Category Archives: year 1998

through-the-storm

Historical Romance Review: Through the Storm by Beverly Jenkins

Beverly Jenkins Through the Storm
Through the Storm by Beverly Jenkins
Rating: three-stars
Published: 1998
Illustrator: TBD
Book Series: LeVeq Family #1
Published by: Avon
Genres: Civil War Romance, Black Romance, Historical Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Audiobook, eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Through the Storm by Beverly Jenkins

VERY MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

Through the Storm by Beverly Jenkins is a romance about a former slave finding love during the American Civil War and Reconstruction Era with a man from a proud and established Louisiana family of Haitian descent.

I’ve only read one Beverly Jenkins romance, her first outing, Night Song, almost thirty years ago. I liked it but never picked up another book by this author and wanted to remedy that.

Through the Storm has gained high marks and positive reviews. For my part, I found it engaging, although I couldn’t help but think it needed tightening up in some areas.

The Set Up

Sable Fontaine is a slave of mixed European and African ancestry. At the beginning of Through the Storm, she is 29 years old when an elderly aunt reveals her bloodline secret. Sable is told that she is the descendent of African queens and two generations of slave owners.

Her current owner–and father–plans to sell her to a depraved man, known to be extremely brutal with slaves. Her aunt will not allow this.

The Plot

Through the Storm begins as Sable’s master is doomed to a fiery death as his home burns with him inside. Knowing she has to forge a place for herself, she flees to find sanctuary. On her travels, she meets Harriet Tubman, who tells Sable she has been waiting for her. Tubman guides Sable to a contraband camp, a haven for refugee slaves.

Sable meets Union soldier Raimond LeVeq, who wastes no time letting Sable know of his attraction to her. He’s supposed to be suave and debonair, but sometimes he came off as trying too hard. Sable rebuffs his advancements, quickly figuring out his number.

She works at the camp, does errands and chores, helping the men with letters and other duties. Nevertheless, Raimond is a charmer, and Sable finds herself falling under his allure in time.

However, the evil man who purchased Sable looms on the horizon, forcing Sable to flee yet again, this time further North. Raimond is left with no word why. What could have been love turns into mistrust and contempt.

Sable finds herself face to face with Raimond later on, this time under different circumstances. He needs to find a wife. Raimond’s mother is convinced that Sable is the woman for him. So he reluctantly finds himself committed to the woman who almost broke his heart.

Sable and Raimond reconnect, learning to trust and care for one another again. Still, they have their struggles. Raimond comes on hard, but Sable is no pushover. Raimond has a mistress, although he quickly casts her aside. And danger still looms on the horizon, with the crazed villain determined to have Sable.

Final Analysis of Through the Storm

Beverly Jenkin’s Through the Storm is a slightly uneven romance filled with multiple tropes and a hefty dose of history. I really wanted to love this but found myself skimming through some parts.

Through the Storm certainly does not merit an unfavorable rating, as I enjoyed many elements, but some of the negatives overshadowed them. The pacing is a bit off, as many events occur in one section, then nothing happens in others. Also, I could have done without some of the info-dumping “As you know Bob” dialogue.

Sable is a fantastic heroine, filled with grit and competence. Raimond is an “Alpha,” and he comes on quite intense at times. Raimond is nowhere as smooth as he thinks he is. However, I’m pleased to note that the love scenes are well-done and erotic in a very 1990s fashion.

The villain is a rather hateful beast, and I relished his comeuppance.

I appreciated that Through the Storm was no wallpaper romance. It was a genuine historical–or at least, one where historical events mattered.

All in all, I’m glad I read this one, but I think there are other romances by Jenkins that will be more suited to my tastes.

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

Synopsis

Sable, a slave on the run to escape the cruel man she’s been sold to is forced to betray the charming Union officer Raimond LeVeq, who had romanced her and championed her.

Brought together again by fate and an arranged marriage, she must try and win the trust of LeVeq–the man she truly loves.

