Category Archives: year 1990

embrace the wild land sabin

Historical Romance Review: Embrace the Wild Land by Rosanne Bittner

book review historical romance
Embrace the Wild Land by Rosanne Bittner
Rating: five-stars
Published: 1990
Illustrator: Robert Sabin
Imprint or Line: Zebra Historical Romance
Book Series: Savage Destiny #4
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Native American Romance, Western Romance
Pages: 446
Format: Paperback, eBook
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Embrace the Wild Land by Rosanne Bittner

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Embrace the Wild Land, book #4 in the “Savage Destiny series” by Rosanne Bittner.

The Plot

It is now 1861, and Abigail Trent Monroe and her husband, “Cheyenne” Zeke Monroe, and their seven children are living happily in what is now present-day Colorado. Which means something bad is going to happen. It does when the Monroes travel to an Army fort. A soldier tries to rape Abbie, and Zeke later kills him.

Meanwhile, Zeke’s white half-brother, Danny, goes back east to join the Confederacy in the Civil War. In another development, Winston Garvey, ex-U.S. Senator and “Evil White Man,” is trying to find out the name and whereabouts of his half-Indian son.

As troubles mount for Zeke, Abbie, the Cheyenne, and all Indian tribes, Danny is severely wounded during the Civil War. Garvey’s son, Charles, and some of Garvey’s men have a confrontation with Zeke, Abbie, and their family. The Monroes win the confrontation.

However, the elder Garvey puts the information together and realizes that the Monroes know about his other son. This leads to Garvey sending men to kidnap Abbie, who is later emotionally, mentally, physically, and sexually abused by Garvey and his henchmen.

As the book progresses, Zeke finds Danny, and one of his other half-brothers, Lance. (A third half-brother, Lenny, was killed in the Civil War.)

Zeke also makes some peace with his biological father. Zeke and his eldest son, Wolf’s Blood, deal out justice to Garvey and his men, and Zeke and Abbie re-find each other and, for a little while, are happy again.

The Upside

As always, Ms. Bittner draws tremendous pictures with her words. She brings me, as a reader, into the lives of the Monroe family. Ms. Bittner makes me see not words on a page, but real people, with real emotions.

The Downside

At times, Ms. Bittner’s writing is formulaic. I’ve already described this in earlier reviews.

Sex

The weakest part of Ms. Bittner’s writing is her love scenes, which are neither particularly sexy nor imaginative to me.

Violence

Ms. Bittner, however, has a great imagination for violence, and it definitely shows up in Embrace the Wild Land. As usual, there are multiple scenes of shooting, assault, sexual assault, and killing. Toward the end of the book, it’s especially graphic.

In Ms. Bittner’s world, the bad people always get their comeuppance. Unfortunately, not before seriously hurting the good people.

Bottom Line on Embrace the Wild Land

Embrace the Wild Land isn’t my favorite book by Rosanne Bittner, but it’s still darn good. 

Rating Report Card
Plot
5
Characters
5
Writing
5
Chemistry
3.5
Fun Factor
5
Cover
4.5
Overall: 4.7

Synopsis

Pioneers poured into the West; Civil War ravaged the East. But as upheaval racked the continent, the Cheyenne brave Lone Eagle and his courageous white woman Abigail Trent rediscovered their desire in the peaceful New Mexico territory. Their family grew with the years and it seemed that the troubles that had tormented them would never return to invade the ranch by the wide Arkansas River.

But the chaotic world burst in upon them, separating them again. Lone Eagle had to leave the ecstasy he found in Abigail’s arms for the horror of the white man’s war. Though fresh sorrows would always plague them, the Cheyenne warrior and his determined wife believed in their love. Though they were forced apart, they knew that somehow they would be reunited and free once more to share their chosen Savage Destiny.

Embrace the Wild Land by Rosanne Bittner
CATEGORIES: , , , , , , , ,

***

sweet savage surrender sivavec

Historical Romance Review: Sweet Savage Surrender by Kathryn Hockett

historical romance review
Sweet Savage Surrender by Kathryn Hockett
Rating: half-star
Published: 1990
Illustrator: Diane Sivavec
Imprint or Line: Zebra Lovegram
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Western Romance, Native American Romance
Pages: 480
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonThriftBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Sweet Savage Surrender by Kathryn Hockett

WARNING ⚠: MILD SPOILERS & SUPER-BORING BOOK 

The Book

Sweet Savage Surrender, a Zebra Lovegram that was written by mother-daughter duo Marcia Hockett and Kathryn Kramer, aka Kathryn Hockett, is a romance between two star-crossed lovers from different worlds.

It, unfortunately, includes a hated trope of mine, instant love. “Insta-luv,” or love at first sight, is acceptable if and only if there are exciting obstacles the couple has to overcome.

Oh, there are obstacles here, all right, but boring ones.

A Preamble

I always appreciate a Native American romance that attempts to delve deeply and respectfully into the cultures of the people written about. At least, I thought I did until I realized without an engaging plot or romance to go with said respect, the novel comes off pandering and weirdly self-debasing.

Was Sweet Savage Surrender so terrible to deserve my scorn, then? Scorn, no! However, it was incredibly dull, sad to say. The romance is lacking, as the main characters fall in love right away and don’t spend much time together. Everyone is so black-and-white here. The good guys are perfect and the baddies are very bad.

Instant Love and Not Much Else

Sky Raven of the Arapaho People is a half-Native, Half-American woman with fair skin and blue eyes. I don’t know where those blue eyes came from. I know Mendelian genetics alone no longer applies to eye color, but I always thought one has to have recessive genes on both parents’ sides to get blue eyes. Green or hazel would have made more sense.

Anyway, Sky Raven comes upon an injured Anglo-American soldier being held captive by her enemy tribe, the Utes. She arranges to save the man and then nurses him back to health. As her grandfather is her tribe’s medicine man, this knowledge comes easy to Sky Raven.

The soldier is Major John Hanlen of the United States Army. He takes one look at Sky Raven and is instantly smitten. It doesn’t take long before Sky Raven feels the same way about the Yankee soldier.

“The spirits have brought us together. This was meant to be. I love you, Skyraven,” declares Major John Hanlen at 17% into this dull read.

Some Hot Pipe Action

If this book had anything interesting about it, I would have added a half star. Alas, even the sex is snoozerific.

Foreplay includes SkyRaven describing the Arapaho peace pipe ceremony, which turns John Hanlen on:

“Explain more about the ceremony and your beliefs so that I can understand.”
“The peace pipe is our most sacred possession. It is really the heart of all our sacred ceremonies…”


“And could this peace pipe ceremony help to bring harmony between your people and my soldiers?”


