Category Archives: year 1995

Midnight angel kleypas

Historical Romance Review: Midnight Angel by Lisa Kleypas

historical romance review
Midnight Angel by Lisa Kleypas
Rating: three-half-stars
Published: 1995
Illustrator: Max Ginsburg, Fredericka Ribes
Book Series: Stokehurst #1
Published by: Avon
Genres: Historical Romance, Victorian Era Romance
Pages: 373
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Midnight Angel by Lisa Kleypas

SPOILER FREE REVIEW 😊

The Book

Lisa KleypasMidnight Angel is the predecessor to the only one of her novels I’ve been unable to finish, Prince of Dreams. I started Prince of Dreams, not knowing it was a sequel; the Elaine Duillo stepback cover lured me in.

I should have started with this one, which features a Max Ginsburg tip-in illustration, as this is by far the better romance.

The Plot

The story opens with Lady Anastasia Kaptereva. She is in jail, sentenced to hang for a murder she did not commit. Anastasia doesn’t have any recollection of the event.

She flees Russia for exile to England, where under an assumed name, she lands employment as a governess to young Lady Emma Stokehurst.

The hero Luke, Lord Stokehurst, is unique in that he’s disabled, missing a hand, with a hook in its place. He is a widower whose wife died in a fire. And he’s vowed never to love again.

His 12-year-old daughter Emma is in need of care. Emma is the heroine in Prince of Dreams, where she is paired off with Tasia’s annoying brute of a cousin Nikolas Angelovsky. He was such an awful hero; I DNF’d that book. Unthinkable for a Kleypas, but he rubbed me the wrong way. Strange, as he’s not so terrible here in Midnight Angel.

midnight angel lisa kleypas
Midnight Angel, Lisa Kleypas, Avon, 1995, Max Ginsburg cover art, John De Salvo model

Luke is about 15 years older than Tasia (she’s 18; he’s 34). Luke is “tortured” and domineering, not a thoughtfully sensitive but strong quasi-beta male with a cream-puff interior. The power dynamics may be off-putting to some. I didn’t mind.

When Tasia and Lucas get together, the steam factor is hot. Kleypas writes excellent love scenes, which is why the book was enjoyable.

The plot was a bit of a kitchen-sink affair, as there are many factors thrown in: the Gothic aura, amnesia, murder, a nasty other woman, and lots of drama. Plus, there are evil baddies, a tiger, and some paranormal factors. The supernatural stuff is further explored in Prince of Dreams.

My Opinion

Midnight Angel was good, better than its follow-up, but not anything exceptional. If you’ve read my reviews, you know where I stand on the grieving widowers trope, but it was mostly tolerable here. Mostly.

Some aspects were rushed, making my rating for this book drop a few percentage points. It’s melodramatic and cheesy at times. Then again, I don’t mind cheesy.

I liked this historical overall, but I don’t think it’s for every reader. Fans of Kleypas’ romances written in the 20th century–particularly her Hathaway and Ravenel series–probably will not have a good time as I did with Midnight Angel.

The ratings on Amazon and Goodreads are relatively low for a Kleypas romance, with a considerable number of 1 or 2-star reviews.

That didn’t sway my opinion, as I enjoy Kleypas’ 1990s to early 2000s romances more than her “modern” books.

Final Analysis of Midnight Angel

Historical romance is a broad genre and Lisa Kleypas’ is a rare author with broad genre appeal. Midnight Angel is a solid, if not stellar, romance. Tasia and Lord Stokehurst are an unlikely couple, but their story is full of passion, intrigue, and danger.

Opinions are mixed about this one, so your mileage may vary. As for me, while I won’t be returning to Midnight Angel, I am glad I read it.

3.74 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
3
Characters
3
Writing
4
Chemistry
4
Fun Factor
3.5
Cover
4.5
Overall: 3.7

Synopsis

A noblewoman of frail beauty and exotic mystery fakes her own death to escape the gallows. And now she must flee. In disguise and under a false identity, she finds unexpected sanctuary in the arms of a handsome and arrogant yet gallant British lord—who must defy society to keep her safe . . . and overcome a tragic past to claim her as his own.

