Category Archives: Zebra Heartfire

best zebra romances

Top Twenty Best Zebra Historical Romance Novels

best zebra romances

Everybody Loves Zebra

Want to know what the best Zebra historical romances are according to readers? We’ve got the answer.

It’s no secret that Sweet Savage Flame loves Zebra books. Just about every week, it’s guaranteed we’ll review an old-school novel by publisher Kensington’s romance imprint. Whether it’s a Lovegram, Heartfire, or a regular historical–or even a Ballad or Splendor–we’re down to read them!

The folks at Goodreads–who know bodice rippers–are no strangers to Zebra love. They’ve created a list of their favorite Zebra historical romances. So far, out of several thousands of published books, 167 of them are ranked.

Below are the first twenty books on the list. We’ve reviewed some, and read others, while there are a few we’ve yet to read.

edin's embrace pino
Edin’s Embrace, Nadine Crenshaw, 1989, Zebra, Pino cover art

The List

The Top Half of the Best

Best Zebra Romances # 1-5

  1. Edin’s Embrace by Nadine Crenshaw
    • It’s not surprising to us to see this one at #1. When readers discuss their favorite old school Viking romances, this Nadine Crenshaw historical is always among the books that pop up. We reviewed Edin’s Embrace and gave it 5 stars.
  2. Desert Captive by Penelope Neri
    • Penelope Neri is a favorite author of ours. Her Desert Captive is a great Sheik romance–with no harem! Introvert Reader ranks it a solid 4. Sorry, no review at this time.
  3. No Choice But Surrender by Meagan McKinney*
    • This book has an asterisk as it’s the only one listed not to have been originally published by Zebra. No Choice But Surrender was first released by Dell in 1987, and reissued by Zebra in 1998. None of us have read this one, but Meagan McKinney has written some fantastic books.
  4. Southern Seduction by Thea Devine
    • Thea Devine writes hot, sexy romances. Southern Seduction features a widow who’s glad her cruel husband is dead. When his long-lost son shows up to get his inheritance, sparks fly. Another 4 star read for Introvert Reader, review-to-come.
  5. Lovefire by Deana James
    • Both Introvert Reader and Blue Falcon have read this fictionalized account of Joanna of Navarre‘s life, and they came to very different conclusions. Look for future Duelling Reviews for this book!
Lovefire pino
Lovefire, Deana James, Zebra, 1985, Pino cover art

Best Zebra Romances # 6-10

  1. Sweet Savage Heart by Janelle Taylor
    • Blue Falcon gave this a 5-star review and ranks it as one of Janelle Taylor’s bests.
  2. Sweet Fire by Jo Goodman
    • Another great romance! Introvert Reader gave this one a 5-star review.
  3. Emerald Nights by Virginia Brown
    • A great treasure hunt romance set in the jungles of Peru, with a shy, bookish-heroine and a swashbuckling hero. High 4 stars from Introvert Reader. RTC.
  4. Midnight Captive by Penelope Neri
    • We’re not surprised to see another Penelope Neri romance, but to see two of her books in the top ten shows how highly she is regarded by readers! Definitely a 5 star book.
  5. This Wild Heart by Patricia Pellicane
    • Rounding out the top ten is this Western romance by Patricia Pellicane. On Goodreads, it averages a 3.91 rating from 23 votes. On Amazon, it sits at 5 stars from 7 reviews. Neither Blue Falcon nor Introvert Reader has read this one, so we’re putting it on our TBR list.
This Wild Heart, Patricia Pellicasne, Zebra, 1990, Robert Sabin cover art

The Bottom Half of the Best #11-20

These ten Zebra romances round out the top twenty list.

Best Zebra Romances # 11-15

  1. Sea Jewel by Penelope Neri
    • Another Penelope Neri on this list! We’ve all read this one, and posted a 5 star review.
  2. Dakota Destiny by Dana Ransom
    • This fantastic Western is the third book in Dana Ransom’s Dakota series and we will get to it soon as it is a 5 star read!
  3. Alexandra’s Ecstasy by Dana Ransom
    • Although Introvert Reader ranks Dana Ransom as one of her favorite authors, she’s surprised to see this pirate romance one rank so high. The hero is to-die-for, the heroine needs a kick in the rear. Still, it’s an entertaining tale.
  4. Bold Rebel Love by Christine Dorsey
    • Christine Dorsey has always captivated us. This American Revolution-era Lovegram is a thrilling and sensual romance. Another high 4 star rating from Introvert Reader. So many books to review!
  5. Beloved Bondage by Katharine Kincaid
    • The stunning Alessandro Biffignandi stepback is just the icing on the cake for this historical set in Ancient Rome. A Briton slave becomes a gladiator, then a chariot racer in the age of Emperor Caligula. Again 4 stars from Introvert Reader and RTC.

Best Zebra Romances # 16-20

  1. Sweet Texas Surrender by Victoria Thompson
    • Victoria Thompson creates a sparkling Western romance that’s funny, sensual and exciting. Another 4 star read from Introvert Reader that we will be sure to get to ASAP.
  2. Seductive Caress by Carla Simpson
    • None of us have read this one, but it’s availability on Kindle may explain it’s popularity. Many Zebras from the 1980s and 1990s are, sadly, no longer in-print.
  3. Magnolia Plantation by Beverly Butler
    • This Southern romance is the oldest on the list, published in 1981. Introvert Reader hasn’t read this and Blue Falcon gave it 1 star. Magnolia Plantation averages a 2.88 rating on Goodreads, so we wonder who loves it so much and why.
  4. Sweet Prairie Passion by F. Rosanne Bittner
    • Rosanne Bittner’s book should rank higher, in our not-so-humble opinion. Her historicals are always first-class. 5 stars from Blue Falcon in his review.
  5. Rebel Vixen by Dana Ransom
    • This is one of Introvert Reader’s favorite books of all time, and she would have been disappointed not to see it here.
rebel vixen dana ransom
Rebel Vixen, Dana Ransom, Zebra, 1987, cover artist TBD

More to Zebra Reviews Come

You can expect us to analyze and assess the romances we haven’t yet covered in the near future.

Keep an eye out on Mondays and Wednesdays when we upload our reviews.

Don’t see a particular book you’re looking for? If you have a Goodreads account you can go vote for your top picks.

Your Opinion

Are you a fan of the old Zebra romances? Have you read any–or all–the books on this list? Do you agree with the rankings? Is your favorite book or author missing from the top twenty list?

As always, please drop us a comment, and let’s talk romance!

Comanche Love Song

Historical Romance Review: Comanche Love Song by Cheryl Black

book review historical romance
Comanche Love Song by Cheryl Black
Rating: half-star
Published: 1989
Illustrator: Don Case
Imprint or Line: Zebra Heartfire
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Western Romance, Native American Romance
Pages: 416
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonThriftBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Comanche Love Song by Cheryl Black

The Book

This review is of Comanche Love Song a standalone Zebra Heartfire from June 1989 by Cheryl Black.

