Category: Warner Books

Historical Romance Review: This Towering Passion by Valerie Sherwood

4 stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

***Spoiler alert***

Lovely red-gold-haired, violet-eyed Lenore is the female protagonist of Valerie Sherwood’s This Towering Passion and the primary heroine of its sequel, Her Shining Splendor, which tells the tale of both Lenore and her daughter, Lorena, from the English Civil War to the Restoration eras.

Lenore’s beauty is of little use to her because while she can get a man, she has trouble keeping him.

The Plot

First, as is standard in a Sherwood novel, the heroine gets together with her first lover, who’s typically a hunky block of wood. Here, Lenore becomes infatuated with the hottest guy in town, a big blond stud who’s a charismatic black hole. Although he’s a mite too friendly with other ladies, he and Lenore get handfasted.

But, alas, he leaves Lenore behind, looking for adventure by fighting against the English army. Lenore, who has no one else in the world, won’t be left all alone and seeks him out, only to find he’s killed in action.

Meanwhile, the dashing Cavalier, Geoffrey Wyndham, is on the run himself. He and Lenore meet on the road, and within hours of finding Lenore’s “husband’s” dead body and with Roundhead troops hunting them down, Geoffrey says, “What the hell, life’s too short!”... Read more “Historical Romance Review: This Towering Passion by Valerie Sherwood”

Historical Romance Review: Stolen Spring by Louisa Rawlings

Stolen Spring, Louisa Rawlings, Popular Library, 1988, cover artist unknown

From the back of the book:

“Mademoiselle Marie-Rouge’s bewitching gray eyes widened with shock. King Louis’ minister had made his offer very clear: Rouge must become a spy or else her beloved father would be thrown in debtor’s prison. She chose to flee into a storm-swept night away from the golden court at Versailles and the intrigues that threatened her life…In a miller’s cottage she found a stranger–a brazen, daring man who claimed to be a simple peasant. His arms sheltered her, his kisses intoxicated her more than royal wine, and his desire showed her a paradise no riches could buy. Would he forgive the girl who took his sweet love tonight–only to run from his heart tomorrow?”

4 1/2 stars

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Lousia Rawlings, the writer of such greats as Stranger in My Arms and its sequel, Wicked Stranger, was a masterful author. It’s unfortunate she no longer writes wonderful historical romances in the truest sense of those words.

(Edit: she’s republished her novels as e-books, so now there is no excuse for anyone not to read her!)

The Plot

France and Versailles under the reign of Louis XIV was a decadent, lavish era, and Louisa Rawlings captures it perfectly in Stolen Spring.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Stolen Spring by Louisa Rawlings”

Historical Romance Review: These Golden Pleasures by Valerie Sherwood

These Golden Pleasures, Warner Books, 1977, Elaine Duillo cover art

3 stars

Rating: 3 out of 5.

What can I say about Valerie Sherwood’s These Golden Pleasures? Well, this 512 page epic starts out wonderfully but then falters then lags in the middle, and is rushed at the end.

Roxanne is in San Francisco on the eve of the great earthquake of 1906. She has to choose between the two men who will decide her fate, one of them her true love.

The story goes back to when Roxanne was a 15-year-old girl in Kansas, and the drama of her life unfolds. As is usual in a Valerie Sherwood, the heroine’s first sexual experience is not with the hero. She has a fling with Buck, her best friend’s fiancé.

Circumstances force her out of Kansas and Roxanne goes to Maryland, where she finds work as a maid for the wealthy Coulter family. She is romanced by two brothers: cynical, business-minded Gavin and handsome, carefree Rhodes who sails ships. This is where the book gets cooking! The tension is hot… And then a stupid misunderstanding leads to a long separation. I lament the fact that Sherwood didn’t do more with the brothers.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: These Golden Pleasures by Valerie Sherwood”

Historical Romance Review: Born to Love by Valerie Sherwood

Born to Love, Valerie Sherwood, Warner Books, 1984, Elaine Duillo cover art

It takes a generation to make a it, one to lose it, one to talk about it, and one to make it again.

BORN TO LOVE

4 Stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

*** Spoiler alert***

Valerie Sherwood, Cat Fancier & Romance Novelist

Romance novelist Valerie Sherwood would always lovingly dedicate her books to the special cats in her life; in Born to Love it was Mopsy and Chow. She was slightly cat crazy.

