Category Archives: Ballantine

white lions lady

Historical Romance Review: White Lion’s Lady by Lara Adrian (aka Tina St. John)

historical romance review
White Lion's Lady by Lara Adrian, Tina St. John
Rating: five-stars
Published: 2001
Illustrator: Unknown
Imprint or Line: Ivy Books
Book Series: The Warrior Trilogy #1
Published by: Ballantine
Genres: Historical Romance, Medieval Romance
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: White Lion’s Lady by Lara Adrian (aka Tina St. John)

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

White Lion’s Lady is book 1 in “The Warrior Trilogy” by Lara Adrian. This medieval historical romance was originally published by Adrian under her real name, tina St. John in 2001. The book was released in digital format several times in the previous decade.

The Plot

Part 1 of White Lion’s Lady

White Lion’s Lady begins in 1179 with the heroine, Isabel de Lamere, age 8, running in tears from a party after being made fun of. Isabel–or Izzy as she is known then–goes into the woods, gets lost, and is attacked by a wild boar. Griffin of Droghallow, the hero, saves her life. He kills the boar, and Izzy falls in love with him.

Fast-forward 10 years. Isabel is now 18. She had been sent to a convent after her father was tried and executed as a traitor to the Crown. Her mother was exiled to her native France.

Now King Richard of Plantagenet summons Isabel to marry Sebastian of Montborne, a man she has never met.

And she may not because–unbeknownst to her–Isabel is slated to be kidnapped by Griffin by order of his foster brother, Dominic of Droghallow. The rationale behind the abduction is that the Earl of Montborne is a hated rival of Dominic’s.

It is only when Griffin takes Isabel back to Droghollow and she sees Dominic again that Isabel realizes who Griffin is. Although she still doesn’t know why she was kidnapped.

The reason Griffin agreed to do Dominic’s dirty work is that Dominic has promised him money to go away and live his own life. What Griffin doesn’t know is that Dominic has no plans to pay Griffin. And Dominic won’t let him leave Droghollow alive.

Once Griff realizes he’s being played, he schemes to take Isabel and take her to Montborne. The plan almost works. Griff gets himself and Isabel off Dominic’s land, but Isabel brains him and tries to escape.

white lions lady lara adrian

Part 2 of White Lion’s Lady

This freedom is short-lived, as Griff soon finds her. It may be even more short-lived. Now, as Dominic is aware that Griff and Isabel are gone, he has put a price on both of their heads.

As they travel to Montborne, Griff and Isabel start to fall in love with each other, but each fights their attraction. Griff is a man without a home and doesn’t know who he truly is. Isabel is a woman betrothed to another, bound by honor. She has reasons to marry a man she’s never met, namely to save her younger sister, Maura, age 8.

Dominic has placed bounties on both their heads. His men are now aware of their traveled path and are getting closer to them.

When Isabel agrees to go with Father Aldon to Montborne instead of with Griffin, they argue. This culminates in Griffin stalking off and leaving Isabel to leave with the priest. What Isabel doesn’t know is Father Aldon has no inclination to take her to Montborne. Instead, he’s taking her to another of King Richard’s cronies, Prince John of Lackland.

Griffin discovers the plot before Isabel does. He is captured but manages to escape. As he tries to rescue Isabel from her captors, she is shot. An arrow meant for Griffin pierces her.

Isabel’s wound becomes infected, so Griffin takes her to a monastery to hopefully get some aid. The monks help Isabel recovers. However, being there brings them closer to the fact that Griffin has to let Isabel go to Montborne.

Yet that is easier said than done. Isabel and Griffin nearly consummate their relationship before finally giving in. They make love twice.

lara adrian

Part 3 of White Lion’s Lady

Now, they have more problems to deal with when Sebastian, the Earl of Montborne, arrives at the monastery to take Isabel as his bride. Isabel doesn’t know that Montborne arrived due to a message Griffin sent him.

Griffin is trying to do the right, honorable thing, even though he knows in his heart that he and Isabel will be devastated beyond belief by that action. Later, Griffin is arrested by Montborne’s guards and is taken to the earl’s castle to stand trial.