The Plot

Part 1 of Comanche Love Song

The book begins in Stonewall County, Texas, in 1855. A family is doing chores around their farm. Only one member of the family, a then-two-year-old girl, will be alive by the end of the day.

Fast forward 17 years. U.S. Army Major Walker Grayson meets up with a group of soldiers, who have a captive with them named Silver Dawn. She is the heroine of the book and is the girl–now an adult–mentioned earlier.

Silver Dawn has been raised by the Comanche since they took her from her family at age 2. She tries various times to escape Army custody but is always brought back.

Meanwhile, she and Walker are becoming attracted to each other, later becoming lovers–and married in Comanche tradition.

Soon after their first intimate encounter, Walker takes Silver Dawn to Fort Nacogdoches, Texas, where things don’t go well for her.

Part 2 of Comanche Love Song

The scene then shifts to Louisiana, where we meet Walker’s family. There is the father Samuel, stepmother Kathren, sister Amanda, brother Seth, and Camelia Rhinehart, Walker’s fiance.

Silver becomes aware of the Grayson family drama and starts a little of her own.

In the end, the Grayson family loses several members but gains others when Silver Dawn and Walker add to the family, and they have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

I made a vow to finish every book I purchased with my own money. That vow remains intact.

Downside

Where to begin? Comanche Love Song is a hot mess. First, Walker captures Silver Dawn, then has sex with her despite having a fiance back in Louisiana!

When Walker takes Silver to Louisiana, the book changes to a 1980’s soap opera with mostly unlikeable characters and storylines that are convoluted and beyond stupid.

There is no character development at all.

There is no romance between Silver Dawn and Walker. Basically, the only time they’re together is when they are having sex. They’re apart from each other for about 75% of the book. And most of that is due to Walker locking her up. Yes, a great way to show you love someone is to imprison them.

Sex

The love scenes between Silver Dawn and Walker are fairly mild, don’t generate any heat, and are not erotic.

Violence

Assault, battery, shooting, and killing all take place during Comanche Love Song. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line on Comanche Love Song

Comanche Love Song by Cheryl Black has now passed Eugenia’s Embrace by Cassie Edwards as the worst book I’ve ever read.

At least Eugenia’s Embrace had sex scenes going for it. Ms. Black’s book has absolutely no redeeming qualities whatsoever. I’d give this zero stars if I could.

.5 Star

Rating Report Card
Plot
0.5
Characters
0.5
Writing
1
Chemistry
0.5
Fun Factor
0.5
Cover
4
Overall: 1.2

Synopsis:

RHYTHM OF RAPTURE

Though her skin was milky white, lovely Silver Dawn never thought she was anything less than all Comanche. And when she first set eyes on the despicable Major Walker Grayson, the savage beauty could only hate the man who was out to kill her red-skinned grandfather. Yet somehow his green eyes made her pulse hammer with excitement, his rock hard frame made her yearn for his loving touch. And even as her mind vowed to stab the treacherous paleface, her body swore her total surrender!

DANCE OF DESIRE

If the ambitious Major Grayson could kill the infamous Horse Back, he’d be assured of an important position back East. Then he captured the Indian chief’s “daughter”, the wild, spirited Silver Dawn, and Walker calculated he’d earn more prestige by returning the white squaw to civilization. But as the hot-blooded officer struggled to tame her, primal lust made him forget his career. Now all that mattered was dominating her each day, fulfilling her each night, and forever falling under the spell of her… COMANCHE LOVE SONG

COMANCHE LOVE SONG by CHERYL BLACK
trAITOR'S KISS TERRI VALENTINE

Historical Romance Review: Traitor’s Kiss by Terri Valentine

historical romance review
Traitor's Kiss by Terri Valentine
Rating: three-stars
Published: 1989
Illustrator: George A . Bush
Imprint or Line: Zebra Heartfire
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Georgian Era Romance, Historical Romance
Pages: 415
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Traitor’s Kiss by Terri Valentine

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Traitor’s Kiss, a standalone by historical romance Terri Valentine. The plot spans over seven years, from 1784 to 1791.

The Characters and the Set-Up

In the Bahamas, Calypso Collingsworth, a young gentlewoman, is caught by her evil older brother, Evan reading–Gasp! Shudder!–a romance novel. Evan blackmails Calypso into working as a serving wench at a tavern to allow him to have a romantic assignation with the waitress Calypso is to replace for the night.

While at the tavern, Calypso is told to “warm the bed” of the patron in the room. That patron is Lord Rhys Winghusrt, Earl of Flint. Calypso discovers that she and Rhys have differing views of what “warming the bed” means, and they end up having sex.

Nine months later, Calypso is pregnant and on the verge of giving birth to the baby conceived during her encounter with Rhys. At the same time, Calypso and Evan’s mother, Cathleen is also giving birth. Sadly, Cathleen’s baby is stillborn. In rage and anger, Cathleen’s husband and Calypso and Evan’s father, Lord John Collingsworth, hatches a cruel plan. He tells Calypso that her son–who was born alive–is dead and claims the boy as his and Cathleen’s son.

The Plot

The Plot Part 1

Fast forward six years. John tries to push Calypso into marriage and invites four men to his estate as potential husbands for her. Among the men is Rhys, who at that time doesn’t recognize Calypso. (He will remember later). In part because of this, Calypso tries to get revenge on Rhys. this backfires, spectacularly and she is arrested and accused of being a spy.

Rhys rescues her and in the process discovers that he is Tristan’s father. After this, Rhys takes Calypso and Tristan to Philadelphia in America where he plans to marry her.

Plus, he must stop a plot that, if not halted, could change the course of American history. For although Rhys was born in the U.K.–Wales to be exact–and is a peer of the realm, he is, by choice and heart, an American.

In Philadelphia, Calypso and Rhys marry. However, Rhys soon takes Tristan and goes to Wales, in part to introduce Tristan to his heritage. Rhys is also angered at Calypso’s intransigence over acknowledging Tristan’s maternal parentage.

The Plot Part 2

Upon hearing where they’ve gone, Calypso arranges a trip to Wales. Big mistake, as the ship’s captain she hired plans to sell her to an African harem. Calypso escapes by telling the captain that Rhys will pay a hefty ransom for her. He doesn’t have to, as the evil captain is arrested once they reach England.

Calypso, Rhys, and Tristan reunite, and she discovers who is the mastermind of the evil plot mentioned above.

Calypso and Rhys foil the plot. However, this comes at a heavy cost to both of them.

In the end, Rhys gives up his title to stay in America with Calypso and Tristan, and the family has their Happily Ever After.

Upside

Calypso and Rhys are both fairly strong characters. Calypso has to deal with emotional abuse from all the males in her life, including Rhys. Even so, she manages to come out okay.

