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Historical Romance Review: Forbidden Ecstasy by Janelle Taylor

book review historical romance
Forbidden Ecstasy by Janelle Taylor
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1982
Illustrator: Unknown
Imprint or Line: Zebra Historical Romance
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Colonial Era Romance, Native American Romance, Romance with Rape Element, Forced Seduction
Pages: 494
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooksOpen Library (BORROW FOR FREE)
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Forbidden Ecstasy by Janelle Taylor

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Forbidden Ecstasy (“Ecstasy/Gray Eagle Series #3″) by Janelle Taylor.

The Plot

The heroine of the first four books, Alisha Williams, and her husband, Gray Eagle, the “hero,” have been officially married for four days. They have only spent two days together, however, as Gray Eagle has left Alisha to obtain supplies.

When Gray Eagle doesn’t return to her, Alisha wonders what happened.

What she doesn’t know is that Gray Eagle was shot and left for dead by her friend, Powchutu.

There are two reasons he did this:

  1. To punish Gray Eagle for his abhorrent behavior toward Alisha
  2. Powchutu is in love/lust with Alisha.

Alisha believes Powchutu’s lies about why Gray Eagle hasn’t returned, and they set off together.

On their trip, which culminates in St. Louis, Alisha and Powchutu will meet, or meet again, four people who will play a major role in their lives. They are:

  1. Joe Kenny, a white trapper
  2. Jamie O’Hara, a lodgings owne
  3. Mary O’Hara, a mute young woman and niece to Jamie O’Hara
  4. And, sadly, Jeffery Gordon, the evil ex-Army lieutenant who somehow survived the attack on Fort Pierre.

As time goes on, Jeffery blackmails Alisha, threatening great harm to her and Powchutu if she doesn’t marry him. Alisha hedges and Powchutu is killed by Jeffery’s henchmen.

Powchutu’s death pushes Alisha into marrying Jeffery, who makes her life hell on many levels. What neither knows is that Gray Eagle survived his shooting by Powchutu.

Gray Eagle comes to kill Jeffery, finds Alisha, and takes her back to the Oglala camp, subjecting her to more emotional, mental, physical, and sexual abuse along the way.

Despite all of this, by the end of the book, Gray Eagle and Alisha reconcile, as they discover that the bad things they thought about the other were not true. They decide to continue the ruse that Alisha is Shalee, make up with each other, and are happy.

For now, anyway…

The Upside

When Janelle Taylor is at her best, she ranks with Rosanne Bittner as one of my go-to authors. Mrs. Taylor’s style is lyrical and evocative. she brings her readers and me into the lives of her characters.

I felt as though I were watching the lives of the characters instead of just reading about them. Only the best authors can make me feel like that.

The Downside

While I understand Gray Eagle’s feelings about what he believes is Alisha’s betrayal of him, that doesn’t defend/excuse/justify the abuse he inflicts on her. “This kind of derails the Gray Eagle Redemption Tour” Mrs. Taylor was on in Defiant Ecstasy.

Much of the rancor between Alisha and Gray Eagle was due to a lack of trust and communication, which they haven’t had since the beginning.

Sex

Very little and not terribly exciting. Mrs. Taylor does have a few books which have some spice to them. The first three books in the “Ecstasy/Gray Eagle” series are not among them.

Violence

There is, however, a lot of violence. Assault, battery, attempted murder, murder, and rape. None of the violence is super graphic, but it’s there.

Bottom Line on Forbidden Ecstasy

The fact that Gray Eagle is still an unrepentant bastard and the “Stockholm Syndrome romance” between Gray Eagle and Alisha keeps me from giving Janelle Taylor’s Forbidden Ecstasy a five-star rating. 

4 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
4
Characters
4.5
Writing
4.5
Chemistry
3.5
Fun Factor
3.5
Cover
4.5
Overall: 4.1

Synopsis

ALISHA was silk and satin, honey and fire. Never before did the possession of a man fill Alisha with such excitement as when she held her handsome Indian lover in her arms. That she was a white woman living in the red man’s world did not matter. They had promised each other their hearts forever – nothing could keep them apart.