When they arrive at Montborne, Sebastian deduces that Isabel and Griffin are in love. He questions Griffin about it.

Griffin doesn’t deny it, but he is willing to leave Isabel with Montborne because of his honor. He loves her.

Then there is a shocking twist in the tale. Sebastian’s mother, Lady Joanna Montborne, finds an amulet that Griffin gave to Isabel, which sets off a chain of events. This leads to Griffin’s release from prison as all charges of a crime are dropped.

Shortly after his release, he learns of the stunning revelation. Griffin leaves Montborne and heads back to Droghollow. His goal is to confront and kill Dominic for his treachery. Griffin asks Sebastian to marry Isabel in the event that he doesn’t return.

Later, a wedding takes place. The wedding is not for Isabel and Sebastian but for Isabel and Griffin. The pair bring Maura to live with them, and they have their Happily Ever After.

Why did Sebastian give up Isabel to Griffin? Did Griffin kill Dominic?

For the answers to these questions, you’ll have to read the book.

The Upside

The romance in White Lion’s Lady is exquisite. The characters are fully developed. Their emotional depth is so deep that I felt as though I was looking at actual lives as opposed to reading a book.

The Downside

There is absolutely nothing bad to say about White Lion’s Lady.

Sex

There are two love scenes. In the first, Griffin and Isabel nearly consummate their love but stop. Then they eventually do. Both scenes are spectacular: not erotica, but lovely and beautiful.

Violence

In addition to an arrow intended for Griffin harming Isabel instead, there are other incidents of violence. Humans and animals are both killed in the book. The violence is not overly graphic.

Bottom Line on White Lion’s Lady

For anyone who loves historical or medieval romance, White Lion’s Lady by Lara Adrian (aka Tina St. John) is an absolute keeper. I highly recommend it.

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

Synopsis

She was promised to another
Abducted on the way to her wedding, heiress Isabel de Lamere is unaware that the scoundrel planning to use her for his own gain is the cherished champion of her childhood: Griffin, the White Lion. Yet even as she discovers his treachery, Isabel cannot deny that Griffin lingers in her dreams, awakening the passion in her steadfast heart.

He was nobody’s hero
Then a twist of fate puts a price on both their heads, embroiling them in a life-and-death chase that will force Griffin to choose between his own freedom and his fierce desire for the woman who would redeem his noble spirit. But to reclaim his lost honor, the White Lion could lose Isabel forever. . . .

White Lion’s Lady by Lara Adrian (aka Tina St. John)
Skye O'Malley bertrice small

Historical Romance Review: Skye O’Malley by Bertrice Small

historical romance review
Skye O'Malley by Bertrice Small
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1980
Illustrator: Glenn Madison
Book Series: The O'Malley Saga #1
Published by: Ballantine
Genres: Erotic Romance, Harem Romance, Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Tudor Era Romance
Pages: 480
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Skye O’Malley by Bertrice Small

Spoiler Alert ⚠

Skye O’Malley: The Most Perfect Heroine Ever?

Oh, never, ever was there a lass as lovely as Bertrice Small‘s Skye O’Malley.

With raven locks, eyes as blue-green as the Kerry sea, tiny waist, impossibly long legs for such a wee girl, pert boobies, and a fantastical elastic vagina that bounces back to its teen glory no matter how many kids she births (she must’ve done her Kegels), Skye is the most beautiful, most desirable, most enchanting, the “bestest ever!”

The Plot

Any man who looks upon her nubile beauty will be inflicted with priapism.

The sole cure is a ticket of the old in and out of Skye’s mossy cavern of passion. Her weeping honey-oven. Her juicy love-grotto, as it were. Yup, only the cringiest, the purplest of euphemisms are here.

The vintage “Queen of Erotic Romance,” Bertrice Small takes us across the seas and nations to experience the highs and lows–but mostly orgasmic highs–of Skye’s life.

Women, be they the female pirate Grace O’Malley or the Queen of England herself, Queen Bee, are intimidated by her beauty and her fiery, passionate nature!