I didn’t like Rhys at first–he was a bit of an unfeeling jerk–but grew to like him more as the book went on. I also liked that once he found out that Tristan was his son, he loved him immediately. He didn’t use him as a pawn in his relationship with Calypso much, although that does happen to an extent.

Downside

There is a noticeable lack of depth to Calypso and Rhys. Although Ms. Valentine made me believe that Calypso and Rhys loved each other, there wasn’t a lot of hot passion between them. The ending of the book could have been more exciting.

Sex

The love scenes between Calypso and Rhys are fairly tame.

Heat level: pretty lukewarm.

Violence

Two characters are killed, neither completely on-screen. No graphic violence.

Bottom Line on Traitor’s Kiss

Terri Valentine’s Zebra romance Traitor’s Kiss is a good book. It simply lacks the passion and juice to be a great book.

3 stars


Synopsis:

Loyal To His Lust
There was only one way Rhys Winghurst knew of to relieve the pressure of his latest undercover assignment a romp in the hay with a beautiful lady. The red-blooded male was impressed when the innkeeper sent up the voluptuous light skirt, but when he crushed her lips and fondled her curves, his passion was unexpectedly ignited as never before! The skillful captain showed the young wench the myriad ways of pleasure and then showed her the door. But Rhys never figured that the memories of rapture would haunt him nor that he’d need that one incredible woman by his side to successfully fulfill his mission.

True To Her Heart
Spirited Calypso Collingworth didn’t expect more than an aching back and injured pride during her one-night masquerade as a tavern’s serving girl. But when she was sent to “serve” the Captain in Room Nine, the innocent redhead never thought her work included unmentionable intimacies…nor that the gentleman would be the tall, dark hero of her dreams! Calypso struggled with the handsome stranger even as her silken flesh begged for his touch. Then when she suffered his callous disregard only moments after such glorious ecstasy, the hot-tempered miss vowed she’d wreak vengeance on the humiliating cad for his insincere whispers and his Traitor’s Kiss

TRAITOR’S KISS by TERRI VALENTINE
Rebel Vixen

Historical Romance Review: Rebel Vixen by Dana Ransom

historical romance review
Rebel Vixen by Dana Ransom
Rating: five-stars
Published: 1987
Illustrator: TBD
Imprint or Line: Zebra Heartfire
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Civil War Romance, Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper
Pages: 445
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Rebel Vixen by Dana Ransom

MILD SPOILERS 😉

Love & Betrayal

The Beginning: Love

Rebel Vixen commences by diving right into the story.

As the Civil War rages throughout the United States, 21-year-old Savannah Russell is on a ship in the Caribbean bringing food and medical supplies to her Southern brethren when she spots a body floating in the water. She urges the sailors to bring him aboard.

However, when they see the man’s Union buckle on his uniform, everyone but Savannah wants to throw the enemy back into the sea. Savannah is defiant and swears to help save the Yankee sailor, despite what anyone says, including her Uncle, who’s in charge.

Savannah takes the officer on land and brings him to an inn. With a doctor’s aid, she helps him recover, saving his injured arm from amputation. She is instantly attracted to the blond-haired Lt. Commander named Skyler Reade. He, in turn, falls madly for the woman who saved his life.

Upon a tropical beach, Savannah and Skyler exchange their words of love, promising to be together forever.

The Beginning: Betrayal

As they begin to make love, an explosion shatters the silence. In horror, Savannah realizes that the Union army has taken her Uncle’s ship. Skyler tells her that the ship was loaded with weapons and ammunition, not medicine and supplies, and as a Union soldier, he had a responsibility to report it.

He vows his love for Savannah, as she sees that every man on board, including her uncle, is now a prisoner of war. In a rage, Savannah strikes at Skyler, reinjuring his arm, and flees away in horror, declaring her eternal hatred.

The Book: Rebel Vixen

Thus begins one of my all-time favorite romance novels, Rebel Vixen by Dana Ransom (aka Nancy Gideon).

Yes, it’s a cheesy-looking Zebra Heartfire, with a bosomy-clinch cover and cornball title. It must be read to be fully appreciated.

The scope is grand, spanning years across the American North and South, with war, death, love, and birth. This “bodice-ripper lite” was so well written and emotional that it made me cry tears of sadness and joy.

Seriously, Rebel Vixen is one of the best books I’ve read.

Not surprising, as Dana Ransom’s Zebras are almost all among my favorites, along with the great Deana James and, to a lesser extent, Penelope Neri.

The Plot: The American Civil War

Savannah

Savannah is the oldest daughter of three children. Her father was a casualty of war, her brother is off fighting, and now with her uncle imprisoned, she finds herself burdened as the head of the family with an enormity of responsibilities on her shoulders.

Unconventionally beautiful, she has no time for gaiety as the war rages on, destroying everything she ever knew. Saving Skyler was instinctive, as she deeply values human life. She has the weight of the world upon her, and despite her recalcitrance, Skyler is her one bright spot in the darkness.

Skyler

A Man Without Purpose

Skyler Reade has no real purpose in life, bouncing aimlessly along from adventure to adventure. As the middle son of an upper-crust Philadelphia family, he’s sort of flitting along in life when the war starts.

His father is a respected doctor, his older brother is settled down with a family and fighting for the Union, and even Skyler’s wayward younger brother seems to be following in the family’s footsteps of pursuing a medical degree.

Skyler has a “girlfriend” at home, not someone he feels serious about–although she absolutely does about him–who encourages him to pursue politics. To be a politician, he’ll have to have some military experience. But as Skyler was not keen on fighting a war he cared nothing about, he entered the Navy because he thought he’d see little battle action at sea.

A Genuinely Nice Guy

Although Skyler is a drifter suffering from middle child syndrome, he seeks to be virtuous. The main characteristic I adore about Skyler is that he is a nice guy. A decent, caring, empathetic human being.

Yes, he is a bit domineering at times, but if 19th-century women weren’t 3rd wave feminists, you damn sure can’t expect the men to have been. He is relentless in his pursuit of Savannah, vowing to make her love him once again. Most times, he’s generous and kind. Even so, other times, he can be demanding.

However, spoiler warning here: there is one bodice ripper-type scene.

A “forced seduction” occurs after Savannah taunts Skyler and tells him of her many lovers–a lie–for which he is instantly regretful and never repeats.

Skyler is genuinely kind to Savannah despite her shrewishness. He pursues Savannah across the North and South, confident that there is nothing that could ever shatter their love.

Then again, maybe there is.

A Sensitive Subject Matter

As this Rebel Vixen is set during the US Civil War, slavery is a large part of the plot. I can understand that the sensitivity on this topic repels a lot of modern romance readers from this era. However, there’s no sugar-coating it. Savannah’s family owns plantations, and as such, they own slaves.

