Category Archives: Zebra Lovegram

velvet night ennis

Historical Romance Review: Velvet Night by Jo Goodman

Velvet Night by Jo Goodman
Velvet Night by Jo Goodman
Rating: three-stars
Published: 198
Illustrator: John Ennis
Imprint or Line: Zebra Lovegram
Book Series: War of 1812 Series #2
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 496
Format: Paperback, eBook
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Velvet Night by Jo Goodman

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Velvet Night, book #2 in the “War of 1812 Series” by Jo Goodman. The review for Book #1, Passion’s Bride, later reissued as The Captain’s Lady, is available on the blog.

The Plot

Velvet Night begins in England, 1805. Kenna Dunne, 13, the heroine, lives with her father, Robert; her stepmother, Victorine Dussault Dunne; her brother, Nicholas; and her stepsister, Yvonne. On this night, the Dunne is hosting a masquerade party at their family estate, Dunnelly.

The festivities will be brief. Before the night is over, an unknown criminal murders Robert.

Fast forward ten years. Kenna, now 23, is visited by Nicholas’ long-time friend Rhys (pronounced Reese) Canning, this book’s hero. And the person whom Kenna believes killed her father.

As the Velvet Night goes on, multiple attempts are made on Kenna’s life. She and Rhys draw close and eventually become lovers. Soon after that, she is kidnapped and brought to a brothel. Before the worst can happen, she is saved by Rhys’ “friend,”–who is also a madam.

Later, Kenna and Rhys marry, and he takes her to America, to Boston. After his father and brother were killed in a fire, Rhys inherited his family’s shipping business in the city. He has brought Kenner there to keep her safe from danger.

When they arrive in Boston, Kenna and Rhys make friends with Alexis Quinton-Cloud and Tanner Cloud (the heroine and hero of book #1 in this series, Passion’s Bride/The Captain’s Lady); they own Garnet Shipping, the very competitors of Canning Shipping.

Kenna and Rhys also make enemies in Boston’s business and social circles.

Unfortunately, the threats against Kenna don’t stop after she arrives in America. Her life is in peril several more times. The bad guys kidnap her once again before her father’s killer’s true identity is revealed.

Rhys saves her, as the hero always does in these books. They unmask and dispose of the killers.

Kenna and Rhys have their Happily Ever After.

The Upside

Kenna and Rhys are fairly nice characters.

The Downside

Velvet Night reminds me very much of oatmeal or rice with nothing added: okay on some levels, but very bland.

Velvet Night by Jo Goodman

The scenes that are supposed to be exciting (e.g., the many attempts on Kenna’s life) aren’t. Plus, there is little chemistry between Kenna and Rhys in or out of bed.

The “mystery” surrounding the killer of Robert Dunne is pretty easy to solve. I figured out who it was by the 25% point of the book.

Sex

A few love scenes, none of which are particularly hot or sensual.

Violence

There is some assault and battery. Then shootings and killings. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line on Velvet Night

Velvet Night is a very pale sequel to Passion’s Bride/The Captain’s Lady. Jo Goodman’s previous Zebra historical was far superior to this lukewarm romance novel.

Rating Report Card
Plot
2.5
Characters
3.5
Writing
3
Chemistry
3
Fun Factor
2.5
Cover
4
Overall: 3.1

Synopsis

HE BETRAYED HER FATHER
Ever since she was a girl, flame-haired Kenna Dunne had hated handsome Rhys Canning for lying about killing her father. Now, even though she hadn’t seen him since the war ended, the vengeance–seeking beauty swore to make the smooth-talking scoundrel confess his crime. But the moment she cop fronted him, all Kenna could do was stare breathlessly at his magnificent body, his ebony hair, and his entrancing eyes. Se knew she should denounce him as a murderer, but somehow all she could do was caress him as her lover…

SHE BROKE HIS HEART
As an American spy, Rhys could never reveal the truth to the fiery Kenna without jeopardizing his mission. It was best that he never again see the provocative temptress … but she d raged in his blood for years and now it was time for the reward or his patience. The brash colonial crushed her lips beneath his and molded his strong hands to her lush curves. Even though he knew she’d detest him forever after this evening, Rhys had waited too long to keep from recklessly plunging into splendor during this long luscious VELVET NIGHT.

Velvet Night by Jo Goodman
angel heart victoria thompson

Historical Romance Review: Angel Heart (aka Texas Angel) by Victoria Thompson

historical romance review
Angel Heart by Victoria Thompson
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1988
Illustrator: TBD
Imprint or Line: Zebra Lovegram
Book Series: A Hired Gunslinger #1; The Cowboy and the Lady #4
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Western Romance
Pages: 522
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Angel Heart (aka Texas Angel) by Victoria Thompson

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of the western historical romance Angel Heart by Victoria Thompson. It is also known as Texas Angel, book #1 in the A Hired Gunslinger” series. Originally this was released as a Zebra Lovegram.

This book is also connected to Texas Triumph book #2 in Ms. Thompson’s “The Cowboy and the Lady series.

The other books in the latter series were #1 Texas Treasure and #3 Texas Blonde, which have been previously reviewed at Sweet Savage Flame.

The Plot

Part 1 of Angel Heart

As Angel Heart, or Texas Angel, begins, the hero of the book, Christian “Kid” Collins–who was a supporting character in Texas Triumph–is engaged in a gun battle at the home of his sister and brother-in-law, Rose and Pete Hastings, with gunslicks hired by Harlan Snyder, a ruthless rancher.

Sadly, Rose, Pete, and their unborn child have been killed. Christian is seriously wounded when he tries to escape. He is found by Comanche Indians and taken to the Diamond R ranch, home to Angelica Ross and her younger brother, Robbie. The Comanche brought him here partially due to their respect for Angelica and Robbie’s late father, Cameron.

While nursing him back to health, Angelica and Christian discover they have a mutual foe in Snyder, and Angelica asks for Christian’s help to fight him. He agrees to do so.

However, they will also have to fight their attraction for each other. They don’t, and Angelica and Christian become lovers. After which, he proposes to her, but she refuses. Despite this, Christian agrees to stay on to help Angelica with Snyder as well as help the Diamond R fulfill an Army contract to provide beef to Indian reservations.

Part 2 of Angel Heart

To that end, Christian calls in some help from his friends from the Circle M ranch in Texas Triumph. These are not ordinary ranch hands. The men are some of the most notorious gunslingers in Texas.

In concluding a successful cattle roundup, Angelica and Christian’s relationship deepens. However, he is now reluctant to marry her. This is not due to Angelica’s earlier rejection; it has more to do with Christian’s shame over his family and his concerns about what his future will be. And whether or not he has one, given his history as a gunman.

He and Angelica also gain a new enemy, a prostitute named Sunny Day. The backstory: Sunny was being sexually and physically abused by Snyder when Christian intervened to stop it. He and Sunny slept together–as in, they slept in the same bed but did not have sex.

Afterward, Sunny interpreted these acts as Christian being in love with her and wanting to protect her from Snyder’s wrath. Christian, obviously, viewed things differently. Hurt and angry that her dream isn’t going to happen, Sunny hooks up with Snyder’s newest hired gun, Tom Rivers, who was brought in specifically to kill Christian.

Part 3 of Angel Heart

Rivers makes this attempt at a party, where he tries to goad Christian into a gunfight. Christian refuses, and Rivers tries to shoot him in the back. In a surprising turn of events, Rivers is shot and killed by Miles Blackmon, a friend of Christian’s.

After a legal inquiry, the shooting is ruled justifiable. This angers Snyder, who makes his final move, kidnapping Angelica and Robbie. Christian saves Angelica, killing Snyder in the process (Robbie was taken to another location and released)

In the end, Christian shares his fears with Angelica, who helps him get beyond them, and “Kid” Collins “dies.” That’s the story the townspeople of Marsden’s Corners, Texas, tell two gun-slicks who come to town to kill Christian. They both leave without violence.

Angelica and Christian have two children, with another third on the way–and celebrate their Happily Ever After.

angel heart texas angel thompson
Angel Heart later rereleased as Texas Angel

The Upside

Angel Heart is a rare book where the hero is more emotional than the heroine. Emotional heroes are something of a trademark of Ms. Thompson’s historical romances. Angelica and Christian are a well-matched couple: two people who believe that they are too flawed to be loved by anyone.

When they find each other, they discover that this is not the case.

The Downside

There isn’t a huge amount of character development or depth here. The supporting characters are pretty one-dimensional. It’s never really explained–other than the fact that he’s a greedy evil bastard–why Snyder wanted to court Angelica or why he wanted to kill Christian so badly.

Sex

The love scenes between Angelica and Christian are very mild and not very exciting.

Violence

There is assault, battery, shootings, and a fire. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line on Angel Heart (aka Texas Angel)

There are some areas that could use improvement, but the romance novel, Angel Heart, later reissued as Texas Angel, is a solid western historical by Victoria Thompson.

Rating Report Card
Plot
4
Characters
4.5
Writing
4
Chemistry
3
Fun Factor
4
Cover
4
Overall: 3.9

Synopsis

HEAVENLY PLEASURES
Ever since Angelica’s father died, Harlan Snyder had been angling to get his hands on her ranch, the Diamond R. And now, just when she had an important government contract to fulfill, she couldn’t find a single cowhand to hire on–all because of Snyder’s threats. It was only a matter of time before she lost the ranch…. That is, until the legendary gunfighter Kid Collins turned up on her doorstep, badly wounded. Angelica assessed his firmly muscled physique and stared into his startling blue eyes. Beneath all that blood and dirt he was the handsomest man she had ever seen, and the one person who could help her beat Snyder at his own game–if the price were not too high…

DEVILISH DESIRES
Before Kid Collins knew what hit him, he had somehow agreed to act as a hired gunfighter–and for a lady. Or at least she looked like a lady, with her carefully pinned red hair and proud green eyes. But no lady would be trying to run a ranch on her own, let alone take on the likes of Harlan Snyder. She needed Kid Collins’ help, all right, but his help came with a price attached.

Angel Heart (aka Texas Angel) by Victoria Thompson
texas-wildcat-duillo

Historical Romance Review: Texas Wildcat by Linda Benjamin

historical romance review
Texas Wildcat by Linda Benjamin
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1988
Illustrator: Elaine Duillo
Imprint or Line: Zebra Lovegram
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Western Romance
Pages: 414
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Texas Wildcat by Linda Benjamin

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

This review is of Texas Wildcat by Linda Benjamin, a 1988 Zebra Lovegram historical romance.

The Plot

Texas Wildcat begins in Texas with the heroine of the book, Cordelia “Cat” Jordan, 19, who lives on a ranch, the Circle J, with her mother, Olivia, and her brother, Matt. Matt is physically challenged due to a past incident.

As the book begins, Cat is trying to forestall the Circle J from being foreclosed on. The owners of the banknote on the Circle J are the Blackstone family, a family which has a history with the Jordans, not all of which is positive.

Cat decides to meet the representative who has come to Texas to conduct the foreclosure. She is shocked to find out that the person is Logan Blackstone. Olivia and Matt already know and detest him. She also discovers that her father Hadley’s death may not have been accidental.

Romantic feelings form between Cat and Logan. However, other potential love interests are both pursuing them. Ryan Fielding, the owner of the neighboring Rocking R ranch, wants Cat–in part to merge their two ranches. Logan, meanwhile, is being pursued by Chastity Vincent, the promiscuous daughter of the local banker.