MIDNIGHT ANGEL by LISA KLEYPAS
an outrageous proposal

Category Romance Review: An Outrageous Proposal by Miranda Lee

an outrageous proosal category romance
An Outrageous Proposal by Miranda Lee
Rating: four-half-stars
Published: 1995
Illustrator: Unknown
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Presents #1737
Published by: Harlequin
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 224
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: An Outrageous Proposal by Miranda Lee

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

Miranda Lee’s An Outrageous Proposal is an outrageously sexy Harlequin Presents. This book was released as a Presents Plus, a special series within the regular Presents line that ran for a couple of years in the mid-1990s.

I gather that these books were written by the line’s best-selling authors. Initially, they were longer than the average Presents by about 20 pages. The covers were also colored and had individualized fonts for the authors’ names. By the time the last Presents Plus was published, the length no longer mattered, and the covers looked more or less like regular Presents.

The Characters

Laura had been happily married to Dirk Thornton. The only thing that would have made their marriage perfect was a baby. After years of vigorous efforts, however, the couple had trouble conceiving. Laura became so obsessed with her inability to have a child, leading to their marriage crumbling. After a vicious argument, Dirk left her.

Six months have passed, and it seems Dirk has spent no time grieving over the end of his marriage. The high-powered attorney is seen around Sydney’s flashy events with even more striking brunettes dangling on his arm.

When the book begins, Laura sees Dirk at the Opera House with one of those sexy ladies. Laura can’t help but feel jealous. She has never stopped loving her husband. It had been almost impossible to bear seeing Dirk flaunting his many women, and without the support of her former in-laws, Dirks’ brother, and his wife, she’d be lost.

The Plot

A Separated Couple

Laura realizes she wants her husband back and asks for reconciliation. Dirk is cruel and throws her offer back in her face. Did she really think he’d take her back so easily? If she wants him, she has a long line to wait behind.

Laura won’t be deterred. Then Dirk reveals to her that he’s sterile. There will never be any children for them. To his way of thinking, what’s the point of marriage if there can’t be children? Dirk proposes instead of reconciling, they engage in a no-strings affair.

Laura and Dirk do just that; this is where Miranda Lee shines. She excels at writing hot steamy scenes without delving into raunchiness.

Laura realizes that without Dirk, children don’t matter. She can live without offspring, but she can’t live without her husband!

So, holy moly, it’s a shock to the system when Laura finds out she’s pregnant!

The Reunited Lovers

Hold on to your horses because here is the revelation: Dirk was never sterile.

Moreover, all those women he’d paraded around town were part of a ruse to make Laura jealous to fight for her man. Dirk had read somewhere–perhaps on a paper placemat at a greasy spoon sometime in the wee hours of the night after a bender–that women have difficulty conceiving if they’re too obsessed with it.

Laura’s constant focus on having a baby was the very thing that prevented her from getting pregnant!

By removing that concept from the equation, Dirk knew Laura’s anxiety would subside, enabling them to engage in lots of steamy sex, and then… viola!

A miracle baby would solve all their problems.

Final Analysis of An Outrageous Proposal

Laura and Dirk, and the child will make a happy family. And Dirk no doubt will come up with another outlandish ruse in the future to keep his marriage satisfactorily kinky.

I absolutely cherished this oddball romance. It indeed had an outrageous proposal for a wild plot. I marvel at the craziness of Harlequin Presents’ stories. The best writers could sell the wackiness, making these little books such entertaining and addictive reads. Miranda Lee’s sensuous writing shines here in An Outrageous Proposal. By this time in her career, she had hit her stride.

1995 would be a prolific and productive time for the writer, as this was also the year she released her Hearts of Fire miniseries.

An Outrageous Proposal won the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award for Best Harlequin Presents Plus in 1995.

4.5 Stars

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

Synopsis:

Laura wasn’t surprised when she saw Dirk Thornton with a glamorous brunette: her estranged husband’s reputation as a womanizer was well-known to her. But she was shocked by her feelings for Dirk–they weren’t dead at all and, what was more, he knew it!

Soon Dirk, a top Sydney criminal lawyer, was pursuing her relentlessly, but Laura couldn’t forget that she’d been unable to conceive his child–which meant that there could be no future for them. Why then was she still tempted to accept Dirk’s simply outrageous proposal?