“I believe it could be so. The spirits want there to be peace or they would never have led me to you.” Her soul knew the gentle power of love. His caress upon her was an affirmation of life and contentment.

“I care very deeply for you,” he said softly. There was no doubt in his mind as he looked into the innocent, sincere questioning eyes looking up at him. He did have deep feelings for this beautiful, brave young woman that went beyond his gratitude for having saved his life.


“And I, you,” she managed to say before his lips were again upon her own, tasting the honey, the sweetness, and the softness…

The Conclusion to This Boring Romance

John Hanlen returns to his army and tries his best to get them not to go after the Arapaho. But there’s a commanding officer named Colonel Chivington who hates the tribe and will stop at nothing to destroy them.

So the big obstacle in this romance is that he wants to exterminate the Arapaho and John Hanlen has to stop it from happening.

Sky Raven waits among her people waiting for John Hanlen to arrive (That’s what Sky Raven calls him, not John, but John Hanlen. It got pretty weird during intimate scenes where she calls him by his full name.)

Will he be able to prevent Chivington from wiping out the Arapaho people? Will true love have its day?

Wait! More Minor Irritations…

Rather than focusing on romance, I’ll just note some nits I have to pick with this book:

Nocturnal animals out in the daytime:

“The beaver was busily building a new home for themselves, the squirrels were storing food in a hole in a tree, a large mother raccoon was teaching her kits…”

A mother raccoon with her babies out in the day? Maybe just before dusk, not in broad daylight. They could be rabid.

“There was an old Arapaho saying that Skyraven thought of now. ‘Let tomorrow take care of itself.’”

Didn’t the Bible say that? Yup, I checked. It’s in Matthew 6:34. Okay, I’ll ignore that because Hockett was probably trying to demonstrate how similar Arapaho are to European-descended Americans.

The word “thug” was used, and it took me out of place. I know from my 9th grade Social Studies “thug” referred to a certain criminal element from India in the 1800s, not to Native Americans of that same time period.

People shake their heads yes. I nod my head yes and shake it no. Okay, maybe body language was different in post-Civil War America.

These are minor irritations, but honestly, they were the most interesting facets of this read.

Final Analysis of Sweet Savage Surrender

In its attempt to be a respectful tale about the Arapaho people–a noble intent, which is admirable–Sweet Savage Surrender forgot to add a little spice to its sweetness. The villains are one-dimensionally evil, and the good guys are one-dimensionally good. It’s very paint-by-numbers and boring.

Sky Raven and John Hanlen fall in love right away, then spend most of Sweet Savage Surrender separated as he tries to prevent atrocities from being committed against her people. He succeeds, and they meet up and live happily ever after.

I wouldn’t recommend this book unless you enjoy romances where the love story takes a back seat to the action and history. Then again, there’s not much action here, either, just talking, worrying, and introspection. This was not a fun book to experience.

Rating: 1/2 Star (The cover points don’t count!)

Rating Report Card
Plot
0.5
Characters
0.5
Writing
1.5
Chemistry
1
Fun Factor
0.5
Cover
4
Overall: 1.3

Synopsis

CAPTIVE ENCHANTMENT
With skin of creamy satin and hair of ebon silk, Skyraven was the pride of her Arapaho tribe. But the voluptuous maiden had not yet met the warrior who could stir her blood… until the day she came upon the golden-haired man in the clearing — a man as sleek and powerful as the most magnificent brave. She quickly freed the handsome stranger from the cruel bonds that held him captive… only to succumb to his seductive charms once he’d regained his awesome strength. And though their passion was forbidden, the hot-blooded half-breed soon burned for the fiery rapture of her lover’s embrace!

TENDER TORMENT
After his capture by the Utes, Major John Hanlen thought death was a heartbeat away. Instead, he opened his eyes to see an enchanting, indigo-eyed angel sweetly tending his wounds. He knew he shouldn’t jeopardize his peace-seeking mission by making love to the young beauty, but just the sight of her aroused him to distraction! And once he’d tasted the secret sweetness of her deepest desires, he became her willing slave, yearning only to savor, again and again, her Sweet Savage Surrender…

SWEET SAVAGE SURRENDER by KATHRYN HOCKETT

Historical Romance Review: The Silver Link by Patricia Potter

Synopsis:

Why would her heart not listen to reason?

Antonia Ramirez knew that the tall, blond American was not to be trusted. Hadn’t it been American soldiers who had killed her mother and left her father a cripple? Yet Tristan Hampton had awakened something deep inside her that would not be denied.

Since the moment he’d first laid eyes on Antonia, Tris Hampton had been lost. He was haunted by her dark beauty. She made him feel he’d finally found the completeness he’d spent a lifetime searching for. But her father clearly hated him, and someone wanted to see him dead. Of Antonia’s love, he was certain. The question of her loyalty was still to be answered.

THE SILVER LINK by PATRICIA POTTER

SPOILER FREE REVIEW 😊

The Book

Patricia Potter creates a wonderful Latina heroine in Antonia Ramirez in her Harlequin Historical The Silver Link. She falls in love with the Anglo-American Tristan Hampton. The two are from different worlds. Despite the great risks in front of them, they are united by a love stronger than any bond. As such, they share a link that never can be severed.

The Plot

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

Antonia Ramirez is a beauty he must have. She is descended from noble, land-owning Spanish lineage. Her New Mexican roots go back generations. Her family–and more importantly her would-be husband, Ramon–are hostile to Tris, the Yanqui soldier.

When Antonia and Tristan first meet, it’s instant love. There will be many obstacles ahead before they can be together if that happens.

This was one of the first Harlequin Historicals I read. The Silver Link was a sweeping epic of two people from different societies. I enjoyed how Tris and Tonia would always find times to meet in secret. They would return to their mesa time again to share their passion.

Forbidden love is at its best here.

Here is a word of warning for those who dislike violence. The Silver Link is also quite gruesome and bloody. Tristan is shot, beaten, and has to save Antonia numerous times from attempted rape.

latina heroine
French Edition of The Silver Link

The Silver Link by Patricia Potter is packed with thrilling action. It’s also an outstanding love story.

Antonia is a rare Latina heroine, for the time. Her proud and resilient nature made her stand out. Tristan is an equally strong American hero. The Mexican-American War era is an intriguing period of transition and is a remarkable setting. Overall, it’s a hard book to forget.

4 Stars

wish on the moon

Category Romance Review: Wish on the Moon by Sally Wentworth

MILD SPOILERS😉

The Book

Wish on the Moon by Sally Wentworth has gotten mixed to low reviews around the internet, but it’s a romance I fully enjoyed.