As Texas Wildcat goes on, Cat and Logan become lovers. Matt learns to find his pride and self-respect. With the help of Matt’s girlfriend, Maria Hidalgo, more shocking secrets are revealed.

Cat and Logan realize they truly do love each other and have their Happily Ever After.

The Upside

Cat and Logan are both strong characters. Once again, Ms. Benjamin wrote a book where her hero felt his emotions strongly, and that is great to see. She also made me care about the characters, which is extremely important to me as far as liking a book.

The Downside

The love scenes could be hotter, but that was never a strength of Ms. Benjamin’s books for me.

Sex

There are several barely lukewarm love scenes.

Violence

Multiple assaults and battery scenes. A couple of shootings and killings. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line on Texas Wildcat

There isn’t enough overall strength in Linda Benjamin’s Texas Wildcat for 5 stars, but it’s a definitely solid 4-star book.

4 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
4
Characters
4
Writing
4
Chemistry
4
Fun Factor
4
Cover
4.5
Overall: 4.1

***

Categories: , , , , , , ,

Synopsis

No-Wit Banker
From the moment spirited “Cat” Jordan met handsome Bostonian Logan Blackstone, she couldn’t stand his overbearing arrogance. How dare he deny her ranch credit because he didn’t think a woman could do the job? Though the slender blonde had never before played the flirt, she realized that approach was her last gamble to keep her property. But the closer the long-limbed beauty sidled up to her dark-haired enemy, the more she enjoyed her role, and the less control she had over what the results might be!

Gun-Toting Hoyden
Virile, aloof Logan Blackstone was no stranger to women, but when he came across Cat Jordan, he knew she was one of a kind. The Texas filly could break horses, herd cattle, mend fences, and ignite his desire as no other female ever had! The cool Yankee refused to acknowledge her effect on him, and swore they would part the sooner the better! But once she pressed her nubile body against him and opened her lips to his, Logan was past the point of no return, swept up in the sensuous tempest of his Texas wildcat.

TEXAS WILDCAT by LINDA BENJAMIN
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!

lone star surrender

Historical Romance Review: Lone Star Surrender by Carol Finch

historical romance review
Lone Star Surrender by Carol Finch
Rating: five-stars
Published: 1988
Illustrator: Pino
Imprint or Line: Zebra Lovegram
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Western Romance
Pages: 512
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Lone Star Surrender by Carol Finch

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Lone Star Surrender by Carol Finch, a standalone Zebra historical romance.

The Plot

Part 1 of Lone Star Surrender

Lone Star Surrender starts in Texas, circa 1885. Tara Winslow, the heroine, has come southwest from St. Louis to spend the summer with her father, Terrance, a newspaper publisher. She hasn’t seen him in three years.

Tara had been living in St. Louis with her grandfather, Ryan O’Donnovan, a wealthy businessman, and her mother, Libby. Terrance and Libby are separated, in large part because of her inability (or unwillingness) to stand up to her father. Tara is also engaged, unhappily, to Joseph Rutherford, one of Ryan’s business associates.

On Tara’s first day in Texas, she witnesses a murder, and is rescued by Sloane Prescott.

She meets Sloane again at the home of her friend, Julia Russel, the daughter of Merrick Russel, Sloane’s “boss.”

Sloane works for Russel as his head wrangler at Russel’s ranch, the Diamond R. Sloane isn’t working for Russel because he needs to. He has other reasons for working there: to expose Merrick as a criminal. He was also hired by Ryan and Joseph, who are investors in the Diamond R and are concerned with illegal activities they believe Merrick is involved in.

Julia wants Tara to work with Sloane to teach him manners so Julia can invite him to a dance. Unbeknownst to Julia, Tara and Sloane have a raging attraction to each other and will become lovers.

As time goes on, Tara discovers Sloane’s secrets, they marry–after she gets into trouble–and she finds out a secret he doesn’t know.

Merrick tries to kill Tara, and nearly succeeds, but she survives. Merrick later dies trying to flee Sloane after Merrick confesses his misdeeds.

Part 2 of Lone Star Surrender

After Merrick’s death, Tara thinks she and Sloane will have a clear path to happiness. She would be wrong.

Ryan and Joseph show up in Texas and forcibly take her back to St. Louis, where Ryan plans to marry her off to Joseph.

Upon hearing of her abduction, Sloane and Terrance head for St. Louis. Sloane goes to give his report and get Tara back, and Terrance to try to reconcile with Libby. Both Sloane and Terrance succeed in their endeavors to reunite with their loves.

Although, Sloane faces some token resistance from Joseph, who shows his true colors: yellow. To put it another way, Sloane was more of a man when he was born than Joseph is now.

In the end, Tara and Sloane, with Libby and Terrance–and Ryan–decide to go to Texas. The two couples have their Happily Ever After.

The Upside

When she writes under the names Carol Finch and Gina Robins, Connie Feddersen has a template she uses for her books. That template: feisty, spirited heroines, bad-boys-but-good-men heroes, and lots of humor. All of these are on display in Lone Star Surrender.

Tara and Sloane are a very well-matched couple. Their chemistry jumps off the pages and sizzles throughout the book. They are a likeable pair and the story is well-plotted and engaging. The romantic suspense element is strong, and there is a twist at the end of that part of the book.

Ms. Finch goes into her characters’ emotions and gives both of them free rein to be who they are.

I never felt as if I was reading a book; I felt like I was watching their lives in front of me, and those are the kind of books I really enjoy.

I also like the way Ms. Finch uses humor in her books. While Lone Star Surrender isn’t as funny as Beloved Betrayal–which was hilarious–there are a lot of funny moments here, especially toward the end.

Way too many romance novels have an ultra-serious tone to them. It’s a romance novel, authors! Humor is a much-underutilized feature in romance novels.

The Downside

If I had to nitpick, it would be that Ms. Finch tends to be a little hero and heroine heavy in her writing. Meaning she focuses almost entirely on her main characters.

The supporting cast in her books serves two purposes: to move storylines along and to act as foils for the protagonists. I find it nice sometimes when supporting characters have scenes when the hero and heroine aren’t in them.

Sex

Ms. Finch’s love scenes focus more on the feelings of the act than the esoterics of it. There are lots of purple prose and spiritual New Age writing about the deed.

Violence

Although people draw guns in the book, no one fires them. There are several scenes of assault and battery. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line on The Book

Readers who like humor and romance with high-spirited heroines and strong heroes will find lots to like in Carol Finch’s Lone Star Surrender.

5 Stars

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

Synopsis

THE STILL OF THE NIGHT
When the rugged cowboy found a gorgeous, unconscious woman and her dead companion along a Texas dirt road, he knew he had to try everything to save the unlucky lady. He spirited her off to his mountain shack, gave her a potion to deaden the pain, and slashed away her bloody bodice to expose the wound. But when the virile horseman saw only her creamy, flawless flesh, he realized the blood was not hers — and that the vulnerable female needed saving only from himself!

THE HEAT OF THE DAY
When golden-haired Tara Winslow awoke in he father’s canyon retreat, she couldn’t remember how she’d gotten there. What was even more baffling were the sensual dreams, that plagued her every waking moment. As she fantasized a muscular Texas lover showing her the myriad mysteries of pleasure, the innocent adventuress realized it was too vivid to not be true! Now that she knew she’d been with the only man who could win her heart, the determined beauty vowed he’d track him down and enslave him forever with the wild rapture of her Lone Star Surrender.

Lonestar Surrender by Carol Finch

sweet savage surrender sivavec

Historical Romance Review: Sweet Savage Surrender by Kathryn Hockett

historical romance review
Sweet Savage Surrender by Kathryn Hockett
Rating: half-star
Published: 1990
Illustrator: Diane Sivavec
Imprint or Line: Zebra Lovegram
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Western Romance, Native American Romance
Pages: 480
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonThriftBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Sweet Savage Surrender by Kathryn Hockett

WARNING ⚠: MILD SPOILERS & SUPER-BORING BOOK 

The Book

Sweet Savage Surrender, a Zebra Lovegram that was written by mother-daughter duo Marcia Hockett and Kathryn Kramer, aka Kathryn Hockett, is a romance between two star-crossed lovers from different worlds.

It, unfortunately, includes a hated trope of mine, instant love. “Insta-luv,” or love at first sight, is acceptable if and only if there are exciting obstacles the couple has to overcome.

Oh, there are obstacles here, all right, but boring ones.

A Preamble

I always appreciate a Native American romance that attempts to delve deeply and respectfully into the cultures of the people written about. At least, I thought I did until I realized without an engaging plot or romance to go with said respect, the novel comes off pandering and weirdly self-debasing.

Was Sweet Savage Surrender so terrible to deserve my scorn, then? Scorn, no! However, it was incredibly dull, sad to say. The romance is lacking, as the main characters fall in love right away and don’t spend much time together. Everyone is so black-and-white here. The good guys are perfect and the baddies are very bad.

Instant Love and Not Much Else

Sky Raven of the Arapaho People is a half-Native, Half-American woman with fair skin and blue eyes. I don’t know where those blue eyes came from. I know Mendelian genetics alone no longer applies to eye color, but I always thought one has to have recessive genes on both parents’ sides to get blue eyes. Green or hazel would have made more sense.

Anyway, Sky Raven comes upon an injured Anglo-American soldier being held captive by her enemy tribe, the Utes. She arranges to save the man and then nurses him back to health. As her grandfather is her tribe’s medicine man, this knowledge comes easy to Sky Raven.

The soldier is Major John Hanlen of the United States Army. He takes one look at Sky Raven and is instantly smitten. It doesn’t take long before Sky Raven feels the same way about the Yankee soldier.

“The spirits have brought us together. This was meant to be. I love you, Skyraven,” declares Major John Hanlen at 17% into this dull read.

Some Hot Pipe Action

If this book had anything interesting about it, I would have added a half star. Alas, even the sex is snoozerific.

Foreplay includes SkyRaven describing the Arapaho peace pipe ceremony, which turns John Hanlen on:

“Explain more about the ceremony and your beliefs so that I can understand.”
“The peace pipe is our most sacred possession. It is really the heart of all our sacred ceremonies…”


“And could this peace pipe ceremony help to bring harmony between your people and my soldiers?”


“I believe it could be so. The spirits want there to be peace or they would never have led me to you.” Her soul knew the gentle power of love. His caress upon her was an affirmation of life and contentment.

“I care very deeply for you,” he said softly. There was no doubt in his mind as he looked into the innocent, sincere questioning eyes looking up at him. He did have deep feelings for this beautiful, brave young woman that went beyond his gratitude for having saved his life.


“And I, you,” she managed to say before his lips were again upon her own, tasting the honey, the sweetness, and the softness…

The Conclusion to This Boring Romance

John Hanlen returns to his army and tries his best to get them not to go after the Arapaho. But there’s a commanding officer named Colonel Chivington who hates the tribe and will stop at nothing to destroy them.

So the big obstacle in this romance is that he wants to exterminate the Arapaho and John Hanlen has to stop it from happening.

Sky Raven waits among her people waiting for John Hanlen to arrive (That’s what Sky Raven calls him, not John, but John Hanlen. It got pretty weird during intimate scenes where she calls him by his full name.)

Will he be able to prevent Chivington from wiping out the Arapaho people? Will true love have its day?