GRAY EAGLE was fierce and gentle, powerful and possessive. He would never forsake his bride of two moons; he would never let her go. But when Alisha awoke to dawn’s first light her bronze-skinned warrior was gone. Her lips were tender from his fiery kisses; her body throbbed from his fierce passion – and still she longed for him. Lost between two worlds, she was desperate and alone. Betrayed by her savage lover, she hungered for their forbidden love!

Forbidden Ecstasy by Janelle Taylor
CATEGORIES: , , , , , , , , ,

***

defiant ecstasy janelle taylor

Historical Romance Review: Defiant Ecstasy by Janelle Taylor

book review historical romance

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Defiant Ecstasy Book #2 in the “Ecstasy/Gray Eagle” series by Janelle Taylor.

The Plot

Part One Defiant Ecstasy

Defiant Ecstasy begins by filling in details of what occurred at the end of the first book, Savage Ecstasy.

Then Gray Eagle, the “hero” of the series, shows up at Fort Pierre with 2,000 Indian warriors behind him. He has a demand for the denizens of Fort Pierre. They must release his white lover, Alisha Katrina Williams, to him, or he and his warriors will destroy the fort and everyone in it.

After some contentious debate, the Army decides to send Alisha back to Gray Eagle.

Gray Eagle and Alisha are both happy with the decision. Nevertheless, Gray Eagle orders his braves to destroy the fort, anyway, as payback for how the soldiers and others in the fort treated Alisha. For a while, they are happy.

Two events, however, happen to shatter their happiness.

The first: Gray Eagle’s “betrothed”, a Lakota woman named Chela, tries to kill Alisha. Gray Eagle stops this from occurring.

Part Two Defiant Ecstasy

What he can’t stop, at least immediately, is the second event. A Blackfoot woman concocts a ruse that Alisha isn’t really Alisha Williams, an English ex-pat, but Princess Shalee, a half-white, half-Blackfoot woman who was abducted years earlier. As part of the scheme, Alisha is taken out of the Lakota village and to a Blackfoot village to marry Shalee’s betrothed, a Blackfoot warrior named Brave Bear.

While in the Blackfoot camp, Alisha begins having romantic feelings toward Brave Bear, who treats her with kindness that Gray Eagle doesn’t. Gray Eagle, however, refuses to give Alisha up and challenges Brave Bear for the right to marry her. Gray Eagle defeats Brave Bear–but, at Alisha’s urging, does not kill him.

As they prepare for their joining ceremony, Gray Eagle and Alisha are plagued with problems, most of which are self-inflicted.

Some of these issues are eventually resolved, and Alisha and Gray Eagle marry and are happy…

For now, anyway.

defiant ecstasy alt
Defiant Ecstasy, alt cover

The Upside

Mrs. Taylor’s evocative, flowing writing style is on display here, as she brought me into the world of Gray Eagle and Alisha. The characters are well-developed.

The Downside

Having already established Gray Eagle as an emotional/physical abuser/rapist, Mrs. Taylor spends much of Defiant Ecstasy trying to rehabilitate him.

For some, it might work. For me…not at all. While I don’t believe it is necessarily fair to judge someone solely by one action–or a series of actions–Gray Eagle shows no remorse for his behavior. In fact, he blames Alisha for what he has done to her! And Alisha, on occasion, agrees with him! Not good.

Sex

Very little in the way of love scenes, and those that do happen are typically mild and flowery in the Janelle Taylor style.

Violence

The sacking of Fort Pierre occurs “offscreen.” Gray Eagle and Brave Bear’s fight is only mildly graphic.

Bottom Line on Defiant Ecstasy

I am a fan of Janelle Taylor and her works. Defiant Ecstasy is a decent book. However, I totally repudiate her efforts to try to defend/excuse/justify Gray Eagle’s behavior.

