Category Archives: Harlequin Temptation

glory days michael herring

Category Romance Review: Glory Days by Marilynne Rudick

category romance
Glory Days by Marilynne Rudick
Rating: one-star
Published: 1990
Illustrator: Michael Herring
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Temptation #308
Published by: Harlequin
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 224
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: Glory Days by Marilynne Rudick

SPOILER FREE REVIEW 😊

The Book

Glory Days by Marilynne Rudick is a Harlequin Temptation from the early 1990s. It’s one of the few books from that line that I truly disliked.

Why? Because it was so dreadfully dull.

The Plot

Glory Days is… an absolutely boring romance.

This is a story about two married professional runners, Ashby and Brian. Their marriage is strained because Ashby is a rising star who is more successful than her husband, who has hit a downward trajectory. Ashby is even projected to win the Olympics one day.

Brian, in the meantime, is experiencing a downward trajectory in his career, as he is recovering from an injury that hampers his ability to run

Then Roger, a handsome running coach, comes in to help train the couple. This creates even more trouble in their marriage as Brian’s jealousy and insecurity reach massive proportions.

Will Ashby fall for Roger’s masculine allure? Will Bryan get his mojo back? No, yeah, and who cares.

Final Analysis of Glory Days

The cover doesn’t of Marilynne Rudick’s Glory Days doesn’t look too bad as pictured. However, in person, I recall it being quite ugly. The blue sky contrasted with the orange-gold tones of Ashby and Bryan’s tanned skin and looked odd.

An ugly cover for a boring book means a miserable reading experience.

This was a rare 1-star Harlequin Temptation for me. 

1 Star

Rating Report Card
Plot
1
Characters
1.5
Writing
1.5
Chemistry
2.5
Fun Factor
0.5
Cover
1.5
Overall: 1.4

Synopsis

What price glory?

Ashby and her husband, Brian O’Hara, shared a dream–to win the Olympic marathon. Only their passion for each other rivaled their passion for running. Training together, they were an unbeatable team–until Brian was sidelined by an injury. Roger Atlee, rumored to take a very personal interest in his women, began to coach Ashby.

A jealous Brian watched Ashby win race after race. Their struggles and sacrifices to make the American team together had now become a solo effort. But Brian realized he was losing something far more precious than Olympic gold. And he faced the biggest challenge of his life … to make sure their marriage went the distance

GLORY DAYS BY MARILYNNE RUDICK
could it be magic

Category Romance Review: Could It Be Magic by Gina Wilkins

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


Category Romance Review: Could It Be Magic by Gina Wilkins

SPOILER FREE REVIEW 😊

The Book

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

The Characters

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

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

The Setup

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

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

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

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

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

It figures. A playboy has moved next door!

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

The Plot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final Analysis of Could It Be Magic

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

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

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

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

4 Stars

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

Synopsis

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

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

COULD IT BE MAGIC by GINA WILKINS

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

the other woman

Category Romance Review: The Other Woman by Candace Schuler

Synopsis:

THE LATEST FROM THE TABLOIDS… SOAP STAR SNARES MOVIE MOGUL

Tara Charming-TV’s sexiest seductress and star of the new movie The Promise-has hooked her claws into Gage Kingston of the legendary moviemaking family. Insiders reveal the studio is irate that the movie’s behind schedule. . .all because the lovers spend more time in each other’s trailer than on the set!

Is this a match made in Hollywood heaven? A close friend reveals, “Gage vowed to avoid actresses ever since his ex-wife. It’s hard to believe he’s fallen for Tara. She’s got a reputation for doing whatever it takes to get ahead.” Of course, Tara has had her share of heartache, too. Pregnant at seventeen, she was left to cope on her own. But her track record proves she’s no pushover now.

Can these two tinsel-town heartbreakers possibly be in love–or is it mutual use and abuse? Turn to our inside story for the full scoop.

Hollywood Dynasty

THE OTHER WOMAN by CANDACE SCHULER

Reviewed by Blue Falcon

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book and Characters

This review is of The Other Woman by Candace Schuler, book #1 in the “Hollywood Dynasty” series. (Harlequin Temptation #451, July 1993).

Series overview: “Hollywood Dynasty” focuses on three siblings, children of a legendary Hollywood couple, as they make their names in the same industry that made their parents famous.

Heroine: Tara Channing, 25. Strawberry blonde hair, blue eyes. Actress.

Hero: Gage Kingston. 30. Dark brown hair, amber eyes. Cinematographer.

The Plot

The Other Woman begins in Montana, on the set of a movie, “The Promise.” A love scene is being filmed featuring two of Hollywood’s top sex symbols, actress Tara Channing, the book’s heroine, and actor Pierce Kingston. Also in attendance is Pierce’s brother, cinematographer Gage Kingston, the hero.

Tara and Gage become lovers, but both are unwilling to share more than their bodies. They later learn, however, that passion without protection has consequences. Gage gets Tara pregnant, and they break up.

In the end, Tara and Gage realize they truly do love each other. Tara has her baby–a son–and gives up her acting career.

She and Gage marry and have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

The best part of The Other Woman for me by far is Tara. Depending on your point of view, she is blessed–or cursed with a Playboy Playmate’s looks and body. Looking like that, however, means that males–I can’t call them men–only view Tara as a sex object. She is, however, a woman of depth and character shaped by her life, which we learn about. Tara is a very easy heroine to like and root for.

Downside

Although Gage is not the actor in the family–his siblings are and were–he is a player here in three parts. In the first part of the book, he is a horn dog. During the second, he is Tara’s lover and an angry man. In the third part, he finally realizes he truly loves Tara and wants her for his wife and forever love. While I understood Gage’s reasons for being a jerk in the first two-thirds of the book, that doesn’t make it okay or him completely likable. Beyond Tara, there isn’t a whole lot of depth.

Sex

A few love scenes between Tara and Gage. They generate some heat, but not an inferno.

Violence

The only violence is “movie violence,” which is described in the book.

Bottom Line on The Other Woman

Readers who like to know what goes on behind the scenes of television and movies and were fans of early 1990s entertainment may find a lot to like here. Still, Candace Schuler’s The Other Woman and the “Hollywood Dynasty” series as a whole may not appeal to readers who don’t fall into those categories.

Locations: A movie set in Montana. Los Angeles, California.

