much standard Ms. Thompson historical romance. Her characters are very much in touch with their emotions and readers can see the emotional pinball the characters deal with.

Downside

Ms. Thompson didn’t make me care enough about Catherine and Sam. Part of this is the fact that there are WAY too many similarities between Bold Texas Embrace and the previous book in the “The Cowboy and the Lady” series.

To wit:

  • Both heroines–Felicity Storm in the former book, and Catherine Eaton in the latter–are from Philadelphia. However, they don’t know each other.
  • Both women are artistically inclined. Felicity is a photographer; Catherine is an artist.
  • Both fall in love with and marry Texas ranchers.

I get that any creative person will occasionally repeat themselves, but it’s nice to have a little space between repeats. The characters are not particularly well developed and the “range war” storyline is unfinished and weak.

Sex

The love scenes between Catherine and Sam aren’t particularly romantic, nor do they generate any real heat. The first sex scene between Catherine and Sam can be described as forced seduction at best, rape at worst.

Violence

Assault, battery, shootings, and killings take place. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line on Bold Texas Embrace

Bold Texas Embrace is my least favorite book in Victoria Thompson’s loose “The Cowboy and the Lady” series.

Location: Crosswicks, Texas.

Time: unknown.

Tropes: Artist heroine. Historical romance. Rancher hero. Texas.

2.66 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
2.5
Characters
2.5
Writing
3
Chemistry
1.5
Fun Factor
2.5
Cover
4
Overall: 2.7

Synopsis:

HOT-BLOODED RANCHER

Art teacher Catherine Eaton could hardly believe how stubborn Sam Conners was! Even though the rancher’s young stepbrother was an exceptionally talented painter, Sam forbade Catherine to instruct him, fearing that art would make a sissy out of him. Spunky and determined, the blond schoolmarm confronted the mule-headed cowboy…only to find that he was as handsome as he was hard-headed and as desirable as he was dictatorial. Before long she had nearly forgotten what she’d come for, as Sam’s brash, breathless embrace drove her mind all thought of anything save wanting him…

HOT TEMPERED SCHOOLMARM

Sam Conners was too absorbed by a range war to pay any attention to the town talk about a fancy new schoolteacher from Philadelphia. But when petite, pretty Catherine Eaton marched into his office, he couldn’t take his eyes off her. From the instant she opened her lush red mouth, Sam didn’t agree with a word she said. He kissed her to shut her up, then proceeded to take her mind off her troubles with some irresistible arguments of his own…until she was powerless to resist his BOLD TEXAS EMBRACE.

Bold Texas Embrace by Victoria Thompson
texas-temptation-gina-robins-maybe-sivavec

Historical Romance Review: Texas Temptation by Gina Robins

book review historical romance
Texas Temptation by Gina Robins
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1989
Illustrator: Diane Sivavec
Imprint or Line: Zebra Lovegram
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Western Romance
Format: Paperback
Buy on: Amazon
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Texas Temptation by Gina Robins

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book and the Characters

This review is of Texas Temptation a standalone by Gina Robins (a pseudonym for author Connie Feddersen, aka Connie Finch) published by Zebra/Kensington, October 1989.

Heroine: Catlin Quinn, 22. Honey-blond hair, violet eyes. Becomes a newspaper reporter upon arrival in San Antonio.

Hero: Lucas “Doc” Murdock, 31. Black hair, brown eyes. Cowboy/rancher.Owner, Flying Spur ranch.

The Plot

Part 1

As the book begins, Catlin Quinn, the heroine, is arriving in San Antonio, Texas to live with her aunt, Martha Lewis. This is after her life in post-Civil War Louisiana becomes too hellish to bear.

When her stagecoach is robbed, Catlin seeks medical attention. Caitlin receives it from Lucas Murdock, the hero, whom she thinks is a doctor (he’s not). They are attracted to each other, but both try to fight it.

Eventually, Catlin and Lucas give in to their attraction and become lovers. However, Catlin is forced to leave Texas by a vengeful man, Dr. Emmet Blake, who tries to control both her and Lucas.

Part 2

Catlin flees Texas, disguises herself as a male, and joins Lucas’ cattle drive to Colorado. He soon realizes her disguise and exposes her. Soon, Catlin and Lucas are continuing their relationship, albeit not without a lot of tempestuous moments.

Meanwhile, another person, Jace Osborn, has also joined Lucas’ crew. His motives, however, are far less sanguine.

Part 3

Catlin returns to San Antonio to confront Emmet, which leads her into more trouble (Emmet is later killed).Later, after a few revelations, arguments, and lots of making love, Catlin and Lucas agree to marry and have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

Readers who know the “Carol Finch/Gina Robins” name know that they can expect a rom-com type of book, and that is certainly the case here in Texas Temptation. Catlin and Lucas are a high-spirited, well-matched couple with good chemistry that jumps off the pages.

Downside

If you’ve read one of Ms. Feddersen’s books under the “Carol Finch/Gina Robins” name and then read this one, you might feel like you’ve read this story before, it’s because you basically have.

Every one of the “Carol Finch/Gina Robins” books features the same premise. A beautiful, curvaceous, shapely, spirited heroine falls in love with a roguish hero. Lots of witty banter, dangerous situations, and love follows. It’s basically the same script in every book.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, I’d just like to see a little more variety sometimes.

Sex

As usual, Ms. Robins’ love scenes are full of purple prose where the characters are “seeking ultimate depths of intimacy” and more flowery language.

Violence

Assault, battery, and murder all take place in Texas Temptation. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line on Texas Temptation

Texas Temptation isn’t Ms. Robins’ best work, but it’s pretty good.

***

Location: San Antonio, Texas, post-Civil War.

Tropes: Displaced Southerners. Historical romance. Romantic comedy. Texas.

3.63 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
4
Characters
4.5
Writing
4
Chemistry
3
Fun Factor
3.5
Cover
4
Overall: 3.8

Synopsis:

SHE’D SWORN TO HATE ALL MEN

Men! They had brought pretty Catlin Quinn nothing but trouble, destroying her family, burning her plantation, and stealing her land. So when the distrusting beauty stumbled into Lucas “Doc” Murdoch, she wasn’t about to give him a friendly “hello.” She threatened him, insulted him, reviled him… but even as the golden-haired spitfire warned the cowboy away, her body was inflamed by his nearness. Her curves ached for his caress, her blood clamored for fulfillment-and her heart yearned for the wild rapture only he could give!

HE VOWED HE’D NEVER LOVE AGAIN

After losing the first love of his life, rancher Lucas Murdoch knew he could never love another woman. The handsome rakehell had moved to San Antonio to blot out his bitter memories by taming broncs, driving cattle and bedding females. Then the hot-tempered Catlin Quinn fell into his arms and all of a sudden, Lucas could think of nothing else. Vowing to possess her body and soul, he pursued the luscious vixen, stealing kisses and snatching embraces, determined to learn all the secrets of his seductive Texas Temptation.

TEXAS TEMPTATION by GINA ROBINS
angel's caress deana james franco

Historical Romance Review: Angel’s Caress by Deana James

book review historical romance
Angel's Caress by Deana James
Rating: one-half-stars
Published: 1989
Illustrator: Franco Accornero
Imprint or Line: Zebra Historical Romance
Book Series: Hunter-Gillard Series #4
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Civil War Romance, Romance with Rape Element, Forced Seduction
Pages: 447
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Angel’s Caress by Deana James

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book and the Characters

This review is of Angel’s Caress, book #4 in the “Texas/ Hunter-Gillard” series by Deana James. (Zebra/KensingtonJuly 1989).