As far as Savannah’s views on slavery, like the war, it’s complicated. Ever since she was a child, Savannah’s father has allowed one slave to be freed at her request on her birthday. Although Savannah herself questions the righteousness of slavery, she will not betray her family, her state, and “The Cause.”

On the other hand, Skyler is aghast at the practice. He finds purpose in life through two motivations: to reobtain Savannah’s love and trust and fight for his nation until slavery is eliminated.

I adore the conclusion of this book as it’s reminiscent of the end of John Jakes’ mini-series North and South Part I and the scene with Lesley Anne Downs and Patrick Swayze. It always makes me chuckle. What the hell, that series was so good, so it’s ok with me that Ransom borrowed a bit from that ending.

“Why me? Why would you want me?” she asked in bewildered frustration.

“You–you make everything else so unimportant… I’ve never had much direction in my life, nothing I wanted to devote myself to until you held my hand and sat with me when I prayed I would die. Just wanting to hear your voice made me fight to get through the hell of each day. I loved you before I even saw your face.”

Final Analysis of Rebel Vixen

Rebel Vixen is a book I go back and enjoy every few years. For me, it’s an old friend with reliable characters who go through tragic circumstances but come out of it united and secure in their love for each other.

I truly hope author Dana Ransom (aka Nancy Gideon) regains her rights to this book from Kensington and is able to republish it in digital format. It would be a shame for this romance to remain a hidden gem, for only lovers of old paperbacks to discover.

If you’re in the mood for an old-skool romance read that skirts with being un-PC but doesn’t have an over-the-top-Alpha hero you’d want to hit in the head with a frying pan, I can’t recommend a better read than Rebel Vixen.

5 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
5
Characters
5
Writing
5
Chemistry
5
Fun Factor
5
Cover
4.5
Overall: 4.9

Synopsis:

TENDER INNOCENCE
When Savannah Russell spotted the lone survivor drifting among the shipwreck’s debris, nothing could have stopped her from rescuing him. Not even that she was sailing on a Confederate blockade runner while he wore the uniform of the Union Navy. As a spirited Southerner, she hated to help the enemy, but as a woman she could not let him die. So she nursed him herself, rejoicing as pain left his startling gray eyes and strength returned to his lean, muscular body. And before she had time to guard against the unwanted desire his gentle touch aroused in her, she had given her enemy more than her compassion …. she had given him her heart.

WANTON PASSION
Skyler Reade felt more than gratitude for the raven-haired rebel who’d saved his life. Her courage had earned his boundless admiration; her beauty had sparked his limitless desire. She’d risked everything to help him and he knew that staying with her would only endanger them both. Still, he had to taste the beckoning sweetness of her lips, had to caress the ivory smoothness of her skin before he could leave her. Someday he would return to build a future with his seductive Savannah, but for tonight he could only give her the warmth of his embrace and the promise that she would always be his treasured, tantalizing REBEL VIXEN.

REBEL VIXEN by DANA RANSOM
yankee mistress

Historical Romance Review: Yankee Mistress by Ashley Snow

Synopsis:

Black-Hearted Captain

When lovely abolitionist Selene Sprague overheard secret Confederate strategy, the spiriited miss knew right then and there her duty was to inform the Union army. But as she galloped off into the inky night, cunning Rebel officer Wade Kinsolving reined in her horse and managed to lock Selene in his arms until she revealed her scheme. Refusing to admit to the pleasure of his embrace, the patriotic wench swore she’d undermine the traitor’s plans—even if it meant pretending ecstasy with each kiss they shared.

Busybody Beauty

Captain Wade Kinsolving figured the gorgeous eavesdropper was up to no good, but since the sumptuous spy was so enticing, he’d punish her his own way. His bedroll would be her prison, his company would be her penance, and his caresses would be her torture. The arrogant Southerner gloried in ruining each of the willful girl’s tricks and, craving the challenge of changing the hatred in her eyes to rapture, decided he’d make her his forever, as his own foxy, sassy Yankee mistress.

YANKEE MISTRESS by ASHLEY SNOW

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Yankee Mistress a standalone from May 1989 by Ashley Snow, published by Zebra/Kensington as a Zebra Heartfire.

The Plot

Yankee Mistress by Ashley Snow begins at an unspecified time during the Civil War. Selene Sprague, the heroine, is working in a tavern in Manassas, Virginia for her uncle, John Carpenter–both of her parents have passed. She overhears information about the Confederate war plans which will be helpful to the Union Army. Selene tries to get the plans to the Union forces but is stopped by Confederate Captain Wade Kinsolving, the hero of the book.

Wade later rapes Selene, who tries again to escape but is caught again by Wade.

After catching her again, Wade kidnaps Selene and takes her first to Norfolk, Virginia, and later to Barbados. (This is all to save his mission). He also marries Selene in a shipboard ceremony.

Selene and Wade are happy as a couple in Barbados. For a while, anyway. Their happiness ends when Simon Lazar, a contemporary of Selene’s from Virginia, arrives. Later, Lazar and Selene head to London. Wade soon arrives in London, and he and Selene reunite and have sex. He also achieves part of his mission, or so he thinks. Selene leaves London after being brutally assaulted by Lazar and killing him.

Selene returns to Virginia to search for Wade. Their first reunion doesn’t go well, but eventually, they reconcile.

In the end, Wade kills Lazar, who miraculously survived his attempted killing by Selene, and she and Wade have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

There is one good sex scene in the book. Beyond that…

Downside

Wade is a 2x rapist, an emotional, mental, and physical abuser. He is, to put it simply, a human piece of fecal matter.

While I can give Selene some credit for her strength in nursing the wounded and dead during the Civil War, and I can allow that she has little control over what happens to her due to the fact that she has no money, I can criticize her for her decision to fall in love with an individual who abuses her and treats her poorly throughout the book, which I found extraordinarily stupid. There is zero character development and no romance at all between Selene and Wade. None of the characters in the book are remotely likable.

Sex

As mentioned, there is one good sex scene. There are others, but they don’t approach a decent level.

Violence

As mentioned, Wade rapes Selene twice. She is also raped a third time by a peer of the realm. There are other scenes of assault, battery, wounded soldiers, and killings. The violence other than the rapes is not graphic.

Bottom Line on Yankee Mistress

I never thought I would read a book worse than Cassie Edwards’ dreadful, Eugenia’s Embrace. With Yankee Mistress, Ashley Snow has proven me sadly wrong.

0 stars.

Tropes: Civil War. Historical Romance. Rapist “Hero”.

