Category: Pocket Books

Historical Romance Review: The Frost and the Flame by Drusilla Campbell

Frost and the Flame
Frost and the Flame
The Frost and the Flame, Drusilla Campbell, Pocket Books, 1980, Harry Bennett cover Art

Spoiler Alert ⚠

4 1/2 Stars

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Drusilla Campbell’s The Frost and the Flame is one of those naughty bodice rippers where the heroine is separated for a long period of time from her true love, the dull, twatwaffle of a hero, and instead spends more time sexing it up with the lusty, evil villain. For the record, this is just the kind of bodice ripper I like: one that does not take itself seriously and knows how to throw crazy tropes at you, so you’ll keep the pages turning, even if the story is not really romantic.

The Crazy Plot and Characters

I loved the Russian setting and liked the heroine’s growth as a character, but the hero, Alexei, is exciting as dry toast. It’s the villain who is the star here: charismatic, evil, and blond!

Eighteen-year-old Katiana Donova is a convent-bred naif. While traveling across the cold depths of Russia, she and her companions are attacked. The dashing blond Prince Oleg saves her. The Prince seems so sweet and kind at first, but he soon proves to be a lustful rogue.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: The Frost and the Flame by Drusilla Campbell”

Covers of the Week #10

For the week of June 14, 2021, to June 20, we’re looking back over our favorite Harry Bennett covers for Tapestry, Gallen, and, Pocket Books.

Covers of the Week #9

Take a look and enjoy Blue Falcon’s favorite covers! For the week of June 7 to June 13, we asked our dear friend Blue Falcon to choose his favorite covers for this week’s theme. Thanks to these picks, I discovered a new line, Richard Gallen Books, which preceded the Tapestry imprint for Pocket Books.

Historical Romance Review: Emmie’s Love by Janette Seymour

Emmie’s Love, Janette Seymour, Pocket Books, 1980, Harry Bennett cover art

3 1/2 Stars

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Janette Seymour’s Emmie’s Love is Purity’s Passion, redux. Just as in Purity’s Passion and Purity’s Ecstasy, the heroine is separated from her true love and must “find” her way back to him. “Find” being a euphemism for another four-letter word that starts with “f.”

The Plot

Again, the same terms and motifs are used: a violent opening involving near-rape and an alluded castration; frequent mentions of “handy-dandy”; dampened sheer muslin gowns; blond studs performing for an audience; a one night stand with a doomed soldier; a blue-eyed, scar-faced hero that is rarely seen; and a heroine with no personality save for being a busty, lusty wench.

Emmie Dashwood–granddaughter to an aged Marquess who pats her rump in a most loving fashion–lives in a moldy, decaying manor with her large, moochy family. After grandpa’s death, she is sold in marriage to an older man living another continent away. On her trip across the ocean, she falls in love with Captain Nathan Grant, the very married ship’s captain.

But love does not come easily to our dear Emmie.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Emmie’s Love by Janette Seymour”

Historical Romance Review: Highland Velvet by Jude Deveraux

HIghland Velvet, Pocket Books, 1982, cover artist Harry Bennett

“You’ll regret that! Someday you’ll know that one drop of my blood is more precious than any angry feelings you carry!”

HIGHLAND VELVET
5 stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Plot

Forced into marriage to the English nobleman Stephen Montgomery, Scotswoman Brenna MacArran, the leader of her clan, vows to make his life miserable.

While Deveraux’s heroes in the Velvet Series had their bad moments, particularly Gavin, and to a lesser extent, Miles and Raine, in Highland Velvet, Stephen Montgomery was the stuff girlish dreams are made of.

Stephen was kind and loving to his sister-in-law, Judith, always taking her side whenever Gavin preferred his evil mistress. He stayed by her bedside during her painful miscarriage and supported her throughout.

When Stephen saw Bronwyn for the first time, he fell instantly in love with her. He worked his butt off to get the approval of the men in Bronwyn’s clan and had to fight that creepy Roger Chatworth for her hand in marriage, even though they were already betrothed. Heck, he even changed his last name so that her MacArran family name wouldn’t die out. And he was no wussy male, but a deadly soldier willing to work hard and rethink his value system when faced with contradictions.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Highland Velvet by Jude Deveraux”

A Closer Look At: Pocket Books

I hope that SweetSavageFlame.com is seen more than just a blog; it’s a site dedicated to the history of contemporary and historical romance in the last quarter of the twentieth century. Although we’re just a couple of weeks old, I’d like to be able to build a substantial catalogue of books sorted by my personal reviews, authors, publishers, imprints, and/or cover artists. In addition, I’d like to take look at the history behind the people–authors and readers–and the companies that helped form the romance novel industry.

By doing so, I also wanted to spend time taking a look at institutions or people I’ve archived. This week, we’ll talk about the ones who began the paperback movement (in America anyway), Pocket Books.

Started in 1939, Pocket Books was the first mass-market paperback distributor in the United States. Their initial run of books were reprints of classic works, but overtime they developed their own stable of writers.

Like almost all paperback publishers, they were quick to tap into the success of the revitalized romance genre that came about with Avon’s 1972’s The Flame and the Flower, and later their one-two punch of 1974’s The Wolf and the Dove and Sweet Savage Love.... Read more “A Closer Look At: Pocket Books”

Historical Romance Review: Purity’s Ecstasy by Janette Seymour

Purity’s Ecstasy, Janette Seymour, Pocket Books, 1978, Harry Bennett cover art

Youth and beauty were her sole assets on Earth.

PURITY’S ECSTASY

3 1/2 stars

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

***Spoiler alert***

Like many other late 1970’s to early 1980’s bodice rippers, Michael Butterworth’s (aka Janette Seymour) second entry into his Purity trilogy, Purity’s Ecstasy, is a tawdry, rollicking ride filled with just about every ‘ripper trope and then some.