Wait! More Minor Irritations…

Rather than focusing on romance, I’ll just note some nits I have to pick with this book:

Nocturnal animals out in the daytime:

“The beaver was busily building a new home for themselves, the squirrels were storing food in a hole in a tree, a large mother raccoon was teaching her kits…”

A mother raccoon with her babies out in the day? Maybe just before dusk, not in broad daylight. They could be rabid.

“There was an old Arapaho saying that Skyraven thought of now. ‘Let tomorrow take care of itself.’”

Didn’t the Bible say that? Yup, I checked. It’s in Matthew 6:34. Okay, I’ll ignore that because Hockett was probably trying to demonstrate how similar Arapaho are to European-descended Americans.

The word “thug” was used, and it took me out of place. I know from my 9th grade Social Studies “thug” referred to a certain criminal element from India in the 1800s, not to Native Americans of that same time period.

People shake their heads yes. I nod my head yes and shake it no. Okay, maybe body language was different in post-Civil War America.

These are minor irritations, but honestly, they were the most interesting facets of this read.

Final Analysis of Sweet Savage Surrender

In its attempt to be a respectful tale about the Arapaho people–a noble intent, which is admirable–Sweet Savage Surrender forgot to add a little spice to its sweetness. The villains are one-dimensionally evil, and the good guys are one-dimensionally good. It’s very paint-by-numbers and boring.

Sky Raven and John Hanlen fall in love right away, then spend most of Sweet Savage Surrender separated as he tries to prevent atrocities from being committed against her people. He succeeds, and they meet up and live happily ever after.

I wouldn’t recommend this book unless you enjoy romances where the love story takes a back seat to the action and history. Then again, there’s not much action here, either, just talking, worrying, and introspection. This was not a fun book to experience.

Rating: 1/2 Star (The cover points don’t count!)

Rating Report Card
Plot
0.5
Characters
0.5
Writing
1.5
Chemistry
1
Fun Factor
0.5
Cover
4
Overall: 1.3

Synopsis

CAPTIVE ENCHANTMENT
With skin of creamy satin and hair of ebon silk, Skyraven was the pride of her Arapaho tribe. But the voluptuous maiden had not yet met the warrior who could stir her blood… until the day she came upon the golden-haired man in the clearing — a man as sleek and powerful as the most magnificent brave. She quickly freed the handsome stranger from the cruel bonds that held him captive… only to succumb to his seductive charms once he’d regained his awesome strength. And though their passion was forbidden, the hot-blooded half-breed soon burned for the fiery rapture of her lover’s embrace!

TENDER TORMENT
After his capture by the Utes, Major John Hanlen thought death was a heartbeat away. Instead, he opened his eyes to see an enchanting, indigo-eyed angel sweetly tending his wounds. He knew he shouldn’t jeopardize his peace-seeking mission by making love to the young beauty, but just the sight of her aroused him to distraction! And once he’d tasted the secret sweetness of her deepest desires, he became her willing slave, yearning only to savor, again and again, her Sweet Savage Surrender…

SWEET SAVAGE SURRENDER by KATHRYN HOCKETT

comanche bride merrit

Historical Romance Review: Comanche Bride by Emma Merritt

comanche bride emma merritt
Comanche Bride by Emma Merritt
Rating: three-stars
Published: 1989
Illustrator: Gregg Gulbronson
Imprint or Line: Zebra Lovegram
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Native American Romance, Historical Romance, Western Romance
Pages: 472
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Comanche Bride by Emma Merritt

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Comanche Bride, a standalone January Zebra Lovegram from 1989 by Emma Merritt.

The Plot

Comanche Bride starts at an undisclosed time–later stated as sometime after the Civil War–as a caravan is making its way from Chandlerville, Texas, to Mexico on a humanitarian mission. There is a cholera epidemic in Mexico. Seven people are in the caravan: six men and Dr. Zoe Ellen Randolph, the heroine.

They won’t make it to Mexico, however. The caravan is attacked by Comanche Indians, the six men are killed, and Zoe is captured.

She is taken to a Comanche village, where two men will fight for her. One of the men is Matt Chandler, the hero of the book (Matt is half-white and half-Comanche).

Matt wins the fight, but then he has to marry and make love to Zoe to seal his victory. Matt soon discovers that marrying Zoe has an added benefit: it helps him get revenge against Weber Fielding, a man Matt has a long history of bad blood with and also is Zoe’s fiance.

Soon after their marriage in the Comanche camp, Matt takes Zoe to Candelaria, Mexico, to complete her humanitarian mission there.

A near tragedy occurs when Zoe is bitten by a snake, falls, and hits her head, suffering a concussion.

Matt later takes her back to Chandlerville, Texas–named after his family–where she recovers. While there, Matt reconciles past issues with his stepmother, Dora, and grandfather, Uriah.

We also learn why Weber wants to marry Zoe. It’s not because he loves her. When Zoe tells Weber she won’t marry him, he doesn’t take it well.

In the end, Zoe kills Weber after his henchman shoots Matt in a violent confrontation. Matt recovers from his wounds, and he and Zoe have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

When Comanche Bride was published, romance publishers were beginning to veer away from the–to use a Victorian term: ”fresh out of the schoolroom”–heroines and toward different types of female leads. Zoe is one of them. She is 29, a doctor, and very independent. Both she and Matt are developed mature characters.

Downside

There isn’t a lot of hot passion or chemistry between Zoe and Matt. Having read several of Ms. Merritt’s books, I can say with some certainty that hot passion and chemistry between leads aren’t strengths of Ms. Merritt’s writing.

Sex

Three love scenes involving Zoe and Matt. They are mildly graphic.

Violence

Abduction, assault and battery, and multiple killings take place. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line On Comanche Bride

There are things to like about Emma Merritt’s Comanche Bride. But there are also enough negatives that bring the book’s final grade down.

3 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
3
Characters
4
Writing
3
Chemistry
2.5
Fun Factor
2.5
Cover
4
Overall: 3.2

Synopsis:

SHE’D USE HIM TO ESCAPE
When stunning Dr. Zoe Randolph headed to Mexico to halt a cholera epidemic, she didn’t think twice about traversing Comanche territory… until a band of bloodthirsty savages attacked her caravan. The gorgeous physician was furious that her mission had been interrupted, but nothing compared to the rage she felt on meeting the barbaric warrior who made her his slave. Determined to return to civilization, the ivory-skinned blonde decided to make a woman’s ultimate sacrifice to gain her freedom–and never admit that deep down inside she burned to be loved by the handsome brute!

HE’D TAKE HER IN REVENGE
The virile half-breed Matt Chandler couldn’t help but admire the paleface prisoner who resisted her captors. One with such fire and spirit would surely be a lioness upon his sleeping mats. Then the Indian discovered that the wildcat was his most hated enemy’s fiancee, and he had all the more reason to ravish her. Matt planned the worst for Zoe… but when his hard-muscled body met her graceful curves, all thoughts of the past vanished, as he initiated her into love’s passionate secrets and made her his COMANCHE BRIDE.

Comanche Bride by Emma Merritt
pino romance

Historical Romance Review: Passion’s Chains by Catherine Creel

historical romance review
Passion's Chains by Catherine Creel
Rating: four-half-stars
Published: 1991
Illustrator: Pino
Imprint or Line: Zebra Lovegram
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 480
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonThriftBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Passion’s Chains by Catherine Creel

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

Passion’s Chains by Catherine Creel was a crazy book that in 1991 could only have been published by the Zebra romance lines. Or in 1977 by Avon.*

It was utterly unrealistic, but I had a blast with it.

Passion’s Chains was the first romance novel I read after subscribing to the Lovegram line many, many years ago. The plot description on the back of the book sounded like this would be a riot. And it was!

The Characters

Lady Eden Parrish met American ship captain Roark St. Claire in England. The two people from different worlds shared a hidden, forbidden love.

The pair married in secret. However, before they could consummate their union, Eden’s family tricked her into believing the worst about Roark.

Thus, Eden is abandoned by her husband, and her is heart broken into pieces.

Then Eden’s family whisked her off to their Barbados plantation to avoid any taint of scandal.

The Plot

Eden is living a lonely existence in Barbados. Months later, Roark discovers her whereabouts in the Caribbean and follows her there. The American is captured by the British and sold into slavery.

Walking through town one day, Eden sees him at the auction block. To everyone’s scandalized shock, she purchases him as her servant.

Perhaps sentimentality plays a part in me remembering this novel so fondly. I thought this book was delightful.

Roark would sneak into Eden’s room at night and assume his “husbandly rights.” By day, he labored away in the sugar fields, plotting his escape and his revenge.

On the negative side, there was a bland secondary couple and some typical boneheaded villains.

Worse, were the stupid, big misunderstandings Eden and Roark could have avoided if they just talked and listened to each other’s words!

Final Analysis of Passion’s Chains

Fond Memories

I don’t want to re-read Catherine Creel’s Passion’s Chains to see if it stands the test of time. I want to recall it fondly because I had such a blast reading this one!

Roark was such an outstanding hero. Eden was likable enough for a heroine.

Passion’s Chains or Shanna?

*This historical romance was a rip-off/homage to Kathleen E Woodiwiss‘s Shanna, as the plots are similar identical. So are the heroes’ names, except the spellings are different.

Until 2022 I had never read Shanna. I appreciated the celebrated blockbuster considerably more than I thought I would. Still, at 600+ pages, it was a long read.

Passion’s Chains is a leaner story at 400 pages, without much filler. That is amazing for a Zebra romance!

Ultimately, I enjoyed this book more than Shanna. Maybe it’s for the reason I mentioned, out of nostalgia, or just because I read Passion’s Chains first. But I did love this one.

4.5 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
4.5
Characters
4.5
Writing
4.5
Chemistry
4.5
Fun Factor
4.5
Cover
4
Overall: 4.4

Synopsis

HE HAD BETRAYED HER
Lady Eden Parrish stared in shock at the bare-chested, blue-eyed rogue who stood so proudly on the Bridgetown auction block– he was none other than her husband, the despicable Roark St. Clair! Eden had been sent to Barbados in disgrace after her brief, scandalous marriage to the unscrupulous American spy…after the way he’d betrayed her, she ought to let his contract of indenture be sold to the highest bidder. But memories of how it felt to be embraced by those strong arms and held tight against that well-muscled chest flooded her mind and body, and soon Eden was offering a fortune for the right to claim him as her own!

SHE STILL LOVED HIM
Roark had come to Barbados for only one reason–to reclaim his runaway bride. Of course, getting captured by the British and sold into slavery hadn’t been part of the plan, but t situation was working out nicely, things considered. He would find a to escape and take the luscious along, with or without her consent. The little minx might be his mistress now, but he’d soon be her master. He knew just how to tame her wild spirit and make those emerald eyes shimmer with passion’s fire. Before long, he would possess every silken inch of her…for this night and all the nights to come!

Passion’s Chains by Catherine Creel
tender savage phoebe conn

Historical Romance Review: Tender Savage by Phoebe Conn

tender savage phoebe conn
Tender Savage by Phoebe Conn
Rating: three-stars
Published: 1989
Illustrator: Pino
Imprint or Line: Zebra Lovegram
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Western Romance, Native American Romance
Pages: 480
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Tender Savage by Phoebe Conn

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Tender Savage, a standalone Zebra Lovegram by Phoebe Conn.

Tender Savage starts in Wilmington, Delaware, in June 1862. The book spans from June 1862 to September 1863 during the American Civil War.