Heroine: Fair Eleanor-Christine “Ellie Crain,” 16. Black hair, golden eyes.

Hero: Cash Gillard. Dark blonde hair, brown eyes. Courier/soldier, Union Army. Rapist.

The Plot

Part I: There Came an Angel from the East

The book begins on a farm in Tennessee during the Civil War. Living on the farm are members of the Crain family. There is an unnamed man called Grandpaw; his daughter, Mahala; her stepdaughter Fair Eleanor-Christine ”Ellie” Crain; and Mahala’s biological children, two daughters, Mary Magdalene and Viola; and a brother, Jeremiah “Jere.”

Mahala’s husband–-and the children’s father–-Thomas Peyton, is off fighting for the Confederacy in the war. The family is forced out of their home by Union soldiers.

Among them is Cash Gillard, the hero of the book. Cash later rapes Ellie.

Part II: In Frost!

Upon discovering Ellie and Cash’s relationship, Mahala throws Ellie out of the Crain homestead. Ellie goes with Cash and becomes a laundress for the Union Army.

We also learn a bit about Cash’s background. He is the son of Alex Gillard, and the grandson of Caroline Fancy England Gillard and Hunter Gillard, from Deana James’ previous Zebra romance, Captive Angel.

Alex later appears, separately visiting both Cash and Ellie.

Part III: Out Fire!

Ellie returns home, and Cash is shot and wounded as the fighting in the war intensifies. He later comes to the Crain homestead, where Ellie nurses him back to health, much to the chagrin of Mahala, who orders him to leave.

Cash does, taking Ellie with him and they live… Happily one supposes.

Upside

The best part of Angel’s Caress is the last chapter, where some of the questions raised after Captive Angel are answered. The revelations are both surprising and interesting.

Downside

Unfortunately, this information is in chapter 28, which means to get to it, one has to go through 27 other chapters. And that is where the problems lie.

The book contains many elements I didn’t understand or like, such as paranormal elements. I can accept some paranormal elements in books, but the ones in Angel’s Caress are both hard to understand and accept for me.

The characters in the book fall into two categories: not interesting or unlikeable. And some, like Ellie and Cash, fall into both.

I was uncomfortable with Ellie falling in love with a “man” who raped her. However, I also understood it. In my personal and professional experience, people who grow up in dysfunctional homes–and Ellie’s home is definitely dysfunctional–will, in all likelihood, have at least one dysfunctional relationship with a non-family member at some point in their lives.

Cash is a rapist. Nothing more needs to be said about him.

There is no character development and the storylines–such as they are–are incredibly boring.

Sex

There are two “love” scenes post-Cash’s rape of Ellie. The scenes try to generate heat but fail.

Violence

Assault, battery, rape, shooting, and killings all occur during Angel’s Caress. The violence is mildly graphic.

Bottom Line on Angel’s Caress

The book Ms. James wrote prior to this, Captive Angel, was a Rolls-Royce book. This was entirely due to that book’s heroine, Caroline Fancy England Gillard. Angel’s Caress is a Ford Edsel.

The ONLY thing keeping this book above 1 star is the first half of chapter 28.

***

Settings: Tennessee, circa 1862.

Tropes: Civil War. Historical Romance. Rapist Hero. Underage heroine

Rating Report Card
Plot
1.5
Characters
1
Writing
1.5
Chemistry
1
Fun Factor
1
Cover
3
Overall: 1.5

Synopsis:

Ellie looked like heaven. After seeing nothing but the blue-coated soldiers for months, sweet sixteen-year-old Ellie Crain was the sexiest sight virile Cash Gillard had ever set his battle-weary eyes on. And as a man unused to sensual deprivation, nothing could’ve kept the Yankee corporal away from the innocent farm girl’s ivory skin and youthful curves. Planning to love and leave the wench, he suppressed his tender feelings for her. But as he satisfied his desire, their fates were bound ever tighter with each kiss, each whisper, each caress.

Raised on a southern Tennessee farm, clever Ellie Crain was no stranger to the facts of life and she recognized the gleam in the Union officer’s eyes as pure animal lust. The untouched beauty steeled herself against the Northerner’s invasion and was shocked to feel his touch gentle, his embrace arousing. The inexperienced girl blossomed into a passionate woman who would fight to keep her first man. Cash had taken her against her will now she’d make him pay for making her respond with a lover’s heart and an Angel’s Caress.

ANGEL’S CARESS by DEANA JAMES
dakota flame sonya t pelton zebra

Historical Romance Review: Dakota Flame by Sonya T. Pelton

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book – Dakota Flame

This review is of Dakota Flame, a standalone novel from July 1989 by Sonya T. Pelton. (Published by Zebra/Kensington).

The Plot

Part 1: Savage Journey

Dakota Flame begins in Mankato, Minnesota, in December 1862. Thirty-eight Lakota braves are executed for their attack on a white settlement. Among them is a brave named Red Hawk.

Later, his spirit pouch ends up with Audrey Tina (Audrina) Harris, 20, the heroine of the book. Audrina has red hair, green eyes, and honey-gold skin. The reason Audrina receives the pouch: unbeknownst to her, Audrina is half-Lakota.

Soon after getting the pouch, Audrina is nearly raped by soldier Joe Powell. She is saved from this indignity by Wild Hawk, the hero of the book. Wild Hawk has black hair and bronzed skin. Wild Hawk is chief to his band of Lakota, and Red Hawk’s son.

He wants the pouch, and as time goes on, he also wants Audrina. Wild Hawk kidnaps Audrina, and later her Aunt Katherine and Sadie Peterson, another white woman, and takes them to his village. As they travel, Audrina begins developing romantic feelings for Wild Hawk, as he does for her.

The trip is not entirely pleasant; two other Lakotas, a brave, Left Hand, and his sister, Tawena, hate all whites and have evil plans for the white women.

Part II: Precious Fire

Not everyone will make it to Wild Hawk’s village. Katherine is killed by Left Hand. Later, Audrina and Wild Hawk become lovers. While this is going on, Sadie begins having romantic feelings toward Wild Hawk’s younger cousin, Fox Dreamer.

Part III: Savage Angel

As they make their way to Wild Hawk’s home village, Audrina finds herself in a dilemma: on the one hand, she’s falling in love with Wild Hawk; on the other, she wants to live a white person’s life. Meanwhile, Left Hand and Tawena have joined up with Powell to get Audrina and Sadie. Later, LeftHand rapes Sadie, and Powell semi-abducts Audrina (she went willingly with Powell after he lied to her about her father appearing).

Part IV: Lost Embrace

Upon learning of Audrina’s departure, Wild Hawk comes to the realization that he does, in fact, love her, and sets out to find her. Powell is killed, but this doesn’t free Audrina; instead, she becomes the captive of Left Hand.

In the end, the following things occur: Left Hand, Powell, and Tawena are all killed. Wild Hawk finds and rescues Audrina, they reconcile their differences and acknowledge that they love each other. Audrina does meet her father, Frank Harris, who is also half-Indian. Audrina and Wild Hawk have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

Dakota Flame is the best book I’ve read by Ms. Pelton so far (out of the 7 I’ve read. More on that later). Audrina is a fairly likable character. The love scenes are good for a mainstream historical romance novel from 1989.