Tropes: Actress. Cinematographer. Movie making

2.84 Stars

too many husbands

Category Romance Review: Too Many Husbands by Elise Title

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


Category Romance Review: Too Many Husbands by Elise Title

MILD SPOILERS 😉

A Christmas Romance Filled With Merriment

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

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

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

The Wacky Plot

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

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

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

It Gets Even Wackier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final Analysis of Too Many Husbands

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

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

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

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

Synopsis

Naughty and Nice…

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

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

Too Many Husbands by ELISE TITLE
timeless love

Category Romance Review: Timeless Love by Judith Arnold

category romance

MILD SPOILERS😉

The Book and Characters

This review is of Timeless Love, book #11 and the final book in the “Bachelor Arms series. It is the second of two written by Judith Arnold, a pseudonym for Barbara Keiler. (Harlequin Temptation #565, published December 1995). 

Heroine: Hope Henley, 25. Black hair, brown eyes. Sales clerk in a retail store.

Hero: Morgan Delacourt, 30. Brown hair and eyes. Cartoonist. New millionaire. 

The Plot

At the beginning of the book, Morgan Delacourt is celebrating his newly minted millionaire status. That happiness, however, is short-lived as Morgan hits Hope Henley with his car. Although it wasn’t his fault, Morgan feels immense guilt as Hope is in a coma as a result of the accident. He vows to take care of Hope, pays her medical expenses, and lets her move in with him.

As they spend time together, we learn more about them, including Hope’s connection to the mystery that began in the first book in the series. They also fall in love with each other, although both try to fight it. 

In the end, the mystery of Bachelor Arms and Hope’s part in it are revealed. She and Morgan become lovers. They get married and have their Happily Ever After. 

Upside

Both Hope and Morgan are likable, developed characters. I liked the fact that Morgan took responsibility and cared for Hope even though he didn’t have to. He and Hope are very nice relatable characters who are the type of people I would love to know as real people. 

Downside

Slightly nitpicking, but at times Morgan was condescending towards Hope for her beliefs. I probably would be too, but it was still annoying. 

Sex

Two love scenes that are not graphic but fit in well with the rest of the book. 

Violence

Other than Morgan hitting Hope with his car, no violence. 

Bottom Line on Timeless Love

Readers who like a romance with a caring hero and sensitive heroine will find lots to like in Judith Duncan’s Timeless Love.

Tropes:  Contemporary romance, Hollywood, Light paranormal. 

Location: Los Angeles, Monterey, California

4 .55 Stars


Synopsis

A LIVING LEGEND…

Flights of fancy were not Hope Henley’s style. So why did she flee in terror after just one glance at the infamous mirror in Apartment 1-G–straight into the path of Morgan Delacourt’s car? Having just arrived in L.A., Hope reluctantly accepts Morgan’s generous offer of convalescence at his home. Suddenly she is believing in all sorts of crazy notions. Like destined, timeless love with sexy Morgan. But that couldn’t possibly be. Determined bachelor Morgan is tied to Hope by guilt, not by love. And the secret of Bachelor Arms isn’t connected to her. Or is it?

Could the history of Bachelor Arms be about to repeat itself?

Timeless Love by Judith Arnold
lady in the mirror

Category Romance Review: The Lady in the Mirror by Judith Arnold

category romance

Lady in the Mirror by Judith Arnold
Rating: three-stars
Published: 1995
Illustrator: TBD
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Temptation #561
Book Series: Bachelor Arms #10
Published by: Harlequin
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 218
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooksOpen Library (BORROW FOR FREE)
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Category Romance Review: The Lady in the Mirror by Judith Arnold

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

This review is of The Lady in the Mirror, book #10 in the “Bachelor Arms series and the first of two books in the series written by Judith Arnold, a pseudonym for Barbara Keiler. (Harlequin Temptation #561, November 1995).

The Characters

Heroine: Jessica (Jessie) Gale, 27. Blonde hair. Blue eyes. Social worker and owner-operator of Rainbow House, a social service center for runaways.

Hero: Clint McCreary, 30. Black hair, gray eyes. Former New York City police officer. Recent law school graduate. Clint has a job with the Bronx County DA’s office when he goes back east. (Spoiler: He doesn’t).

The Plot

The Lady in the Mirror begins with John Clinton “Clint” McCreary, former NYC police officer and the book’s hero, having just arrived in Los Angeles from New York. He is in search of his missing half-sister, Diana.

The first person he meets in Los Angeles is Jessie Gale, the heroine. Jessie is a social worker who owns and runs a social services center for teenage runaways.

From the moment they meet, Clint and Jessie are attracted to each other, although they do have ideological differences.

In the end, Jessie and Clint become lovers. They rescue Diana without any drama or trauma.

Clint decides to stay out west, he marries Jessie, and they have their Happily Ever After. 

Upside

Powered by GIPHY

… Well…

Jessie and Clint are both fairly nice characters. 

Downside

Sadly, Jessie and Clint don’t get much beyond the “nice” category. They’re not the most interesting characters in the “Bachelor Arms” series, and I didn’t feel much emotional connection or passion from them.

The only real emotion in the book comes in Chapter 10, where Jessie and the reader learn about Clint’s past trauma. 

Sex

warm

The love scenes between Jessie and Clint are fairly mild. 

Violence

There is one scene of assault and battery. 

Bottom Line

The Lady in the Mirror by Judith Arnold is an about-average book. No more, no less.

Tropes: Ex-cop. Los Angeles. Runaway. Social Worker.

Location: Los Angeles, California.

Rating Report Card
Plot
3
Characters
2.5
Writing
2.5
Chemistry
2.5
Fun Factor
3
Cover
4
Overall: 2.9

Synopsis

Move over, Melrose Place!

Apartment for rent. One bedroom. Bachelor Arms. 555-1234. Come live and love in Los Angeles with the tenants of Bachelor Arms. Meet colorful neighbors you’ll bump into again and again.

When Blythe Fielding planned her wedding and asked her two best friends, Caitlin and Lily, to be bridesmaids, none of them knew a new romance was around the corner for each of them — not even the bride!

These entertaining, dramatic stories of friendship, mystery and love continue the exploits of the residents of Bachelor Arms and answer one very important question: Will Blythe ever get to walk down the aisle? Don’t miss the goings-on at Bachelor Arms.