The Plot

Part One of Tender Savage

The book begins with Erica Hanson and Mark Randall kissing passionately. The night won’t end happily for either, unfortunately. Mark and Erica’s father, Lars, a physician, are going to leave the next day to join the Union army.

Erica is being sent to New Ulm, Minnesota. She is to live with Lars’ sister, Britta, and her husband, Karl Ludwig, who owns a store there. However, Erica wants to marry Mark–or at least become his lover–before leaving for war. Mark refuses. This is the source of the conflict between them.

When Erica arrives in New Ulm, she meets Viper, a half-Lakota, half-white Indian. They share kisses and are attracted to each other.

Things look bleak as Viper and his fellow Lakota will soon be at war with the white citizens of New Ulm after promises from the government fail to materialize. During the uprising, Viper kidnaps Erica. He does so for two reasons. One is to keep her from being killed, and two, because he’s hot for her. It’s not so bad, as she is also hot for him. Erica and Viper become lovers and are married in the Lakota tradition.

Soon, however, hardships emerge. Viper’s aunt, plus an evil-other woman who is in lust with him, causes problems for Erica.

Part Two of Tender Savage

An even bigger problem will soon present itself in the form of Mark. He arranges a transfer to Minnesota to find Erica and marry her. Mark arrives in Minnesota, finds Erica with Viper, and arrests him. Viper must stand trial in a military tribunal, where he is tried and convicted.

After this, Viper asks Mark to marry Erica, which Mark agrees to. Erica and Mark marry, and he is sent back to Wilmington to rejoin the Union Army. Happiness and sadness soon follow as Erica discovers she is pregnant with Viper’s child. Meanwhile, Mark is seriously injured during the war, gets blinded, and becomes an invalid who needs constant care.

Back in Minnesota, Viper’s conviction is vacated. He leaves the state heading to Delaware to find Erica. Adopting the name “Etienne Bouchard” (his French grandfather’s name), Viper finagles his way into becoming Mark’s companion, which severely irritates Erica.

Soon after “Etienne’s” arrival, Erica gives birth to a son who looks exactly like Etienne. This creates a rift between Erica and Etienne on one side and Lars and Sarah Randall–Mark’s sister–, on the other. Poor, hapless Mark doesn’t know he’s not the child’s father.

In the end, Mark conveniently passes away. Erica and Viper go back to Minnesota–to a different part of the state. Lars and Sarah marry, and both couples have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

The backdrop of Tender Savage is the Minnesota Sioux Uprising of 1862, an actual occurrence. Mrs. Conn does a fairly good job melding her fictional characters with real people and events.

On some levels, Tender Savage tries to be like Nancy Henderson (Nan) Ryan’s excellent romance, Kathleen’s Surrender. Like that book, Tender Savage takes place in part during the Civil War and features a love triangle. That, however, is where the similarities end.

Downside

Mrs. Ryan had the ability to make me, as a reader, care about her characters and feel their emotions. Mrs. Conn–although she tries–sadlyTender Savage does not.

Tender Savage is the seventh book I’ve read by Phoebe Conn. Like the other six, Tender Savage lacks both emotional depth and character development.

I also had issues with the heroine and hero. Erica checks off the basic romance heroine boxes: she’s beautiful, young, sexy, and has a great body, but… That’s it. There really is no substance to her.

Viper is worse. Mrs. Conn would have been better served to name him “Etienne Bouchard” because Viper is basically a white Indian. Although she researched the uprising, it is clear that Mrs. Conn did none about the Lakota tribe.

There is almost nothing about Viper–besides living in a teepee and eating pemmican–that would identify him as a Native American. The only depth to his character is that we learn he has French ancestry.

There is very little romantic chemistry between Erica and Viper. The beginning of their relationship in no way indicates love; they are in lust with each other. Although Mrs. Conn tries at the end, she falls well short of creating the type of characters I can genuinely care about.

Also, I didn’t particularly appreciate that after he gained access to the Hanson home, Viper spent a great deal of time trying to have sex with Erica even though she was married to Mark.

I also didn’t buy the “Erica and Mark didn’t consummate their marriage; therefore, they weren’t legally married, and Viper’s actions were okay” excuse at the end of the book, either.

Sex

I will give Mrs. Conn credit for writing slightly better love scenes here than in her previous books, but that is damning with very faint praise.

Violence

Most of the violence takes place “off-screen.” However, there are “on-screen” scenes of assault and battery, and a slashing occurs.

Bottom Line On Tender Savage

There was the foundation for a good book in Tender Savage.

Unfortunately, Mrs. Conn was not the author to mine the gold that might have been there. Instead, the book ends up in “pewter territory.” 

3 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
3
Characters
2.5
Writing
3
Chemistry
3
Fun Factor
3
Cover
4
Overall: 3.1

Synopsis:

TOO FAST TO STOP
When innocent Erica Hansen fled to Minnesota to escape the Civil War’s horrors, she had no idea she was stepping right into the middle of an Indian uprising. And until a painted, whooping brave swept her onto his stallion, she never guessed how unsafe her new home really was. The curvaceous blonde struggled against her captor’s grip, but the farther they rode from civilization, the wilder her response to him became. The passionate beauty knew she should bite, scratch and kick the warrior, but before she could think of the consequences, Erica began to caress, kiss and embrace him!

TOO FAR TO RETURN
From the moment he beheld the golden-haired paleface, the Sioux fighter named Viper swore she’d never meet the white captives’ fate of torture and degradation. This was a woman created for the most ecstatic kinds of lovemaking … and the virile male would make sure he’d be the one to show her the myriad ways to enjoy pleasure. He promised himself he’d release her when the furor of the battle died down. But once the jet-haired Sioux trapped her in his arms, he realized a lifetime was too short to savor her ivory skin, to exult in her lavender scent, to take her time and again as her Tender Savage. 

TENDER SAVAGE by PHOEBE CONN
destinys-splendor drymon

Historical Romance Review: Destiny’s Splendor by Kathleen Drymon

historical romance review
Destiny's Splendor by Kathleen Drymon
Rating: three-half-stars
Published: 1988
Illustrator: Don Case
Imprint or Line: Zebra Lovegram
Book Series: Savage Splendor Series #2
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Native American Romance
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Destiny’s Splendor by Kathleen Drymon

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Plot

This review is of Destiny’s Splendor published in December 1988. This Zebra romance is book #2 in an unofficial Native American “series” by Kathleen Drymon. The series, in order, consists of:

  1. Savage Dawn – September 1984
  2. Destiny’s Splendor – December 1988
  3. Velvet Savage – September 1989
  4. Gentle Savage – February 1990
  5. Savage Heaven – February 1995

The Book

Destiny’s Splendor starts with two births. In a Blackfoot Indian village, chief Golden Eagle and his wife Singing Moon welcome a son, Star Hawk. In New Orleans, on a plantation, Dennis Coltin and his wife Hope welcome a daughter, Jessica Star. None are aware of what fate and destiny have in store for them.

Fast forward many years. Jessica, now 19, is in despair. Dennis and Hope were killed in a carriage accident–which really wasn’t one–a year ago, and Jessica has to deal with Dennis’ cousin, Edmond DeVaugn’s, guardianship. This will end when Jessica turns 21 or marries.

Edmond has been parading a group of lecherous men in front of her to force her to marry. Edmond wants Jessica to marry a man he can control, along with the Coltin fortune.

One day, Jessica meets Star Hawk, now 22. Star Hawk shows kindness and empathy to her, something she needs in her life.

However, in a turn of events, Star Hawk kidnaps Jessica and takes her to his village. They eventually marry and consummate their marriage.

Not everyone is happy about Jessica and Star Hawk’s marriage. Golden Eagle tries to talk Star Hawk out of marriage to her; this fails. Later, a Blackfoot woman, Spring Lilly, tries to kill Jessica; Star Hawk stops her. For a long while, Jessica–now named Silver Star–and Star Hawk are happy.

That happiness is soon threatened, however, as Jessica is kidnapped by two trappers and returned to New Orleans and Edmond’s evil clutches. He takes her to London to marry her off to a lecherous Earl. Star Hawk finds the trappers and makes them sorry for their actions. He then sets sail for England to find Jessica, who is pregnant.

Star Hawk stops Jessica’s planned marriage, kills DeVaughn, and returns to America with Jessica, just in time for her to deliver twins, a boy and a girl. Jessica and Star Hawk have their Happily Ever After. And the story will continue.

Upside

It is very rare to see two people so deeply in love as Jessica and Star Hawk are. From the moment they meet to their marriage to their separation, reunion, and birth of their children, Ms. Drymon lets their love for each other shine through. Jessica and Star Hawk are both, for the most part, likable characters.

Downside

Although Ms. Drymon tries very hard to skip past this, the fact is that Destiny’s Splendor is a Stockholm Syndrome romance. Star Hawk kidnapped Jessica. No matter the fact that they love each other, this is still a Stockholm Syndrome romance; which is a trope I loathe.

While I liked Jessica, she wasn’t my favorite type of heroine. She has no skills beyond knowing about plants for medicinal purposes. Having said that, though, two points need to be made:

Point #1

Although Ms. Drymon doesn’t specify the time setting of Destiny’s Splendor, there are references to “the colonies”, therefore, an inference can be made that the book is set during or before 1776. Women clearly didn’t have as many life choices as they do today.

Point #2

Jessica comes from a well-to-do family. Women from wealthy families weren’t supposed to have skills or intelligence that were made public. Her role was to look beautiful and become a wife and mother.

Mini Bottom Line

Although Jessica isn’t my favorite type of romance heroine, there are mitigating factors that I must acknowledge.

There isn’t any real depth or character development here, and though she falls deeply in love with him, I feel that most of Jessica’s love was out of gratitude to Star Hawk for showing her kindness, something she didn’t get from most males after her father died.

Sex

Most of the love scenes are very mild and filled with extremely purple prose.

Violence

Assault, battery, slashings, and one killing take place here. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line On Destiny’s Splendor

Kathleen Drymon’s Destiny’s Splendor probably isn’t as good a book as I’m making it sound. It also probably isn’t as bad a book as I’m making it sound.

My final grade would be just under 3.5 stars

3.45 Stars


Synopsis:

NO WAY OUT

Jessica Star Colton had nowhere to turn. At nineteen, she had two years before being free of the cruel guardian who intended to marry her off to the highest bidder and keep her fortune for himself. Jessica thought she would never escape this loveless fate… until the day she met Star Hawk in the forest. As the magnificent Indian warrior appeared from behind the dense trees, his dark eyes seemed to penetrate her very being, and his bronzed arms reached out to offer her comfort. There was something about him that made Jessica yearn to taste his kiss – it was as though she were meant for his embrace…

ONLY ONE CHOICE

Star Hawk knew Jessica was the woman of his dreams. They were fated for union from birth and he was not about to let the white beauty slip from his grasp. From the first moment he spotted her from afar, he knew of the heaven he would find in her caress. Her silver-blue eyes and silky red hair haunted him, obsessed him. Star Hawk wanted to take Jessica and claim her as his woman, even if that meant capturing her against her will. He knew that once their lips met in a searing kiss, all of their sleeping passions would awaken, and together they would join in Destiny’s Splendor.

DESTINY’S SPLENDOR by KATHLEEN DRYMON
pirates wild embrace

Historical Romance Review: Pirate’s Wild Paradise by Kate Douglas

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Pirate’s Wild Paradise a standalone Zebra romance from February 1989 by Kate Douglas.