In the first book, Purity’s Passion, after beautiful Purity survived the French Revolution, she was made the ward of the enigmatic and barely-there Mark Landless, with whom she fell madly in love. However, she had numerous obstacles to overcome before getting her man (namely other men). The same is more or less the case with this sequel, as Mark is presumed dead after being captured by pirates. Purity knows in her heart Mark is still alive and she will do whatever whomever she has to do to find him.

Alas, after being kicked out into the streets by cruel in-laws, Purity has to search for employment. In her own words her “youth and beauty were her sole assets on Earth” so what’s a girl to do?... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Purity’s Ecstasy by Janette Seymour”

Historical Romance Review: A Lady Bought with Rifles by Jeanne Williams

[He] might after a season let me go, but I had a frightening dread that if he possessed me long enough, he would drain me till I became his thing, his creature—that I wouldn’t go, even if he allowed it…

A Lady Bought with Rifles
3 1/2 stars

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

***SPOILERS***

A Lady Bought With Rifles is an amalgam of great writing and stupid characterization. I was extremely frustrated reading it because it could have been one of those legendary bodice rippers that old-school fans would be talking about to this day.

A Lady Bought with Rifles, Jeanne Williams, Pocket Books, 1977, Ron Lesser cover art

The Plot

Upon the death of her father, the British-raised Miranda is called back to her father’s ranch in Mexico. There she meets two strikingly different American men, Trace, a tall, dark, and mysterious pistolero, and Court Saunders, the foreman of Miranda’s newly inherited mines and lover to her resentful half-sister, Reina. Blond, panther-like, and roguish, his sensual presence is almost irresistible.

The sisters both inherit the ranch. Miranda, being a foreigner, is aghast by the circumstances of the ranch and mines, particularly how the indigenous Mexicans are treated, how the evil Reina treats her, how gorgeous hunk Court pursues her…and just about every other thing she can find to complain about, rightly or wrongly.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: A Lady Bought with Rifles by Jeanne Williams”

Historical Romance Review: Highland Tryst by Jean Canavan

Highland Tryst, Pocket Books, 1986, Elaine Gignilliat cover art

Tapestry Romance #85

1 star

Rating: 1 out of 5.

***Spoiler alert***

Let me spoil this turkey and save anyone who’s even contemplating reading this mess of a book their valuable time. As far as I know, we only live one life, and there’s no reason to spend a moment of it in undeserved agony.

(Highland Tryst is also about 30 years out of print, so I don’t feel too bad about hurting anyone’s career.)

Kathlyn and Alex are from warring Scottish clans. When Highland Tryst begins, they are already lovers, meeting frequently for very intimate encounters. They’ve seen each other naked, inside and out. They know what the other looks like, sounds like, smells like… Just to be totally clear: they’ve HAD SEX WITH EACH OTHER MANY TIMES.

Their families discover the affair so Kathlyn and Alex are separated. Kathlyn flees into the wilderness and is rescued by Duncan, an ugly, deformed stranger. Kathlyn is repelled by his looks, at first. Duncan is kind to her and eventually they fall in love.

And HAVE SEX.

So now, Kathlyn is torn between her former handsome lover, and the kind, yet ugly stranger who’s saved her.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Highland Tryst by Jean Canavan”

Historical Romance Review: Purity’s Passion by Janette Seymour

Purity’s Passion, Janette Seymour, Pocket Books, 1977, Harry Bennett cover art

She would come to him a complete woman…

PURITY’s PASSION

4 Stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The tale of Purity Jarsy, Purity’s Passion, (Part 1 of 3) begins with the horrors of the French Revolution and ends in France after Napoleon’s final defeat. In between we witness the epic tale of Purity, a woman so beautiful many men desire her, they would ravish her, control her, and kill for her… In other words, it’s your basic, page-turning bodice ripper. And it’s a good one.

Janette Seymour was a deft storyteller, quickly pulling me in with Purity witnessing a beautiful encounter of a couple making love and later she sees the macabre slaughters of the Revolution. Purity is left orphaned and shaken in the aftermath.

Mark “You may kiss me–here” Landless is the object of Purity’s devotion. Much older than she, he is her appointed guardian, but he also shares a hidden bond with his ward. Mark is a placeholder, we never see through his perspective. He is a scar-faced, blue-eyed soldier who duels for Purity’s honor, hurts her cruelly, and the finally marries her.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Purity’s Passion by Janette Seymour”

Historical Romance Review: The Taming by Jude Deveraux

The Taming, Pocket Books,1989, cover artist unkown
From the back of the book:

England’s most valiant knights paid court to wealthy Liana Neville, but only the infamous warrior Rogan Peregrine made no secret of his powerful desires. His very caress melted Liana into liquid fire, and she vowed to capture this magnificent, wild man. Boldly the delicate beauty gave him her hand — and Britain’s richest dower. Yet he was bound to a bitter feud: for love betrayed, brothers killed, and ancestral land usurped. In Rogan’s war-ravaged castle, Liana would lay her tender seige…to redeem his embattled spirit and win his untamed heart!

2 stars

Rating: 2 out of 5.

As a teen, I loved Jude Deveraux’s romances and devoured them like candy. I loved the spicy dynamic between her heroes and heroines. However, the one hero I HATED more than any was Rogan in The Taming (even more than Gavin in The Velvet Promise)! This book was the opposite of Highland Velvet, where the hero works his butt off to make his wife happy. Here, the wife works her fingers to the bone to help her lazy husband and his annoying siblings.

Rogan was such a lazy jerk with mistresses aplenty.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: The Taming by Jude Deveraux”