And men… Well, they all want to delve their pulsing lances into her moist, dewy petaled sheath.

But though Skye had learned the womanly arts she had not become a biddable female. Not Skye O’Malley!

Hero #1

Not one hero will do for our eponymous goddess of a heroine, Skye O’Malley. She’s too hot and needs a lot of thick hose to put out her fires!

The daughter of an Irish laird/pirate named Dubhdara, Skye is secretly in love with Niall, a powerful lord’s son. Alas, she is too saucy a wench and will never do for Niall. So the powers that be connive to wed Skye to their son, dumb Dom.

Then our hero does something that shocks everyone. On Skye’s wedding night, Niall stuns the revelers when he interrupts the festivities, points his finger at Skye, and says, “I claim droit de seigneur of this woman!” Which is so goofy, and like the film “Braveheart,” ahistorical, but just go with it.

Afterward, Skye is left to live with Dom, who’s got a giant wang, but only teases Skye with it, as he never lasts long. Besides, it’s incestuous hook-ups with his sister, Claire, he prefers.

Occasionally, Dom brings Skye into their little dalliances, although Skye is unwilling. She bares Dom’s 2 sons before he’s paralyzed and then eventually dies.

Niall, in the meantime, was married off to frigid, crazed Darragh, whom he eventually casts aside. She enters a nunnery, and now he and Skye are free to marry.

Hero #2

Uh-uh-uh, not so fast.

Our independent Skye demands to expand her father’s shipping business, and wouldn’t you know it, she gets shipwrecked and loses her memory.

Skye ends up in Algiers to have yet another true love affair, this time with the Grand Whoremaster of Algiers, Khaled-El-Bey. In Bertrice Small’s corner of Romancelandia, Irish-Welsh-Scottish-English women from the Middle Ages to post-Enlightenment were drawn to harems like sharp nails to magnets (ouch, bad metaphor).

Skye becomes one of his earthly houris, but strictly for his personal use, and not only that but his top bitch, her poon so fine, even the biggest pimp in all of pimpdom has to put a ring on it.

Niall is this time married off to a Spanish girl. The sweet, innocent virgin Niall seduces and then marries turns out to be the opposite of wife #1. She’s an insatiable nympho who becomes a clandestine whore because even with Niall giving it to her three times a night, it’s not enough.

Yada, yada, yada, Skye O’Malley gives Khaled El-Bey a daughter, but he croaks due to harem machinations and jealousy.

Skye, who’s so awesome she can always depend on the kindness of strangers to help her out, leaves for England, even though she still has amnesia.

Hero #3

There she is pursued by yet another true love, Geoffrey.

The blond, green-eyed arrogant Lord Southwood bets that he can seduce the mysterious Skye, who spurns him, then entices him, and makes him fall for her until… she’s his!

Oh, and he’s married. Skye doesn’t care.

His wife dies and eventually, Skye marries Geoffrey and is blissfully happy. Until that is, her memory returns when she sees Niall almost killed and screams out his name. But again, they’re married to different people, so they can’t be together.

I hated Geoffrey and was glad when he kicked the bucket.

He blamed his first wife for being unable to bear sons and threw it in her face that’s why he abandoned her. His perfect Skye would have no trouble giving him sons, though. Her vag is pH balanced to accept only the most macho of y-alleles (and only a rare x-swimmer).

She bears Geoffrey two boys, one who dies with his father during the pox.

The Villain & the Honestly Nice Guy

After Geoffrey dies, Skye is left unprotected, as the wicked Queen Bess forces Skye to be her beloved Earl of Lessessester, er–any-who, Lord Robert Dudley’s plaything.

A little bestiality is hinted at as the awful Robert uses his servants as sex slaves to be used by his friends.

But not Skye. Skye, he will abuse her for his own purposes and not in a fun way. Dudley rapes Skye until he’s had his use of her, and she’s left traumatized.

After her awful arrangement with Dudley, Skye shies away from men–no, not really.