0.5 Stars

colorado jewel sate brandt

Historical Romance Review: Colorado Jewel by Cate Brandt

Synopsis:

Magheen Fitzgerald could have never predicted her fate the day she left her native Ireland for the shores of America. Blinded by tales of gold and great wealth, she believed that she’d reclaim her family’s fortune in a gold mine in Colorado. But when the stagecoach she was traveling in overturned in a storm, she was lucky to escape with her life. And now she was snowbound, trapped in a primitive shack with the most virile man she’d ever known. Despite the cold outside, Magheen felt a heat building in her like never before…

DANGEROUS SETTING

Daniel Calcord ventured to Colorado for a change of pace, for some excitement. But he got much more than he bargained for in the shapely form of the Irish beauty he had saved from a stagecoach wreck. As he nursed her back to health, Daniel couldn’t help himself from caressing her silky flesh, her sensuous curves. From the flash in her emerald eyes to the fiery light in her auburn hair, she enchanted him. It was only a matter of time before he would take her in his arms and make her his own…

COLORADO JEWEL 

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book and the Characters

This review is of Colorado Jewel, a standalone by Cate Brandt. (Zebra Heartfire, April 1989).

Heroine: Magheen Fitzgerald. Red hair, emerald eyes.

Hero: Daniel Calcord. Black hair, blue eyes. Businessman/lawyer.

The Plot

Colorado Jewel opens in Colorado, early September 1878. Daniel Calcord, the hero of the book and a businessman with his fingers in many pies, is heading toward one of his enterprises, a silver mine in the town of Leadville. His trip is delayed, however, as Daniel helps to rescue Magheen Fitzgerald, the heroine of the book, from a stagecoach accident. He nurses her back to health and they face many perils, one of which is their attraction to each other.

When one of Maggie’s brothers, Patrick, a priest, catches them in a compromising position, they are compelled to marry. Their engagement doesn’t go well.

Maggie and Daniel do eventually marry. Sexually, they’re compatible; in other ways, not so much. Things don’t improve when the workers in Leadville’s mines protest working conditions, leading to violence between the miners and the mine owners, with Maggie in the middle.

Later, Daniel’s mother, Mayse, shows up and causes problems for both Daniel and Maggie. Those problems endanger Maggie’s life.

In the end, Maggie and Daniel reconcile, have a child, and their Happily Ever After.

Upside

Aside from finishing the book… Maggie is a fairly nice character.

Downside

Daniel, who is a hot-and-cold blowing bastard.

First, he wants Maggie. Then, he doesn’t want her. This goes on for the entire book. He talks at Maggie, not with her, which creates almost all of their issues. Daniel is self-centered, egotistical, condescending, demeaning, and insulting to her. He accuses her of things that are not true. By the way, he never apologizes. There is no actual romance or character development, and the storylines, such as they are, zip back and forth without actually reaching a destination.

Sex

A few love scenes between Maggie and Daniel that don’t generate a lot of heat.

Violence

Assault, battery and one shooting take place “off-screen.”

Bottom Line for Colorado Jewel

Maggie is a nice heroine. She definitely needed an actual hero. She’s the only thing saving Colorado Jewel from a lower than 1-star rating.

Location: Leadville, Colorado. 1878-1880.

Tropes: Historical romance, Zebra Heartfire.

1.11 Stars

desert slave miranda north

Historical Romance Review: Desert Slave by Miranda North

book review historical romance
Desert Slave by Miranda North
Rating: three-half-stars
Published: 1989
Illustrator: TBD
Imprint or Line: Zebra Heartfire
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Harem Romance
Pages: 416
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Desert Slave by Miranda North

VERY MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book and Characters

This review is of Desert Slave, a standalone historical romance novel by Miranda North. (Zebra Heartfire, May 1989).

Heroine: Juliette Hawkins, copper red hair, blue eyes. No occupation.

Hero: Deric Raleigh. Dark brown hair, green eyes. Caravan trader.

The Plot

Part I

As the book begins, Juliette Hawkins, 19, the book’s heroine, is excited. Her guardian and uncle, Lionel Hawkins, has accepted a diplomatic assignment in Malta and is taking Juliette with him. On the trip, however, Juliette is kidnapped by Bedouin pirates. She is later given to Deric Raleigh, the hero of the book.

As they travel in the desert, Juliette and Deric become lovers. Soon after, however, Deric becomes distant, so Juliette decides to leave him. Big mistake, as she ends up in trouble that he has to save her from.

Later, they part company. They reunite in Malta when Deric asks Juliette to join him on a dangerous mission.

Part II

Juliette and Deric engage in their mission, which is mostly successful.

Deric is shot and wounded. Juliette nurses him back to health. During this time, Juliette and Deric come to their senses and realize they love each other. They get engaged and have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

Juliette and Deric are a well-matched couple. Ms. North writes their love as genuine and real.

Downside

Riddle me this: What do Desert Slave’s character development, depth, storyline, and what “Juliette” is wearing on the book’s cover have in common?

Answer: There’s not a whole lot to any of them. Like way too many romance novels, Juliette and Deric could have saved themselves a lot of time and pain had they actually TALKED WITH EACH OTHER!

Sex

Juliette and Deric share a few love scenes. There is an emphasis on the emotions of the love scene rather than the esoterics of the act.

Violence

Assault, battery, a knifing, and shooting all take place in the book. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line on Desert Slave

A good book is like a building. First, a foundation is laid down. Then, hopefully, the author/builder will put something on the foundation that is attractive/interesting/useful.

In Desert Slave, Miranda North got the first part right.

Locations: England. Africa.

Tropes: Africa. Historical romance. Zebra Heartfire.

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

Synopsis:

KIDNAPPED BY PIRATES
Proud Juliette Hawkins was terrified when Barbary brigands overran her Mediterranean-bound ship. For safekeeping, they handed her over to Deric Raleigh, an Englishman turned desert trader, and the redhead’s terror turned to fury. How dare this arrogant mercenary — her own countryman — continue to hold her captive! But as they traveled deeper into the Sahara, the independent beauty came to rely on Deric’s expertise more and more. Soon admiration became desire … and Juliette yearned to love the very man she as supposed to hate!

OVERPOWERED BY A WENCH
Caravan leader Deric Raleigh never wanted to get mixed up in holding Juliette Hawkins prisoner. But in order to gain his best friend’s freedom, he had to bow to the pirates’ demands. The cynical nomad had no use for a gently bred innocent in the hard, adventurous life he had chosen. But as they traversed the dunes beneath the starlit sky, Deric couldn’t help wanting to bed his alluring hostage, teach her how to please a man, and make her his…

DESERT SLAVE by MIRANDA NORTH
sunset temptation

Historical Romance Review: Sunset Temptation by Jane Toombs

book review historical romance
Sunset Temptation by Jane Toombs
Rating: one-star
Published: 1989
Illustrator: Unknown
Imprint or Line: Zebra Heartfire
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Western Romance
Pages: 380
Format: Paperback
Buy on: Amazon
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Sunset Temptation by Jane Toombs

The Book

This review is of Sunset Temptation, a standalone novel by Jane Toombs (Zebra/Kensington Heartfire, June 1989).