The Lady in the Mirror by Judith Arnold
second to none

Covers of the Week #33

It’s time to appreciate category romance covers again! For this edition of Covers of the Week, we’re focusing on Harlequin publishing in the 1980s. Over the years, Harlequin romance covers utilized a stable of in-house artists. This made for a unified consistency in the covers. However, sometimes they seemed as if they all looked alike. Fortunately, there were artists talented enough to make their paintings stand out.

In the early days, covers were just painted, mostly with acrylic, but some illustrators used watercolor, like Will Davies. Eventually, photography and digital imaging would be implemented, but that was mostly later in the 1990s.

For the week of Monday, November 22, 2021, to Sunday, November 28, 2021 (boy, did November fly by, or what?), let’s look upon these passionate category romance covers from Harlequin.

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

seduced and betrayed

Category Romance Review: Seduced and Betrayed by Candace Schuler

category romance
Seduced and Betrayed by Candace Schuler
Rating: four-half-stars
Published: 1995
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Temptation #553
Book Series: Bachelor Arms #8; Hollywood Nights #2
Published by: Harlequin
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 224
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Category Romance Review: Seduced and Betrayed by Candace Schuler

SPOILER FREE REVIEW 🙂

The Book

This review is of Seduced and Betrayed, #8 in the Bachelor Arms” series, and book #2 of 3 in the series written by Candace Schuler. (Harlequin Temptation, September 1995).

The Plot

The book begins in 1970. A woman finds her boyfriend, naked, in bed with another woman, who is also naked. Their relationship isn’t the only thing that ends that night. 

Fast forward 25 years. Ezekiel “Zeke” Blackstone, 47, the book’s hero, is heading to a planning meeting for his daughter Cameron’s upcoming wedding. He is a famous actor turned producer/director and a major player in Hollywood.

Zeke is nervous, however, because this meeting will bring him face-to-face with Ariel Cameron, 43, the heroine of the book, Cameron’s mother, and Zeke’s ex-wife. (They were the couple who broke up in the first paragraph!). Ariel, a successful actress turned model, has been estranged from Zeke for 25 years.

As Zeke takes an apartment–ironically the same one he lived in before at the “Bachelor Arms”–we learn how he and Ariel met, became lovers, married, and the circumstances that led to their divorce. We also learn that despite all that has happened between them, Ariel and Zeke are still very attracted to each other. They later act on their attraction and become lovers again. For a while, Ariel and Zeke are happy again.

However, Ariel soon finds a reason to doubt Zeke again. In the end, however, Ariel and Zeke commit to each other and their love and find their Happily Ever After. 

Upside

Ariel and Zeke are both strong characters, both as younger people and as the mature adults they are in the primary setting for Seduced and Betrayed. They are fairly well-developed and interesting people.

Ms. Schuler is very good at getting me, as a reader, into her characters’ minds and their emotions. So much so that even during the lovemaking scenes between Ariel and Zeke, I felt like I was there with them, not as a voyeur but as part of them. 

Downside

One of the drawbacks to the category romance format is that certain things can get short shrift because of the relatively short nature of the books (around 200 to 300 pages). In Seduced and Betrayed, this crops up in Ariel’s relationship with her mother, Constance, who controls Ariel’s career. Constance’s reasons for doing so and why Ariel allows it are hinted at but never truly explained.

Given that this relationship had major implications for the early days of Ariel and Zeke’s marriage, this was a rather large miss. 

Sex

Several love scenes between Ariel and Zeke. They’re not quite as good as in Lovers and Strangers, but they’re good nonetheless.  

Violence

Ariel throws several objects at Zeke, who also kicks in a door. 

Bottom Line for Seduced and Betrayed

Seduced and Betrayed is a very good book, with one issue keeping it just below the great category.

* * *

Hero: Zeke Blackstone. Actor/producer/director. Black hair, brown eyes.

Heroine: Ariel Cameron. Actress/model. Golden blonde hair, blue eyes. 

Tropes: Actor. Actress. Contemporary romance. Harlequin Temptation. Hollywood. Reunited. Second chance.

4.49 Stars

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

Synopsis

In 1970, Zeke Blackstone was a smokin’ hot 22-year old bad boy actor staring in his first Hollywood movie. His co-star was 18-year-old Ariel Cameron, America’s TV sweetheart. Their instant chemistry—both on and off the screen—culminated in a whirlwind affair that came crashing down one night in the tragic aftermath of a wild party at the Wilshire Arms.

Now, twenty-five years later, Zeke is still smokin’ hot with a well-earned reputation as both a ladies’ man and a leading man. Ariel is one of the most respected actresses in America. Neither has willingly been in the same room together since their divorce was final.

But their beloved daughter is getting married and all she asks of her estranged parents is that they make nice for the wedding. Thrown together for the wedding festivities, the attraction between Zeke and Ariel reignites and all the old feelings come rushing back, stronger than ever.

Can they work through the hurt and betrayals of the past to make it to their happy ending?

Seduced and Betrayed by Candace Schuler
lovers and strangers

Category Romance Review: Lovers and Strangers (aka Hollywood Nights) by Candace Schuler

Lovers and Strangers, Candace Schuler, Harlequin, 1995, cover artist TBD

Harlequin Temptation #549

MILD SPOILERS 😉

5 Stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Reviewed by Blue Falcon

This review is of Lovers and Strangers, book #7 in the “Bachelor Arms” series by Candace Schuler. It’s a Harlequin Temptation from August 1995.

Series Overview

Like JoAnn Ross’ contributions to the “Bachelor Arms”  series, Ms. Schuler’s three books contain a mystery within a mystery. There is an overarching mystery that runs through all 11 books in the series. There is the mystery that is contained in Ms. Schuler’s books (Reviewer note: The versions of the three books I am reviewing are the ebook versions of the original books published from August-October 1995. It appears Ms. Schuler regained the rights to her work from Harlequin and republished the books in 2012/13 under a new series name: Hollywood Nights. Perhaps owing to that, supporting character names and the name of the building have been changed from the print version. However, the titles and the core Harlequin Temptation stories remain intact.)

Plot

The book begins in Los Angeles, 1970. Two brothers, Eric Shannon, 24, and his younger brother Jack, 18, are arguing over plans for a screenplay they’re collaborating on. (A major Hollywood studio wants to buy their work but also wants to make major changes to it. Eric is for the changes, Jack against). That very same night, Eric Shannon died. His death was ruled a suicide. 