Downside

Dakota Flame contains two tropes I really dislike, maybe to the point of hating. Those tropes are captor/captive and Simpering Sara.

Wild Hawk kidnaps Audrina, and during the course of the book, he is cruel at times to her. Despite this, Audrina is hot for his form and is willing to forgive his behavior toward her.

Although I liked Audrina, she is at times royally stupid, an example of this is her going with Powell, even though he nearly raped her earlier because he’s white. Audrina’s thinking-or not thinking: “Hey, he’s white. Even though he nearly raped me, he can be trusted because, you know, he’s white!”

She is also a bit whiny, spending much of the book yearning for the white world yet acknowledging she’s in love with a man who can’t live there. There is no character depth or development.

The book is told from the following perspectives: Audrina. Katherine. Powell. Sadie. Tawena. Left Hand. Who’s missing from this list? Wild Hawk. Only in the last third of the book does Ms. Pelton allows Wild Hawk to speak in his own voice and express his own thoughts. The books I like best are those where both the hero and heroine get equal or near equal time to do this.

Sex

As mentioned, the love scenes are quite good for a mainstream historical romance novel from 1989. The scenes in Dakota Flame don’t approach erotica, but they are on par with the love scenes from Cassie Edwards’ many Native American romances.

Violence

Assault, attempted rape, battery, and killings all take place here. The rape scene is mildly graphic.

Bottom Line on Dakota Flame

I mentioned earlier that Dakota Flame is my favorite book authored by Ms. Pelton. Considering that she has written such “classics” as Passion’s Paradise, that’s not exactly a high bar to get over. It is also a milestone, as Dakota Flame is the first book by Ms. Pelton to get more than a 2-star rating from me, but just barely.

***

Tropes: American Upper Midwest. Captor/captive. Half -Native-American Heroine. Historical Romance. Native American Hero.

Location: Mankato, Minnesota. South Dakota.

Time Frame: Late 1862-1863.

2.52 Stars


Synopsis:

Because enchantingly lovely Audrina Harris knew that she was destined to play a major role in the tribal life of the Dakota people, it came as no surprise when Chief Wild Hawk rode into the Minnesota River Valley town and captured her, swinging her up behind him on his powerful black stallion.

Audrina felt the sharp stirring of rapture the moment her eyes met his, but the feisty, independent young beauty was determined not to be his captive. She would fulfill her destiny freely, or not at all. But the farther westward they traveled, the more she became a slave to Wild Hawk’s searing kisses and the sweet strength of his powerful bronze arms. And the more she realized how easy it would be to leave the white world behind for a lifetime of scorching love with her passionate Indian warrior.

BEGUILED INTO LOVE
Deeply saddened and angered by his father’s death at the white man’s hands, all Chief Wild Hawk wanted was to lead his tribe to peace and to obey the call of his dream vision: to capture the beautiful young girl who possessed the sacred talisman of the Dakota people. But Audrina Harris proved to be more than the paleface slave he’d bargained for. She had spirit and fire and a mind of her own–and the loveliest body he had ever seen.

When his lips first touched her luscious flesh, he knew that it was more than tribal destiny and a length of frayed rope that bound her to him. He knew he could not live without her warm breath in his ear, the fiery touch of her soft curves beneath his hands, and the raging passion that soon ignited into a fierce DAKOTA FLAME.

DAKOTA FLAME by SONYA T. PELTON
Nebraska fires bruce emmett

Historical Romance Review: Nebraska Fire by Lauren Wilde

historical romance review

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book and Characters

This review is of Nebraska Fire by Lauren Wilde, a Zebra Lovegram romance.

The book starts with Elizabeth “Liza” Cameron, looking back on how she came west.

Backstory: Liza is an English immigrant, who sailed from England after her parents passed. Her brother, Dan, died on the trip to New York. Liza arrives in New York and meets a woman, Anne Garrett, and becomes friends with her. Anne accepted a job as a governess for the nephew of Alex Cameron, a rancher from Nebraska. Anne died in an accident. Before passing, she asked Liza to take her place.

Thus, as the book begins, Liza finds herself in Nebraska, where she meets Alex, the hero of the book.

Alex is NOT happy to see Liza, for several reasons. One, she’s younger than he expected. Two, he questions her qualifications to be a governess to his four-year-old nephew, Andy. And three, and most importantly, he’s attracted to her. Liza is also attracted to Alex).

The Plot

Peril soon finds Liza as she is abducted by Kiowa Indians. Alex rescues her and they become lovers. We also learn more about Alex’s history (his parents are deceased. His brother Rob, a ne’er do well, is also deceased. Rob’s wife, Marilee, Andy’s mother, left two years ago).

As they spend more time together, Liza and Alex fall in love. However, he doesn’t tell her that he loves her; this inability to say those three words will cause a rift between them. Liza leaves Alex, but this turns out to be a mistake as she is accosted by one of his former hands, who tries to rape and kill her.

Alex had fired the man after an earlier rape attempt against Liza and beat the man senselessly.

Liza is taken in by Rita, the owner of a brothel, and Liza discovers she is pregnant with Alex’s child. Liza will later give birth to a son.

Alex finds Liza, he tells her he loves her and their son, and they resolve their issues. There had been misconceptions to overcome. Alex left Liza a note stating that he was going to find someone to marry them and that he loved her. She didn’t see the note and thought he was leaving her. It was all a misunderstanding and lack of communication.

Alex and Liza marry and have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

Ms. Wilde is a very good atmospheric author; she made me feel as though I was watching her characters’ lives as opposed to simply reading a book. Liza and Alex are both well-developed characters; Liza is very likable.

Downside

Alex is a bit all over the place. He starts as an obnoxious boor, becomes nice at times, then is obnoxious again and is nice toward the end; these mood swings are jarring and not explained at all. It makes him a somewhat unlikeable character.

Sex

A few love scenes are short and rather rudimentary, a few are more expansive. Ms. Wilde is a practitioner of what I call “soft erotica”. Her writing wouldn’t be called erotica today, but for a mainstream mass-market romance novel, she writes some of her love scenes with enough pepper in the soup to be good.

Violence

Most of the violence takes place “off-screen”. However, there are scenes of assault, attempted rape, and battery. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line on Nebraska Fire

Nebraska Fire is not a flawless book, but it is good enough to warrant a 4-star grade. If Alex were a nicer, better hero, it might have crept into the 5-star range.

4 Stars


Synopsis:

RILED RANCHER

What had she done? And why had she ever thought it would work? Taking her best friend’s place as a tutor to Alex Cameron’s nephew had not been a good idea, not at all. And now, staring into the virile rancher’s smoldering steel-gray eyes proved Lisa Wentworth was right. He didn’t want her on his ranch, caring for the young boy. He wanted her gone and out of his coal-black hair. Yet when he held her against his strong muscular chest, his hands caressing her soft, full curves, she felt his hard, lean body tremble, and his warm lips on hers, telling her not to listen to his foolish words . . . but only to the wild beating of his heart that begged her never to leave him . . .

LUSTY LADY

Alex Cameron was absolutely shocked when he found a beautiful, delicate creature standing in the middle of the godforsaken prairie. And beautiful she was with hair that shone like the sun, dark violet eyes that blazed with passion, and a wide, sensuous mouth that was made for kissing. She was a lady, all right. First-class stuff. So what was she doing here? Was she running from the law? Or an irate husband? No matter. Lady or not, she spelled trouble, and he was sending her packing as soon as he could take her luscious body in his arms and lose himself in her sweet Nebraska Fire.