Heroine: Jennara Gray, 29, Brown hair, green-amber eyes. Healer.

Hero: Bramwell Sumner, 34. Brown hair and eyes. Attorney.

The Plot

The book begins at an unspecified time in Minnesota. Jennara Gray, the hero of the book, has just been confronted by Philadelphia lawyer Bramwell Sumner, the hero. Bramwell’s stepbrother, Ronald Claridge, and Jennara’s sister, Susanna, have run off together. Jennara and Bramwell make an uneasy alliance to bring the couple back. Easier said than done.

As they travel to try to find Susanna and Ronald, Jennara and Bramwell meet a Datoka boy named Cub, encounter various perils and become lovers.

Jennara and Bramwell eventually find Susanna and Ronald in Missouri, but also find more peril. In the end, Susanna and Ronald marry, as do Jennara and Bramwell. The latter couple has a baby together and both couples find their Happily Ever After.

Upside

My record of finishing every book I paid for with my own money remains intact.

Downside

Sunset Temptation is a BORING book. I’ll explain further.

Jennara and Bramwell are not strong enough characters to be leading a romance novel (they aren’t strong enough characters to be supporting players either). This is especially given the fact that Jennara, Bramwell, or both are in every scene in this nearly 400 page book. There is little character depth or development.

The supporting characters only exist as foils for Jennara and Bramwell to play off of. Perhaps realizing that her characters aren’t particularly interesting, Ms. Toombs or her editors try to add juice to the book by placing the characters in various perilous situations. This, too, fails miserably, as these scenes are no more interesting than the ones that precede them.

Sex

A handful of love scenes involving Jennara and Bramwell, which are just as colorless as the rest of the book is.

Violence

Assault, attempted rape, battery, killing, and rape all occur in Sunset Temptation. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line

Sunset Temptation probably isn’t as bad a book as I’m making it out to be. However, the stultifying boredom I felt reading it means no positive grade from me. 1.11 stars.

Settings: Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri.

Time frame: unspecified but during the Civil War.

Tropes: Attorney. Healer. Heartfire. Historical Romance.

1 Star

Rating Report Card
Plot
1
Characters
1
Writing
1.5
Chemistry
1
Fun Factor
1
Cover
3
Overall: 1.4

Synopsis

INTERFERING TENDERFOOT
If she weren’t so committed to healing, frontier doctor Jennara Gray would’ve killed that arrogant easterner Bramwell Sumner. The single-minded man had stormed into her home, accused her of trying to swindle his rich stepbrother, and was now about to go riding off into the sunset — right in the middle of a Sioux uprising. Jennara told the handsome blockhead she’d accompany him just to save his stubborn hide… and she’d never admit it was really because of the hot, intense desire the good-looking male made her feel!

OVERBEARING SHE-CAT
No woman had ever fooled Bramwell Sumner, and that tall, outspoken Jennara Gray would be no exception. Despite her commitment to frontier doctoring, her genuine love for her patients and her caring hazel eyes, the cynical Philadelphia lawyer was convinced she was only a gold digger. Then for the first time ever his lust overrode his logic and Bramwell forgot all about his hunt for his stepbrother. All he wanted to search was Jennara ‘s silken slender body and claim her beneath the star-studded sky.

Sunset Temptation by Jane Toombs

READ FOR FREE AT OPEN LIBRARY

shamles ecstasy

Historical Romance Review: Shameless Ecstasy by Thea Devine

Shameless Ecstasy, Thea Devine, Zebra, 1989, Cover Artist TBD

MILD SPOILERS

1 Star

Rating: 1 out of 5.

This review is of Shameless Ecstasy, a standalone from May 1989 by Thea Devine.

The Plot

The book takes place on Swany Island, Georgia. One of the residents there is Sarianna Broydon, the heroine of the book. Sarianna lives with her father, Rex, her stepmother Vesta, and Vesta’s daughter, Jeralee. The relationship between Rex and Sarianna is not a good one for many reasons. Stepping into this family drama is Cade Rensell, the hero of the book. Cade was born in Georgia, left, and has now returned, with some scores to settle.

As part of Cade’s revenge plan, he and Sarianna become lovers, who are caught by Vesta and Rex in a compromising position. Despite Rex’s objections, he agrees to let Sarianna and Cade marry.

Sarianna and Cade marry, despite Jeralee’s attempts to impede the process. Sarianna and Cade relocate to Savannah and begin their married life together. They are happy on one level, but there are many difficulties beneath the surface, and two above it: Vesta and Jeralee,

Soon, after Sarianna suffers a miscarriage and other issues, she and Cade separate. She goes to Charleston, South Carolina, to live with her late mother’s cousin. Cade follows her and tries to win her back. He’s not the only one following Sarianna to South Carolina; Vesta and Jeralee do as well, who come to visit and try to create problems for Sarianna. This time, they don’t succeed.

In the end, Vesta tries to kill Sarianna but is stopped by Cade. He and Sarianna reconcile and have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

The best part of this Southern Antebellum re-telling of Cinderella is Sarianna, who is subjected to various forms of emotional and mental cruelty throughout her life. The fact that she is still capable of being a loving person is a testament to her. The sex scenes are also very good for a late 1980’s mainstream romance novel.

Downside

Everything else!

To be more specific, the majority of the characters in Shameless Ecstasy are thoroughly unlikeable. The cruelty that Rex, Vesta, and Jeralee exert toward Sarianna also contains sleazy elements. Although Ms. Devine tries to sell the book as a love story, there is no real love between Cade and Sarianna. He wants her for revenge against Rex, he lusts after her, and even though he verbalizes the words “I love you” to Sarianna, Cade’s actions tell a completely different story.

Sex

As mentioned, the love scenes are pretty good. They’re mildly descriptive and fairly erotic.

Violence

Vesta tries to kill Sarianna by stabbing her. She wounds Sarianna, but the injuries are not life-threatening.

Bottom Line

The only ecstasy I felt after reading Shameless Ecstasy was the fact that it was finally over. 1.27 stars

Reviewed by Blue Falcon

love's glorious gamble

Historical Romance Review: Love’s Glorious Gamble by Dana Ransom

Synopsis:

ACE OF HEARTS
Gloria Daniels was prepared for adventure–her first trip away from home was bound to be exciting. But nothing could have matched the true thrill that coursed through her young body when she first spotted Sterling Caulder. He may have had a reputation as a gambler, but he was like no man she had ever seen before. He walked with an elegant grace and carried an air of sophistication that drew Gloria into his spell. All she wanted at that moment was to experience his embrace, to feel his warm lips against her own, to have him sweep her off of her feet for a night of unbridled ecstasy!

