Category: Zebra Heartfire

Historical Romance Review: Shameless Ecstasy by Thea Devine

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

MILD SPOILERS

1 Star

Rating: 1 out of 5.

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

The Plot

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

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

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

Soon, after Sarianna suffers a miscarriage and other issues, she and Cade separate.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Shameless Ecstasy by Thea Devine”

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

3 stars

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Plot

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

In Dana Ransom’s Love’s Glorious Gamble, the hero is no overbearing bully but a charismatic rogue who shares a great, supportive relationship with the heroine. The heroine is courageous and plucky, all alone in a world that holds mystery and despair. A girl of intelligence and wit, Glory devises a complicated trap in which to ensnare her enemies. Everyone is hiding the truth to some extent in this tangled tale of vengeance.

My Opinion

LGG is an entertaining, emotional romance, published in 1988 under Zebra‘s Heartfire imprint. This could merit at least 4 stars, especially by the low-quality standards of Zebra romances.

Love’s Glorious Gamble, Zebra, 1988, John Ennis cover art

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

Two reasons.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Love’s Glorious Gamble by Dana Ransom”

Historical Romance Review: Beloved Enemy by Jane Feather

beloved enemy
2 stars

Rating: 2 out of 5.

When my cat destroyed the cover of my edition of Beloved Enemy, chewing it to shreds, I lamented the loss of the pretty cover, although I cared nothing for the book. To be frank, Beloved Enemy begins with an intriguing premise, but about 20 pages in, the annoying “insta-luv” trope rears its head, and everything goes downhill from there.

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

The Plot

Such a shame as I love English Civil War and Restoration Era romances filled with priggish Roundheads & debauched Cavaliers. Ginny Courtney is a war widow, her brother presumed dead, and her family fiercely loyal to the crown. At the same time, Alex Marshall is a Colonel in Cromwell’s Army, taking command of her family home as his army looks for fugitives.

The hero is…not charismatic. All he does is shout and yell at the heroine. He also has one of the worst pet names I’ve heard a hero give his heroine.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Beloved Enemy by Jane Feather”

Historical Romance Review: Pirate’s Angel by Marsha Bauer

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

5 Stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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

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

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

The Plot

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

Ostensibly, the product of this union is our heroine, Ivy Woodruff.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Pirate’s Angel by Marsha Bauer”

Historical Romance Review: Texas Princess by Veronica Blake

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

1 1/2 Stars

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

Princess of Which State?

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

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

As for the book itself?

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

Historical Romance Review: Rebel Vixen by Dana Ransom

Rebel Vixen
Rebel Vixen, Dana Ransom, Zebra 1987, cover artist unknown
5 stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Beginning: Love & Betrayal

As the Civil War rages throughout the United States, Miss Savannah Russell is on a ship in the Caribbean. They are bringing food and medical supplies to her Southern brethren, a noble effort. Then, she spots a body floating in the water. She urges the sailors to bring him aboard. However, when they see the man’s Union buckle on his uniform, everyone but Savannah wants to throw the enemy back into the sea. Savannah is defiant, swearing to save the handsome Yankee officer, despite everyone’s potestations, including her Uncle, who’s in charge of the mission. Savannah takes the Yankee on land and brings him to an inn. With a doctor’s aid, she helps the Northern officer recover, saving his injured arm from amputation. Savannah is instantly attracted to the blond-haired Lt. Commander named Skyler Reade. He, too, quickly falls for the woman who saves his life.

Upon a tropical beach, Savannah and Skyler exchange their words of love, promising to be together. As they begin to make love, an explosion shatters the silence. In horror, Savannah realizes that the Union army has taken her Uncle’s ship.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Rebel Vixen by Dana Ransom”

Welcome to Sweet Savage Flame

escape not my love outside

Hello to all lovers of bodice rippers and vintage historical romances (pre-21st Century). Historical romance isn’t what it used to be. The romance genre has evolved greatly over the years, but there remains a soft spot in my heart for the books of old.

My Historical Romance Experience

I read my first historical romance at age 12. It was a bodice ripper-lite, Elaine Coffman’s Escape Not, My Love, published in 1990. It had a lovely step-back cover that outside looked respectable, like this:

But the inside was a beautiful clinch design:

Inside the step-back cover of Escape Not, My Love, by Elaine Coffman, 1990, Dell, artist unknown

Just weeks later, I read my first book published by Zebra. This was from the Heartfire imprint, a Civil War romance called Rebel Vixen by Dana Ransom (yes, I have a penchant for blond heroes).

Rebel Vixen by Dana Ransom, Zebra 1989, artist unknown

My first real taste of hardcore bodice-ripping came to me a few months later with Rosemary Roger’s Sweet Savage, Love, which Avon published in 1973. It shocked me to my core. I loved it but was a little scared of how violent and epic it was. Grandiose in scope, it told the tumultuous romance of Steve Morgan and Virginia Brandon as they trekked across the United States and Mexico.... Read more “Welcome to Sweet Savage Flame”