The Plot

The heroine of Wish on the Moon, Skye, is a plain-looking, sweet girl who goes out to a Caribbean island for her cousin Jodi’s wedding.

Skye has always been in Jodi’s shadow: not as pretty, not as popular, not as rich. Skye is mopey but likable because she’s imperfect. You get the idea. She’s a portrait painter, and Jodi wants her to paint a picture of her fiance.

The sparks fly for the heroine and the hero. Who’s the hero? The very man she’s to paint a portrait of. Thane is very handsome and from the upper-crust of society. And he’s engaged to marry Skye’s cousin, Jodi.

Thane seems antagonistic to Skye at first, and that’s because he’s fighting his feelings for her. He’s not ga-ga over Jodi, but he cared enough about her to consider her the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with. Thane is not a willing cheater. But along comes Skye with her gentleness, openness, and sporting no airs of superiority.

Jodi is instinctively aware of the attraction between the pair, although she finds it hard to accept, as Skye is so “beneath” her in every way. Jodi isn’t written as a perfect martyr. She’s not very nice, and other than her wealth and beauty. One wonders what Thane sees in her.

There is a scene towards the end when Jodi sees the portrait Skye painted. She flies into a rage and destroys it. So stunning was Skye’s work that it cried out her love for Thane.

Skye and Thane struggle with their attraction. Surprisingly, Skye is more willing to take a chance than Thane is. Perhaps that was to show Thane wasn’t written to be an utterly callous monster with no regard for other people’s feelings.

My Opinion

Nevertheless, love finds a way in Wish on the Moon. Even though Jodi tries to get revenge, it’s not enough to stop what must be.

This is an unusual romance because technically, the heroine is “the other woman.” She comes in and breaks up a seemingly happy engagement–and not just a random stranger’s but her cousin’s. This trope seems to be unliked around Harlequin-loving circles, and it’s easy to understand why.

If I put myself in Jodi’s shoes, I’d see she had every right to be upset with her cousin and fiance. But Harlequin Presents exist in a part of the universe where crazy topes are acceptable and, within the hands of a solid writer, can be emotional-wrenching reads you actually enjoy. Sally Wentworth was one of Harlequin’s talented writers who could handle this plot.

Final Analysis of Wish on the Moon

Perhaps if I had read Sally Wentworth’s Wish on the Moon from Jodi’s point of view, I would have felt differently toward the main couple and viewed them as antagonists, not as the protagonists they were. Even so, perspective can alter the way opinions are formed.

Plus, with Wentworth’s solid writing, she had me rooting for Thane and Skye. She’s written some crazy books in her day, but for the most part, Wentworth was in my top tier of writers from this imprint.

Obviously, holidays for this family will mean separate households! But such is the case in HP Romancelandia.

4 Stars


Synopsis:

She felt betrayed by fate…

From England, Skye Holman had traveled to the colorful Bahamas, happily anticipating her cousin Jodi’s wedding. But when she met Thane Tyson, the groom-to-be, she couldn’t deny the spark that ignited between them.

Resolutely, Skye convinced herself that she had nothing in common with Thane. She was an artist who valued tranquility—whereas Thane was a lawyer, driven by ambition. In fact, social-climbing Jodi would be perfect for him.

Yet Skye longed for Thane, even though she was reaching for the moon. And, despite her own pain, she would never deliberately hurt Jodi. 

WISH ON THE MOON by SALLY WENTWORTH
Gentle Rogue duillo

Historical Romance Review: Gentle Rogue by Johanna Lindsey

historical romance review
Gentle Rogue by Johanna Lindsey
Rating: five-stars
Published: 1990
Book Series: Malory & Anderson #3
Published by: Avon
Genres: Historical Romance, Pirate Romance, Regency Era Romance
Pages: 426
Format: Audiobook, eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Gentle Rogue by Johanna Lindsey

VERY MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

Gentle Rogue by Johanna Lindsey was her third entry in the Malory series.

Arguably it is her most popular book. After 30 years, it is still in print and read by many new-to-the-romance-genre readers.

Johanna Lindsey Mania

I first read Gentle Rogue eons ago, when Johanna Lindsey was the greatest writer on earth. At 12 years old, what did I know?

I recall anxiously walking to Woolworth’s daily in November 1990, freaking out for her latest release. Boy, did I annoy the clerks by repeatedly asking when it was coming in!

The day I saw the clerk stocking the shelves, I grabbed the first book from the top of the box, not caring that it had a tiny slit on the cover.

I was a bit disheartened because for a DuilloFabioLindsey outing, save for Georgina’s lovely rose-trimmed gown, to me, it was lackluster. With its drab green tones and bird-bats flying in front of a huge moon, I was less than impressed.

When I saw Lindsey’s next book, Once a Princess, I would be even more disappointed in the cover design. No more Fabio (although he’d make a comeback for a few more Lindseys). Plus, Once a Princess had a stepback with a floral font on the front. I actually preferred that weird, pointed sci-fi-looking type.

The “old” Duillo-Lindsey era (1987 to 1990) was over with Gentle Rogue.

gentle rogue spiak
Gentle Rogue, Avon re-issue, 2020, Sharon Spiak cover art

The Plot

Gentle Rogue starts hilariously. Georgina Anderson is in a grungy inn in a seedy part of London. She attempts to kill a cockroach on the wall by propelling food at it, fails, but doesn’t care so long as it’s out of sight.

As usual with a Lindsey book, things get ridiculous, so check your brain at the door. Just enjoy the ride.

Stuck in England after secretly traveling there to search for her long-lost love who’d abandoned her years before, the American Georgina and her companion, Mac, lack both funds connections. They are desperately looking for a way back home.

Mac signs them up to work their way home. Georgina disguises herself as a boy to obtain passage on The Maiden Anne.

Little does she know that the ship’s captain already knows she’s a female because: #1 He’s James Malory, so he has eyes.

And #2, he’d met her before at a tavern when she was dressed in her masculine garments. Thinking she was someone else, he picked her up, only to cop a feel of her boobies.

Hardly someone the so-called “connoisseur of women” would forget.

James has the time of his life as he slowly seduces Georgina–or George, as he lovingly calls her.

But the tables are turned on this love-’em-and-leave-’em rake as Georgina leaves him when they land in the Caribbean. One of her sea-faring brothers is there at the port and whisks her away to Connecticut.

Parts of this book run parallel to its precursor, Tender Rebel (which, for me, was so-so due to a dull-as-dishwater heroine). There is some word-for-word repetition of previous scenes (perhaps to pad the word count).