3.85

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

Synopsis

The longer Alisha Williams remained at Fort Pierre, the more she hoped her redskinned lover would rescue her from the taunts and tirades of the white pioneers. They would never let her forget she had been the mistress of the infamous savage warrior, Gray Eagle. As if the auburn-haired beauty could forget! Each night, Alisha sweetly remembered Gray Eagle’s bold caresses, burning kisses, his blazing passion. Each day, she scanned the vast horizon in hopes her Oglala brave would recapture her.

Then one day, Alish saw hundreds of Indian warriors riding to the gates of Fort Pierre–and at their head was the fierce Gray Eagle. Though her most fervent prayers had been answered, Alisha’s heart skipped a beat: Would Gray Eagle destroy her–or make her destiny his own? 

Defiant Ecstasy by JANELLE TAYLOR
kiss of the night wind

Historical Romance Review: Kiss of the Night Wind by Janelle Taylor

Reviewed by Blue Falcon

Kiss of the Night Wind, Janelle Taylor, Zebra, 1989

MILD SPOILERS 😉

This review is of Kiss of the Night Wind, #3 in the “Western Wind” series by Janelle Taylor published by Zebra.

The Plot

Kiss of the Night Wind opens with the heroine of the book, Carrie Sue Stover, trying to outrun her past Carrie Sue’s brother, Darby, is the leader of an outlaw gang, which she also ran with.

Tired of looking over her shoulder and worrying about being arrested, jailed, or worse, Carrie Sue decides to take on the persona of Carolyn Sarah Starns, a schoolteacher on her way to Tucson, Arizona.

The real Carolyn was killed in an accident caused by the Stover gang attacking the stagecoach she was on.

As Carrie Sue makes her way to Arizona, the stagecoach she’s on is attacked. Saving her is T.J. Rogue, the hero of the book, who is also going to Arizona. His reasons, however, are different than Carrie Sue’s.

Carrie Sue arrives in Tucson and soon finds herself having to fend off Martin Ferris, a wealthy, lecherous businessman who believes the new schoolmarm owes him more than gratitude. Before she can begin teaching, however, Carrie Sue’s past catches up with her, and she and T.J. are on the run. They also become lovers.

As the book goes along, we learn a great deal about both Carrie Sue and T.J.’s pasts, both of which are filled with tragedy. We also learn that they have a common enemy, evil rancher Quade Harding.

T.J. and Carrie Sue leave Arizona after wanted posters of her emerge. They are pursued by Ferris, who is later killed by T.J. As they make their way to Texas, Carrie Sue becomes suspicious of T.J.; especially since he asks lots of questions about Darby.

Carrie Sue reunites with Darby and discovers that a copycat gang, led by the villain she and Darby are trying to defeat, is committing crimes claiming to be the Stover gang. That gang is led by the man the Stover siblings have been trying to defeat for years.

Carries Sue tries to get Darby to go straight. The efforts fail, and when Darby and most of his gang are captured, Carrie Sue is shot and seriously wounded. After Carrie Sue’s wounding, T.J. fakes her death and plans to take her to Montana and marry her to start a new life.

In the end, the plans change. Carrie Sue and T.J. marry, decide to go to Colorado instead-the reasons are germane to the plot, so I won’t reveal them- and have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

Mrs. Taylor has written a book with a strong hero and heroine in T.J. and Carrie Sue, both of whom are well-developed characters. Mrs. Taylor is also a great atmospheric writer; she puts me into her situations with her characters, as opposed to making me feel that I’m simply reading about them.

Downside

While Mrs. Taylor is a great situational writer, at times during this book, I felt like she was writing to a word count, as the descriptions went on and on and on.

The bigger issue for me was the fact that there are A LOT of similarities between Kiss of the Night Wind and the book that preceded it, Passions Wild and Free. To wit:

The heroines both have unisex names; in Passions Wild and Free, the heroine’s name was Randee; in Kiss of the Night Wind, it’s Carrie Sue.

The heroines believe the heroes–Marshall Logan Jr. in Passions Wild and Free, T.J. Rogue in Kiss of the Night Wind–are simply gunslingers. They’re not. Their childhood backgrounds are slightly different, but their adult lives are very similar to each other.