Fast forward 25 years. At Flynn’s bar, near the Bachelor Arms complex, Jack, now 43 and the book’s hero, is rescuing waitress Faith McCray, the heroine of the book, from an overly “friendly” patron. Faith is 24 and has brown hair and hazel eyes. She’s originally from Pine Hollow, Georgia, and has a lot of emotional baggage. Jack later hires Faith to clean his home, as she is moonlighting as a maid. 

Jack, who has black hair and brown eyes, is a former Army war correspondent who later reported from the “hotspots” of the world. He’s a Los Angeles native, and he, too, has a lot of emotional baggage. As they spend more time together, we learn more about them. Faith plans to become a doctor, obstetrician to be precise. She is also seriously attracted to Jack, and he to her. However, Jack tries to fight his attraction to Faith for multiple reasons. Eventually, they give in to their mutual attraction and become lovers. 

After they become lovers, Jack does everything he can to try to sabotage his relationship with Faith. (This is due to his history, which is explained).

In the end, Faith and Jack begin to let go of the guilt that has consumed both of them all of their lives. Jack finishes the screenplay he and Eric started–with a major assist from Faith–and they find their Happily Ever After. 

Upside

I imagine that at least one New Adult author has read Lovers and Strangers and was inspired to become an author. This is basically a New Adult book, even though one of the characters is well outside the age range for those books. 

I’ll start with Faith, as she is a young woman who comes from a difficult, traumatic family environment.  She eviscerates herself internally over something that happened to her as a teenager. However, despite this, she maintains an innocent quality and is open to loving and being loved. 

The same cannot be said for Jack, who has closed himself off, believing that he will be safe from all emotional pain if he never opens himself to someone. Speaking from personal experience, that is not the case. Isolation is not safety. It simply makes a person alone, bitter, and lonely. Jack feels that is what he deserves for what he has done and what has happened to him. It takes a special woman-Faith McCray-to show him that things can be different if he just allows a little opening for love to come in. In the end, Jack is not completely open, but he is more open than he was at the beginning of the book. 

Ms. Schuler did an excellent job making me as a reader feel like I was watching these two tortured souls find each other, and find love in the process. I rooted for both Faith and Jack and was very happy when he finally agreed to let her in.

Downside

I’m not a fan of “age-gap” romances and there is a significant one here (Faith is 24, Jack is 41). Even though I have personal experience with age-gap relationships, it’s uncomfortable for me to read them in books. It reminds me so much of Harlequin Presents and other books where there are age gaps. It feels like a father-daughter relationship, which feels creepy rather than loving.

Slightly nitpicky on my part, but I really don’t like the new e-book covers for these books. The original Harlequin Temptation covers truly suited them, capturing the emotion and excitement of the books. The new e-book covers…do not. 

Sex

Lovers and Strangers has one of the best love scenes I’ve read in a romance novel. In the first scene, Ms. Schuler does a tremendous job relating both the esoterics of the act and the feelings Faith and Jack have for each other. It’s both beautiful and sexy. It’s one of three love scenes in the book. 

Violence

No on-screen violence, but there are references to violence that Jack has witnessed in his life. 

Reviewer Note

There are also drug use references early on in the book. 

Bottom Line

I don’t have a favorite books list, but if I did–and I may start one–Candace Schuler’s Lovers and Strangers would definitely be on it!  Readers who love books about the transformational power of love will find lots to love here. 4.95 stars. (The half-point markdown is for changing some supporting character names and locations and the e-book cover. If I were reading the original Harlequin Temptation paperback version with the original cover, I would have given it 5 stars unequivocally). 

Tropes

Age gap. Angsty romance. Contemporary romance. Los Angeles.

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Category Romance Review: The Strong, Silent Type by Kate Hoffmann

The Strong, Silent Type, Kate Hoffmann, Harlequin, 1995, cover artist TBD (Canille?)

Harlequin Temptation #529

MILD SPOILERS 😉

3 1/2 Stars

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

This review is of The Strong, Silent Type,  book #2 in the Bachelor Arms series and the 2nd of 3 books in the series written by Kate Hoffmann.

Wild One

The book begins with Josh Banks, the hero of the book and a tax accountant (yes, you read that correctly), meeting with one of his clients, actress Olivia Wilde (NOT the current actress using the stage name, this Olivia Wilde is a 75-year-old octogenarian actress). Olivia asks Josh for a favor; to keep her granddaughter, Taryn, out of Los Angeles for a few weeks (Olivia is up for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar and feels that Taryn–a tabloid darling–might scupper her chances for the award with her behavior). 

When Josh meets Taryn, the heroine, he offers her money to leave L.A. She refuses. She’ll only agree to behave if Josh does something for her, which he is not willing to do at first. (He does agree, eventually, to pose for her).

Take Me as I Am

As the book goes on, Taryn gets into some mishaps which Josh has to extricate her from. They also discover two things: One, their personalities are very different; and two, they are ragingly attracted to each other. They later act on this attraction and become lovers.

Like We Never Loved at All

For a while, Taryn and Josh are happy. That happiness ends when Olivia tells Taryn that she suggested that Josh seduce her to keep her out of trouble while Olivia’s Oscar nomination is pending (Olivia later wins the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress). Taryn leaves L.A. to get space and clear her head. One thing remains clear, though; she’s still in love with Josh.

Let’s Go to Vegas

In the end, Taryn and Olivia begin to reconcile their relationship, as do Taryn and Josh. They elope to Las Vegas, marry and begin their Happily Ever After.

Upside

First, I really liked Josh as a hero. (This is highly unusual for me, being a straight man, to view heroes as anything more than necessary evils in romance novels). “The Strong, Silent Type” is probably the first book-at least the ones I’ve read-to feature a tax accountant as a hero. He’s also very shy and, at times, uncomfortable around women. However, being raised partially by a single mother-his father passed when Josh was 12–and having three older and two younger sisters have given Josh a great understanding and respect for women. Although he does do a few arrogant things, overall, Josh is very respectful towards women, which is great to see.

Ms. Hoffmann made a great decision to pair him with Taryn. A quiet man in a romance novel needs to have a spirited woman to play off of, and Ms. Hoffman has certainly provided that in Taryn Wilde.

Downside

When I read a romance novel, I want to love the heroine, even if just a little bit. 

