Zebra Historical Romance
While Zebra still publishes historical romances, their heyday as paperback romance publishers is behind them. In the ’80s and ’90s, their dazzling romances would line shelves in drugstores and be piled into bargain bins in supermarkets. Now they’re something most only hardcore romance lovers recall fondly.
The covers would hypnotize with bright shades of red, pink, gold, and purple swirls. The embossed foil titles glittered with adjectives like “wild,” “seductive,” “scarlet,” ”violet,” & “amber,” or nouns like “temptation,” “Vixen,” “ecstasy,” “angel,” or “passion.” Often you’d get a state thrown in the title, like Colorado Temptation, Texas Star, Dakota Destiny, Wild Wyoming Love, or California Caress. The best covers would have a horse rearing in the background (or a bird, a ship, or a mansion) plus a pink or purple flower opening up in euphemistic symbolism.
Sadly, too often, the covers would be the best thing about the books. In this case, it’s certainly the best thing about Jolene Prewit-Parker’s Sweet Stolen Passion. Unfortunately, for a Zebra Lovegram, except for the heroine’s satin green dress and the pink-orange lilies in the foreground, the cover’s rather ho-hum. Also, I’m not too fond of the hero’s hair. It’s an anachronistic floppy 1990s style that might look cute on a 13-year-old boy. However, on a grown man, it makes him look like a villainous, preppy douche.
Why spend so much time discussing the cover? Because as I said, it’s the best part of Sweet Stolen Passion, a book as exciting as waiting in that line at the DMV to get a ticket to wait on another line.
“Promise me I’ll always be your booty.”SWEET STOLEN PASSION
Set in the late 1600s in France, England, and the High Seas, Sweet Stolen Passion is a tale of insta-luv. Ameran is a French girl living near the coast, and Grayson (shouldn’t that be Greyson?) is commander of King Charles’ Navy whose fleet passes by her home. That’s right, he’s not merely a well-respected Captain, but Admiral of the whole British Naval Fleet. His age is never mentioned, but he’s mid-thirties as most.
Ameran’s parental heritage is of mysterious origin. All she knows is that her father was an important man whom her mother met at the French court. Now Ameran is orphaned, living alone, and a debauched Duke wants her in his bed. Since she won’t let him touch her, he declares her to be a witch. The ignorant villagers rush to burn down her home. Maybe Ameran is a witch, or maybe she isn’t. I don’t remember, nor did I care!
Let it be known that I do not take offense easily. Generally speaking, I don’t care what’s written in fiction because it is all make-believe. A story exists only on paper and in the mind. However, the one thing I do take offense at is being bored. I don’t mind authors who can’t write well, as long as they tell an exciting story. For me, nothing is more unforgivable than being boring. Well, sadly, this book is just that.
Ameran and Gray declare their boring love for each other, cue stupid misunderstanding, cue separation, cue boring reunion… And the book’s still got 75% left to go. There is a villain who wants Ameran and a villainess who wants Gray (what a perfect name for a bland, dull hero). The latter character makes no sense. She is a crazily obsessed woman who has had minimal, if any, contact with the hero. She’s just there. Gideon, the villain, an old friend of Gray’s, has turned to pirating and lusts after Ameran. Heis the most interesting character in the book. Either the author or the editor thought so because Gideon’s name is sometimes written instead of Gray’s.
Oh spoiler, which I don’t care about spoiling: It turns out the poor peasant Ameran, is actually the daughter of the English king.
Fifty Shades of Boring?
Gray was lackluster and bland. How can a woman swoon at such lyrical poetry as:
Gray: “Have no fear my love. I intend to do all in my power to insure your comfort and happiness forever more.”
Ameran: “You’re too kind to me.”
Gray: “Nay, my darling, I haven’t begun to show you the magnitude of my love for you.”
Gray: “What is it you feel to compel to unburden from your soul? Have I done something which angered or offended you? If I have, I beg your forgiveness & will make immediate restitution.”
Gray: “I can truthfully swear to you that even though I love you with all my heart, come dawn I shall love you even more.”
My Final Ranting Analysis of Sweet Stolen Passion
Seriously, if, like me, you’re a hard-core Zebra historical romance fan with an OCD-like need to read through the entire catalog, do yourself a favor, read the back blurb, which is far more exciting than the actual book, take a gander at the cover, and if you really need to, read the last chapter (two pages long), and consider yourself done. I do not know why I continued reading, except that I must be a committed masochist who believes if you’re going to do something stupid and painful, why not go the whole way?
Gray says to Ameran that he hopes her time spent with him was worth it: “Just as long as I’m not boring you.”
Sorry, bud, way too late for that.
Anyway, at least Ameran has some interesting lines, like telling Gray:
“Promise me I’ll always be your booty.”
In my life, I’ve spent countless hours on the phone on hold with businesses, government offices, and utility, phone, & credit card companies, forced to listening to staticky music while idly doodling pictures of cats or picking grit out from under my nails with a paperclip. However, all that time spent was more enthralling than reading this boring as heck book.