Unlike its predecessor, the heroine in Gentle Rogue is a delight. All the characters are a blast: James, Georgina, James’ droll and equally rakish brother Anthony, and best of all, Georgina’s five belligerent older brothers.

In a memorable scene, they all take turns beating James into a pulp before holding him and his crew prisoners.

Lindsey and her readers must have loved George’s brothers as I did. Three of the Anderson men feature as heroes in subsequent books of their own.

Final Analysis of Gentle Rogue

The title of the book is quite accurate. The hard-muscled ex-pirate James Malory is an unrepentant rogue, taking advantage of Georgina. He thoroughly disgraces her in front of her brothers, so they’re forced to wed.

James is a droll charmer, witty, and arrogant. The perfect hero.

My favorite Anderson brother was Warren. His book, The Magic of You, is my second favorite in the Malory-Anderson series. There, he meets his match with the much younger and very persistent Amy Malory.

Those two romances are the high points for me in the Malory-Anderson series, although Gentle Rogue is a wee better.

I enjoyed Gentle Rogue very much when I first read it.

I’ve grown to love it much more now that I picture James looking like another blond, green-eyed Englishman: a young Sean Bean!

sean bean
Sean Bean as James Malory. Grrrr…

Nothing against Fabio, he’s a legend, but he can’t be the hero of every romance from ’87 to ’95!

If you haven’t read Gentle Rogue, do yourself a favor and pick this one up. It’s a romance classic.

5 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
5
Characters
5
Writing
5
Chemistry
5
Fun Factor
5
Cover
3.5
Overall: 4.8

Synopsis:

Heartsick and desperate to return home to America, Georgina Anderson boards the Maiden Anne disguised as a cabin boy, never dreaming she’ll be forced into intimate servitude at the whim of the ship’s irrepressible captain, James Mallory.

The black sheep of a proud and tempestuous family, the handsome ex-pirate once swore no woman alive could entice him into matrimony. But on the high seas his resolve will be weakened by an unrestrained passion and by the high-spirited beauty whose love of freedom and adventure rivals his own.

GENTLE ROGUE by JOHANNA LINDSEY
guarded moments

Category Romance Review: Guarded Moments by JoAnn Ross

Synopsis:

It was a command performance

Chantal Giraudeau de Montcroix was every inch a princess, and she expected the red-carpet treatment during her American tour to promote a traveling art exhibit. What she didn’t expect – and wouldn’t tolerate – was special agent Caine O’Bannion hounding her every move and cramping her formidable style.

Caine had this crazy notion that someone was out to kill her, and his constant surveillance was becoming a royal pain for Chantal – until the first attempt on her life. It was then that she commanded he keep watch over her…day and night.

GUARDED MOMENTS

SPOILER FREE REVIEW😊

The Book

JoAnn Ross’s Harlequin Temptation, Guarded Moments, takes us to the fictional European royal nation of Montcroix. Or, more precisely, it introduces us to the princess of the said fictional kingdom, the proud Chantal Giraudeau. The Giraudeau family is styled after Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier of Monaco and their jet-setting brood that the paparazzi hounded.

The Plot

Princess Chantal has quite a reputation behind her. She’s been pictured in the glossies with lots of men, and her intense but brief marriage to a race-car driver was no surprise to the press. However, she’s a woman of many identities, and there is more to her than meets the eye.

Chantal is coming to America to promote an art exhibition. There’s danger afoot, as a potential threat is making the rounds against her. Several mysterious accidents seem to have followed Chantal, and the government is taking those as serious threats.

It’s up to the recently injured-on-duty Secret Service Agent Caine O’Bannion, who is appointed as her bodyguard. As the haughty Chantal would bristle at the idea of protection, Caine pretends to be her bureaucratic US guide. Another agent poses as a limo driver.

The sparks fly between the buttoned-down agent and the beautiful and independent Chantal. She demands her own way, but it’s Caine’s job to protect the princess. Chantal dismisses them outright. Who could possibly be out to hurt her?

Caine’s instincts prove to be correct, as there is an attempt on her life. Now, rather than just accompanying her to events, Caine is there with her, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. As the two spend every moment together, they get to see there’s more than meets the eye to one another. Chantal is a vulnerable woman who was hurt in the past by love. What the press reported about her love life was highly exaggerated. Caine has his own issues, but he can’t help but care for the vulnerable princess.

Still, the danger is constantly lurking as attempts on Chantal’s life get more flagrant. Who could be behind them? And even if Caine can get to the bottom of it all, what kind of future would he and Chantal have? Although they form an intense connection, they’re from two disparate worlds. How can they ever be together?

Final Analysis of Guarded Moments

Chantal starts off as a whiny brat, but life has not been as easy-breezy for her as it seems. Like an onion, she’s got multiple layers to her. The closer Caine gets to the center, the more the tears flow.

Caine, for his part, has his eye on his job. It’s one he takes seriously, even if it’s not protecting the US President anymore. Caine can’t deny his instantaneous attraction to Chantal, but he holds his cards close to his chest. Until the very end…

Chantal’s brother Burke gets a book of his own in a later Harlequin Temptation, The Prince & the Showgirl, which I have not read, but am sure to track down one day.

This was a passionate and pleasant Harlequin Temptation. I love bodyguard romances and heroines who don’t want protection. I wouldn’t rank this Guarded Moments as a keeper, but I certainly am glad to have read it. 3.59 stars

3.59 stars

author pen names the jade affair

Category Romance Review: The Jade Affair by Madeline Harper

Synopsis:

It was no simple affair…

Reeve Holden had bailed out Clea Moore’s brother one too many times. He wished his best friend would finally grow up. As for Clea, she’d been daddy’s little girl for too long.

In fact, Reeve didn’t want anything to do with the Moore family. As far as they were concerned, he’d come from the wrong side of the tracks. His rebellious, streetwise manner had been too much for Clea’s class-conscious, affluent parents. But he owed her brother a lot. Now was his chance to pay him back – maybe his chance to show Clea the stuff he was really made of.

THE JADE AFFAIR

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

SPOILER FREE REVIEW 😊

Madeline Harper’s The Jade Affair happens to be one of my top Harlequin Temptations due to its engaging reunited lovers’ plotline. The duo of Madeline Porter and Shannon Harper wrote historical romances as Anna James or Leigh Bristol and Gothic romances under the pen name of Elizabeth Habersham. They published several category romances for Harlequin by combing one first name and last name.

In this romance, the chemistry between the protagonists is fantastic as they play detectives to find some missing jade artifacts.