I didn’t feel that way entirely about Taryn. I liked her, I understood why she acted the way she did without Ms. Hoffmann’s explanations, but Ms. Hoffmann also didn’t get me to love Taryn the way I wanted to. It’s certainly not a deal-breaker, but it was an issue for me.

Sex

One love scene that generates some heat, but for the most part, is fairly tame. 

Violence

Several scenes of assault and battery. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line

Ms. Hoffmann’s first installment in the Bachelor Armsseries, Bachelor Husband, was a very good book. Her second, The Strong, Silent Type, is just a good book. 3.67 stars.

Reviewed by Blue Falcon

a happily unmarried man

Category Romance Review: A Happily Unmarried Man by Kate Hoffmann

A Happily Unmarried Man, Kate Hoffmann, Harlequin, 1995, cover artist unknown

Harlequin Temptation #533

MILD SPOILERS 😉

4 Stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This review is of A Happily Unmarried Man, #3 in the Bachelor Arms series published in April 1995 by Kate Hoffmann.

Bachelor Arms Series Book #3

The story begins at a mall in Los Angeles. Tru Hallihan and Josh Banks have come to the mall to shop for gifts for their respective wives. Tagging along is their friend Garrett McCabe, the hero of the book and a columnist for The L.A. Post newspaper. When Tru and Josh discover that domestic diva Emily Taylor is having a book signing in the mall, Tru and Josh decide to get autographed copies of her books for their spouses. Garrett, meanwhile, decides to write a vituperative column about Emily, ripping her up one side and down the other. He thinks the column is funny.

Others, however, don’t see it that way. Female readers call to cancel their newspaper subscriptions, and Richard Parker, Garrett’s boss, orders him to apologize to Emily, the heroine of the book. (There are other reasons Parker wants Garrett to apologize; he’s trying to buy “At Home,” the magazine Emily owns with her business partner, Nora Griswold).  At first, Garrett refuses to apologize, proffers a “sorry/not sorry” apology, then he and Emily meet face-to-face. Parker then orders Garrett to be Emily’s L.A. chaperone.

As they spend more time together, Emily and Garrett start to realize they have feelings for each other, later becoming lovers. 

In the end, Emily refuses Parker’s offer for At Home, Garrett quits his job at The Post to take a job with The Boston Globe to be with Emily (she lives in Rhode Island). Emily and Garrett marry and have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

Emily is a really easy heroine to root for, a woman who has had self-esteem issues all her life (exacerbated by her mother and bastard ex-husband) who took the skills she has–domestic arts–and turned them into an empire. She’s a very sweet, likable heroine.

At first, Garrett is a bit of a jerk, but as the book goes on, he shows a more caring side, which works well with Emily’s soft, low-key style. 

Downside

Somewhat nitpicking, but A Happily Unmarried Man lacks some of the, for lack of a better word, juice, that Ms. Hoffmann’s first two books in the series had. The book starts on a low boil and remains there for the entire book. 

Sex

One love scene between Emily and Garrett, which is more romantic than erotic.

Violence

None.

Bottom Line

Kate Hoffman gets the “Bachelor Arms series off to a great start with her three contributions to the series. 

Reviewed by Blue Falcon

bachelor husband

Category Romance Review: Bachelor Husband by Kate Hoffmann

Bachelor Husband
Bachelor Husband, Kate Hoffmann, Harlequin, 1995, Cover Artist unknown

Harlequin Temptation #525

MILD SPOILERS 😉

4 1/2 Stars

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

This review is of Bachelor Husband, book #1 of 11 in the Bachelor Arms” Harlequin Temptation series from February 1995 by Kate Hoffmann.

“Bachelor Arms” Series Overview

This 11 book continuity series takes place in/around the Los Angeles apartment complex the “Bachelor Arms”. Why there are only 11 books in the series instead of 12 is an unsolved mystery. The books are written by four different authors: books 1-3 are written by Kate Hoffmann;  4-6 by JoAnn Ross; 7-9 by Candace Schuler; and 10-11 by Judith Arnold. Although the series has four different authors, there is a subplot running through each book of the series. 

Private Eyes…They’re Watching You

Bachelor Husband begins with Harry Truman “Tru” Hallihan, the hero of the book and a private investigator, working a case. He has been hired by multi-millionaire Simon Marshall to find out if his son-in-law, Hollywood producer Ellis Stone, is cheating on Marshall’s daughter, Marianne. Although Stone has had three after-hours meetings with a woman, Tru hasn’t found any really incriminating evidence. 

Later that night, at a poker game, Tru bets his friends he can discover the true identity of radio sex therapist Dr. Carly Lovelace and bring her to the weekly poker game. If Tru succeeds, his friends will cure his current financial anemia.

Maneater

Tru easily discovers the real name of “Dr. Carly Lovelace”; she is really Dr. Caroline Leighton, the heroine of the book, and the woman Stone was meeting with. When Tru asks her to come to his poker game, she at first refuses but agrees when he agrees to help her out of a jam she’s in. (Caroline has an offer to take her radio show to television, but she needs a husband; Caroline is divorced. Tru agrees to play the role of “Lance Lovelace”, “Carly’s” paragon-of-virtue husband at a party Caroline is attending). Another reason for Tru’s agreeing: he’s very attracted to Caroline.

Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid

Tru is less happy to play Lance when Caroline micromanages his actions. Caroline is unhappy about having to spend significant amounts of time with Tru, as she is also attracted to him, but trying to fight it. Caroline and Tru stop fighting their attraction to each other and become lovers.

She’s Gone

After their intimate encounter, Caroline discovers Tru’s current job. She breaks up with him after jumping to a conclusion.

Method of Modern Love

Realizing he can’t live without her, Tru confesses his love for Caroline at the taping of her television show. They reconcile and have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

There’s a lot to like here. Caroline and Tru are the same age: 35. They both have doctorates, although Tru doesn’t use his. They’re both professionals. Caroline and Tru are a well-matched couple with good chemistry between them. 

Downside

Not much to complain about from my end of the world, although Caroline’s at times controlling personality-which Ms. Hoffman explains the reasons for in the book- may not appeal to all readers. 

Sex

One love scene that takes place during Caroline’s radio show, which is fairly hot but not super erotic. 

Violence

No physical violence.