QUEEN OF DIAMONDS
Sterling Caulder made his living by making decent men part with their hard earned money. A gambler and a rogue, Sterling did his job without thinking of the consequences–at least until he met Gloria. Her soft gray eyes appealed to his only weakness–the desire to protect the innocent beauty from the dangers of the world. All he wanted to do was to run his fingers through her flaxen curls, to caress her with a passion that knew no bounds. Making Gloria his own would be a risk, but for a night in her arms he was willing to chance it all in Love’s Glorious Gamble
.

LOVE’S GLORIOUS GAMBLE by DANA RANSOM

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

In Dana Ransom’s Love’s Glorious Gamble a young and naïve blonde named Gloria Daniels seeks to avenge her father’s death. She transforms herself into the vixenish redhead, Glory Dane. As Glory, she’ll cheat men out of their money and seek out retribution. Meanwhile, her mentor, and sometimes-savior, Sterling Caulder, a notorious gambler, fights his attraction to her. Sterling’s been hurt by love in the past. Is Gloria the woman who will mend his heart?

The Plot

Here in Love’s Glorious Gamble, the hero is no overbearing bully. He’s a charismatic rogue who shares a great, supportive relationship with the heroine. The heroine is courageous and plucky, all alone in a world that holds mystery and despair.

A girl of intelligence and wit, Glory devises a complicated trap in which to ensnare her enemies. Everyone is hiding the truth to some extent in this tangled tale of vengeance.

My Opinion

Love’s Glorious Gable was published in 1988 under Zebra‘s Heartfire imprint. It is an entertaining, emotional romance. This book should merit at least 4 stars, especially by the low-quality standards of Zebra romances.

So why does my official rating stand at only 3 stars?

Two reasons.

Reason #1

Dana Ransom (real name Nancy Gideon) has written some of my all-time favorite books–not just romances–in particular, Rebel Vixen and Dakota Destiny. Other thrilling epics are Temptation’s Trail and Dakota Promises.

I’ve never hated any of Ransom’s works I’ve come across, although some have drawn conflicted emotions, namely, Alexandra’s Ecstasy and its predecessor, The Pirate’s Captive.

Love’s Glorious Gamble falls short when contrasted with my personal favorites. It’s unfair to make such comparisons, I know. I went in with immense expectations only to find an entertaining, above-average love story.

That doesn’t sound bad at all, does it?

Reason #2

I had to take a full star rating off this book because Sterling is still madly in love with his dead fiancée, Eliza. So much, that even in bed, he calls Glory by Eliza’s name…twice. Yikes!

The dead wife/dead lover-fetish trope is a giant pet peeve and a major no-no for me… Uggh!

I don’t mind a hero who believes he is in love with another living woman and then falls truly in love with the heroine. I can even tolerate a cheater if he’s redeemed. It’s that when the heroine has to compete with a perfect ghost for the hero’s affections, I tend to nope out. 

I really wish that had not been such a significant part of Sterling’s background. With any other author, this would have been a complete deal-breaker for me. However, due to Ransom’s exceptional writing, I avoided tossing the book on the floor and was able to continue.

Final Analysis of Love’s Glorious Gamble

As I said, that one plot point did color my final opinion of Dana Ransom’s Love’s Glorious Gamble. If I don’t dwell on it, I can honestly say that, while not perfect, this Zebra Heartfire is worthy of a positive review.

But it did happen, so that tempers my overall enjoyment, although certainly not enough to hate it. I just wouldn’t put it on my Desert-Island-Keeper list.

However, if you’re a more open-minded reader who appreciates the power of love’s ability to heal wounds and also looking for a Zebra that doesn’t suck, then this may be an old-school romance you’d like to explore.

3 Stars

beloved enemy jane feather

Historical Romance Review: Beloved Enemy by Jane Feather

Synopsis:

DEFIANT BEAUTY
Ginny Courtney faced the tall intruder with cool mockery in her wide gray eyes and prayed he would not sense her fear. She could not let this Roundhead colonel cast her out of her home! For the sake of the royalist fugitives hidden on the estate, she had to remain …even f it meant being at the mercy of the man who stood so arrogantly before her. She wanted to hate him, but as she watched his handsome face soften with compassion and felt his green-brown eyes shower her with unexpected warmth, her defenses began to crumble, leaving her heart as vulnerable as her trembling body.

BOLD CONQUEROR
Alex Marshall was not a man who took defiance lightly, but somehow the impertinent chestnut-haired beauty intrigued him. He had the power to destroy everything the girl held dear, yet she taunted him with her glances, challenged him with her words, showed her willfulness with every graceful move of her slender frame. A
lex couldn’t help but wonder if she would respond to his kisses with that same spirit and fire, and he swore he’d have his answer before too many nights had passed. He would take her in his arms and caress her silken curves until she begged for the tender touch of her BELOVED ENEMY. 

BELOVED ENEMY by JANE FEATHER

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

When my cat destroyed the cover of my edition of Jane Feather’s Beloved Enemy, chewing it to shreds, I lamented the loss. It was a pretty cover, although I cared nothing for the book. Beloved Enemy begins with an intriguing premise, then about 20 pages in, the annoying “insta-luv” trope rears its head. Everything goes downhill from there.

I’ve read Jane Feather’s books before. They’re the kind one loves or hates, and usually, I’ve enjoyed them. One positive about this was that it was originally published as a Zebra Heartfire in 1987, and compared to other Zebras, the writing is like Tolstoy.

The Plot

Ginny Courtney is a war widow. Her older brother is presumed dead, and her family remains fiercely loyal to the crown. At the same time, Alex Marshall is a Colonel in Cromwell’s Army. He takes command of her family home as his army looks for fugitives.

The hero is…not charismatic. All he does is shout and yell at Ginny. He gives Ginny one of the worst pet names I’ve heard a hero say to his heroine. Alex calls her his beloved “chicken.” No, not his “henny” or something cute like “chickadee” or even “pigeon.” If Ginny ever reciprocated in kind by calling him her “cock,” Feather never let us readers know, more’s the pity.

The two fall for each other instantly, although why I don’t know. He has zero charm, and she never trusts him and hides various secrets. Even though Alex is her enemy and her “captor,” Ginny chooses to be Alex’s personal camp follower. I don’t know how authentic it was for a supposed Puritan Colonel to have his high-connected Loyalist lover follow him from camp to camp. Then again, how important is historical accuracy in these books?

Beloved Enemy, 2013 Zebra Re-issue

Ginny even gets to talk to King Charles and acts as his spy, passing on information to other agents.

Alex and Ginny move from location to location. They bivouac and decamp from town to town as occupying an occupying army would do. That’s about it for the first half. Unfortunately, Beloved Enemy takes about three hundred pages for any action to start. When it does, it’s a bit wild, from accusations of witchcraft, death of an interesting secondary character, a return from the dead, and more death.

Final Analysis of Beloved Enemy

If it takes more than half the book for a story to get going, it’s too late for me to care. I don’t mind a slow burn build-up, but this book was one half of nothing happening, then for the other half, everything was tossed into the plot but the kitchen sink. As a result, the pacing was uneven, the book took an excruciating 500 pages to tell its story when it should have been cut down to a tight 350.