The Plot

Part One of Pirate’s Wild Paradise

Pirate’s Wild Paradise starts in Port Royale, Jamaica, with the heroine James Allison Morgan–yes, that is her name, but hereafter she is known as Jamie–about to get married.

She won’t be wed, however, as her ceremony is interrupted by Francisco “Franco” Alonzo Montenegro DeCortega, our hero, and Jamie’s former lover.

We then flashback to how Jamie and Franco came to know each other.

Part Two of Pirate’s Wild Paradise

Jamie is the only child of notorious English pirate Captain Henry Morgan. One day, Captain Morgan attacks and sinks a ship with Franco on it. Henry plans to kill Franco, but Jamie stops him. Henry then decides to hold Franco for ransom.

As to how Jamie got the name James Allison, Henry decided that was what he was going to name his child, regardless of gender. We also learn about Jamie’s mother, Antoinette Duvalle, who was kidnapped and impregnated by Morgan; she later committed suicide.

After a drunken wager, Jamie and Franco become lovers. He leaves her, however, upon learning that his father, Carlos De Cortega, is dead. The DeCortega family consists of the late Carlos, mother Isabella, Franco, and his older brother, Lorenzo–who hates Franco–and two sisters, Maria and Teresa.

Franco goes to Spain to stop Lorenzo from destroying the family in many ways. Meanwhile, Morgan sends Jamie to England to attend a finishing school for ladies.

Part Three of Pirate’s Wild Paradise

The scene then shifts to London, where Jamie spends two years learning how to be a lady. While in London, Jamie is told by Henry–now Sir Henry and Governor of Jamaica–that Franco returned to Jamaica and never asked about her, and meets Peter Alexeivitch, a.k.a. Russian Tsar, Peter the Great. Peter offers Jamie marriage. She refuses!

Jamie then returns with Henry to Jamaica.

Back in Jamaica, we meet up with Franco again. After he was released from Morgan’s captivity, he went to Spain to confront Lorenzo. It didn’t go well for Franco. With no money and no way to fight Lorenzo’s power, Franco was forced to become what he didn’t want to be: a pirate.

He still has plans to defeat Lorenzo, but he has to balance that with having Jamie back in his life, as they reunite when she returns to Jamaica.

Jamie also gains an uncle, as she meets Antoinette’s brother, Bertram, for the first time.

Franco, Jamie, and Bertrand then make their way to Europe–France and Spain to be specific–to help Franco settle his family affairs and help his revenge against Lorenzo. The latter won’t happen, however, as Lorenzo passes shortly after Franco’s arrival. He was gravely ill when Franco got to Spain.

After seeing to his sisters’ welfare and regaining his inheritance, Franco and Jamie plan to marry. Another roadblock is put in place, though as Morgan angrily refuses to bless their union. Franco kidnaps Jamie and returns her to Jamaica.

More problems soon follow as Morgan passes away and Jamie finds Franco in a compromising situation.

Part Four of Pirate’s Wild Paradise

After Henry’s death, Jamie has no money, thanks to a codicil in Henry’s will requiring her to marry someone he would approve of, thus giving the money to her future husband.

So she decides to follow in her sire and Franco’s footsteps and becomes a pirate. Her crew consists of some of Henry’s former crew and two surprising additions.

Later, Jamie’s ship, The Lady Morgan, captures a British naval ship, taking the crew hostage. She then blackmails the ship’s lieutenant, John Terry, into marrying her so she can get her inheritance. The marriage doesn’t happen, as Franco sees to that.

Jamie is arrested and will be hung for piracy, but Franco vouches for her.

In the end, twin catastrophes-an earthquake and a wave-destroy Port Royale, which is rebuilt. Jamie and Franco survive, she gives birth to a son, and they have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

Readers who follow my reviews know I love heroines with spirit, who are strong and fight against the tide of patriarchal society. Jamie fits into that category.

She and Franco are fairly well-developed characters. Franco is a good hero; although he has some alpha characteristics, he is overall a decent man. I liked the fact that Ms. Douglas showed us both Franco and Jamie’s emotions.

Downside

I didn’t like the way Ms. Douglas handled the storyline involving Lorenzo. After Carlos died, Lorenzo:

  • Cheated Franco out of his inheritance.
  • Framed Franco on charges that, had he not left Spain, would have had him arrested and hanged.
  • Forced Maria and Teresa into marriages to an abuser and an adulterer, respectively.

I like when villains get their comeuppance, and that didn’t happen here. The ending of the book is too simplistic and kind of lame.

Sex

Multiple love scenes involving Jamie and Franco. However, the scenes are fairly mild and not very erotic.

Violence

Assault, battery, and one killing. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line On Pirate’s Wild Paradise

Pirate’s Wild Paradise is a good romance, with a fantastic female pirate as a heroine, but has too many issues to make it a great one.

3 Stars

*Book Trivia: The clinch image of Pirate’s Wild Paradise was used by Zebra as their new Lovegram logo design starting in 1990.

pirate's wild paradise kate douglas zebra

Synopsis:

Unexpected Surrender
Daughter of the infamous Henry Morgan, beautiful Jamie Morgan could hold her own against any pirate on the high seas…except Franco DeCortega. The handosme Spaniard bested her with his saber, then spared her life at the risk of his own. His compassion unsettled her; the desire in his dark eyes intrigued her. But Jamie had treasured her independence too long to surrender it in the heat of passion. Though she would yield to the dizzying sensations he aroused in her innocent flesh, she swore she’d never give him her heart!

Inevitable Conquest
Franco DeCortega was enthralled by the spirtied vixen who now held him captive, body and soul. Her violet eyes sparkled with mischief and daring; her ebony tresses danced about her creamy shoulders as she frolicked in the surf. It would take more than sweet promises to tame this tempetuous beauty..but Franco knew exactly how to make her his. With soul-searing kisses and masterful caresses he would tempt her with the ecstasy that awaited them both in a seductive unforgettable…Pirates Wild Paradise!

PIRATES WILD PARADISE by KATE DOUGLAS
Bold Texas Embrace

Historical Romance Review: Bold Texas Embrace by Victoria Thompson

historical romance review
Bold Texas Embrace by Victoria Thompson
Rating: two-half-stars
Published: 1989
Illustrator: TBD
Imprint or Line: Zebra Lovegram
Book Series: The Cowboy and the Lady #4
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Western Romance
Pages: 478
Format: Paperback
Buy on: Amazon
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Bold Texas Embrace by Victoria Thompson

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

This review is of Bold Texas Embrace, #4 in the “The Cowboy and the Lady” series by Victoria Thompson (Zebra/Kensington December 1989).

The Characters

Heroine: Catherine Eaton, 23. Blonde hair, blue eyes. Teacher. Originally from Philadelphia.

Hero: Sam Connors, 32. Black hair, black eyes. Owner, The Spur ranch.

The Plot

As the story begins, Catherine Eaton has arrived in Crosswicks, Texas, from her home in Philadelphia to teach the town’s children. One of the children, David Connors, 15, has great drawing skills and wants to be an artist.

This interest, however, puts him at odds with his older half-brother Sam Connors, the hero of the book. Sam, who is also David’s guardian, has his own goals for David, and soon Catherine finds herself in conflict with Sam, even as she is becoming attracted to him and him to her.

Catherine and Sam become lovers, however, he is also dealing with a range\war, as well as trying to keep David from falling for a grasping, scheming young woman.

In the end, the range war doesn’t happen. David goes to Philadelphia. Catherine and Sam marry, have a child, and have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

Bold Texas Embrace is pretty much standard Ms. Thompson historical romance. Her characters are very much in touch with their emotions and readers can see the emotional pinball the characters deal with.

Downside

Ms. Thompson didn’t make me care enough about Catherine and Sam. Part of this is the fact that there are WAY too many similarities between Bold Texas Embrace and the previous book in the “The Cowboy and the Lady” series.

To wit:

  • Both heroines–Felicity Storm in the former book, and Catherine Eaton in the latter–are from Philadelphia. However, they don’t know each other.
  • Both women are artistically inclined. Felicity is a photographer; Catherine is an artist.
  • Both fall in love with and marry Texas ranchers.

I get that any creative person will occasionally repeat themselves, but it’s nice to have a little space between repeats. The characters are not particularly well developed and the “range war” storyline is unfinished and weak.

Sex

The love scenes between Catherine and Sam aren’t particularly romantic, nor do they generate any real heat. The first sex scene between Catherine and Sam can be described as forced seduction at best, rape at worst.

Violence

Assault, battery, shootings, and killings take place. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line on Bold Texas Embrace

Bold Texas Embrace is my least favorite book in Victoria Thompson’s loose “The Cowboy and the Lady” series.

Location: Crosswicks, Texas.

Time: unknown.

Tropes: Artist heroine. Historical romance. Rancher hero. Texas.

2.66 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
2.5
Characters
2.5
Writing
3
Chemistry
1.5
Fun Factor
2.5
Cover
4
Overall: 2.7

Synopsis:

HOT-BLOODED RANCHER

Art teacher Catherine Eaton could hardly believe how stubborn Sam Conners was! Even though the rancher’s young stepbrother was an exceptionally talented painter, Sam forbade Catherine to instruct him, fearing that art would make a sissy out of him. Spunky and determined, the blond schoolmarm confronted the mule-headed cowboy…only to find that he was as handsome as he was hard-headed and as desirable as he was dictatorial. Before long she had nearly forgotten what she’d come for, as Sam’s brash, breathless embrace drove her mind all thought of anything save wanting him…

HOT TEMPERED SCHOOLMARM

Sam Conners was too absorbed by a range war to pay any attention to the town talk about a fancy new schoolteacher from Philadelphia. But when petite, pretty Catherine Eaton marched into his office, he couldn’t take his eyes off her. From the instant she opened her lush red mouth, Sam didn’t agree with a word she said. He kissed her to shut her up, then proceeded to take her mind off her troubles with some irresistible arguments of his own…until she was powerless to resist his BOLD TEXAS EMBRACE.

Bold Texas Embrace by Victoria Thompson
texas-temptation-gina-robins-maybe-sivavec

Historical Romance Review: Texas Temptation by Gina Robins

book review historical romance
Texas Temptation by Gina Robins
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1989
Illustrator: Diane Sivavec
Imprint or Line: Zebra Lovegram
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Western Romance
Format: Paperback
Buy on: Amazon
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Texas Temptation by Gina Robins

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book and the Characters

This review is of Texas Temptation a standalone by Gina Robins (a pseudonym for author Connie Feddersen, aka Connie Finch) published by Zebra/Kensington, October 1989.

Heroine: Catlin Quinn, 22. Honey-blond hair, violet eyes. Becomes a newspaper reporter upon arrival in San Antonio.

Hero: Lucas “Doc” Murdock, 31. Black hair, brown eyes. Cowboy/rancher.Owner, Flying Spur ranch.

The Plot

Part 1

As the book begins, Catlin Quinn, the heroine, is arriving in San Antonio, Texas to live with her aunt, Martha Lewis. This is after her life in post-Civil War Louisiana becomes too hellish to bear.

When her stagecoach is robbed, Catlin seeks medical attention. Caitlin receives it from Lucas Murdock, the hero, whom she thinks is a doctor (he’s not). They are attracted to each other, but both try to fight it.