Both Randee and Carrie Sue were chased from their lives by rich, licentious males who want to possess them, only to find more trouble upon running. Both want revenge against their tormentors, but neither directly gets their revenge.

It is not realistic to expect any artistically inclined person not to ever repeat themselves. Doing it in the very next work you do, however, is not a good look.

I also wasn’t in love with Carrie Sue’s claim that she and Darby were “forced” to become criminals. This is completely a lie. Yes, a lot of bad things happened to the Stover siblings, but they were NOT “forced” into criminal behavior. They CHOSE to become lawbreakers. Claiming noble reasons does not absolve someone from criminal responsibility.

Sex

Multiple love scenes between Carrie Sue and T.J. Like all of Mrs. Taylor’s books, the love scenes are more about the feelings engendered during the act rather than the esoterics of the act.

Violence

Some “on-screen” shootings, but most of the violence takes place “off-screen”. “Kiss of the Night Wind” is not a violent book.

Bottom Line

Kiss of the Night Wind is a good book but has too many issues to be great.

3.72 stars

passion wild and free duillo

Historical Romance Review: Passions Wild and Free by Janelle Taylor

Reviewed by Blue Falcon

Synopsis:

MISCHIEVOUS VIXEN

After seeing her home and family destroyed by the cruel and hateful Epson gang, Randee Hollis swore revenge. The feisty young woman knew that she couldn’t do the nasty job alone — she needed one good man to help her stop the murderous villains. So when Randee literally ran into the black-clad stranger, she knew she’d found the perfect helpmate. He was strong and brave and met all of her requirements for a gunslinger … but the virile stranger offered something more. Every time Randee looked into his light blue eyes she felt a longing in the pit of her stomach. She wanted to run her fingers through his sleek ebony hair, caress his bronzed skin and know what it would be like to spend the night wrapped up in his warm embrace …

TANTALIZING ROGUE

Marsh Logan had his own reasons for wanting to help the flaxen haired beauty find revenge. But after spending sometime alone with Randee, he lost all desire for anything but the feel of her body next to his. Marsh would sacrifice his very soul for a chance to kiss away all of Randee’s troubles, to excite her until she forgot of her pain. All he wanted was to prove that he was the man who could make her happy, that he could love her like no other and unleash her sleeping PASSIONS WILD AND FREE

PASSIONS WILD AND FREE by JANELLE TAYLOR
Passions Wild and Free, Janelle Taylor, Zebra, 1988, Elaine Duillo cover art

VERY MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

This review is of Passions Wild and Free, book #2 in the “Western Wind” series by Janelle Taylor.

The Plot

The book begins in Wadesville, Texas, undisclosed time but after the Civil War. Randee Hollis, the heroine of the book, has plans to go after the Epson Gang, a ruthless band of killers who killed her aunt and uncle, Sara Elizabeth and Lee Carson when the gang attacked their ranch. (Randee was the only survivor of the attack). She decides to hire a man to help her track down and kill the gang members. Randee finds resistance to her plans from Brody Wade, the sheriff of Wadesville-named after his family-who is in love with her and wishes to marry her.

Randee runs into–literally–Marsh Logan, the hero of the book, and hires him to work with her, believing that he is a notorious gunfighter named the Durango Kid. He’s not, but he is good with a gun and has his own reasons for wanting to find and kill the Epson Gang. As they track the gang, we learn why Randee left her family in Kansas, and she and Marsh give in to their attraction and become lovers.

As they systematically dismantle the Epson Gang, Randee and Marsh come to realize that the gang isn’t just a ragtag group of outlaws, but rather part of a bigger plan, led by someone who wants money and power.

In the end, the gang is brought to justice or killed, as is the big boss of the operation. The real Durango Kid-who is Marsh’s younger brother-appears on the scene. Randee’s family issues in Kansas are resolved. Randee and Marsh have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

Both Randee and Marsh are well-developed characters. Mrs. Taylor gives them depth and fills them in as real people. I liked the fact that Randee was a capable person in her own right and Marsh grew to respect her skills.