Nebraska Fire by LAUREN WILDE
could it be magic

Category Romance Review: Could It Be Magic by Gina Wilkins

category romance
Could It Be Magic by Gina Wilkins
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1989
Illustrator: TBD
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Temptation #283
Published by: Harlequin
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 229
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: Could It Be Magic by Gina Wilkins

SPOILER FREE REVIEW 😊

The Book

Gina WilkinsCould It Be Magic is a comfy yet romantic read. It’s a sensually-charged Harlequin Temptation from the early 1990s.

The Characters

Gwen DeClerck is a staid, young widow who had been married to a man twice her age.

When Jeremy Kane, a famous magician, moves next door, he turns her stable world upside down with excitement and passion.

The Setup

Gwen De Clerck owns a lovely house she shared with her deceased husband. She’s a little plump and considers herself homely, even though she’s not yet 30.

Suffice it to say that Gwen has a nice, settled existence and enjoys her work as a school teacher.

One day she notices a truck pulling into her next-door neighbor’s driveway and movers bringing in boxes.

And an assortment of strange creatures, including… a monkey?

Gwen instinctively knows her life is going to change. She glimpses long, leggy women entering the house at all hours.

It figures. A playboy has moved next door!

But when she meets her neighbor, he’s unlike any man she’s ever met. Gwen doesn’t know what to think about him.

The Plot

Jeremy Kane is a superstar magician who’s a bit of an introvert despite his showmanship ways. He has tall, lithe redheads as his assistants, a far cry from Gwen’s brunette and curvy cuteness.

But any good magician would tell you the “eye candy” is a mere distraction from the trick. Plus, Jeremy’s not interested in his co-workers. He views them as young sisters.

The handsome showman is instantly smitten with Gwen and declares his intention to make her part of his life.

His pursuit of her takes him to every aspect of her life, from home to work.

There, Jeremy contrives to be Gwen’s winning prize in the “Teacher Must Kiss a Pig Contest.”

To Gwen’s shock, Jeremy shows up in a pig mask to claim his prize. He also performs a dazzling show for Gwen’s eager students.

Jeremy breaks down Gwen’s reserve. Her resolve leaves her, and she enters what she believes will be a brief fling.

Because there couldn’t possibly be anything more for a woman like her and a man like Jeremy?

The title of Could It Be Magic is based on the Barry Manilow song. Gwen hears the tune while driving and gets emotional as she realizes how deep her feelings for Jeremy run.

She wants more than a temporal romance. Is that even possible? It would take the magic of love to make their relationship last forever.

Final Analysis of Could It Be Magic

Jeremy doggedly goes after the woman he desires–as he knows he has a magical connection with her that transcends the material.

Modern-day readers may see his pursuit blur into “stalker-ish,” but it’s written without any nefarious, overly macho intentions.

Gwen’s recalcitrant attitude did get a bit frustrating, but she soon melts for Jeremy, so it’s good.

As I said, Gina Wilkin’s Could It Be Magic is a delightful romance novel worthy of a look.

4 Stars

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

Synopsis

Schoolteacher Gwen DeClerk was stable and reliable – and furious that those were the qualities her new neighbor, international showman Jeremy Kane, found most attractive. She didn’t want to be admired for her practicality. She wanted to be lusted after…the way she secretly craved Jeremy.

Gwen sensed a smoldering undercurrent between them, and she had a choice: remain a timid schoolmarm for the rest of her life or show Jeremy a side of her he had yet to discover. What could she lose? Miss Prim and Proper was about to become Ms. Hot and Heavy!

COULD IT BE MAGIC by GINA WILKINS

yankee mistress

Historical Romance Review: Yankee Mistress by Ashley Snow

Synopsis:

Black-Hearted Captain

When lovely abolitionist Selene Sprague overheard secret Confederate strategy, the spiriited miss knew right then and there her duty was to inform the Union army. But as she galloped off into the inky night, cunning Rebel officer Wade Kinsolving reined in her horse and managed to lock Selene in his arms until she revealed her scheme. Refusing to admit to the pleasure of his embrace, the patriotic wench swore she’d undermine the traitor’s plans—even if it meant pretending ecstasy with each kiss they shared.

Busybody Beauty

Captain Wade Kinsolving figured the gorgeous eavesdropper was up to no good, but since the sumptuous spy was so enticing, he’d punish her his own way. His bedroll would be her prison, his company would be her penance, and his caresses would be her torture. The arrogant Southerner gloried in ruining each of the willful girl’s tricks and, craving the challenge of changing the hatred in her eyes to rapture, decided he’d make her his forever, as his own foxy, sassy Yankee mistress.

YANKEE MISTRESS by ASHLEY SNOW

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Yankee Mistress a standalone from May 1989 by Ashley Snow, published by Zebra/Kensington as a Zebra Heartfire.

The Plot

Yankee Mistress by Ashley Snow begins at an unspecified time during the Civil War. Selene Sprague, the heroine, is working in a tavern in Manassas, Virginia for her uncle, John Carpenter–both of her parents have passed. She overhears information about the Confederate war plans which will be helpful to the Union Army. Selene tries to get the plans to the Union forces but is stopped by Confederate Captain Wade Kinsolving, the hero of the book.

Wade later rapes Selene, who tries again to escape but is caught again by Wade.

After catching her again, Wade kidnaps Selene and takes her first to Norfolk, Virginia, and later to Barbados. (This is all to save his mission). He also marries Selene in a shipboard ceremony.

Selene and Wade are happy as a couple in Barbados. For a while, anyway. Their happiness ends when Simon Lazar, a contemporary of Selene’s from Virginia, arrives. Later, Lazar and Selene head to London. Wade soon arrives in London, and he and Selene reunite and have sex. He also achieves part of his mission, or so he thinks. Selene leaves London after being brutally assaulted by Lazar and killing him.

Selene returns to Virginia to search for Wade. Their first reunion doesn’t go well, but eventually, they reconcile.

In the end, Wade kills Lazar, who miraculously survived his attempted killing by Selene, and she and Wade have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

There is one good sex scene in the book. Beyond that…

Downside

Wade is a 2x rapist, an emotional, mental, and physical abuser. He is, to put it simply, a human piece of fecal matter.

While I can give Selene some credit for her strength in nursing the wounded and dead during the Civil War, and I can allow that she has little control over what happens to her due to the fact that she has no money, I can criticize her for her decision to fall in love with an individual who abuses her and treats her poorly throughout the book, which I found extraordinarily stupid. There is zero character development and no romance at all between Selene and Wade. None of the characters in the book are remotely likable.

Sex

As mentioned, there is one good sex scene. There are others, but they don’t approach a decent level.

Violence

As mentioned, Wade rapes Selene twice. She is also raped a third time by a peer of the realm. There are other scenes of assault, battery, wounded soldiers, and killings. The violence other than the rapes is not graphic.

Bottom Line on Yankee Mistress

I never thought I would read a book worse than Cassie Edwards’ dreadful, Eugenia’s Embrace. With Yankee Mistress, Ashley Snow has proven me sadly wrong.

0 stars.

Tropes: Civil War. Historical Romance. Rapist “Hero”.