Bottom Line

With Bachelor Husband, Kate Hoffmann gets the “Bachelor Arms” series off to a good start. It’s not a perfect book, but it is certainly in the “good-to-very-good” category.

Reviewed by Blue Falcon

Dillon after dark

Category Romance Review: Dillon After Dark by Leandra Logan

Dillon After Dark, Leandra Logan, Harlequin, 1991, cover artist unknown

Harlequin Tempation # 362

3 stars

Rating: 3 out of 5.

A Voice in the Dark

Dillon After Dark, Harlequin Temptation #362, is a cute, fun romance by Leandra Logan. Dillon Danvers is a laid-back California DJ who airs a talk/ music show where he discusses many topics: surfing, books, music, clubs, and lots of other fun subjects to delight in. Dr. Kristina Jordan is a psychologist and single mother with no time for relaxation. Together these two opposites could make for an exciting couple. However, Kristina needs major convincing to be part of it.

Kristina’s teenaged daughter, Julianne, is absolutely ga-ga over Dillon. His sexy voice makes her adolescent hormones run wild. She’s a frequent caller to his show, making herself seem older than her tender years while complaining about her overbearing mother. Julianne enters a poetry contest for the show and wins the grand prize: a date with Dillon! Her mother thinks this is all silly nonsense And is appalled by her daughter’s behavior. She’s merely fourteen, while Dillon is twice her age!

Against her better judgment, Kristina agrees to let Julianne meet Dillon, but on the condition that she accompany them on their date. Of course, upon seeing that the contest winner is a mere child, everyone is shocked, and the situation is thrown into disarray. Julianne is pushed aside as the producers and press claim it’s Kristina who’s Dillon’s date.

Kristina’s shocked as well. Her reaction to Dillon is one of immediate attraction, and his smooth voice plays havoc upon her senses. He looks as good as he sounds with shaggy blond hair and cool surfer vibes. Just the kind of man she’s been drawn to all her life, and just the kind of man she intends to avoid forever.

So I Fell For My Daughter’s Crush

Dillon, too, is shocked. He had no idea his most frequent caller was just a kid and that the haranguing mother she spoke of wasn’t some post-menopausal nag with empty nest syndrome but a beautiful, sensual woman in her mid-thirties.

Dillon, obviously, has no interest in his young fan; he’s got all eyes for Mom. He pursues her with confident vigor to Julianne’s dismay. Kristina knows what it was like to be a wild youth, but responsibilities weighed her down: being a young mother; dealing with a lousy, beach-bum of a partner who ran off to abandon his responsibilities; putting herself through college and university; and then focusing on her intense career. She has her work and her patients, her daughter, and her elderly father who lives with them to worry about. Kristina doesn’t have time for dating, much less a carefree, younger man like Dillon.

Dillon tries his best to charm his way through Kristina’s icy exterior and ease his way into her warm inner core. (Oh, that sounds terrible, doesn’t it?) He’s got his work cut out for him as Kristina’s heart is hardened from past hurts and having the weight of the world on her shoulders.

When he finally does get through, there’s the issue of Julianne, who resents their relationship. Is it ever possible for them to have a lasting love affair?

Final Analysis of Dillon After Dark

Dillon After Dark was the second Leandra Logan romance I read, and as with her previous work, I enjoyed her writing. This was a steamy category romance with a yummy hero. Kristina’s a bit of an uptight pill, though, and Julianne’s teenage antics get tiresome (yes, I know what I wrote was redundant). The book has been re-released in e-format and slightly modernized for a new audience. Overall this was a pleasant diversion, particularly if you’re a fan of heroes in pursuit.

It does make for an awkward “So, how did you guys meet?” story, though.

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

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
Forbidden Fantasy cinille

Category Romance Review: Forbidden Fantasy by Tiffany White

category romance

SPOILER-FREE REVIEW 😊

A Book Burned Forever in My Memory

I burnt the beans!

Whenever I hear of Forbidden Fantasy by Tiffany White (aka Anna Eberhardt), a category romance from the 1990s, that’s the first thought that pops into my head. Then I recall the sweet twist that the plot hinges upon.

An Editor’s Choice pick for the Harlequin Temptation line, Forbidden Fantasy was a book I enjoyed, sure enough. Although I wouldn’t rank it as an all-time great, it is etched forever in my mind.

The Plot

In Forbidden Fantasy, Zoe is in Paris trying to put as much distance between herself and a bad relationship–namely, her marriage to her ex-husband. He was a cop who spent too much time at work and too little with her, both physically and emotionally. So she left him behind and fled to Europe on a voyage of self-discovery.

Now Zoe’s got French friends and loves to shop in the city. On one of her forays, she realizes a handsome American man is stalking her. What starts as a flirtatious game turns into a sensual love affair. Grey is everything her husband wasn’t: a good listener who shares his feelings with Zoe and is eager to spend time with her. What’s more, he’s a sensual, giving lover who engages in erotic delights that Zoe could have never imagined.

Is this passionate romance the real thing? Or is Zoe’s past too much of a burden to overcome, and she simply is enjoying a rebound fling?

The sex scenes in this book are not graphic. They focus very much on feeling and desire. My attention was certainly captured by their sensual nature.

Highlights include Zoe’s French friend, who is “man-hungry” in an adorable way, plus Grey makes for a sexy hero. Zoe’s character is probably the least memorable of the three. All in all, this was a fine romance, and I would recommend it to readers looking for a quick bit of escapism.

No Beans About It (A Side Story Not About the Book)

red seed lot
Photo by icon0.com on Pexels.com

The Burnt Pot

So about the beans. I was in 7th grade, home from school, sick. My mother worked about five minutes from our house, so she came home during her lunch break. The beans had soaked overnight, so she put them in a pot to boil. Then she sternly reminded me that they should simmer on low for a little over an hour. I nodded in understanding, and she left back to work.

My siblings were either staying late after school or at daycare, so I had the house to myself for several more hours. I lay down in my upstairs bedroom and started to read this book.

At a little past 4, I heard my mother’s car pull into the driveway. Oh crap!

I ran downstairs. The house was filled with smoke.

My mother, who had a legendary temper, was infuriated! Not only would there be no beans to eat with dinner, but they had also burnt for so long that the pot was ruined, too.

I Hate Beans

So, these must be some beans, you might ask.

Ehhh. They might be the best damn beans on Earth. My siblings certainly love them.