Eventually, Catlin and Lucas give in to their attraction and become lovers. However, Catlin is forced to leave Texas by a vengeful man, Dr. Emmet Blake, who tries to control both her and Lucas.

Part 2

Catlin flees Texas, disguises herself as a male, and joins Lucas’ cattle drive to Colorado. He soon realizes her disguise and exposes her. Soon, Catlin and Lucas are continuing their relationship, albeit not without a lot of tempestuous moments.

Meanwhile, another person, Jace Osborn, has also joined Lucas’ crew. His motives, however, are far less sanguine.

Part 3

Catlin returns to San Antonio to confront Emmet, which leads her into more trouble (Emmet is later killed).Later, after a few revelations, arguments, and lots of making love, Catlin and Lucas agree to marry and have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

Readers who know the “Carol Finch/Gina Robins” name know that they can expect a rom-com type of book, and that is certainly the case here in Texas Temptation. Catlin and Lucas are a high-spirited, well-matched couple with good chemistry that jumps off the pages.

Downside

If you’ve read one of Ms. Feddersen’s books under the “Carol Finch/Gina Robins” name and then read this one, you might feel like you’ve read this story before, it’s because you basically have.

Every one of the “Carol Finch/Gina Robins” books features the same premise. A beautiful, curvaceous, shapely, spirited heroine falls in love with a roguish hero. Lots of witty banter, dangerous situations, and love follows. It’s basically the same script in every book.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, I’d just like to see a little more variety sometimes.

Sex

As usual, Ms. Robins’ love scenes are full of purple prose where the characters are “seeking ultimate depths of intimacy” and more flowery language.

Violence

Assault, battery, and murder all take place in Texas Temptation. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line on Texas Temptation

Texas Temptation isn’t Ms. Robins’ best work, but it’s pretty good.

***

Location: San Antonio, Texas, post-Civil War.

Tropes: Displaced Southerners. Historical romance. Romantic comedy. Texas.

3.63 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
4
Characters
4.5
Writing
4
Chemistry
3
Fun Factor
3.5
Cover
4
Overall: 3.8

Synopsis:

SHE’D SWORN TO HATE ALL MEN

Men! They had brought pretty Catlin Quinn nothing but trouble, destroying her family, burning her plantation, and stealing her land. So when the distrusting beauty stumbled into Lucas “Doc” Murdoch, she wasn’t about to give him a friendly “hello.” She threatened him, insulted him, reviled him… but even as the golden-haired spitfire warned the cowboy away, her body was inflamed by his nearness. Her curves ached for his caress, her blood clamored for fulfillment-and her heart yearned for the wild rapture only he could give!

HE VOWED HE’D NEVER LOVE AGAIN

After losing the first love of his life, rancher Lucas Murdoch knew he could never love another woman. The handsome rakehell had moved to San Antonio to blot out his bitter memories by taming broncs, driving cattle and bedding females. Then the hot-tempered Catlin Quinn fell into his arms and all of a sudden, Lucas could think of nothing else. Vowing to possess her body and soul, he pursued the luscious vixen, stealing kisses and snatching embraces, determined to learn all the secrets of his seductive Texas Temptation.

TEXAS TEMPTATION by GINA ROBINS

Historical Romance Review: Ecstasy’s Fire by Rosalyn Alsobrook

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

When a book begins with a typo, that’s not a good sign as Ecstasy’s Fire by Rosalyn Alsobrook does. On the back blurb, the heroine is identified as Victoria Connors. In the book, she’s named VIRGINIA Connors. Not a good beginning.

The Characters and Setup

Ecstasy’s Fire begins with VIRGINIA–not Victoria–Connors, applying for and getting a job as a private tutor for Daniel Pearson’s, daughter. Mary is recuperating from an accident and is homebound. This decision by Virginia is not a random one. Virginia has applied for this position in hopes of finding dirt on Daniel’s uncle, Caleb Pearson.

Virginia strongly believes cheated her grandparents out of their home. This belief has mostly been fed to Virginia by her late grandmother, Essie Henderson Elder. Virginia applied for this job as a way to force Daniel to give up Valley Oaks–by any means necessary. This is the Pearson estate which she believes belongs to her family.

The Plot of Ecstasy’s Fire

Part One

As the book plods on, Virginia and Mary bond with each other. Meanwhile, Virginia has two men chasing her. One man is William Haught, brother to Amanda Haught, Daniel’s “girlfriend”, who hates Mary, and vice versa. The other man is her old friend Mark Langford. He hopes for more than friendship between himself and Virginia. However, there is one man who Virginia wants to be caught by. That is–much to her horror–Daniel.

Several things happen quickly in succession. Daniel and Virginia have their first kiss–and their second and their third. This causes Virginia to start to feel something other than the hatred she started out feeling for Daniel.

Part Two

She also learns a little more about the accident that severely injured Mary. The same accident killed Mary’s mother, but there’s more to this story. (More on that later.) Virginia also gains access to Daniel’s library, hoping to find information to discredit Caleb.Iin this regard, she fails. She finds only vituperative letters written by her grandmother to Caleb, but no other evidence.

The day after attending a party at the Haught estate–during which William Haught tries to rape Virginia but is stopped by Daniel and his fist. Virginia gets very drunk, and Daniel proposes marriage to to her. This is not inspired by love. Daniel candidly tells Virginia that he is incapable of loving any woman anymore. This has to do with his late wife. Their marriage will be mostly for Mary’s benefit, although it will not be a platonic one. Daniel does want other children and expects Virginia to bear them for him. So she agrees.

Part Three

On the morning of their wedding, Virginia wants to tell Daniel that she can’t go through with the marriage, but seeing Mary so happy about it, Virginia agrees to go ahead with the ceremony. At the ceremony, almost everyone is happy except Amanda Haught, who wanted Daniel to marry her; Mark Langford, who has unrequited feelings of love for Virginia, and Virginia herself, who dreads the wedding night.

When Daniel doesn’t try to assert his “husbandly rights” for several days after their marriage, Virginia doesn’t know what to think. Also on their honeymoon, Virginia falls down an abandoned well and has to be rescued from that and the snake that resides in it by Daniel.

After being rescued, Daniel and Virginia make love. It is then that she tells him that she loves him. The response she gets isn’t what she expects. Daniel tells Virginia that he will never love her, because he doesn’t want to give her a chance to hurt him the way his first wife, and Mary’s mother, Josie Kilburn, did to him. This saddens Virginia, but it also makes her fearful of what he’ll do if/when he finds out why she came to see him in the first place and if/when he discovers why she married him, a primary reason of which was to get Valley Oaks, the home she believes Caleb Pearson cheated her grandparents out of.

Part Four

That fear becomes a reality soon after their return from their honeymoon. Daniel meets up with Mark Langford, and after a few drinks, Langford tells Daniel the truth about who Virginia really is, who she’s related to, and why she came back to East Texas. Naturally, Daniel is virulently angry over being played again–there are similarities in what Virginia did to what Josie, Daniel’s first wife, did to him–and they have a nasty argument.

Virginia tries to explain, but Daniel isn’t in a listening mood. He later shoves her so hard she hits her head against the foot of their bed in their bedroom. It’s not intentional, but it is done nonetheless. Later that night, William Haught shows up claiming that Daniel is with Amanda and so William has come to offer his “comfort” to Virginia, which she refuses.

Later, Virginia decides to visit Mattie Williams, Caleb Pearson’s former housekeeper, to try to get some dirt on what Caleb allegedly did to her grandparents. The truth, however, is far different than what she has been brought up to believe. The truth: Joseph Elder was a compulsive gambler who lost a lot of his money.

After being threatened with violence, Elder sold Caleb Valley Oaks. Caleb only bought the estate with the intent of selling it back to Elder when he got his affairs in order, which never happened. In exchange for buying Valley Oaks, Elder made Caleb promise never to tell anyone the reasons why the transaction took place.

Part Five

Caleb also provided the family with food and other necessities when needed, which Elder claimed he got from working odd jobs. Elder also led everyone, especially Essie Elder, to believe that Caleb cheated him out of Valley Oaks, which is decidedly not the truth. Virginia doesn’t want to believe Mattie’s story but eventually has to face the truth of the matter.

Virginia hopes to be able to talk to Daniel and apologize and try to make amends with him. Daniel, however, has no interest in doing so, informing her by letter that he wants her out of Valley Oaks and never wants to see her nor will he let Mary see her again. Virginia refuses to leave until she sees Daniel and speaks to him and tries to explain her behavior, and she’s less inclined to leave once she discovers she’s pregnant with his baby.

We also learn the truth about what happened with Daniel’s first wife, Josie Kilburn. Josie only married Daniel to get back at one of her many lovers who left her for another man. After Mary was born, Josie decided she didn’t like being married and left Daniel for one of those former lovers. When Caleb died, Josie demanded large sums of money from Daniel, kidnapping Mary as part of her plan to get the money. While Josie held Mary captive, they were in a carriage accident which killed Josie instantly and severely injured Mary.

Conclusion of Ecstasy’s Fire

The book then ends somewhat lamely. Virginia refuses to leave Valley Oaks, and later, Daniel has an accident and develops amnesia. Virginia then takes care of him and conveniently takes advantage of the fact that he doesn’t remember what he was so enraged with her about.

The book ends with Amanda showing up and jarring Daniel’s memory again. Afterward, Daniel apologizes to Virginia for being mean to HER, then she apologizes for lying to him, tells him about the baby she’s carrying and they have their happily ever after. Kind of a lame ending.

Upside

Ecstasy’s Fire is really the first book I’ve read by Mrs. Alsobrook where there is even an effort to get into any emotional depth.

Downside

…But that is somewhat ruined by the fact that to get there, Mrs. Alsobrook had to base it on lies, foolish pride, and ego. Virginia is a cross character. sometimes I like her, but I hated what she started as. Daniel becomes less likable when he shoves Virginia and she hits her head.

Sex

Mrs. Alsobrook’s love scenes are reminiscent of old Harlequin Romance novels from the ’70s; they’re almost as cold as the location where I live: the Northeast. And, as always, Mrs. Alsobrook uses the EXACT same phrase in a love scene in all of her books.

Violence

William Haught tries to rape Virginia and is stopped by Daniel. Later, Daniel threatens to strangle Virginia before he shoves her into the bed. That’s the extent of the violence.

Bottom Line on Ecstasy’s Fire

Ecstasy’s Fire was another slow, laconic, book by Rosalyn Alsobrook that fails to fulfill any potential it had. It’s becoming a broken record, isn’t it?

3.5 Stars


Synopsis:

DESIRABLE DEVIL
Victoria Connors had returned to Valley Oaks for only one reason — to get back her land. And if it meant working for the incredibly handsome new owner to reclaim it, then she would. But she would not allow the dark-haired devil to work his magic on her. His deep blue eyes would not trap her in their depths, nor would his strong, muscular body lure her to his bed. And even though his kisses had made her fall deeper under his spell, she would not let him conquer her….

TEMPTING ANGEL
Daniel Pearson had been fooled once by love and vowed never to give any woman the power to betray him again. Yet the beautiful, brown-eyed angel with her sweet, honeyed lips and her soft, pliant body made him hungry with desire. Despite her resistance, Daniel wanted her more than he had ever wanted any woman. He was determined to take the unwilling beauty to the heights of passion, to show her the joys of being a woman, and to make her soul burn with Ecstasy’s Fire.