0.5 Stars

defy not the heart

Historical Romance Review: Defy Not the Heart by Johanna Lindsey

historical romance review
Defy Not the Heart by Johanna Lindsey
Rating: five-stars
Published: 1989
Book Series: Shefford Knights #1
Published by: Avon
Genres: Historical Romance, Medieval Romance
Pages: 432
Format: Audiobook, eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonThriftBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Defy Not the Heart by Johanna Lindsey

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

Johanna Lindsey was an Avon bestseller, starting with her first book, 1977’s Captive Bride. With 1989’s Defy Not the Heart, she reached #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list.

For a while–except for maybe Jude Deveraux–there was no other mass-market romance author in the 1980s to 1990s whose prolific writing achieved such commercial success as Lindsey did.

Johanna Lindsey: Romance Superstar

During this time period, Lindsey was at her peak. For a solid 10 to 15 years, she put out book after book (with the best covers ever) that, with a few exceptions, were all fun reads. Many rank among my most beloved romances.

For sure, they were not always the best written, rambling on about unimportant characters and telling more than showing. Usually, I wanted to strangle the heroines for their stubbornness and TSTL tendencies.

Even so, I loved her plots involving kidnapping and forced marriages. They featured overbearing, handsome men who would treat their heroines like crap one minute, then make passionate love to them and brush their hair as after-play.

I ate Lindsey’s books up like candy and have the emotional cavities to prove it!

The Plot

In Defy Not the Heart, Ranulf Fitz Hugh is a bastard, mercenary knight simply working on another job. He is to kidnap Lady Reina and bring her to her supposed betrothed, Lord Rothwell, an elderly man Reina’s never met.

Reina, not being a stupid girl, is sensible and realizes she’s in a precarious position as an unmarried woman.

Since Rothwell hasn’t yet paid Ranulf for his services, and Rothwell’s claim to marriage is false, why doesn’t Ranulf wed Reina himself? She’s a wealthy heiress, so such a union would make Ranulf a wealthy lord.

A marriage of convenience takes place, then the two seemingly different spouses settle into married life.

I’ve read others complain about how little interaction Ranulf and Reina have with each other. Perhaps because Lindsey has a penchant for making her protagonists constantly fight, this scarcity is a good thing.

The scenes with Ranulf and Reina are all the more memorable.

After waiting hours to meet the lady whose castle he’s invaded, an impatient Ranulf unknowingly picks up an armor-clad Reina and throws her to the floor, causing her to crack jokes about housekeeping.

There are sexy bedroom sessions with light bondage and spanking punishments (although rather vanilla today, they were a bit controversial at the time).

Defy Not the Heart combines some of my favorite tropes to make this book a truffle-bacon-cheese-and-macaroni comfort read.

defy-not-the-heart-

The Wonderful Characters

Ranulf

Ranulf is a brute, a knight with no time for chivalry: he bangs slutty, fat chicks, parties with his buds, pisses where he likes, and is an all-around ill-mannered boor.

But he’s secretly insecure. He’s so beautiful, so handsome that women chase him wherever he goes. He’s never received any genuine affection or love from a woman in his rough life.

As the illegitimate son of a noble lord Ranulf had to fight for his own. Finishing one last job would enable him to buy great lands and show up his dad once and for all. But Reina’s offer of marriage is impossible to resist.

Reina

Reina’s one of Lindsey’s best heroines. This was not a challenging feat to achieve, considering how caustic so many of them were.

She is short and plain-looking, except for her pretty eyes. Reina’s charms are her brains and ability to lead. She’s no shrinking violet, a no-nonsense girl who’ll pull up her sleeves to protect her castle and people.

Reina’s witty, and yes, she gets prissy, although she’s no shrew. Some call her a mouse, but Ranulf’s pet name is “Little General.”

Although not beautiful, she’s not “Woe is me, my looks suck.” Reina knows it’s her practical qualities that get her the hunkiest man around.

“That feline rodent farted in my face!”

A Marriage of Convenience

I hate when arranged marriages in historicals come with the attitude of “I won’t have sex until you love me.” That’s so phony and modern-minded.

Fortunately, Reina has no problem looking forward to her marriage bed, and Ranulf has no problem performing his duties.

Alas, he’s terrible in the sack.

I love the fact that Ranulf’s an oaf in bed.  Ranulf visits a prostitute to listen to advice on how to please Reina, as his lust is too great to let him last longer than a few seconds.

Unfortunately, Reina catches him in a compromising situation, though Ranulf shrugs it off and doesn’t apologize. He just asked for advice, not set it into practice, so why be sorry? It’s his wife and only his wife he wants.

The results of his lessons are… memorable. 

My Opinion

There are so many enjoyable scenes in Defy Not the Heart. Ranulf’s reaction when Theo, Reina’s gay male attendant, bathes him is priceless, and Ranulf’s kindness to a club-footed young boy who is bullied makes me sigh with girlish glee.

Plus, I adore cats, and there’s something sexy about a man who does, too. Ranulf has a beloved kitty named Lady Ella.

If, like me, you own cats, you may be familiar with the experience of waking up to a warm furball laying on your chest, tail up, butt planted directly in your face. That is what Ranulf’s jealous queen cat does to Reina, though much worse. It’s a riot!

Fabio and Elaine’s Best Romance Cover?

And, saving the best for last, I adore the fabulous original cover. It’s a dazzling Elaine Duillo masterpiece of camp.

Backed by a pink-purple sky, it features a blond Fabio looking like Prince Adam of Eternia in a white poofy shirt that drapes off his shoulders, baring his massive pecs & biceps, and purple tights that cling to his bulging muscles.

There’s that female model who’s always posing alongside Fabio (Lianna Loggins, I think), this time with flowing raven hair, her fingers clutching Fab’s purple thighs.

She sports a sexy red dress that shows more boobies than most infants see in their first months of life. Reina’s supposed to have itty-bitty titties, so that was a major exaggeration on Duillo’s part!

Final Analysis of Defy Not the Heart

Along with Gentle Rogue, The Magic of You, and Secret Fire, Defy Not the Heart ranks as one of my favorite Lindsey books, and there are many to choose from!

Every year or two, I pull it out and re-read it. Check your brain at the door, and simply appreciate the ride.

Don’t expect literary perfection. If you’re in a goofy frame of mind, have a blast reading about two silly characters that make you fall in love with them just as they do.

5 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
5
Characters
5
Writing
4.5
Chemistry
4.5
Fun Factor
5
Cover
5
Overall: 4.8

Synopsis:

The first book in the Shefford series from #1 New York Times bestselling author of historical romance, Johanna Lindsey. 

Reina seethes with rage over her fate: taken captive by the knight Ranulf — a golden giant of a man — who has pledged to deliver her to the nuptial bed of the despised Lord Rothwell. She will never accept such bondage — and Reina offers herself to her kidnapped instead, offering to make Ranulf a great lord…if he agrees to wed her.

But the brave knight desires much more than a marriage of convenience from this proud, headstrong lady who treats him with scorn yet makes his blood run hotter than liquid fire. She must come to him of her own free will — or Ranulf will take her. For the passion that consumes them both cannot long be denied — even though gravest peril surely awaits them on the heart’s trail to a destines and turbulent love.