Beloved Enemy blew like a Category 4 Hurricane. It could have been worse, yet it wasn’t a fun time.

My disappointment was such a shame as I love English Civil War and Restoration Era romances filled with priggish Roundheads & debauched Cavaliers.

All through the dull parts, I kept thinking, “Why am I reading this boring book?” Sure it ticked boxes of categories I love, such as: an illicit romance among enemies; a redheaded, stoic military hero; and a pretty Zebra cover by Ray Kursar. However, it was so tedious. Still, I finished it.

As said, boring it may have been, for what it was, it was written by Jane Feather, an author with some literary skill talent. For that, I’ll give it a two-star rating. I am doubtful, though, that I’d have been so generous if I’d read the reissue or Kindle version and not have been so dazzled by the Kursar cover.

So take this review with a grain of salt.

2 Stars

Historical Romance Review: Pirate’s Angel by Marsha Bauer

pirate's angel
Pirate’s Angel, Marsha Bauer, Zebra, 1991, Pino cover art

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

5 Stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Book

First of all, I love the original Pirate’s Angel Zebra Heartfire cover, but man-oh-man, have you taken a look at the e-book version? Authors, why are you doing this to your books? Lots of folks love to mock old-school covers and Fabio, but there are e-book covers that make clinches look like Rembrandts. Even a plain black cover with white Comic Sans font would be sexier than whatever the heck that new version is.

Besides loving the original Pino cover, I loved just about everything else in Marsha Bauer’s 1991 Zebra Heartfire pirate romance. Sure, the heroine is a two-faced hussy, as she has a dependable guy back home whom she plans on marrying while she enthusiastically partakes in lovemaking sessions with the hero. But I couldn’t blame Ivy. Drake was wildly attracted to her.

Plus, he was hot. (God, I’m so shallow.)

The Plot

Part One

Our story begins with a lovemaking session some 20+ years prior to the start of the main plot, with the pirate Keils Cauldron making love to a beautiful woman he calls Sunny.

Ostensibly, the product of this union is our heroine, Ivy Woodruff. Her pregnant mother settled down with a nice guy who raised Ivy and gave her his last name. From what her mother told her of her conception, Ivy is convinced that Keils is her natural father.

Conveniently enough, Ivy is sailing on a ship when Keils and his crew seize it. Keils’ first mate Drake is instantly taken with the violet-eyed vixen, so he makes her his captive. Ivy resists Drake and tries to convince Keils that she is his daughter, but he’s not keen on believing her as he’s in mourning for his dead son, who was mysteriously murdered. For the time being, Keils is determined to find the killer. So he allows Drake to take Ivy aboard, even though Keils doesn’t trust her.

Part Two

There was an engaging plot at the heart of this book; however, what really drew me to Pirate’s Angel was the chemistry between Ivy and Drake. Blond heroes always intrigue me. Drake’s intense pursuit of Ivy had me reading and rereading many scenes.

I remember as a teen pestering a friend over and over to read this one, not resting until she finished it. I had to share the sexy, cheesy awesomeness with someone! When she gave it back, she gushed about how she finished it in one sitting.

The sex scenes were very steamy. I should not have been reading his trash. What did my mother think these books were about? The covers explicitly told you what was going on!

Despite her prim and proper upbringing, Drake brings out the wild siren in her, and they become lovers. Who then shows up, but Ivy’s fiance, Alan? Ivy begs him for forgiveness, which he gives her without any quarrel. As a man-of-the-cloth, he believes in redemption.

Plus, Ivy’s hot.

The trouble is, whenever she and Drake are together, Ivy can’t resist him; their passion is so intense.

Alan who?

Ivy remains convinced that Keils is her father. Despite there being no solid evidence one way or another if they’re related, Keils accept Ivy as his own.

Part Three

There is a slight surprise at the end when Drake and Ivy get married. They rush off to enjoy the consummation of their nuptials when Keils notices that Ivy transposed the “V” and “Y in her own name as she signed the wedding register. Since Keils does that to his name, too, it’s all the proof needed of parenthood. No DNA test could be more precise.

Although, Keils might have a point. The “I before E, except after C, etc.,” rule should mean his name is pronounced “Kails,” but I read it as “Keels,” which makes sense with him being a ship captain and all. So it’s understandable he has trouble spelling his own name. Certainly, there are given names that would be hard for any adult, let alone a child, to spell: Tiphaniee; Quvenzhane; Chrysanthemum; Donnabháin; ABCDE–actually, that one’s pretty easy to spell, it’s just hard to pronounce.

Final Analysis of Pirate’s Angel

I’m not going to pretend as if there’s any doubt to a HEA in this book. Ivy and Drake are obsessed with each other and will spend the rest of their days together, whether on land or on the sea, always getting some booty.

Anyway, whether you buy Pirate’s Angel as an e-book or have an original copy, it’s a story you’ll want to read over and over again. This is one sexy pirate romance.

texas princess blake

Historical Romance Review: Texas Princess by Veronica Blake

Texas Princess, Veronica Blake, Zebra, 1992, Robert Sabin cover art

1 1/2 Stars

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

Princess of Which State?

As usual, the folks at Zebra were just slapping generic titles onto these books! Only a tiny portion of Veronica Blake’s Texas Princess takes place in Texas. The hero and heroine travel across the western US, and they only get to the Lonestar State at the tail end of the book.

My main recollection of this tepid romance is while reading, I kept wondering: “When do they get to Texas? The book’s almost over. What about Texas?” Not a good sign. The editors could have gone with something like Gypsy Princess (although perhaps in today’s environment, that would be seen as insensitive), Emerald Princess, or Forbidden Passions. I checked & no other romance novels had those titles.

As for the book itself?

Sad to say that Texas Princess was a forgettable Heartfire. Tasmin, the eponymous Texas princess who is not actually royalty from America’s 28th state, is betrothed to the leader of her Roma tribe. He’s a kind and handsome man. However, she falls for a gadjo cowboy drifter, Blayde (I think that was his name) instead.

He watches her intently as she dances by a fire. Tasmin feels Blayde’s gaze upon her. She is drawn to this strange man, even though it spells her damnation.

Passion ensues.

Because of her forbidden passion, Tasmin is banished from all that is familiar to her. The hero has his inner demons to battle and isn’t looking for commitment. Destiny ties them together as he and Tasmin trek through the West. Tasmin & Blayde only have each other for support, yet can these two people from differing backgrounds make true love work?

Not for nothing, but this is a standard romance novel, so what else do you think is going to happen?

Final Analysis of Texas Princess

Dull, dull book. I love Zebra romances in general, but on an individual level, a lot of them were unremarkable. I’ll give this one an extra half star because I like the cover.