ECSTASY’S FIRE by ROSALYN ALSOBROOK
dakota flame sonya t pelton zebra

Historical Romance Review: Dakota Flame by Sonya T. Pelton

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book – Dakota Flame

This review is of Dakota Flame, a standalone novel from July 1989 by Sonya T. Pelton. (Published by Zebra/Kensington).

The Plot

Part 1: Savage Journey

Dakota Flame begins in Mankato, Minnesota, in December 1862. Thirty-eight Lakota braves are executed for their attack on a white settlement. Among them is a brave named Red Hawk.

Later, his spirit pouch ends up with Audrey Tina (Audrina) Harris, 20, the heroine of the book. Audrina has red hair, green eyes, and honey-gold skin. The reason Audrina receives the pouch: unbeknownst to her, Audrina is half-Lakota.

Soon after getting the pouch, Audrina is nearly raped by soldier Joe Powell. She is saved from this indignity by Wild Hawk, the hero of the book. Wild Hawk has black hair and bronzed skin. Wild Hawk is chief to his band of Lakota, and Red Hawk’s son.

He wants the pouch, and as time goes on, he also wants Audrina. Wild Hawk kidnaps Audrina, and later her Aunt Katherine and Sadie Peterson, another white woman, and takes them to his village. As they travel, Audrina begins developing romantic feelings for Wild Hawk, as he does for her.

The trip is not entirely pleasant; two other Lakotas, a brave, Left Hand, and his sister, Tawena, hate all whites and have evil plans for the white women.

Part II: Precious Fire

Not everyone will make it to Wild Hawk’s village. Katherine is killed by Left Hand. Later, Audrina and Wild Hawk become lovers. While this is going on, Sadie begins having romantic feelings toward Wild Hawk’s younger cousin, Fox Dreamer.

Part III: Savage Angel

As they make their way to Wild Hawk’s home village, Audrina finds herself in a dilemma: on the one hand, she’s falling in love with Wild Hawk; on the other, she wants to live a white person’s life. Meanwhile, Left Hand and Tawena have joined up with Powell to get Audrina and Sadie. Later, LeftHand rapes Sadie, and Powell semi-abducts Audrina (she went willingly with Powell after he lied to her about her father appearing).

Part IV: Lost Embrace

Upon learning of Audrina’s departure, Wild Hawk comes to the realization that he does, in fact, love her, and sets out to find her. Powell is killed, but this doesn’t free Audrina; instead, she becomes the captive of Left Hand.

In the end, the following things occur: Left Hand, Powell, and Tawena are all killed. Wild Hawk finds and rescues Audrina, they reconcile their differences and acknowledge that they love each other. Audrina does meet her father, Frank Harris, who is also half-Indian. Audrina and Wild Hawk have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

Dakota Flame is the best book I’ve read by Ms. Pelton so far (out of the 7 I’ve read. More on that later). Audrina is a fairly likable character. The love scenes are good for a mainstream historical romance novel from 1989.

Downside

Dakota Flame contains two tropes I really dislike, maybe to the point of hating. Those tropes are captor/captive and Simpering Sara.

Wild Hawk kidnaps Audrina, and during the course of the book, he is cruel at times to her. Despite this, Audrina is hot for his form and is willing to forgive his behavior toward her.

Although I liked Audrina, she is at times royally stupid, an example of this is her going with Powell, even though he nearly raped her earlier because he’s white. Audrina’s thinking-or not thinking: “Hey, he’s white. Even though he nearly raped me, he can be trusted because, you know, he’s white!”

She is also a bit whiny, spending much of the book yearning for the white world yet acknowledging she’s in love with a man who can’t live there. There is no character depth or development.

The book is told from the following perspectives: Audrina. Katherine. Powell. Sadie. Tawena. Left Hand. Who’s missing from this list? Wild Hawk. Only in the last third of the book does Ms. Pelton allows Wild Hawk to speak in his own voice and express his own thoughts. The books I like best are those where both the hero and heroine get equal or near equal time to do this.

Sex

As mentioned, the love scenes are quite good for a mainstream historical romance novel from 1989. The scenes in Dakota Flame don’t approach erotica, but they are on par with the love scenes from Cassie Edwards’ many Native American romances.

Violence

Assault, attempted rape, battery, and killings all take place here. The rape scene is mildly graphic.

Bottom Line on Dakota Flame

I mentioned earlier that Dakota Flame is my favorite book authored by Ms. Pelton. Considering that she has written such “classics” as Passion’s Paradise, that’s not exactly a high bar to get over. It is also a milestone, as Dakota Flame is the first book by Ms. Pelton to get more than a 2-star rating from me, but just barely.

***

Tropes: American Upper Midwest. Captor/captive. Half -Native-American Heroine. Historical Romance. Native American Hero.

Location: Mankato, Minnesota. South Dakota.

Time Frame: Late 1862-1863.

2.52 Stars


Synopsis:

Because enchantingly lovely Audrina Harris knew that she was destined to play a major role in the tribal life of the Dakota people, it came as no surprise when Chief Wild Hawk rode into the Minnesota River Valley town and captured her, swinging her up behind him on his powerful black stallion.

Audrina felt the sharp stirring of rapture the moment her eyes met his, but the feisty, independent young beauty was determined not to be his captive. She would fulfill her destiny freely, or not at all. But the farther westward they traveled, the more she became a slave to Wild Hawk’s searing kisses and the sweet strength of his powerful bronze arms. And the more she realized how easy it would be to leave the white world behind for a lifetime of scorching love with her passionate Indian warrior.

BEGUILED INTO LOVE
Deeply saddened and angered by his father’s death at the white man’s hands, all Chief Wild Hawk wanted was to lead his tribe to peace and to obey the call of his dream vision: to capture the beautiful young girl who possessed the sacred talisman of the Dakota people. But Audrina Harris proved to be more than the paleface slave he’d bargained for. She had spirit and fire and a mind of her own–and the loveliest body he had ever seen.

When his lips first touched her luscious flesh, he knew that it was more than tribal destiny and a length of frayed rope that bound her to him. He knew he could not live without her warm breath in his ear, the fiery touch of her soft curves beneath his hands, and the raging passion that soon ignited into a fierce DAKOTA FLAME.

DAKOTA FLAME by SONYA T. PELTON
Nebraska fires bruce emmett

Historical Romance Review: Nebraska Fire by Lauren Wilde

historical romance review

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book and Characters

This review is of Nebraska Fire by Lauren Wilde, a Zebra Lovegram romance.

The book starts with Elizabeth “Liza” Cameron, looking back on how she came west.

Backstory: Liza is an English immigrant, who sailed from England after her parents passed. Her brother, Dan, died on the trip to New York. Liza arrives in New York and meets a woman, Anne Garrett, and becomes friends with her. Anne accepted a job as a governess for the nephew of Alex Cameron, a rancher from Nebraska. Anne died in an accident. Before passing, she asked Liza to take her place.

Thus, as the book begins, Liza finds herself in Nebraska, where she meets Alex, the hero of the book.

Alex is NOT happy to see Liza, for several reasons. One, she’s younger than he expected. Two, he questions her qualifications to be a governess to his four-year-old nephew, Andy. And three, and most importantly, he’s attracted to her. Liza is also attracted to Alex).

The Plot

Peril soon finds Liza as she is abducted by Kiowa Indians. Alex rescues her and they become lovers. We also learn more about Alex’s history (his parents are deceased. His brother Rob, a ne’er do well, is also deceased. Rob’s wife, Marilee, Andy’s mother, left two years ago).

As they spend more time together, Liza and Alex fall in love. However, he doesn’t tell her that he loves her; this inability to say those three words will cause a rift between them. Liza leaves Alex, but this turns out to be a mistake as she is accosted by one of his former hands, who tries to rape and kill her.

Alex had fired the man after an earlier rape attempt against Liza and beat the man senselessly.

Liza is taken in by Rita, the owner of a brothel, and Liza discovers she is pregnant with Alex’s child. Liza will later give birth to a son.

Alex finds Liza, he tells her he loves her and their son, and they resolve their issues. There had been misconceptions to overcome. Alex left Liza a note stating that he was going to find someone to marry them and that he loved her. She didn’t see the note and thought he was leaving her. It was all a misunderstanding and lack of communication.

Alex and Liza marry and have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

Ms. Wilde is a very good atmospheric author; she made me feel as though I was watching her characters’ lives as opposed to simply reading a book. Liza and Alex are both well-developed characters; Liza is very likable.

Downside

Alex is a bit all over the place. He starts as an obnoxious boor, becomes nice at times, then is obnoxious again and is nice toward the end; these mood swings are jarring and not explained at all. It makes him a somewhat unlikeable character.

Sex

A few love scenes are short and rather rudimentary, a few are more expansive. Ms. Wilde is a practitioner of what I call “soft erotica”. Her writing wouldn’t be called erotica today, but for a mainstream mass-market romance novel, she writes some of her love scenes with enough pepper in the soup to be good.

Violence

Most of the violence takes place “off-screen”. However, there are scenes of assault, attempted rape, and battery. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line on Nebraska Fire

Nebraska Fire is not a flawless book, but it is good enough to warrant a 4-star grade. If Alex were a nicer, better hero, it might have crept into the 5-star range.

4 Stars


Synopsis:

RILED RANCHER

What had she done? And why had she ever thought it would work? Taking her best friend’s place as a tutor to Alex Cameron’s nephew had not been a good idea, not at all. And now, staring into the virile rancher’s smoldering steel-gray eyes proved Lisa Wentworth was right. He didn’t want her on his ranch, caring for the young boy. He wanted her gone and out of his coal-black hair. Yet when he held her against his strong muscular chest, his hands caressing her soft, full curves, she felt his hard, lean body tremble, and his warm lips on hers, telling her not to listen to his foolish words . . . but only to the wild beating of his heart that begged her never to leave him . . .

LUSTY LADY

Alex Cameron was absolutely shocked when he found a beautiful, delicate creature standing in the middle of the godforsaken prairie. And beautiful she was with hair that shone like the sun, dark violet eyes that blazed with passion, and a wide, sensuous mouth that was made for kissing. She was a lady, all right. First-class stuff. So what was she doing here? Was she running from the law? Or an irate husband? No matter. Lady or not, she spelled trouble, and he was sending her packing as soon as he could take her luscious body in his arms and lose himself in her sweet Nebraska Fire.

Nebraska Fire by LAUREN WILDE
texas triumph victoria thompson

Historical Romance Review: Texas Triumph by Victoria Thompson

historical romance review
Texas Triumph by Victoria Thompson
Rating: three-stars
Published: 1987
Illustrator: John Ennis
Imprint or Line: Zebra Lovegram
Book Series: The Cowboy and the Lady #2
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Western Romance
Pages: 496
Format: Paperback
Buy on: Amazon
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Texas Triumph by Victoria Thompson

MILD SPOILERS😉

The Book

This review is of Texas Triumph, #2 in the “The Cowboy and the Lady” series by Victoria Thompson. This is the follow-up to her book, Texas Treasure.

The Plot

Texas Triumph begins at the Circle M ranch near Canaan, Texas, where Rachel Anne McKinsey lives. Rachel is mourning the death of her father, Sean, who a rival rancher killed. To help her hold on to her ranch, Rachel proposes marriage to her foreman, Cole Elliot, the book’s hero. He accepts her proposal, and they marry.

Not everyone in their area of Texas is happy with their marriage. Among the unhappy is Will Statler, the rancher who killed Sean. Also unhappy: Hank Oliver, a mercantile store owner who had a thing for Rachel.