A Gem of a Romance

Clea and Reeve had been dated as teenagers and fallen deeply in love. But their relationship could never be as they were from different social classes. Clea’s family was part of the upper-crust echelons, while Reeve was a tough boy from the wrong side of the tracks. They ran off to be together, but Clea’s parents tracked them down. Through lies and manipulation, they were able to separate the couple for years.

But Clea and Reeve each held a special place for the other in their hearts, never forgetting their forbidden romance.

Over the years, Reeve has maintained a friendship with Clea’s brother. Now he’s in trouble due to a mysterious jade artifact, and Clea needs Reeve’s help.

The pair embark on an investigation. They must pose undercover in a wild scheme to get to the bottom of the elusive jade mystery. Can Clea and Reeve leave their past behind them to focus on what needs to be done in the here and now? Has what’s been left in the past been truly gone?

Final Analysis of The Jade Affair

Despite the mystery of the jade affair, this is no intense romantic suspense story. As a Harlequin Temptation, the relationship and sexual chemistry are always at the forefront. Clea and Reeve struggle with their feelings for each other, but their connection is undeniable. That’s a massive part of The Jade Affair‘s charm. The duo works well together as partners-in-solving-crime, and they’re even better together in a romantic partnership. There’s plenty of humor in here besides sexy scenes.

Once Reeve lets go of resentment of their past breakup, the emotional walls come down. They’re able to delight in each other’s company. Although out of print, I’d recommend giving this one a try if you can pick up a used copy. The Jade Affair is a second-chance-at romance done right.

4 1/2 stars

Cheap Thrills

Category Romance Review: Cheap Thrills by Tiffany White

category romance

SPOILER FREE REVIEW 😊

The Book

Tiffany White (aka Anna Eberhart) created a cheeky, modern romance for the Harlequin Temptation line with her book, Cheap Thrills.

The Plot

At the beginning of Cheap Thrills, the hero Crew Harper works at a side gig as a window washer when he accidentally becomes a peeping Tom. Transfixed, can only stare as sees a beautiful woman enter an office. She undresses, and he’s shocked at what’s revealed: yes, her gorgeous body, and with a delightful secret butterfly tattoo on her pert, peachy derriere. (That’s right, I do read “The Daily Mail” on occasion!)

After the woman changes her clothes and leaves, Crew sees a man come into her office and rifle through her desk.

How outrageous! How dare this man invade a woman’s privacy?

I think it’s kind of funny how rapidly times have moved. Alexa, the heroine, has a small butterfly tattoo on her butt, and the hero acts as if it’s the naughtiest little secret a woman can keep. It’s amazing how quickly social norms change, this came out in 1990.

Anyhow, Crew makes his way into Alexa’s life–to help her out, of course. He has to let her know that there’s a weirdo on the prowl after her.

To Crew’s surprise, Alexa is not the free-spirited woman he thought she would be. The tattoo was a one-off “naughty” deed. That was alright, as Crew had plenty of charm to carry this book. He was full of wit and humor.

And sexiness, did I mention his sexiness? Lots of that here.

Final Analysis of Cheap Thrills

Harlequin Temptation #218, aka Cheap Thrills by Tiffany White, is a sexy little read. While the plot is meant to be suspenseful, not much happens. This is mostly a character-driven romance and the characters are amusing enough to keep me engaged.

I liked this just about the same as the other Tiffany White book I”ve read, Forbidden Fantasy.

This is a short romance that’s sure to charm.

Extra points to the original cover art, which appropriately shows how this story ends: happily ever after, as it should.

3.95 Stars

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

Synopsis:

He was no Peeping Tom!

Crew Harper was just doing his job – washing windows outside the fourth story of a downtown office tower. But a movement behind the glass caught his eye. And what he saw was something no red-blooded male could resist–Alexia Grant undressing!

Thank goodness he was transfixed by the caramel-haired beauty before him. Because the moment she left, Crew saw a man enter Alexia’s office and rifle through her desk. The intruder was clearly up to no good. Crew had to warn the lovely Alexia, but how could he without telling her everything he saw! 

CHEAP THRILLS by TIFFANY WHITE
country bride

Category Romance Review: Country Bride by Debbie Macomber

Country Bride, Debbie Macomber, Harlequin, 1990, Will Davies cover art

Harlequin Romance #3059

SPOILER FREE REVIEW 🙂

4 1/2 stars

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Reviewed by: Introvert Reader

Debbie Macomber‘s Country Bride was my introduction to this hugely popular author. I’m ashamed to admit that although I’ve read a handful of her romances, I had no idea that Debbie Macomber was such a commercial hit with her small-town romances. Up until recently, I had no clue that she’s got a whopping 200 million books in print and has written several movies for the Hallmark channel.

Country Bride was released in 1990. I recall really loving it. This book maintains a largely positive rating overall. But I was surprised that the top Amazon and Goodreads reviews were negative. They blamed the heroine for being too self-centered or the hero for being too overbearing. I thought nostalgia might have colored my opinion of this book, but after a recent re-read, my feelings on Country Bride remain unchanged; I love this little series romance, and a big reason was the hero, Luke.

The Plot

Country Bride is the sequel to Macomber’s A Little Bit Country, and I read the books in reverse order, which negatively affected my opinion of the first book in the series. In A Little Bit Country, countryman Clay dumped his girlfriend and fiancee, Kate Logan, for Rorie, a city girl. Country Bride picks up at Rorie and Clay’s wedding, where the heroine keeps up a brave face, pretending to be happy for the newly wedded couple, even though she’s heartbroken inside. Giving her support is her long-time ranch foreman, Luke Rivers.

I was really into soap operas back when I first read this book, so my head did a bit of mental casting for Luke. I pictured him as actor Randolph Mantooth, of Emergency fame, whom I knew from the ABC daytime soap Loving as the smooth, level-headed half of the super couple Alex and Ava. Ava was a manic, crazy “bad-girl,” a perfect foil for the sedate Alex. (Side note: you could always tell who Loving’s big couples were because of the alliteration, like Trisha and Tucker, Rocky and Rio, etc., although lots of soaps did that, too).

I thought Mantooth’s handsome, even-keeled attitude fit perfectly for Luke.

Lisa Peluso & Randolph Mantooth, aka “Ava & Alex” from “Loving

Anyway, Kate downs one too many champagnes at Rorie and Clay’s wedding reception and flirts outrageously with Luke, going so far as to propose to him. The next day she’s embarrassed. But Kate is sure that Luke will quietly forget all about her silliness. To her shock, he’s insistent that the proposal was real, and what’s more, that Kate has feelings for him.