She gets involved in some smuggling and shipping with another Lord, Adam De Marisco, an Englishman.

For some reason, my favorite of Skye’s men was Adam, a nice, laughing guy with a beard who made sex pleasurable for Skye again (which, to be fair, wasn’t that difficult of a task). He was like a big teddy bear, with no arrogance, no baggage, just pure fun. Adam soothes Skye’s hurts and gives her passion without entanglements.

Why she didn’t end up with him in this book is beyond me. But he’ll make a return in the series, and I like what happened with him in All the Sweet Tomorrows.

Back to #1

Remember that lusty wife Niall had? Well, now, she’s near-death because she’s suffering from the pox (not the pox that killed Geoffrey, the other pox). 

Not Niall, though. He’s STD-free because that lucky guy gets to be this book’s hero. Due to that, having sex with a woman who’s had sex with hundreds of men doesn’t even make it hurt when he pees. Not even a weird itching!

All things fall into place, so Niall and Skye find their way back into each other’s arms. The dull, boring hero, Niall, gets his beautiful, perfect, sexual, rich, fecund, brilliant (yeah, that last one was a stretch) Skye O’Malley.

Final Analysis of Skye O’Malley

After bearing her assorted lovers and husbands (6 if you’re counting; it seems like more only because, to be fair, Skye does engage in a lot of sex) 5 children (with more kids to come), her figure–and her moist cavern of love–remain tiny and petite, unchanging despite age, births or time.

This book is a romp. Not meant to be taken deeply because if you do, you might experience heartbreak.

I am so glad I read Skye O’Malley when I was well into my twenties. If I had read this as a teen, my poor little heart wouldn’t have been able to take it.

One woman having that many men she all truly loved and in such a short amount of time (relatively), in a romance novel!

Thankfully, with maturity comes the ability to relax and not take everything so seriously, and Skye O’Malley is not a book to be taken seriously.

It’s so bad, yet so good, yet so bad… which is the best of qualities in an old bodice ripper.

I didn’t love Bertrice Small’s magnum opus Skye O’Malley, but I had a ball reading it. And that’s all that matters.

4 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
4
Characters
4
Writing
4
Chemistry
4.5
Fun Factor
4.5
Cover
5
Overall: 4.3

Synopsis:

There has never been a woman like luscious, raven-haired, hot-tempered Skye O’Malley. She is the courageous seafaring captain of her own mighty fleet, and intelligent enough to win a battle of wits with Queen Elizabeth herself. Follow along as Skye O’Malley is swept up in a journey filled with romance and passion that takes her from glittering Ireland, to lush Algeria, to the heart of London in pursuit of a unique and eternal love…

SKYE O’MALLEY by BERTRICE SMALL
the silver devil teresa denys

Historical Romance Review: The Silver Devil by Teresa Denys

historical romance review
The Silver Devil by Teresa Denys
Rating: four-half-stars
Published: 1978
Illustrator: H. Tom Hall
Published by: Ballantine
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Renaissance Era Romance
Pages: 380
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonThriftBooksOpen Library (BORROW FOR FREE)
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: The Silver Devil by Teresa Denys

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

I’ve put off posting an analysis of Teresa Denys‘ first book, The Silver Devil, for a long time because I didn’t quite know how to critique it. If you’re a hard-core lover of old-school romance or bodice rippers, you might be familiar with this legendary novel.

A Legendary Romance

Teresa Denys was a magnificent author whose writing pulled the reader in from the first word and never lets go. Sadly, she died young in the mid-1980s’ after only publishing two books. The Silver Devil was followed by The Flesh and the Devil. Both are superlative works of fiction.

The Silver Devil is out-of-print, a hard paperback to find. And if you do, it will cost you quite a penny! On e-bay, the only one I currently see available costs $159. That’s relatively cheap compared to the other listings that are upwards of a thousand dollars.

I purchased my edition eleven years ago for $12. At the time, I thought that was too much!

There’s a good reason this book is highly prized.