Through the Storm by Beverly Jenkins
meant to be married

Category Romance Review: Meant To Be Married by Ruth Wind

category romance
Meant to Be Married by Ruth Wind
Rating: five-stars
Published: 1998
Illustrator: TBD
Imprint or Line: Silhouette Special Edition #1194
Published by: Silhouette
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 248
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: Meant To Be Married by Ruth Wind

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

Meant To Be Married by Ruth Wind (aka Barbara Samuels) is a powerful romance that brought tears to my eyes. This second-chance-at-love story is underscored by superb characterization and a sensitive writer’s hand.

The Characters and Setup

Meant To Be Married begins a decade in the past when Elias Santiago and Sarah Greenwood defied their families to become lovers. The teenage Romeo and Juliet were precisely that: two youths from feuding clans who fell in love with one another and had to keep their relationship secret.

For over a century, Santiago and Greenwood blood has been shed via lynchings, murders, and suicides. Legend says the feud began when a Santiago male violated a Greenwood female. The Greenwoods hanged the Santiago man, and in turn, the Greenwood woman killed herself. Was it due to shame or could it have been heartbreak?

Whatever the reason, the enmity between the families has grown stronger over time.

The high school sweethearts are on their way out of state to elope. Then a change of heart makes them turn back to contact their parents. Sarah’s father is a police officer, and to their dismay, they are met on the road with sirens and flashing red and blue lights.

Elias, who is a couple of years older than Sarah, is taken away and arrested. Sarah is whisked off to a home for pregnant girls. There she languishes for months, with no word from Elias. But how can he contact her when he’s trapped in jail for months before being released and has no idea where Sarah is? After she gives birth, Sarah’s parents put the baby up for a closed adoption.

Sarah goes to New York to become an acclaimed photographer, snapping pics of models and celebrities. Elias stays behind in their hometown of Taos, New Mexico, and opens a thriving tea business. Time and distance separate them, but they have a bond that will unite them.

The Plot

After Sarah’s father has a heart attack, she receives a call from her mother, begging her to return home. Through the years, Sarah has visited her parents, but never for more than a day at a time. However, it’s time to put old ghosts to rest. Sarah returns to Taos. It’s no surprise when she sees Elias again, and their attraction is as vibrant as it was in the past. Even more so in the present time.

Years ago, there had been many obstacles in their way. They were too young. Their families were involved in a generations-long feud. The Greenwoods were upper class, and the Santiagos, although upwardly mobile, weren’t quite there yet The Greenwoods are Anglo-European; the Santiagos are Hispanic, a mix of Spanish and Amerindian heritage.

Now, some circumstances have changed, while some things remain as they always have. But fate will play a guiding hand, forcing Elias and Sarah to cross paths. Elias has a teenage niece with aspirations of being a model. He reaches out to Sarah, offering to pay her to photograph the girl and create a portfolio. Sarah reluctantly agrees.

As the two meet up again and again, they cannot deny their feelings for one another. How can they mend the wounds of the past when the wounds are still raw and gaping open?

Ruth Wind’s beautiful prose had me immersed in the semi-tragic love story. There were points when the suffering was overwhelming. She had me hissing at the contemptuous attitudes of the senior generations. I was enthusiastically rooting for Elias and Sarah to make it as a forever couple.

Final Analysis of Meant to Be Married

The ending of Meant to Be Married was a bittersweet conclusion. For although Elias and Sarah are finally reunited, theirs is an incomplete joining. A vital piece is missing, and their happily-ever-after is not a perfect one.

And then, the epilogue comes along and gives them a ray of hope. That was a real punch-in-the-gut moment. I truly felt Elias and Sarah’s joy and pain.

This book was a beautifully written romance. Meant to Be Married is so close to perfection. It’s a keeper, although, at times, the anguish was too much to bear. I get misty-eyed simply thinking about Elias and Sarah’s torment. Regardless of what they endured, the power of love proves paramount.

Even if the ending isn’t wrapped up in a pretty ribbon, the pair have found each other again. They will finally get married, as was meant to be.