He stands firm on acting if their engagement is genuine and that they truly are a couple. That confession blindsides Kate. Where had all this come from? To her, Luke was just dependable, reliable Luke. He was always there to do what was expected of him. How dare he act as if he knows what’s in her heart?

It’s All About Perspective

Now I suppose if I have imagined Luke like this:

“Pizza the Hutt” from “Spaceballs'”

I would have thought Luke’s behavior was pushy and creepy. But in the land of romance, our heroes are always handsome, and on rare occasions that they aren’t, they have lots of magnetism that draws people to them.

Kate is stubborn. Luke is a bullheaded man. The two are certain that their way is right. Luke calls Kate his “princess,” which is a bit squicky. However he knows Kate is a high-maintenance type of gal, and he’s up to the task been of keeping her happy. He’s tired of being ignored. So he takes advantage of the best opportunity he gets to show Kate her love for Clay was an illusion.

Final Analysis of Country Bride

I think it’s possible that readers who dislike this romance don’t like heroes who claim to know the heroine’s mind better than she does hers, which is a fair argument. It’s just in this case, Luke’s right. Kate’s feelings for Clay might have been genuine, but they never ran deep. She just saw him as the perfect guy and partner. Kate, who tried to cultivate a reputation as the perfect woman, had her mind fixated on Clay. It was never truly her heart.

This over 30-year-old small-town romance may seem from another world entirely and may not appeal to modern readers who don’t like men who come on as strong as Luke did. I don’t mind it if it’s presented appealingly. For me, this book worked. I thought this was a sweet romance about two people who made an unusual but convincing pair and would rank it as one of the better Harlequin Romances I’ve read.

Historical Romance Review: Highland Barbarian by Ruth Langan

Highland Barbarian, Ruth Langan, Harlequin, 1990, George H. Jones, cover art

Harlequin Historical #41

VERY MILD SPOILERS 😉

3 Stars

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Background to Reading Highland Barbarian

Ruth Langan wrote a series of Highland novels over the years, a few of which I’m already familiar with. I’ve read Ruth Langan’s Highland Heather and Highland Fire, the sequels to Highland Barbarian. I enjoyed those two very much and have fond memories of them.

Highland Heather was the tale of middle sister Brenna being used as Queen Elizabeth’s pawn and captured by the enigmatic Morgan Grey, “The Queen’s Savage,” to mend the rifts between the British and Scots. I’d rate it 4 to 4 1/2-stars. Highland Fire was about the youngest sister, Megan, and a story filled with lots of action, amnesia, and a great, strong-willed heroine paired with a yummy Irish hero. That was a 3 1/2 to 4-star read.

In Highland Barbarian, we see the eldest sister Meredith’s story. Perhaps if I had read this before the other books, I would have liked it more.

The Plot

After her father’s death, Meredith is now the leader of the Mac Alpin clan and must join in an arranged marriage to an ally. However, her marriage is cut short when her bridegroom is killed, and Brice Campbell, the Highland Barbarian, captures Meredith. Brice has apparently attacked the Mac Alpins many times in the past (Or has he? Is the hero of this story just a patsy for a more obvious, easily-telegraphed villain? Why, yes, he is.)

Meredith tries to escape, is thwarted, and is captured again. In time, she makes friends with Brice’s clan members. Slowly she and Brice grow close and fall in love.

But despite her love, Meredith takes flight once more. This time she is conveniently captured by an enemy of Brice who tried to rape Meredith earlier on. Brice saves the day, but Meredith flees back to her people anyway without so much as a thank you.

There’s a mildly amusing part towards the end when Queen Mary switches places with Meredith because they look so similar, being slim redheads and all (as if that’s all you have to do to look exactly like someone: share the same hair color!). Mary wants some alone time with Bothwell, so Meredith will stand in her stead and judge over arguments. And then the villain shows up, and the predictable ending comes to its predictable end.

Final Analysis to Highland Barbarian

I found the story told here to be a by-the-numbers tale filled with same-old-same-old—a good read, but barely. The love between Brice and Meredith was bland, and the action didn’t thrill me. Highland Barbarian‘s sequels are better, with more original stories than this one.

This wasn’t a terrible book by any means; it just didn’t excite me. I’d give this barely three stars and consider it just worth enough to pass the time.

four dollars and fifty one cents lass small

Category Romance Review: Four Dollars and Fifty-One Cents by Lass Small

category romance
Four Dollars and Fifty-One Cents by Lass Small
Rating: five-stars
Published: 1990
Illustrator: Unknown
Imprint or Line: Silhouette Desire #613
Published by: Silhouette
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 186
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonThriftBooksAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: Four Dollars and Fifty-One Cents by Lass Small

SPOILER-FREE REVIEW 😊

The Book

Lass Small‘s Four Dollar and Fifty-One Cents–what a fabulous title–is one of the best Silhouette Desires I’ve ever read. It’s a funny romance, passionate, sexy, and did I mention funny?

The Plot

Jan needs to find a bachelor to auction off for a local charity. Her harmless friend and neighbor Junior should do. Jan has never really noticed Junior, but he’s always been very aware of her.

Jan’s got eyes on another guy, so she’s saving up to bid on him. Junior’s a man, and Jan figures he will bring in at least a couple of bucks, even if he’s not the hottest guy in town.

That is until a hunky picture of Junior is shown in the newspaper, sweaty, shirtless, with beard-stubble. All of a sudden, Junior’s not so “junior” anymore.

For all of you in the over-40 crowd, do you remember the Diet Coke guy? There was a commercial where a studly construction worker would take his shirt off and drink Diet coke on his break. All the ladies in the buildings above him would stop their work just to ogle at him.

Here’s the commercial, in case you’ve never seen it.

Well, that’s how all the women in town feel about Junior.

Jan’s not happy about it, not one bit. Now, she’s starting to look at Junior in a different light… And he looks pretty damn sexy in her eyes.

The wonderful thing is how Junior has always harbored feelings for Jan. She’s just been too oblivious to see it!

Final Analysis of Four Dollars and Fifty-One Cents

Lass Small’s Four Dollars and Fifty-One Cents is a friends-to-lovers trope done right.

The title of this book is so witty. By the end, you’ll see the importance of it. It’s too cute! This was an amazingly funny romance. Lass Small hit another one out of the park.

Plus, she created an adorable hero I won’t ever forget. Junior rocks!