AN OUTRAGEOUS PROPOSAL by MIRANDA LEE
The Perfect Marriage, Laurey Bright 1995 Diane Sivavec

Category Romance Review: A Perfect Marriage by Laurey Bright

The Book

It’s difficult for me to give Laurey Bright’s* A Perfect Marriage a coherent review because it’s a romance novel that deals with adultery.

The Plot

Max and Celine have had a comfortable, friendly marriage for 12 years, however with no passion nor love. The two had been hurt prior to their marriage and agreed that a union based on friendship–not love–was best. Then things take a sharp left turn when the male protagonist “falls in love” with another woman, his co-worker. She’s much younger than he is of course. Max sleeps with her and then leaves his Celine.

But after a night of unexpected passion with Celine, Max gets his estranged wife pregnant. Finally, Max realizes, almost too late, that it’s his wife he’s loved all along.

This was a difficult romance to stomach. The heroine is way too good for the “hero,” a pathetic man in the throes of a mid-life crisis.

Despite the fact that Bright tries to make Kate, the other woman, seem like a naïve, beautiful virgin who is as much a victim as Celine, she wasn’t. In my eyes, she was a manipulative beeyotch. Kate was no innocent schoolgirl. She’s an educated attorney who had no qualms about breaking up a marriage. She even dared to ask a pregnant Celine to let Max go.

Max never sufficiently redeems himself. It is only through Celine’s love and forgiveness that reconciliation is possible.

Final Analysis of A Perfect Marriage

A Perfect Marriage by Laurey Bright was an emotional roller-coaster. The author does a wonderful job showing how separation and divorce can affect not just the spouses, but the whole extended family.

Ultimately, as hard as this book was to handle at times, it deserves a positive rating because of how it portrays the healing power of love.

A Perfect Marriage was awarded the Romance Writer’s of America’s RITA Award for Best Long Contemporary Romance in 1996.

*(Laurey Bright is a pseudonym for Daphne Clair)

3 Stars


Synopsis

Broken Vows

To their friends, family and neighbors, Celine and Max Archer had a perfect marriage. Only the Archers knew they’d never been in love, and that nights of passion were few and far between. Still, both thought the other happy with the dry-eyed deal they’d made instead of vows…

Until Max broke the bargain—by wanting more. And suddenly, after twelve peaceful years, the perfect marriage was over…

But when Celine realized how much she loved her husband, was it too late to get him back? For unbeknownst to Max, they’d been blessed with a new beginning…”

A PERFECT MARRIAGE by LAUREY BRIGHT

Category Romance Review: Tonight and Forever by Brenda Jackson

Tonight and Forever, Brenda Jackson, Pinnacle, 1995, Cover Artist TBD

Arabesque Romance

SPOILER FREE 😊

3 1/2 Stars

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Brenda Jackson’s Tonight and Forever is her first published book and the first in her long-running series of the Madaris family. It’s a Pinnacle Arabesque romance from 1995, which are category romances but are not numbered, at least not to my knowledge.

Plot And Characters

Lorren Jacobs has left behind her past in California to return to her roots in Texas. After a bad marriage led to a bitter divorce, all she wants is to be with the people she loves and focus on her career of writing children’s books. At a party, the successful doctor Justin Madaris catches sight of her and is instantly smitten. Lorren is a beautiful woman, and receiving male attention is natural, but she wants none of that. Especially not from handsome men like Justin Madaris.

While Lorren had an unhappy marriage to a horrible man, Justin is a widower of ten years. His marriage was happy, but sadly, his wife is dead. Justin, however, is still in the realm of the living and is willing to live and love. He’s a mature man in touch with his feelings, not one who lets his feelings control him. However, he does have a sort of rosy, idealized version of his first wife and does keep a token from her. Usually, I’m not too fond of the dead wife trope, but I didn’t feel that Justin was mourning his wife to the exclusion of living in the present. He’s obviously attracted to Lorren and willing to have a relationship with her.