Rating Report Card
Plot
5
Characters
5
Writing
5
Chemistry
5
Fun Factor
4.5
Cover
4
Overall: 4.8

Synopsis

If only they had married, all those years ago…

But their warring families did everything in their power to keep Elias and Sarah apart — short of destroying their love for each other. And soon enough the Santiagos and the Greenwoods succeeded in tearing the young beauty from her darkly handsome — and forbidden — groom-to-be…

Now Sarah was back in town, but she was unprepared to see the bitterness in Elias’s eyes — or the desire that still simmered there. If only for a moment they could forget the past, they could have it all — the love, the family, the future they once dreamed of….

Meant To Be Married by Ruth Wind
stranger in my arms kleypas

Historical Romance Review: Stranger in My Arms by Lisa Kleypas

historical romance review
Stranger in My Arms by Lisa Kleypas
Rating: four-half-stars
Published: 1998
Illustrator: Max Ginsburg
Published by: Avon
Genres: Historical Romance, Regency Era Romance
Pages: 368
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Stranger in My Arms by Lisa Kleypas

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

Stranger in My Arms was the first Lisa Kleypas romance I read, and found it to be quite enchanting. Although I was already familiar with this kind of plot, the book came off very fresh, if a bit improbable.

The Plot

If you’ve seen the Richard Gere and Jodie Foster movie, Sommersby, you’ll know the basic story. Instead of Reconstruction Era American South, this romantic tale takes place in Regency England.

Lady Lara, Countess of Hawksworth, is happy to be a widow. Lara had a horrible marriage to a man who was a monster to her. Her husband Hunter was cold, dispassionate, and unfaithful.

Hunter was pronounced dead, having been presumed drowned at sea, the body never recovered. Now Lara is a widow, free to live as she desires.

Then the worst imaginable occurs when Hunter mysteriously reappears.

Although he looks exactly like her dead husband, this man doesn’t always act like it. He doesn’t seem to know or remember certain things, which could be due to an injury from his accident at sea.

Stranger in My Arms, Lisa Kleypas, Avon, Max Ginsburg cover art

More likely, as Lara suspects, he’s an imposter. How else to explain the desire she feels for this man? He’s sweet and caring to her and makes her feel things he never had in the past. Lara doesn’t believe he’s her dead husband. He can’t be.

Even Hunter’s former mistress doesn’t believe it’s him.

But how to explain how this man seems to know so much about Hunter and Lara? Who is he, really?

This new Hunter is so wonderful. He makes erotic, passionate love to Lara. Slowly she falls in love with the man she once hated.

As noted, we’ve seen this story before, and it’s very similar to the film.

SPOILER WARNING

Yes, this Hunter is an imposter. He knows all about Hunter because they met each other, and Hunter shared much information about his personal life with him. No, the truth is not revealed to society. Lara loves this man, whoever he is.

Final Analysis of Stranger In My Arms

I adored reading Stranger in My Arms.

I recall being so delighted by the fine quality of Kleypas’ writing that I was convinced I had finally found a new favorite author. It had been a long time since I had been so excited to read a romance novel. (This was in the late 1990s when I was beginning the second romance-reading phase in my life)

Stranger in My Arms was a fantastical story in the truest sense of the word. It demands a considerable suspension of disbelief because most people do not have secret identical copies of themselves walking around.

The writing was empathetic and moving. This wasn’t Kleypas’ best work, which says a lot about how good she is.

Stranger in My Arms is a romance that stayed with me, with lingering feelings of joy.

4.5 Stars

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

Synopsis

“Lady Hawksworth, your husband is not dead…”

With those words, Lara’s life turned upside down. Hunter, Earl of Hawksworth, had been lost at sea. Or so she’d been told. Their unhappy marriage—with its cold caresses and passionless kisses—was over. But now a powerful, virile man stood before her, telling secrets only a husband could know, and vowing she would once again be his wife in every way.

While Lara couldn’t deny that this man with the smoldering dark eyes resembled Hunter, he was attentive and loving in ways he never was before. Soon she desperately wanted to believe, with every beat of her heart, that this stranger was truly her husband. But had this rake reformed—or was Lara being seduced by a cunning stranger

Stranger In My Arms by Lisa Kleypas