After a period of time, Rachel and Cole consummate their marriage. Later they become parents to a daughter, Colleen. Rachel and Cole are happy for a while, especially because they believe Statler is dead.

They’re wrong. Statler is very much alive and joining together with Hank to try to kill Cole and get Rachel. These efforts are thwarted, and Rachel, Cole, and Colleen have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

I frequently criticize authors for failing to reach their characters’ emotions. That certainly isn’t the case with Ms. Thompson, who goes into Rachel and Cole’s emotions in very deep detail. Very. Deep. Detail.

Downside

This detail, however, can also be construed as a weakness. Much of Texas Triumph is about Rachel and Cole not communicating with each other. They assume things that are not based on facts until about page 400, when they finally begin to talk with each other. There isn’t a great deal of character development here.

The ending of the book could have been more exciting.

Sex

The love scenes are not graphic or exciting.

Violence

Assault and battery, and two shootings. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line on Texas Triumph

Reading Ms. Thompson’s work is frustrating for me, as she has a good foundation for a good book in Texas Triumph, but she doesn’t quite get there.

3 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
3
Characters
3
Writing
3
Chemistry
2.5
Fun Factor
3
Cover
4
Overall: 3.1

Synopsis

HE SAID “I DO”
Ranch foreman Cole Elliott couldn’t say no to his enticing boss Rachel McKinsey when she proposed they have a marriage in name only. The virile gunslinger had had his eye on the shapely filly since he first hired on and dreamed of her raven hair caressing his broad chest, her full curves filling his strong hands, and her luscious mouth questing for his heated kiss. Even though he’d promised to protect her property and not lay a finger on her, the hot-blooded cowboy never intended to wed the arousing beauty without getting a real honeymoon in the bargain!

SHE SAID “I WON’T”
Nothing was more important to determined Rachel McKinsey than the Circle M – and if it meant taking a near-stranger as a husband to scare off rustlers, she would do it. Still, the gorgeous rancher felt a secret thrill that towering Cole Elliott was going to be her man. But now that Rachel had sworn they be business partners, she could never ever admit that all she really wanted was to consummate their vows and have Cole release her sensual response in the glorious moment of their…TEXAS TRIUMPH

TEXAS TRIUMPH by VICTORIA THOMPSON
texas blonde

Historical Romance Review: Texas Blonde by Victoria Thompson

Synopsis:

When dashing Josh Logan rescued her from death by exposure petite Felicity Morrow realized she’d never survive rugged frontier life without a man by her side. And when she gazed at the Texas rancher’s lean hard frame and strong rippling muscles, the determined beauty decided he was the one for her. To reach her goal, feisty Felicity pretended to be meek and mild: the only kind of gal Josh proclaimed he’d wed. But after she’d won his hand, the blue-eyed temptress swore she’d quit playing his game–and still win his heart!

After a long day in the saddle the last thing hot-blooded Josh Logan wanted was a clinging wife. All he needed was a hot bath, a warm a meal, and a loving little lady who knew her place. Then golden-haired, Felicity came into his life and the virile cowboy knew he’d have to marry her if he ever wanted to taste her pouting lips and stroke her satiny skin. The reward of her charms was reason enough to give her his name – but the proud man vowed he’d never give up his independence…not even for his sultry, sensuous…

TEXAS BLONDE by VICTORIA THOMPSON 

Reviewed by Blue Falcon

VERY MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book & Characters

This review is of Texas Blonde, book #3 in the “The Cowboy and the Lady” series by Victoria Thompson. (Zebra/Kensington, October 1987). This review is of the ebook version of the book.

Heroine: Felicity Storm, 18. Blonde hair, blue eyes. Photographer.

Hero: Josh Logan, 28. Silver/white hair (it’s a hereditary thing), gray eyes. Owner, Rocking L ranch.

The Plot

Texas Blonde begins with the hero, Josh Logan, a rancher, rescuing Felicity Storm, the book’s heroine, from several calamities –flash floods, homelessness, hunger. As they spend more time together, they become attracted to each other, become lovers, and decide to marry. We also learn about their respective histories. However, Josh is determined not to fall in love with Felicity.

Even so, Felicity and Josh do fall in love and get married. However, many threats, both internal and external, challenge their happiness.

In the end, the external threats are vanquished, the internal threats are discussed and addressed, and Felicity and Joshua have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

Ms. Thompson has once again written a very emotional book with likable, well-developed characters.

Felicity begins the book as a young woman with a transient lifestyle. She’s looking for security, stability, and someone to love. She finds all of these in Josh. I liked the fact that Ms. Thompson gave Felicity a skill–photography–and allowed her to use it. Felicity began the book as a little girl; she ended it as a woman. It was great to see her growth.

Joshua is a slightly unusual hero, in that he has white hair (it’s a hereditary thing among Logan males). At first, all he cares about is his land. He tries really hard not to fall in love with Felicity but realizes that things aren’t important if you don’t have anyone to share them with. Josh comes to realize that Felicity completes him and opens himself to loving and being loved.

The storylines take a lot of twists and turns that are very well-written and unexpected.

Downside

Not much, but Ms. Thompson uses the overused “Lack of Communication” trope in Texas Blonde. Some of the issues Felicity and Josh have could have been settled earlier had they actually TALKED with each other. However, as I’ve written before, if couples actually talked with each other, romance novels wouldn’t probably exist. So maybe it’s not a bad thing after all.

Sex

Multiple love scenes between Felicity and Josh. Ms. Thompson’s love scenes are not particularly graphic nor erotic.

Violence

Assault, attempted rape, battery, shooting, and killing all take place here. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line on Texas Blonde

Readers who like slow-burn romances with a great payoff at the end will find much to like in Texas Blonde. It’s the best book in the “The Lady and the Cowboy” series.

Location: Prospect, Texas. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 1867-1868.

Tropes: Historical romance. Photographer heroine. Rancher hero. Zebra historical romance.

4.87 stars

midnight princess jo goodman

Historical Romance Review: Midnight Princess by Jo Goodman

Midnight Princess, Jo Goodman, Zebra, 1989, Pino cover art

VERY MILD SPOILERS 😉

4 1/2 Stars

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Reviewed by Blue Falcon

The Book, Characters & Set-Up

This review is of Midnight Princess, book #1 in the “Marshall Brothers” series by Jo Goodman, a pseudonym used by Joanne Dobrzanski. Published by Zebra/Kensington, November 1989, the book was later reissued as Her Defiant Heart. (This series connects to Ms. Goodman’s “Dennehy Sisters” series). This review is of the original print book.

Heroine: Jenny Holland, 24. Brown hair and eyes. Mystery woman.

Hero: Christian Marshall, 31. Copper hair, aquamarine eyes. Publisher, New York Chronicle newspaper.

Location: New York City, New York. December 1866-May 1867.

Tropes: Historical Romance. Mystery woman. Newspaper publisher. New York City.

The Plot

The book starts in New York City, December 1866. Christian Marshall, the hero, one of the series’ eponymous titular characters, and publisher of the New York Chronicle newspaper is at a hospital for people experiencing emotional distress. He’s watching one of the “patients,” a woman known as Jane Doe, being treated. He feels sympathy for her and decides to help her.

Later, she shows up at his home.

“Jane Doe” has a real name; it’s Jenny Holland, the heroine. As the book continues we learn more about the traumas she’s suffered in her life. We also learn about Christian’s trauma and that Jenny has three people who want her dead.

In the end, Christian rescues Jenny from a perilous situation. The villains trying to kill her are stopped. Christian gets a major—but very pleasant–Christmas surprise. Jenny and Christian marry and have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

Ms. Goodman is a licensed therapist, and this imbues her writing. Many of her heroes and heroines have significant trauma that they are trying to work through, and Jenny and Christian are in that category. This makes Midnight Princess an interesting, compelling book, and Jenny and Christian are interesting developed characters.

Downside

Even though I found the book compelling, I can’t say that I truly liked either Jenny or Christian. This is an issue I have with Ms. Goodman’s work. I find it interesting, but I can’t say I like her characters. The supporting characters only exist to advance Jenny and Christian.

Sex

Ms. Goodman writes good love scenes. They don’t get anywhere near erotica, but they do explore what the characters in the scenes are feeling and can be very emotional and romantic.

Violence

Assault, attempted rape, battery, sodomy, and murder all occur in the book. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line

Midnight Princess/ Her Defiant Heart is a very dark book and won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. However, readers who like books with solid character depth and interesting storylines may like it.

4.14 stars.

texas fire

Historical Romance Review: Texas Fire by Caroline Bourne

Texas Fire, Caroline Bourne, Zebra, 1989 Melissa Duillo-Gallo art, Fabio cover model

MILD SPOILERS 😉

2 1/2 Stars

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Reviewed by Blue Falcon

Heroine: Laureli Cade, 23, Auburn hair, blue eyes. Heiress to the Wildwood ranch empire.

Hero: Court McKennon, 35. Black hair. Gray eyes. Former detective at Scotland Yard, later Texas Rancher.

This review is of Texas Fire by Caroline Bourne. This book, published by Zebra/Kensington in March 1989, is the sequel to her book Texas Conquest.

The Plot

Part I

The book begins in London, 1850, and will span 17 years. A woman is raped, and while trying to escape her attacker, falls and suffers serious injuries. This will set the tone for the rest of the book.

The scene then shifts to Brazoria, Texas, where Laureli Cade, the heroine of the book, lives on a sprawling ranch. Laureli is the only member of her immediate family in Texas right now; her father, Matthew, and mother, Mariah (the hero and heroine of Texas Conquest are in Europe, and Laureli’s younger brother, Timothy, is at West Point.

As she is introduced, Laureli is trying to catch a wild stallion. She will come into contact with two Englishmen, One is Court McKennon, the hero of the book, who arrives with a woman who Laureli erroneously believes is his wife; and the other, Wynn Garrett, a man with many secrets.

Laureli and Court clash, but they are also very attracted to each other and become lovers. However, there is a major dark cloud hanging over their relationship, namely Garrett and Laureli and Cour’s disparate views of him. Lies and deception soon tear Laureli and Court apart, leading to Court leaving Texas.

Part II

After leaving Laureli and Texas, Court goes to San Francisco, then to London. We learn a bit about Court’s family, including his high-in-the-instep relatives. He then decides to return to Texas and Laureli. They marry and start a family. However, their happiness is threatened by a vengeful man who wants to do both harm.

Part III

In the end, the threat is neutralized. Laureli and Court become parents again, and they have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

Laureli and Court are a well-matched couple and the love between them is written in a very genuine way.

Downside

Ms. Bourne tries very hard to write an emotional book, but doesn’t quite get there. Among the issues preventing this: Laureli and Court aren’t well-developed or particularly interesting characters; the supporting characters are in a similar vein. Ditto for the storylines.

Sex

A few love scenes between Laureli and Court, which don’t generate a lot of heat. Ms. Bourne is more focused on the emotional aspects of lovemaking and not the act itself.

Violence

Assault, attempted rape, battery, shootings, and killings all take place during Texas Fire. None of the violence is graphic.

Bottom Line

Texas Fire generates all the heat of one lit match. It’s a better book than Texas Conquest, but that’s not a particularly high bar to get over. 2.67 stars.

Locations: London, England. Brazoria, Texas. 1850-1967.

Tropes: Enemies-to-lovers. Historical romance. Texas.