Justin pursues Lorren. Lorren is attracted to the good doctor, but she’s unsure. Her husband hurt her with lies about her inadequacy in the bedroom, which caused a hard shell to form around her as far as men are concerned. But Justin is gentle in his courtship. Lorren’s hesitancy could get a little off-putting, but if, as a reader, you enjoy a kind, sensitive hero who doesn’t force his way over the heroine, you’ll love Justin.

Parts from Lorren’s past make a reappearance to cause trouble. Justin, in a way, has to come to terms that the future is now with Lorren and not with a past that’s gone forever.

Final Analysis of Tonight and Forever

This is a fairly simple romance with a fairly simple plot. The writing is good, but what might one expect from a first book. What propels Tonight and Forever into a “better than good” zone is that it isn’t just a romance about the healing power of love. It’s a book about the power of love itself.

Jackson has since gone on to author over 100 works of fiction. I’m interested in reading more of her work, especially as she’s peppered this book with plenty of side characters you know are getting stories of their own.

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

viking magic

Category Romance Review: Viking Magic by Angela Welles

viking magic category romance
Viking Magic Rating: four-stars
Published: 1995
Illustrator: TBD
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Presents #1681
Book Series: Postcards From Europe #10
Published by: Harlequin, Mills & Boon
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 188
Format: Paperback, eBook
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: Viking Magic by Angela Welles

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

Viking Magic by Angela Welles was the entry for Denmark in Harlequin Presents‘ 1995 Postcards from Europe mini-series.

Viking Magic features an honest-to-goodness nice guy hero, and a neurotically insecure heroine (aren’t they all?) united on a quest of sorts.

The Plot

Gina Price is in Copenhagen to find her wayward teenage sister, who’s run off with a young Danish student. She has an address that might be a clue as to her sister’s whereabouts. So she knocks on the door of an apartment.

Who should open the door but a Viking god of a man dressed in nothing but boxers!

The man’s not too keen on seeing Gina, as, #1, she’s interrupted his sleep. And #2, he thinks she’s one of his conniving ex’s friends trying to steal a valuable painting from him.

Things are clarified in short order, and the man, Rune Christenson, has nothing to do with Gina’s sister. However, his missing nephew does.

And so Rune takes Gina on a tour of magical Copenhagen as they search for the missing lovebirds.

There are a couple of sensual scenes that stood out. Rune has Gina drink some aqua vitae with him, and they entwine their arms and look deep into each other’s eyes before saying, “Skoal!” and drinking. Later, Rune surprises her by seductively playing the saxophone for her on stage at a club.

Two People Hurt By Love

Gina’s been hurt by love in the past, and Rune, too, is wary of the other sex after a recent nasty affair. As the two get to know each other, their defenses break down, and they make love.

Gina is a virgin, but Rune isn’t a dominant “Now you’re mine and only mine” type, although he appreciates that he had the honor of being Gina’s first lover.

When Rune’s nephew returns, he tells them Gina’s sister summarily dumped him. So Gina decides it’s time to high-tail it out of there without much of an explanation. I did say she was irrationally insecure, right?

I forget why, but the heroine returns to Copenhagen on a business trip and is invited to one of Rune’s parties.

Of course, she doesn’t show up, but Rune tracks her down and makes his declaration of love, one that if Gina had only stuck around, she would have heard the night they made love.

Postcards From Denmark

I don’t know why the Nordic nations of Europe don’t feature more prominently in HPlandia.

Those heroes are just as exciting as the Greek, Spanish, Italian, and Arab ones.

I probably rated this book higher because of my penchant for Nordic heroes, who are rare in the Presents line.

Final Analysis of Viking Magic

Viking Magic was not an angsty Harlequin Presents at all, but I enjoyed it for what it was: a sweet love story.

Viking Magic hits some sweet spots for me, so I’ve reread it once or twice. This romance holds up well.

4 stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
4
Characters
4
Writing
4
Chemistry
3.5
Fun Factor
4
Cover
4
Overall: 3.9

Synopsis

Gina Price had gone to Copenhagen on a mission — to find her willful teenage sister. She hadn’t planned on the help of a gorgeous Viking — especially once he accused her of being a thief! But help her he did, because just like his ancestors, Rune Christensen had clearly set out to conquer..

VIKING MAGIC by ANGELA WELLES