DEFY NOT THE HEART by JOHANNA LINDSEY
melting ice davies

Category Romance Review: Melting Ice by Rosalie Ash

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


Category Romance Review: Melting Ice by Rosalie Ash

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

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

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

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

The Characters

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Plot

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

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

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

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

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

Final Analysis of Melting Ice

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

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

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

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

3 Stars

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

Synopsis:

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

MELTING ICE by ROSALIE ASH
lovers touch

Category Romance Review: Lovers Touch by Penny Jordan

category romance
Lovers Touch by Penny Jordan
Rating: two-half-stars
Published: 1989
Illustrator: TBD
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Presents #1216
Published by: Harlequin
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 192
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: Lovers Touch by Penny Jordan

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

Penny Jordan is a Harlequin Presents writer who’s all over the place for me. One book can be great, another full of crazy sauce, and others on the blah side. Sadly, her Lovers Touch is kind of blah.

The two protagonists are kept apart by big misunderstandings and lack of communication, which is never fun.

Whenever I see an “Award of Excellence” ribbon on a Harlequin-published romance, I know I’m in for a mediocre read. I think they handed those accolades out simply to massage the egos of their big-name authors. It was never about the quality of the story.

The Characters

Lady Eleonor de Tressail–or Nell as she is called–inherits a huge, impoverished estate. It’s a home she cherishes. Unfortunately, she has no money for the upkeep. But it must remain in the family. Selling it is out of the question. What is she to do?

Enter Joss Wycliffe. Joss was a working-class boy who grew up near the de Tressail estate. He had great aspirations for wealth. So he built himself from the bottom up to become a wealthy millionaire.

Before his passing, Nell’s grandfather devised an arrangement to keep the family’s home: a marriage between Nell and Joss.

The Plot

An Arranged Marriage of Convenience

In Lovers Touch, Nell has harbored feelings for Joss for years. However, she is painfully shy, which Joss mistakes for haughtiness.

He brutally informs Nell that he’s only marrying her for her family name and status. Of course, any romance reader worth his or her salt knows this frank declaration means Joss is in love with Nell. Silly Nelly, with her insecurities, takes him at his word.

A couple of “other women” characters vie for Joss’s attention, and he doesn’t seem to be pushing them away. If only that silly Nelly would open her eyes!

Nell is not a bad person, though she’s sort of self-centered. She’s not very empathetic, spending much time wallowing in her own misery.

Joss is contemptuous of her, lashing out cruelly at her. Nell shallowly believes that he resents her because of their class differences.

But although she is very reserved, Nell can steel her will. She always keeps her dignity intact, giving as good as she gets, especially to the nasty other women.

Nell spends time preparing for her wedding, finding a way to do it using her limited budget. Pride demands she not depend upon Joss’ charity. Joss thinks his bride-to-be is attempting to belittle him by refusing his money.

The two get married, and their good sexual chemistry is incredible. Despite this, their lack of communication and internal insecurities keep them apart.

Big Misunderstandings

More misunderstandings ensue in Lovers Touch.

Somehow, the misunderstandings prove useful in the end. Nell believes that Joss’ business is going under.

He needs funds to put him into the black. Nell would do anything for the man she loves, so she’s willing to sell her estate to help him out.

That is when Joss realizes they’ve both been fools. He reveals his true feelings to Nell, and she melts in his arms, happy and loving.

Final Analysis of Lovers Touch

For me, Lover’s Touch failed to achieve the excellence it advertised.

Penny Jordan‘s heroines tend to have these irrational insecurities that cause them never to speak up and express the truth. This leads to major misunderstandings, which drive the plots.

If the plot is chock full of nuttiness, I don’t mind. When it’s a simple lack of communication in a basic story that could be resolved in under 100 pages, I feel like throttling the characters.

In Lovers Touch, both the hero and the heroine are tight-lipped about their true feelings, making it doubly frustrating.

This wasn’t one of Jordan’s worst books. Despite my complaints, it had some interesting attributes. Nor was this one of her best.

Lovers Touch is middling fare, meant to be read over a couple of hours and then forgotten.

2.5 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
2
Characters
2
Writing
3
Chemistry
3.5
Fun Factor
2
Cover
3.5
Overall: 2.7

Synopsis:

Lady Eleanor de Tressail was simply mortified.

Bad enough that before his death, her old-fashioned grandfather had ensured that their impoverished estate wouldn’t have to be sold–by arranging her marriage. But to Joss Wycliffe of all people–the self-made millionaire who despised her!

Mistaking Nell’s shyness for aristocratic disdain, Joss contemptuously told her that he was marrying her only for her social status. He never suspected that icily untouchable Nell loved him desperately.

Her wounded pride kept her from revealing her true feelings. Particularly when Joss’s jealous secretary did her best to widen the rift between them…

LOVERS TOUCH by PENNY JORDAN
colorado jewel sate brandt

Historical Romance Review: Colorado Jewel by Cate Brandt

Synopsis:

Magheen Fitzgerald could have never predicted her fate the day she left her native Ireland for the shores of America. Blinded by tales of gold and great wealth, she believed that she’d reclaim her family’s fortune in a gold mine in Colorado. But when the stagecoach she was traveling in overturned in a storm, she was lucky to escape with her life. And now she was snowbound, trapped in a primitive shack with the most virile man she’d ever known. Despite the cold outside, Magheen felt a heat building in her like never before…

DANGEROUS SETTING

Daniel Calcord ventured to Colorado for a change of pace, for some excitement. But he got much more than he bargained for in the shapely form of the Irish beauty he had saved from a stagecoach wreck. As he nursed her back to health, Daniel couldn’t help himself from caressing her silky flesh, her sensuous curves. From the flash in her emerald eyes to the fiery light in her auburn hair, she enchanted him. It was only a matter of time before he would take her in his arms and make her his own…

COLORADO JEWEL 

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book and the Characters

This review is of Colorado Jewel, a standalone by Cate Brandt. (Zebra Heartfire, April 1989).

Heroine: Magheen Fitzgerald. Red hair, emerald eyes.

Hero: Daniel Calcord. Black hair, blue eyes. Businessman/lawyer.

The Plot

Colorado Jewel opens in Colorado, early September 1878. Daniel Calcord, the hero of the book and a businessman with his fingers in many pies, is heading toward one of his enterprises, a silver mine in the town of Leadville. His trip is delayed, however, as Daniel helps to rescue Magheen Fitzgerald, the heroine of the book, from a stagecoach accident. He nurses her back to health and they face many perils, one of which is their attraction to each other.

When one of Maggie’s brothers, Patrick, a priest, catches them in a compromising position, they are compelled to marry. Their engagement doesn’t go well.

Maggie and Daniel do eventually marry. Sexually, they’re compatible; in other ways, not so much. Things don’t improve when the workers in Leadville’s mines protest working conditions, leading to violence between the miners and the mine owners, with Maggie in the middle.

Later, Daniel’s mother, Mayse, shows up and causes problems for both Daniel and Maggie. Those problems endanger Maggie’s life.

In the end, Maggie and Daniel reconcile, have a child, and their Happily Ever After.

Upside

Aside from finishing the book… Maggie is a fairly nice character.

Downside

Daniel, who is a hot-and-cold blowing bastard.

First, he wants Maggie. Then, he doesn’t want her. This goes on for the entire book. He talks at Maggie, not with her, which creates almost all of their issues. Daniel is self-centered, egotistical, condescending, demeaning, and insulting to her. He accuses her of things that are not true. By the way, he never apologizes. There is no actual romance or character development, and the storylines, such as they are, zip back and forth without actually reaching a destination.

Sex

A few love scenes between Maggie and Daniel that don’t generate a lot of heat.