Rating Report Card
Plot
5
Characters
5
Writing
4.5
Chemistry
4.5
Fun Factor
5
Cover
4
Overall: 4.7

Synopsis:

GOING ONCE, GOING TWICE…

The truth was, Jan Folger had never really given Junior Busby a second thought–even though he’d lived next door to her for about a million years. But her charity group was holding a bachelor auction. They needed one more eligible man to put on the block…and she supposed Junior would just have to do. Then the local paper went and ran a photo of the fully grown Junior–wearing jeans and a five o’clock shadow–and suddenly it seemed like every woman in Byford, Indiana, wanted to know him better–a whole lot better. And Jan was starting to wonder if maybe she hadn’t overlooked a hot property right there in her own neighborhood …

Four Dollars and Fifty-One Cents by Lass Small
CATEGORIES: , , , , , , , , ,

***

The Yankee

Historical Romance Review: The Yankee by Kristin James

The Yankee, Kristine James, Harlequin, 1990, Max Ginsburg cover art

Harlequin Historical #57

SPOILER-FREE REVIEW 😊

3 Stars

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Plot

In Kristin James’ (aka Candace Camp) The Yankee, Andrew Stone is a former Union soldier now living in Texas. He’s a stodgy fellow, not well-liked by the local folks, and has a bad reputation. He had an unhappy marriage and now has a young daughter he has to raise by himself.

Miss Margaret Carlisle is a spinster who cares for her orphaned younger siblings. She’s not exactly the most charming person in the world either, although she has reasons not to be.

Together, Andrew and Margaret decide upon a marriage of convenience, as Andrew needs a mother for his daughter, and Margaret wants not to be dependent upon her cruel aunt’s charity.

I recollect that Andrew was a very cold man, and it took a lot of time for his heart to warm up to his efficient, capable bride. His heart had been pretty much torn to pieces by his ex-wife. With Margaret being who she is, it slowly heals, while she learns there’s more to Andrew than his gruff veneer. The kids in the book were cute, too.

Final Analysis of The Yankee

I gave The Yankee a three-star rating because it’s one of those Harlequin Historicals I read long ago, I don’t remember every detail of the plot, but I do recall feeling satisfied with the love story, although it wasn’t a book I wanted to read over and over again.

It was a nice story of two people who needed one another coming together, and that’s pretty much all I have to say about The Yankee.

carnival by jenna ryan

Category Romance Review: Carnival by Jenna Ryan

category romance

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

The setting of Carnival, a Harlequin Intrigue by Jenna Ryan, is the dark, dreary English moors. It’s a well-plotted romantic suspense book that will keep you on your toes.

The Plot

There’s been a violent murder committed. American attorney Lexie Hudson is hired to represent the accused killer, Diana. She is young and inexperienced at her job but idealistic and hardworking.

Then there’s Rick Matheson, a handsome Australian carnie worker. He is anxious to help Lexie seek out clues and also keep her out of harm’s way.

But Rick is no ordinary laborer. He’s a Scotland Yard detective employed undercover to uncover the real murderer. Rick is also there to find the missing treasure that’s the motive for the homicide.

Lexie and Rick work together, following a labyrinthine trail of clues as they try to solve this mysterious puzzle. In the meantime, they fall in love. The two share quite a sexy relationship. Rick was a nice, protective hero, and I really liked him.

The Ending

Carnival was one of those mysteries with a HUGE twist at the end because the person who committed the crime was the least likely person to execute it. No, it wasn’t the hero or heroine. Let’s just say:

***MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD***

If you’ve seen…

…the Edward Norton & Richard Gere film Primal Fear

…then you’ll be able to guess who the killer is.

***END SPOILERS***

Final Analysis of Carnival

Carnival by Jenna Ryan was a good thriller. It’s not super memorable. Still, it’s a gripping read that will keep you turning the pages to see who-dun-it.

3 Stars


Synopsis:

Nothing had prepared her for this

Thick fog seeping off the Devon moor. The brooding ruins of an alchemist’s castle. And the carnival itself, whose maze of tents and caravans hid the priceless Saxony jewels — and the identity of the carny who’d killed for them. Preparing her first criminal case, Lexie Hudson was glad of Australian roustabout Rick Matheson’s friendly face — frankly, the place spooked her.

But Lexie wasn’t too scared to pursue any and all leads, and that worried Rick, working undercover for Scotland Yard. His concern wasn’t entirely professional — he was greatly attracted to the young American lawyer, who wasn’t experienced enough to know that the gravest threat to her well-being was her burning desire to uncover the truth.

CARNIVAL by JENNA RYAN
terms of surrender jones

Historical Romance Review: Terms of Surrender by Mollie Ashton

historical romance review
Terms of Surrender by Mollie Ashton
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1990
Illustrator: George H. Jones
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Historical #46
Published by: Harlequin
Genres: Historical Romance, Napoleonic Era Romance
Pages: 304
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonThriftBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Terms of Surrender by Mollie Ashton

VERY MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

Mollie Ashton’s Terms of Surrender was my first Harlequin Historical. This book got me hooked on the series for a long time!

It’s a wonderful gem. Don’t believe me? Just read the seal of approval by historical fiction/romance legend Roberta Gellis on the cover.

The Plot

Terms of Surrender takes place during the post-French Revolution/Napoleonic Era, one of my favorite time periods.

A beautiful Frenchwoman, Julie, is married to an impotent, elderly man who desperately wants an heir.

The husband hires an Englishman to seduce her and impregnate her. Sebastian Ramlin does just that, but not before falling in love.

He pursues a love he knows is impossible. However, he just can’t stay away from Julie!

Although in the end, he must leave her. There is a long separation of twenty years.

The lovers will reunite, but the stakes have changed. Can they make it work?

Towards the latter part of Terms of Surrender, something happens, which shocked me because it was so unusual in the tame romances I read. It was a very unexpected moment in a Harlequin, historical or otherwise.

Napoleon plays a big part in the book, too, so that’s a major plus for me. There’s a twist involving him at the end. I bet you won’t expect what it is!

Final Analysis of Terms of Surrender

If you can get your hands on Mollie Ashton’s Terms of Surrender, do it.

It’s an emotional roller-coaster and quite a little treasure!

4 Stars

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

Synopsis:

Lover…or Deceiver?
Julie Farroux had escaped the guillotine by marrying a withered old man who desired her only for her inheritance. Their loveless union had left her believing her heart was as shriveled as his, until she found the warmth of desire in the arms of a handsome stranger. In the glittering city that was Napoleon’s Paris, deception and greed were a way of life.

Sebastian Ramlin had made a devil’s bargain with Julie’s husband … to seduce Julie — and give her husband an heir. But he never planned to fall in love with her. Could he find the courage to reveal his treachery … and risk losing the woman he loved? 