The Silver Devil captivated me with its stunning characterization and intense, passionate tone. The enclosed world of 380 pages (my Futura Publications Ltd/Troubador version) made me truly believe that in the imaginary Dukedom of Cabria, there lived a proud Duke so handsome and omnipotent that with a snap of his fingers, he was swiftly provided with whatever he desired.

Including one lovely peasant girl named Felicia.

the silver devil
The Silver Devil, Troubador Books, UK edition

The Set-Up

“He sat on his horse unmoving, a somber black figure in startling contrast to the vivid colors about him, the sun dazzling on his white gold hair… There was no laughter in his face, and his eyes were not searching the housefronts for diversion–instead, he was staring intently straight up at my window.”

THE SILVER DEVIL

It is a hot summer in the year 1604 in Fidena, a fictional town in the fictional province of Cabria, set just north of Naples. Felicia Guardi is the sister of an innkeeper who’s just gotten married. Her sister-in-law, Celia, is a greedy and harsh taskmistress. Felicia’s half-brother, Antonio, is not much better, as he bears no love for the girl with whom he only shares a mother.

For Felicia was not the child of their mother’s husband. Her actual father spent one brief night at the inn, sharing a fleeting moment of passion with her mamma.

Adding to the gothic allure of this novel is the narration. The story is told from Felicia’s first-person perspective, appropriate for such a macabre tale of lust and love. She describes the overwhelming heat and decay of Fidena during a hot summer when the plague that runs through town.

Like a princess out of a fairy tale, Felicia is forced to slave away her days until a handsome prince falls in love with her and takes her to his castle home.

The Villainous Hero: The Silver Devil

One day Felicia stands by the window and is seen by Duke Domenico, a white-blond-haired, black-eyed sensualist of a tyrant. His desire for her is powerful and instantaneous. The Duke demands to have her, and with a snap of his fingers, she is made his.

Felicia does not want to go willingly. Yet what is she, an illegitimate peasant, to do? In vain, she resists. Felicia’s brother and sister-in-law drug her to surrender to the devil’s demands.

Although Felicia is attracted to this magnetic demi-god, she displays a strong will, refusing his seduction despite how futile.

Domenico treats her as a jealously-guarded treasure. Felicia’s innate strength demands no less than a queen’s respect.

The Story

Domenico’s ardor for Felicia becomes a raging obsession. He is monstrous in his possessiveness. In one unforgettable scene, Felicia smiles at a handsome youth. Enraged, Domenico has the boy brutally tortured to death.

As they travel through the hot, dusty lands, a retinue of servants and sycophants escort Domenico and Felicia. Former mistresses accompany Domenico, vying fruitlessly for his attention. He humiliates them callously when they seek his favor.

The Silver Devil was written in 1978 and, for its time, took a daring risk with the lead male character. The hero is/was bisexual. Domenico had a past affair with Pierro, a childhood friend who now is one of his courtiers. He only has disdain for Pierro, who pathetically apes Domenico’s looks and style.

Once Domenico’s affection dies out, only contempt remains. Domenico’s eyes and heart belong to his beloved Felicia alone.

I won’t spoil what evil deeds he has in store for his hangers-on. Suffice it enough to say he does his admirers wrong. He is ruthless in his brutality.

A Difficult to Believe HEA

As a result, it’s no surprise when the people turn against Domenico.

The beautiful Prince falls from grace. Felicia alone stands by his side, aiding him in his quest to regain power. Domenico is humbled several times over while Felicia remains at his side. Felicia proves she is more than an object of desire. She has grit and fortitude where others fail. With her by his side, Domenica will rise to power once more.

The novel culminates with Domenico declaring his love in a surprisingly vulnerable demonstration of emotion.

“I knew that love would not turn the silver devil into an angel. He would remain what he was–subtle yet childish, unfeeling yet passionate, lost irretrievably to everything but his own desire. But he loved me–and I loved him, now and forever.

THE SILVER DEVIL

My Opinion

The writing in The Silver Devil is gripping. However, it’s not a sweet tale that leaves a pleasant taste in my mouth.

Reading this like a simple love story doesn’t work. It’s too dark, too gothic, and too gruesome for me to call it one.