So in honor of Ms. Sherwood, and from one crazy cat lady to another, I would like to dedicate my review of Born to Love to one of my cats.

To Bear, that sweet, gentle soul, a little black-furred, black-nosed, green-eyed wonder. Bear, you came into my life at 19, when your mother, a feral queen, bore her kittens in the warehouse of the office that I worked. I took you home at four-weeks-old and because you had not been weaned, I had to feed you milk and mush. Every night before I’d fall asleep, you’d suck at my earlobe as you would have at your mother’s teat. Even when you grew, you still held on to this adorable kittenish trait.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Born to Love by Valerie Sherwood”

Historical Romance Review: The Jacaranda Tree by Rebecca Brandewyne

Step-back cover exterior & interior The Jacaranda Tree, Rebecca Brandewyne, Warner Books, 1995, Elaine Duillo cover artist

From the back of the book:

A sense of foreboding had gripped Arabella Darracott when she left England to join her guardian in Australia. Years before, a gypsy fortune-teller had told her of a purple blossomed tree, a far-off shore, and a devil of a man who awaited her there. Now, as she neared her destination, shipwreck and fate threw her into the arms of a rescuer, “Demon” Lucien Sinclair, the notorious ex-convict who had become rich in the gold fields of New South Wales. Lucien – wild and wickedly handsome – was the fallen archangel of her dreams. But the crime in his past was linked to a dangerous secret. And the passion awakened under the Jacaranda tree could cost Arabella her future, even her life…or give her Lucien forever to cherish, forever to love.

3 stars

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Jacaranda Tree was the last historical romance Rebecca Brandewyne published with Warner Books. After that, she wrote a few contemporaries, some paranormals, and a few gothic mysteries for Harlequin, before disappearing from the writing field entirely.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: The Jacaranda Tree by Rebecca Brandewyne”

Historical Romance Review: Love, Cherish Me by Rebecca Brandewyne

Love Cherish Me, Rebecca Brandewyne, Warner Books, 1983, cover artist Elaine Duillo
From the back of the book:

Storm was her name and her destiny… Born on a night when lightning flashed and thunder rolled, the raven-haired beauty was sixteen before the promise of her name became the path of her life… Born to wealth, the belle of five counties wagered away to a middle-aged rancher by her wastrel uncle. On her way to Texas to marry Gabriel North, she was captured by outlaws — and wagered away again by her captor to a blue-eyed bounty hunter, a dark-skinned gunslinger called El Lobo, the wolf. A man who could kill in cold blood, then take her with fire and tenderness when she whispered to him.

5 stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I read Love, Cherish Me many years ago as teenager so it’s a long-time favorite.

You have to read this book as a lover of the genre because Rebecca Brandewyne is here at her bodice-rippiest.

What I loved about Rebecca Brandewyne’s old romances was that she would always pose dressed as the heroine in her picture on the back of the book.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Love, Cherish Me by Rebecca Brandewyne”

Historical Romance Review: Across a Starlit Sea by Rebecca Brandewyne

Across a Starlit Sea, Rebecca Brandewyne, Warner Books, 1989, cover artist Melissa Duillo-Gallo

For the heart is not a candle that, once lit, can be extinguished at will, but a fragile, foolish thing, all too easily wounded, all too slow to heal.

ACROSS A STARLIT SEA
4 stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Across a Starlit Sea was a tempestuous romance written by Rebecca Brandewyne. This was a sequel to one of my all-time beloved love stories, Upon a Moon-Dark Moor, and this was one of the rare Brandewyne novels with Warner Books that was not illustrated by Elaine Duillo. Instead, her daughter Melissa Duillo-Gallo painted the cover.

The Plot

The Cornish coast setting made for a dark, gothic feel to this historical romance. I enjoyed the first-person narrative in both books as the heroines told their life stories from youth to their first love to true love to married life with children and into old age. Expect to see here Brandewyne’s standard purple-prose writing and in-depth descriptions of history.

Laura was betrothed at birth to Jarrett, the eldest son of Maggie & Draco, the protagonist couple from Upon a Moon-Dark Moor, although she’s been in love with his younger brother, Nicholas, all her life.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Across a Starlit Sea by Rebecca Brandewyne”