Violence

Assault, battery and one shooting take place “off-screen.”

Bottom Line for Colorado Jewel

Maggie is a nice heroine. She definitely needed an actual hero. She’s the only thing saving Colorado Jewel from a lower than 1-star rating.

Location: Leadville, Colorado. 1878-1880.

Tropes: Historical romance, Zebra Heartfire.

1.11 Stars

desert slave miranda north

Historical Romance Review: Desert Slave by Miranda North

book review historical romance
Desert Slave by Miranda North
Rating: three-half-stars
Published: 1989
Illustrator: TBD
Imprint or Line: Zebra Heartfire
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Harem Romance
Pages: 416
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Desert Slave by Miranda North

VERY MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book and Characters

This review is of Desert Slave, a standalone historical romance novel by Miranda North. (Zebra Heartfire, May 1989).

Heroine: Juliette Hawkins, copper red hair, blue eyes. No occupation.

Hero: Deric Raleigh. Dark brown hair, green eyes. Caravan trader.

The Plot

Part I

As the book begins, Juliette Hawkins, 19, the book’s heroine, is excited. Her guardian and uncle, Lionel Hawkins, has accepted a diplomatic assignment in Malta and is taking Juliette with him. On the trip, however, Juliette is kidnapped by Bedouin pirates. She is later given to Deric Raleigh, the hero of the book.

As they travel in the desert, Juliette and Deric become lovers. Soon after, however, Deric becomes distant, so Juliette decides to leave him. Big mistake, as she ends up in trouble that he has to save her from.

Later, they part company. They reunite in Malta when Deric asks Juliette to join him on a dangerous mission.

Part II

Juliette and Deric engage in their mission, which is mostly successful.

Deric is shot and wounded. Juliette nurses him back to health. During this time, Juliette and Deric come to their senses and realize they love each other. They get engaged and have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

Juliette and Deric are a well-matched couple. Ms. North writes their love as genuine and real.

Downside

Riddle me this: What do Desert Slave’s character development, depth, storyline, and what “Juliette” is wearing on the book’s cover have in common?

Answer: There’s not a whole lot to any of them. Like way too many romance novels, Juliette and Deric could have saved themselves a lot of time and pain had they actually TALKED WITH EACH OTHER!

Sex

Juliette and Deric share a few love scenes. There is an emphasis on the emotions of the love scene rather than the esoterics of the act.

Violence

Assault, battery, a knifing, and shooting all take place in the book. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line on Desert Slave

A good book is like a building. First, a foundation is laid down. Then, hopefully, the author/builder will put something on the foundation that is attractive/interesting/useful.

In Desert Slave, Miranda North got the first part right.

Locations: England. Africa.

Tropes: Africa. Historical romance. Zebra Heartfire.

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

Synopsis:

KIDNAPPED BY PIRATES
Proud Juliette Hawkins was terrified when Barbary brigands overran her Mediterranean-bound ship. For safekeeping, they handed her over to Deric Raleigh, an Englishman turned desert trader, and the redhead’s terror turned to fury. How dare this arrogant mercenary — her own countryman — continue to hold her captive! But as they traveled deeper into the Sahara, the independent beauty came to rely on Deric’s expertise more and more. Soon admiration became desire … and Juliette yearned to love the very man she as supposed to hate!

OVERPOWERED BY A WENCH
Caravan leader Deric Raleigh never wanted to get mixed up in holding Juliette Hawkins prisoner. But in order to gain his best friend’s freedom, he had to bow to the pirates’ demands. The cynical nomad had no use for a gently bred innocent in the hard, adventurous life he had chosen. But as they traversed the dunes beneath the starlit sky, Deric couldn’t help wanting to bed his alluring hostage, teach her how to please a man, and make her his…

DESERT SLAVE by MIRANDA NORTH
too many husbands

Category Romance Review: Too Many Husbands by Elise Title

category romance
Too Many Husbands by Elise Title
Rating: four-half-stars
Published: 1990
Illustrator: Cinille
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Temptation #282
Published by: Harlequin
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 212
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: Too Many Husbands by Elise Title

MILD SPOILERS 😉

A Christmas Romance Filled With Merriment

There are Christmas tales that inspire, ones that make us cry, and others that make us laugh with the joy of being alive. The Harlequin Temptation romance, Too Many Husbands by Elise Title, falls into the latter category. It’s a zany romp of a romance that could have been an old-fashioned screwball comedy on the live screen.

What does a woman do when she has not one, nor even two, but three husbands coming over for Christmas?

No, this is not a remake of the 1940 romantic comedy of the same name starring Fred MacMurray and Jean Arthur. Nor is it related to the similarly-styled film My Favorite Wife, which starred Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. Even so, you can see their influences, as Too Many Husbands is as silly and enjoyable as those films.

The Wacky Plot

At only 28, Casey Croyden’s a hotshot in the commercial real estate market. Due to her laser-beam focus on business, she has one failed marriage behind her. When the largest Japanese hotel chain owner decides to set his sights on the US market, Casey is just the one to make the deal.

The only impediment is that Toho, the owner of the hotel chains, is a “traditional” man. This means he might not accept entering into a deal spearheaded by a single woman whose focus is solely on her career. So Casey concocts a plan to have Toho and his wife Akiko stay with her in a huge rented house in a cozy New England setting with Casey and her husband. That is, an actor hired to play her husband.

Enter John Gallagher. He’s Casey’s new next-door neighbor. His unexpected arrival on her doorstep has Casey mistaking him for the actor she hired. She plants a big kiss on him, to John’s bewilderment, and acts as if they’re madly in love. John, to his benefit, plays along.

It Gets Even Wackier

Things take a wacky turn when David, the real actor, shows up. Caught in a trap of her own making, what’s Casey to do? What would any good actor do? Improvise! David is relegated to Casey’s brother, who’s also spending Christmas with them.

Remember, though, this is called Too Many Husbands, not One Husband Too Many. Who else turns up? Casey’s ex-husband, Wes. Casey and her ex aren’t on bad terms, but his appearance is bound to cause confusion. As a result, he’s given the role of a family friend.

To make the situation even more insane, John’s ex-wife, Brenda, appears. An ex-wife would muddy the waters more, so she’s presented as Casey’s best friend.

If you’re counting, that’s three husbands and two wives, not including Toho & Akiko. That makes for a winning combination as a full house beats out a three-of-a-kind hand!

It’s a full house indeed when Casey’s PA drops by to check on how the merriment is progressing. She’s shocked to find her normally cool-headed boss all distressed. What’s with this Christmas tomfoolery?

Somehow Casey should be out of her mind trying to broker a deal with Toho, all while trying to keep up appearances. John is her solid rock, and she can’t help but rely upon and be attracted to him. The pair are forced to share rooms and matching robes. “The Walls of Jericho” (a reference to the famous 1930’s comedic romance It Happened One Night) are raised to keep things platonic.

John is even described as looking like Clark Gable. (Although he looks nothing like him on the cover!) John remains a man of mystery, as we never learn much about him. We do know that he has no feelings for Brenda, their divorce was amicable, and he only has eyes for Casey.

Final Analysis of Too Many Husbands

Too Many Husbands is a hilarious romance. Nothing is meant to be taken seriously except the love story. As said, this book is a screwball comedy in the style of films from the 1930s and 1940s.