It is a fascinating character study of an unhinged, narcissistic megalomaniac and his female object of jealous obsession.

I cannot give this book five stars because it fails on one singular level. The Silver Devil is fabulous historical fiction. It’s a monumental piece of psychological analysis. But is it a romance? Only if I engage in a suspension of all disbelief.

Final Analysis of The Silver Devil

SPOILER ⚠

Although Domenico is the absolute ruler of a wealthy Duchy, he is not a typical “Alpha male.” Alphas are devoted to their mates, but they are also leaders who command respect. Domenico struggles spectacularly at this. His Dukedom is overtaken, and he must maneuver his way back into power. This is done not by coalescing allies who will eagerly follow his lead. He must attain this through deception, posing as a lowly peasant.

He is feared by others but not loved. Contrary to Machiavelli’s perspective, fear alone is not enough to keep Domenico secure.

In the last pages of The Silver Devil, Felicia gives birth to a son, the heir to Cabria. The novel concludes on a gloriously positive note.

Even so, I had doubts about the happy finale. Domenico is a mad despot. I could see the inhabitants of Cabria taking him out, Mussolini-style. Lord knows what would happen to Felicia and their son! My imagination goes wild, and it’s never a good end.

For that, it’s best to close the book and leave this story in its final moment of ultimate bliss.

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

Post Script: Read The Silver Devil For Free Online

I don’t usually post links for free books on the internet unless it’s to borrow from Open Library. However, the author has been deceased for more than thirty years, with no heirs. In light of that, I have linked to several sources where you can read the free PDF or internet version of The Silver Devil at no cost.


Synopsis

He was cold. He was cruel. A ruthless sensualist riding headlong to hell. He was the Silver Devil – Domenico, Duke of Cabria.

Felicia was the illegitimate sister of a tavern-keeper. She felt nothing but terror when they told her that she had been chosen as the Duke’s next mistress, and when they took her, decked in silks and jewels to the Silver Devil’s bed…

THE SILVER DEVIL BY TERESA DENYS
silver storm

Historical Romance Review Silver Storm by Cynthia Wright

Silver Storm, Cynthia Wright, Ballantine, 1979, cover artist unknown

MILD SPOILERS 😉

It had been so long. He pulled her gown open and her breasts spilled out like ripe, round melons…

SILVER STORM

The Book

I started reading Cynthia Wright’s Silver Storm, then put it down. It was sweet, but sometimes too sweet and I have enough cavities. Then halfway through it changes in tone. Our previously gentlemanly hero does a 180 and turns into a lecherous jerk. It was great and I wanted more!

The Plot

The first half involves a sensuous French privateer Andre Raveneau escorting orphaned Devon Lindsay to her fiancé in Virginia at the end of the American Revolution. The girl is obviously not in love with her missing man but devoted to him out of a weird sense of commitment. All the while, this tall, gorgeous, gray-eyed Frenchman plays nice, and Devon stomps her foot and plays hard to get. Andre was such a gentleman; I wondered where this was going.

But oh, he has a plan–a cunning plan–to trap his strawberry-haired prey, and when he finally gets what he wants, he plans just as cruelly to be rid of her, eagerly awaiting his next new lay.

In one scene, Andre attempts to seduce his ex-mistress while her brother and new husband play cards downstairs, and Devon, his current mistress, naps. But poor Devon wakes up and witnesses the dog’s hounding!

He’s jerk all right, but he’s French, so it evens out. I enjoyed the break from the English heroes that dominate Historical Romancelandia. There’s something about a Frenchman that’s so sexy. I can listen to Eric Ripert recite recipes all day…

The second half takes on Devon and Andre’s passionate adventures. Ah, Andre, what a hero!

Final Analysis of Silver Storm

Years ago, I read a book that designated romance novels, specifically bodice rippers, into two genres: “Sweet” or “Savage.” (Even though it was Kathleen Woodiwiss who started the bodice ripper genre, it was Rosemary Rogers that gave it a name.) “Sweet” defined a story with a hero who may be cruel, callous, forceful, or cheats, but he is the heroine’s one and only. In a “Savage” styled-romance, anything and everything goes.