As for me? Please don’t ask me to cook my mother’s white rice and pinto beans–or any other of her rice and bean recipes. For I’m sad to say when she goes, her recipes go with her. (Her Dominican cake with dulce de leche is another story.) Two of my sisters love her rice and beans but hate to cook. One loves to cook but is agnostic when it comes to beans. And while I enjoy cooking, I cannot stand the taste and pasty texture of beans.

Black-eyed peas, Pinto, black beans, cannellini, don’t care, I hate them all.

God bless my mother; she worked hard to stretch a dollar and feed five kids, so rice and beans–or “arro’ y ‘bichuela'”–was a staple of my young life. Except for Fridays. Then, we had eggs or bacalao–salted codfish–which I did like. Typically, though, some kind of rice with some form of bean was always served as dinner.

Rice, I have made peace with. The evil legume, however, is still my hated enemy. Peas are fine, though, as long as they’re fresh. Lentils, I abhor. While I pose as an epicurean, my stomach is that of a three-year-old child, for I am a shamefully picky eater.

forbidden fantasy tiffany white

Final Analysis of Forbidden Fantasy

As long as I have a memory, Forbidden Fantasy by Tiffany White is a romance I will never forget reading. Hopefully, if you pick it up, you’ll feel the same way.

But for a different reason.

4 Stars

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

Synopsis:

A stranger was stalking her…seducing her

When Zoe fled her humdrum life to do everything she’d never dreamed of doing in Paris, she’d never, even in her wildest dreams, imagined meeting a man like Grey. He was her every forbidden fantasy and he wanted her…body and soul.

Grey challenged her to explore intimacy, to share her deepest, most private dreams and secrets. Even as his passion thrilled her, Zoe knew this was not reality. What they had was only an affair – and she needed to choose….

Her lover or her husband?

FORBIDDEN FANTASY by TIFFANY WHITE
tangled hearts ross crouse

Category Romance Review: Tangled Hearts by JoAnn Ross

category romance
Tangled Hearts by JoAnn Ross
Rating: one-half-stars
Published: 1990
Illustrator: Daniel Crouse
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Temptation #333
Published by: Harlequin
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 224
Format: Paperback, eBook
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: Tangled Hearts by JoAnn Ross

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

I have to give it to JoAnn Ross for her book Tangled Hearts, in that she tried to do something unique for a category romance novel. It’s just unfortunate for me that I didn’t like where she went with it.

The cover of this Halequin Temptation tells it all, pretty much. There’s a couple engaged in a sexy embrace while in the background is a black-and-white image of a lone man.

The Plot

Alanna Cantrell got married to Mitch Cantrell six years ago. Their whirlwind courtship was passionate and thrilling. But soon afterward, terrorists captured Mitch, a journalist, who was taken hostage and presumed killed.

Over the years Alanna has picked up the pieces of her life. By the time the story opens, she’s seeing Jonas Harte, a staid, steady, predictable kind of guy, certainly not the type to gallivant off to war-torn countries for the thrill of reporting a story. Just as Alanna and Jonas are about to announce their engagement, who should turn up from the dead, but Mitch, Alanna’s husband?

Through flashbacks we are shown how Mitch and Alanna met and see their brief time together before his disappearance. This was the first category romance I recall where the heroine slept with two different men (albeit one in the past and the other in the present).

Although shocked to see Mitch, Alanna’s happy he’s alive, but not necessarily happy he’s back in her life. Alanna claims she’s content with Jonas, an architect, as he’s not the type to ever do anything outrageous and dangerous. Back in her youth, a wild man like Mitch appealed to her. Now that she’s older, she needs a more solid type.

The Two Men

Jonas overhears Alanna complimenting him for his “boring’ qualities and seeks to prove that, in his own way, he’s just as adventurous and passionate as her ex. He is determined to win her over.

Mitch hopes desperately to resume his relationship with his wife, shocked that he’s returned to a much different woman than he remembered.

In the end, too many years have passed for Alanna and Mitch to bridge the gap. Alanna has changed, and so has Mitch, but they didn’t do it together, so they are too far apart to be together once more.

I felt so bad for Mitch, who spent years in captivity, with only his thoughts of Alanna to bring him hope and comfort. When he’s finally released and runs home to meet his wife, a woman who has been more of a fantasy in his mind than substantive reality, she’s moved on.

Final Analysis of Tangled Hearts

I just never warmed up to Jonas, who was sort of milquetoast for my tastes. He was a nice guy but dull. So I think Alanna got with the wrong hero. However, there was a sequel to this book, Tangled Lives, where Mitch met a woman more in tune with his lifestyle.

Again, I appreciated the love triangle aspect of Tangled Hearts, where the two men vying for the heroine’s love are both fundamentally decent people. But I’ve seen this done better in other romances and couldn’t help but feel that poor Mitch got a bad break. My “hated it” rating is a bit harsh, but this romance left a sour taste in my mouth, which I’ve never forgotten.

Rating Report Card
Plot
1
Characters
1
Writing
3
Chemistry
2
Fun Factor
0.5
Cover
2.5
Overall: 1.7

Synopsis

Torn between two lovers

On the eve of her engagement to Jonas Harte, Alanna Cantrell received a most unexpected present the return of her husband, Mitch Cantrell. Six years ago, the dashing foreign correspondent had swept her off her feet. Then Mitch was kidnapped by terrorists and presumed executed. Slowly and painfully Alanna had built a new life for herself.

Mitch wanted his life back… including his wife. Visions of his beautiful bride had sustained him through his captivity. He loved Alanna and swore not to lose her again.

Jonas loved the woman Alanna was now, but could he fight her memories? Jonas vowed to prove that he was the right man. He was determined to win Alanna again!

TANGLED HEARTS BY JOANN ROSS
easy lovin

Category Romance Review: Easy Lovin’ by Candace Schuler

Easy Lovin’ Candace Schuler, Harlequin, 1990, cover artist unknown

Harlequin Temptation #331

1 star

Rating: 1 out of 5.

I remember being so excited to read Candace Schuler’s Easy Lovin’ as I had read one fantastic romance by her already, Wildcat. To me, that story was amazing, with a fiery-tempered heroine and an equally passionate hero. So when this one arrived in the mail as part of my monthly subscription of Harlequin Temptations, I was disappointed to find it was a big old dud. The tone was completely the opposite of Schuler’s previous book.