Have you ever seen the Frasier episode “The Two Mrs. Cranes,” where Daphne, wanting to fend off an old boyfriend, pretends to be married to Niles? Then Roz shows up and pretends to be Nile’s wife, “Maris,” who is “married” to Frasier. And the cop father pretends to be an astronaut? That was one of the funniest moments on television, and that’s what this book is like. One bit of slapstick silliness followed by another!

An epilogue wrapping up this story would have been the perfect bow to add to this gift of a Christmas romance. There are some loose ends, so it’s not perfection. But whether it’s Christmas or any time of year, Too Many Husbands is an exceptional, sidesplitting tale that will keep you smiling for a long time.

Rating Report Card
Plot
5
Characters
4.5
Writing
5
Chemistry
4.5
Fun Factor
5
Cover
5
Overall: 4.8

Synopsis

Naughty and Nice…

All Casey Croyden wanted for Christmas was a husband. Not a permanent one – just a man to play the part and help her impress the traditional Japanese businessman she was entertaining over the holidays. Sounded simple enough. Hire one from Actor’s Equity.

When John Gallagher arrived on her doorstep, the attraction between them was no act. And the debonair Mr Gallagher was no actor! Casey didn’t have the faintest idea who he was, but she had no time to trifle over details. Especially over the other minor glitch in her plan…what to do with him when the lights went out!

Too Many Husbands by ELISE TITLE
passions treasure

Historical Romance Review: Passion’s Treasure (aka Just Say Yes) by Betina Krahn

betina krahn historical romance
Passion’s Treasure (aka Just Say Yes) by Betina Krahn
Rating: three-stars
Published: 1989
Illustrator: Sharon Spiak
Imprint or Line: Zebra Heartfire
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Georgian Era Romance, Colonial Era Romance, Historical Romance
Pages: 448
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Passion’s Treasure (aka Just Say Yes) by Betina Krahn

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Passion’s Treasure by Betina Krahn, a standalone Zebra Heartfire romance from March 1989. More recently, the novel was republished and retitled Just Say Yes.

The Plot

Part One

Passion’s Treasure begins in the town of Culpepper, Maryland Colony, 1748. We meet Treasure Barrett, one of 10 children born to Aniss and Buck Barrett. Treasure is an intelligent, precocious child. The townspeople are encouraged to allow those qualities free rein. As the book begins, Treasure, age 9, learns about “sport.”

Fast forward nearly 9 years.

A sad pall has come over Culpepper. The town’s most prominent citizen, Squire Darcy Renville, has passed away. His estranged son, Sterling Renville, the book’s hero arrives from England and demands that the villagers–who are all in hock to Squire Darcy in one way or another–pay back their debts. Otherwise, he will seize their property and make them all homeless. He will then return to his home in England.

The town turns to Treasure, the town thinker, now nearly 18, for help.

Treasure comes up with a plan to get under Sterling’s skin and make his time in Culpepper miserable. The plan succeeds quite well. There is an unplanned side effect: he becomes interested in her, and she in him.

Shocked and dismayed to discover their “thinker” is a woman like any other, the townspeople scheme to get Treasure and Sterling married.

just say yes
Just Say Yes, Betina Krahn, Zebra, 2002 Reissue Edition

Part Two

The marriage takes place, and the wedding night is great. But the next morning isn’t, as Sterling discovers he’s been tricked into the marriage. (He erroneously blames Treasure).

He wants an annulment, but since their marriage was consummated, that won’t happen. Sterling then takes Treasure away from Culpepper, taking her to England with him.

On the trip and during their time in England, Treasure and Sterling’s relationship takes on its primary form. When they are making love, they are connected; when they’re not, there is a canyon between them, emotionally, mentally, and physically.

When they arrive in England, Treasure and Sterling’s marriage continues down its rocky road. However, their relationship improves once Sterling realizes she loves him and he loves her. He starts working on accepting her for who she is.

There is also a “B” storyline involving members of Sterling’s family, his best friend, and a business deal he is involved in which reaches the highest levels of the British government.

In the end of Passion’s Treasure, Treasure and Sterling return to the colonies, have five children in the next 1tenyears, and enjoy their Happily Ever After.

The ache driving through her was terrible. Now she knew the awful truth of it. She could love these books with all the learning and wisdom they represented with everything that was in her, but they would never love her back. She needed to be held just now, and only a pair of human arms that moved at the impulse of a human heart could provide that. There were some needs that knowledge, however grand, however necessary, could never fill.

Upside

In my reading experience–which encompasses many years and thousands of books–it is very rare to see a romance novel where the heroine’s beauty is somewhat de-emphasized. Although Treasure certainly checks off the romance novel heroine boxes for beauty, it’s her capabilities that are emphasized. Treasure’s skills and knowledge as a thinker are the primary focus of the book’s first half. She is a smart, delightful character who is well-written.

Downside

I didn’t like Sterling overall, but it’s more complicated than it sounds.

During the first two-thirds of the book, Sterling is an obnoxious bastard. He is arrogant, condescending, egotistical, and elitist. He views the citizens of Culpepper as “colonial bumpkins.” Sterling calls Treasure “that colonial chit” and is shocked–shocked, I tell you!–to discover that she won’t just willingly lie down and spread her legs for him. Doesn’t she know who he is?!

In the last third of Passion’s Treasure (aka Just Say Yes), Ms. Krahn informs readers why Sterling acts the way he does. Without giving too much away, it has to do with his relationship with his father, the pressures of his life, and his personal value system.

Knowing these things, however, does not excuse or justify his bad behavior. When Sterling realizes he loves Treasure, and she loves him, he makes efforts to change his actions. These efforts are somewhat successful.

Sex

Multiple love scenes in the book, but none reach any particular level of heat or romanticism.

Violence

A person Treasure believes to be a friend tries to rape her; Sterling prevents the attack from taking place. Sterling is also involved in two fistfights. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line on Passion’s Treasure/ Just Say Yes

I vacillated a bit on how to rate Betina Krahns’ Passion’s Treasure (aka Just Say Yes).

Does one-third of good behavior override two-thirds of bad behavior? That is an individual decision for those who read this book.

For me, it doesn’t completely. Sometimes, I felt this was a 2-star book, other times a 4-star read.

In the end, if using a 1-10 scale, I would give Passion’s Treasure a 6, and using a 1 to 5-star scale, a solid three stars.

3 Stars

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

Synopsis

PRICELESS LESSONS

Violet-eyed Treasure Barrett had a passion for learning. Everyone in the village of Culpepper knew the best way to solve a problem was to ask Treasure-she was a thinker. So when the late squire’s son demanded that the impoverished villagers pay back their longstanding loans, it fell to Treasure to deal with him. But the arrogant, handsome Sterling Renville was not a man to be reasoned with…or ignored. Even as he infuriated her with insulting insinuations, he confused her with calculating caresses. And Treasure soon realized that her thirst for knowledge had not prepared her for the hungers of desire!

PRECIOUS ECSTASY

Sterling Renville had come to the backwoods village to claim his inheritance and claim it he would. No colonial chit was going to convince him to return to Philadelphia with nothing but debts to show for his efforts. If the beautiful Miss Barrett wanted a battle, he’d be happy to oblige. But while she would fight with logic, he had more enjoyable weapons in mind. He’d disarm her with heated kisses, overwhelm her with astounding sensations, and win her surrender with a blaze of ecstasy that would brand her forever as Passion’s Treasure.

Passion’s Treasure (aka Just Say Yes) by Betina Krahn