In Silver Storm‘s case, although here the heroine is almost raped, her bodice ripped, she is abandoned and cheated on, it’s still sweet. But it’s very spicy too!

One nit to pick: a reference to “Empire”-styled gowns in the early 1780s when Napoleon wasn’t crowned Emperor until 20 years later.

This book would have been excellent if not for the slow start.

However, once it gets there… Oh my.

3.5 Stars

the innocent

Historical Romance Review: The Innocent by Bertrice Small

historical romance review
The Innocent by Bertrice Small
Rating: one-star
Published: 1999
Illustrator: Elaine Duillo
Published by: Ivy Books
Genres: Historical Romance, Medieval Romance, Erotic Romance
Pages: 416
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: The Innocent by Bertrice Small

SPOILER FREE REVIEW 😊

The Book

It was a bad sign that Bertrice Small’The Innocent features one of her least interesting romance covers ever. The lone positive was that Elaine Duillo created this. It was one of her final covers and illustrated for her dear friend Bertrice.

The Innocent, The Evil, and The Boring

Taking a break from Small’s usual romps where the heroine is captured by some salacious sultan/whoremaster/caliph and enslaved into his harem is The Innocent.

The Innocent is an unengaging medieval-era set historical. I usually adore medievals, but this one bored me to tears.

The heroine is a former nun named Eleonore, who goes by the ridiculous nickname Elf. Elf is a paragon of virtue, saintliness, and sweetness. She is totally dull.

Elf must leave God behind to marry Ranulf, an equally boring character.

He then patiently introduces Elf to the arts of love.

There’s an evil villain–a hired killer sent to dispatch Elf–who falls in love with Elf for her purity and goodness. All I could wonder was, WHY? She, like most of Small’s heroines, is perfection beyond belief.

One Fun Character: The Villainess

Ok, I lied when I said the cover artist was the only exciting aspect of The Innocent. The villainess, Isleen, is such a caricature of slutty evilness. It’s hysterical.

She despises Elf, as Isleen is her total opposite: a cruel, bitchy who-ore. She will stop at nothing to have Elf killed.

There’s a funny scene (funny to me, anyway) where Isleen gets gang-banged by the villain and a couple of other guys. They all go at it, and she suddenly stops after a few rounds.

Isleen cries out: “No, wait! We have to practice safe medieval sex, so I don’t get preggers!” Then she proceeds to douche the “specimens” out of her vagina with an entire bottle of red wine.

the innocent

Final Analysis of The Innocent

I read a ton of Bertrice small books circa 1999 to 2002. At the time, I found myself addicted to them.

But being addicted to something and loving it aren’t the same thing.

I picked this book up, believing I would appreciate a change of pace from Small’s usual sexcapades. Usually, the heroine (and hero) cavort with every staff and orifice in plain sight.

Here Elf is a virgin and sleeps only Ranulf. That’s boring for a bodice-ripper, although I wouldn’t classify this as a ‘ripper. It’s just vanilla erotic romance.

Other than a couple of scenes and a pair of quasi-intriguing villains–the male evildoer would have made a better hero, plus, he surprisingly redeems himself–, The Innocent was a real snoozer.

Recommended only for hardcore Bertrice Small fans and those who want to read some naughty sex scenes.

1 Star (Not rounding up)

Rating Report Card
Plot
1
Characters
1.5
Writing
1.5
Chemistry
1.5
Fun Factor
1
Cover
2.5
Overall: 1.5

Synopsis

Eleanore of Ashlin had promised her life to God—until fate intervened. With her brother’s untimely death, Eleanore becomes the heiress of an estate vital to England’s defenses. Now she is ordered by royal command to wed one of the king’s knights rather than take her final vows. With resistant heart, but ever obedient to King Stephen’s will, she complies.