The Plot

Kate Hightower is a prim and proper miss who’s always done what’s expected of her. Except now, she’s running away from her life, having left her fiance at the altar. She’s not sure what she wants, but it’s definitely a drastic change. So she goes to New Orleans to find herself.

What she finds is Jesse Vallerin. He’s a laid-back southern boy from the Big Easy. Jesse’s also a hairstylist who gives Kate a makeover when he cuts and dyes her hair from a mousy brown to a fiery auburn. He sports a diamond stud in his ear. He’s an atypical hero, going all against stereotypical macho convention. Perhaps I was too immature to appreciate Jesse’s more feminist attitude than other heroes I’d come upon. I never really warmed up to him. Jesse was supposed to be all charming and debonair, but he came off too metrosexual for my tastes.

As for Kate, I found Kate to be too wishy-washy. So the romance between them wasn’t really believable. It seemed more like Kate was having a fling than falling into a lifetime commitment.

Easy Lovin' 2
Easy Lovin‘ Re-Issue

Final Analysis of Easy Lovin’

Plus, Easy Lovin’ was dull, not memorable in any way, except for the fact that Jesse was too unusual a hero for my young, primitive tastes. The re-release of this book as part of a special run series called Here Comes the Groom did him no favors, either. On that particular cover, Jesse sported a Hawaiian shirt and jeans combo that had him look like a middle-aged dad trying to relive his frat boy days.

Oh well, there are much better late vintage reads than this one to enjoy and review, so file Candace Schuler’s Easy Lovin’ under F for forgettable.

forever mine valentine crouse

Category Romance Review: Forever Mine, Valentine by Vicki Lewis Thompson

category romance
Forever Mine, Valentine by Vicki Lewis Thompson
Rating: four-half-stars
Published: February 1990
Illustrator: Daniel Crouse
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Temptation #288
Book Series: Mine Valentine Series #2
Published by: Harlequin
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 224
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: Forever Mine, Valentine by Vicki Lewis Thompson

MILD SPOILERS ⚠

The Book

Vicki Lewis Thompson‘s Forever Mine, Valentine, Booke #2 in her “Mine Valentine” duology was my introduction to the now, sadly, defunct Harlequin Temptations line.

The Temptation imprint launched in North America in March 1984. These books were far more sensual in nature than Harlequin’s other series, the Romance, Supperromance, and Presents lines. Temptations featured main characters from all walks of life, not just the rich. They took place anywhere, from small towns to big cities to tropical destinations.

The setting of Forever Mine, Valentine, is mainly in a shopping mall in Colorado, where St. Valentine himself is a character in the guise of Charlie Hartmann, a sweet, seemingly doddering old man.

The Plot

Jill Amory left her old life behind–including a stable dentist boyfriend–to wander across the country on foot with just a backpack. She paints windows for businesses to earn a little money and has a deadline to travel through all the States. Jill doesn’t quite know what she wants in life, but she knows it’s not commitment.

Spencer Jegger owns a successful sporting goods store in the mall. He’s athletic, attractive, and friendly to all, including Charlie, who insists that Valentine’s Day miracles are in store for Spence.

Charlie tells a disbelieving Spence that he and Jill are destined to be lovers for life. While Spence doesn’t trust the old man’s predictions, he is interested in Jill.

Spence hires Jill to paint the windows of his store, and in the meantime, he and Jill form a playful relationship with sexual tension bursting through the surface.

Jill is hesitant about getting close to Spence. He’s an incredibly good-looking man and makes his interest in her known. Jill’s mind is not on settling down, not even for a short while for a love affair. She’s aiming to roam, to search for something, some purpose in life.

I didn’t understand Jill’s hesitancy towards commitment to Spence and was glad when she decided she knew where her true home was.

Charlie is a cute character, doing everything he can to get Spence and Jill together. The two are destined for each other, he fervently declares. Isn’t it Valentine’s season? Doesn’t Jill’s surname, “Amory,” has the word love in it?

That’s more than a mere coincidence. It’s a sign from the heavens above that they’re meant to be!

Charlie also has a cute flirtation with an elderly mall walker, a lady who wouldn’t mind cuddling up to the supposed St. Valentine.

A Brief Memory About Forever Mine, Valentine

Forever Mine, Valentine by Vicki Lewis Thompson left quite a mark on my impressionable younger self. This romance introduced my young mind to real love-making in books. I’d read sex scenes before in V.C. Andrews’ Flowers in the Attic and Stephen King’s Carrie. But they were brief and not as detailed as what I read in this one!

My goodness, I was such a dorky, nerdy bookworm back then. I passed this book around to my friends, spreading the salacious content around in school until one day, I got in trouble with my social studies teacher.

She took the book away from me in class one day and made a big scene, which was humiliating, although fortunately, that was the worst of it.

Well, except for the fact that it earned me a reputation for years as “that girl who reads the sex books.”

After a while, I learned not to care about what others thought and held my head high and proud whenever I held a clinch-cover romance, and someone teased me about it.

Never be ashamed of the genre!

Final Analysis of Forever Mine, Valentine

Forever Mine, Valentine was a sequel to Vicki Lewis Thompson’s 1989 Be Mine, Valentine, where Charlie had previously wielded Cupid’s bow and arrow to great success. Yes, the angels from above sent the old scamp down to spread love among mortals!

I loved that aspect of the Temptation line. There was so much variety; the books could have any crazy plot or simple, mundane ones. Temptations told all kinds of stories; the only qualifier was they had to be sexually steamy enough for a new era of romance readers.

This Temptation romance had a hefty dose of humor and lots of steamy love scenes making it an engaging Valentine’s Day treat.

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

Synopsis

Hartman strikes again!

Old Charlie Hartman was out of his mind! To insist that Spence Jegger would marry the first woman he saw on Valentine’s Day was pure madness, given Spence’s opinion of marriage. And an aging vagabond playing St. Valentine was a bit much for even a friend like Spence to accept. Until Charlie pointed out Spence’s “intended,” Jill Amory.

All Jill wanted, however, was to finish painting Valentine messages on the windows of Jegger Outfitters and be on her way. She had a deadline to meet…on the other side of the country. Now all of a sudden two crazy men – one of them the tempting Mr. Jegger himself – seemed determined to influence her schedule…and her heart.

FOREVER MINE, VALENTINE