Terms of Surrender by Mollie Ashton
escape not my love outside

Historical Romance Review: Escape Not My Love by Elaine Coffman

historical romance review
Escape Not My Love by Elaine Coffman
Rating: five-stars
Published: 1990
Illustrator: Leslie Pellegrino-Peck
Published by: Dell
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Western Romance
Pages: 468
Format: Paperback, eBook
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Escape Not My Love by Elaine Coffman

SPOILER FREE REVIEW 😊

The Book

As I’ve mentioned before, Elaine Coffman‘s Escape Not My Love was not my first venture into romance. It was, however, was my first historical. And for that, I am grateful.

This is a fantastic western romance that took me on an emotional ride.

escape not my love western romance
Escape Not My Love, Elaine Coffman, Dell, 1990, Leslie Pellegrino-Peck cover art

Escape Not My Love, My First Historical Romance

Superficially, Escape Not My Love drew me in from the outset. It had a stunning stepback, designed with a pattern of a woman’s purple and white-flowered gown. The cover opened to reveal the protagonists embracing in a Laura Ashley-designed clinch. (Thank God for that step-back! I first read this as I sat in church, waiting for my turn to enter the confessional and talk to the priest. He didn’t know what kind of trashy book I was reading, and I wasn’t about to volunteer that tidbit. Ha!)

The book quickly drew me in and I instantly fell in love with the genre. I found in historicals a frequent theme of this thrilling battle of the sexes that was lacking from most of the tame Harlequin Romances and modern Temptations I was used to. (I had yet to discover the Presents line).

While hardcore “bodice rippers” no longer dominated the market as they had in years past, in the early 1990’s most heroes in historical romances had not yet been gelded into modern-minded wankers that are so prevalent today. I’m being snarky and don’t mean to offend, but that’s just my no-holds-barred opinion.

If contemporary readers prefer forward-thinking, sensitive gunslingers, Vikings, warriors, noblemen, etc., in their historicals, well as they say: Chacun à ses goûts, n’est-ce pas? 

I prefer my historical heroes to have a rougher edge.

The girl would be more than a job to him. He had known it the moment he’d looked at her face. Was that why her eyes were so wide and round? Because she knew it too? It was ordained and irrevocable. Sometime. Somewhere. Somehow. He would take her to his bed.

The Plot

In this western romance, Jay Culhane is a bounty hunter. His job is to travel deep into Mexico where armed criminals roam and bring home the well-meaning but naïve heroine, Jennifer Baxter, who moved from TX to open a school for underprivileged children. Jennifer–who is the youngest of 11 girls–is used to getting her way.

So you know this book will be one long power play between the pair.

Jay kicks down the door of her little house when he first lays eyes upon her black-haired, violet-eyed (of course!), lingerie-clad body. Lust takes over reason, and he immediately orders Jenny to strip naked at gunpoint and then enjoys the show. Cuz that’s the kind of guy he is.

Jay takes Jennifer on a long, arduous trip back to Texas.

He’s occasionally violent, at times even abusive to Jenny. To prevent her from escaping, he ties her to the back of his horse and makes her walk in the scorching midday sun while he rides comfortably wearing a protective hat. He forces her to cook meals and punishes her with kisses–to which she responds with passion!

Yet he also treats her sores and wounds with gentleness, not to mention ill-hidden guilt. He kills snakes for her when she cries out in terror and unflinchingly murders renegade Bandidos who try to kidnap and rape Jennifer.

My Opinion

When I first read Escape Not My Love, I was twelve years old, and my parents had just divorced, so I had begun to immerse myself in books for escape. It sounds a bit trite to say a romance changed my life–and I won’t be so extreme as to go that far. However, this book definitely influenced me in a profound way.

It gave me something to look forward to and enjoy: hope. The love story between Jay and Jennifer is phenomenal.

Elaine Coffman’s writing is so rich and lyrical. It’s moving. And yes, happy tears form every time I read that sweet ending.

Read the Original Version of This Western Romance

I will mention that if you want to see this western, old-school romance portrayed at its best, read the original edition. I would not recommend the re-issue that came out in 1997. “Jay-lite” isn’t as sexy as the tortured, lone-wolf of the 1990 version.

escape not my love
Escape Not My Love, Elaine Coffman, Ballantine, 1997 re-edited version, cover artist unknown

I dislike that many romance writers think all readers take offense at the “traditionally macho” heroes of old. Today, the worst types of anti-heroes and tortured, abusive man-hoes are accepted in contemporaries, Dark Erotica, New Adults, and lots of paranormals–where anything can happen.

Meanwhile, men who lived 100, 500, or 1,000 years ago have to be represented as ultra-sensitive proto-feminists. The fact that historicals have so many SNAG (Sensitive New Age Guys) type heroes makes me wary of reading modern romances.

Yup, I’m an old fart, what can I say?

Final Analysis of Escape Not, My Love

Nostalgia may have a bit to do with my ratings of older books. Regardless, I’ve read this many times over the years, and for me, Elaine Coffman’s Escape Not My Love holds up.

If you don’t like cruel heroes who treat the heroine nastily from the get-go, keep in mind that a devastating past tormented Jay. It’s his love for Jennifer that teaches him to let go of the old hurts.

The epilogue might have you reaching for your hankies. Or make you smile as the tough-hombre Jay Culhane settles down into married life with children.

I wasn’t the only reader who loved this book. Escape Not My Love (in its original un-PC form) won the 1990 Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award for Western Historical Romance.

Because it was my first historical romance, and one that–to this day–I extremely enjoy, it’s a keeper.

5 Stars

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

SYNOPSIS

A GENTLY BRED HELLION
With hair as dark as sin and a face and a body that were pure heaven, Jennifer Baxter was a woman who knew her own mind and did as she pleased…until she ran off into dangerous territory south of the border. Suddenly she was the captive of a commanding gunslinger sent by her wealthy father to bring her back home. Not about to take orders from any man, she fought the arrogant stranger, struggling to resist his raw masculine virility and recklessly challenging his determination to vanquish her in every way.

AN ARROGANT GUNSLINGER
U.S. Deputy Marshal Jay Culhane had tracked down outlaw gangs and renegade Indians, but he’d never encountered a prisoner as infuriating as the beautiful schoolteacher Jennifer. From the first time he saw her he swore he would take her to his bed, claim her innocence, and bring her to a woman’s natural fulfillment. But first he had to tame her. From the shimmering desert to a magnificent Texas ranch to the genteel drawing rooms of Savannah, he would pursue her relentlessly, ruled by a fierce passion for a woman who dared him to believe in the redeeming power of love.

ESCAPE NOT MY LOVE by ELAINE COFFMAN