Ranulf de Glandeville is all too aware that his innocent bride wants no man; yet his patience, gentle hand, and growing love for his spirited young wife soon awaken Eleanore to passions she never knew. But their love will soon be threatened by a depraved woman who will put Eleanore’s life in jeopardy—and the young bride’s love to its greatest test. . . .

THE INNOCENT by BERTRICE SMALL
Tender Warrior

Historical Book Review: Tender Warrior by Fern Michaels

historical romance review
Tender Warrior by Fern Michaels
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1982
Illustrator: Unknown
Published by: Ballantine
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Medieval Romance
Pages: 387
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Book Review: Tender Warrior by Fern Michaels

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

Tender Warrior by Fern Michaels was a surprisingly sensitive romance written during the author’s bodice ripper era.

Mark this down as one of those books where the hero first catches sight of the heroine bathing.

The Plot

Ruy and Mirjana are from two different cultures: she is a princess from Al-Andalus, while Ruy is a knight for the kingdom of Castile y Leon.

She will become his captive, but will he become the captive of her heartDespitete their significant disparities, the pair quickly bond and engage in a forbidden romance.

No matter the obstacles that fall in their way, the betrayals, lies, and tragedies, they still love each other. Ruy and Mirjana’s relationship is intense & steadfast.

For that reason, let me get this right out of the way: the ending is not a conventional one. Even so, I was satisfied with the conclusion because there is no denying Ruy and Mirjana love each other desperately and will do their best to succeed.

SPOILER WARNING

Besides, Ruy was married to Jimena, a ward of the King of Castile, so this is historically accurate. Despite the unorthodox-yet-still-happily-ever-after ending, there is no denying Ruy de Bivar’s and Mirjana’s deep and abiding affection for each other. You know they will make it through together until their deaths.

My Opinion

Historical accuracy is not a word that can be applied to this book (or pretty much any Fern Michaels’ historicals, for that matter!).

Although this is a fictional romance novel, it is written about the greatest Spanish warrior of all time, El Cid, and never does the reader witness any of Cid’s heroic valor. Where’s the action, the battles, the killings?

We only know that Ruy is the El Cid of history because the book tells us so. He’s a very likable hero, but that could have been anybody else in history. He’s very tender but not much of a warrior.

It’s surprising that Fern Michaels, who created one of the worst, most piggish heroes ever in Regan van der Rhys from the Captive series, could imagine such a noble hero as her fictional Ruy Diaz de Bivar.

Also, the fact that Ruy’s mistress was an Arab princess was not something to be taken lightly by his peers. There should have been some more conflict between them. Or perhaps not. Mirjana and Ruy faced enough hardship as it was: loss of family, abandonment, deaths, and the wrath of manipulative rulers.

Final Analysis of Tender Warrior

I would have loved to give Tender Warrior 5 stars because it’s a truly romantically sweet bodice ripper, and you never doubt the sincerity of the protagonists’ love.

Michaels dropped the ballon because she failed to make El Cid a warrior. Ruy is a great, loving hero to the heartbroken Mirjana, but that could have been anybody else in history, too.

What a wasted opportunity! All he had to do was kick a few guys’ bums, slay some enemies, and rally his troops to victory. That would have reinforced his tough-guy image. That would have been a story worthy of El Cid.

Nevertheless, it was a fine tale of ordinary Ruy Diaz de Bivar and his beloved Mirjale. Kudos to Fern Michaels for this harrowing romance, filled with scheming enemies, sad tragedy, and passion galore.

4 stars

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

Synopsis

Mirjana — reckless yet innocent, a princess of the Ottoman Empire, desperately begs El Cid to rescue her from the caravan taking her to a loveless marriage…

El Cid — fierce and ruthless, legend and power, betrays Mirjana, taking her captive to hold her for ransom. But even this most renowned warrior cannot defend himself against her brilliance, her beauty, her bewitching charms…

Explosive passion blazes between them, a fire that sears them both. Neither is prepared for the cruel attempts to tear them apart… neither can deny the raging desire that keeps them burning for that exquisite tenderness to be found only in each other’s arms…

TENDER WARRIOR by FERN MICHAELS