Downside

Passions Wild and Free is ostensibly a historical romantic suspense book. Mrs. Taylor only got one of the three right (The historical part). There is very little chemistry between Randee and Marsh, although they become lovers and adventure partners. There is also very little in the way of suspense; most of the suspense occurs “off-screen.”

I was also quite annoyed with Mrs. Taylor’s overuse of the word “cunning”, which she uses in every book she writes. I wanted to scream several times in the reading of the book: “Why didn’t you use a freakin’ thesaurus, Mrs. Taylor?” I found myself skipping pages because at times, Passions Wild and Free was simply boring.

One other thing: this book is said to be part of a six-book series called “Western Wind”. No character from the first book in the “series”, First Love, Wild Love, appears in Passions Wild and Free. The only thing the two books so far in the “series” have in common is that both are set in Texas, which is not, in my eyes, a connection that warrants a “series” label.

Sex

The love scenes are either mostly quick or typical Janelle Taylor romances. In other words, more focused on the feelings of the act than the esoterics of it.

Violence

Most of the violence is “off-screen”. On-screen violence includes assault, battery, shootings, and killings. The violence is not graphic in any way.

Bottom Line on Passions Wild and Free

Randee and Marsh deserved better than what they got from Mrs. Taylor in Passions Wild and Free.

3 Stars

first love wild love janelle taylor

Historical Romance Review: First Love, Wild Love by Janelle Taylor

First Love, Wild Love, Janelle Taylor, Zebra, 1984, cover artist TBD

MILD SPOILERS 😉

4 1/2 Stars

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Reviewed by Blue Falcon

The Set-Up

This review is of First Love, Wild Love by Janelle Taylor.

First Love, Wild Love, a Zebra Lovegram romance, begins in Texas, where Calinda Braxton, the heroine, has come from England to investigate the disappearance of her father, Elliott “Brax” Braxton. Her arrival in Texas is not welcoming, as the stagecoach she’s on is robbed. The stagecoach guard is killed, and the other passengers blame her because she fought back. Disconsolate and penniless, Calinda is taken in by the madam of a house of ill repute and given a room. What happens here sets the tone for the rest of the book.

The Plot

Calinda is given laudanum by the madam (not for nefarious purposes, but to help her sleep). Into the room comes the owner, Lynx Cardone, the hero of the book. Thinking that Calinda either was sent to his room or heard about him and decided to come on her own, Lynx has dubious consent sex with Calinda. She agrees to have sex with him, but she’s under the influence of the drug. Afterward, they argue and vow never to see each other again.

Later, Calinda is visited by Rankin Cardone, Brax’s former partner in their ranch and, unknown to her at the time, Lynx’s father. Rankin invites Calinda to come to the ranch (not entirely for altruistic reasons; he also wants to know what happened to Brax, and he’s hoping to match Calinda and Lynx, not knowing they already know each other in the biblical sense). When Lynx comes home, he sees Calinda and thinks she’s a gold-digger out to trap him, which is not the case. Once that issue is resolved, Calinda and Lynx fall in love and marry. Calinda’s happy, Lynx is happy, Rankin’s happy.

One person who is definitely NOT happy is Salina Mendoza, the Cardone’s housekeeper, who fancied herself the future Mrs. Lynx Cardone. She tries various tactics to get rid of Calinda, from defiance to trying to seduce Lynx, to kidnapping to conspiracy to commit murder. None of these efforts ultimately succeed, but they do drive a wedge between Calinda and Lynx.

Another issue between Calinda and Lynx is his frequent absences from home. Eventually, the reasons behind this are explained.

By the end of the book, the reasons for Brax’s disappearance are explained as well, and Calinda and Lynx have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

Calinda is a strong character. She has to deal with a lot of heartache, pain-physical and emotional-as well as various forms of danger, but she survives.

Downside

Some of Calinda’s dangerous situations occur due to her naivete, and she finds herself in trouble and relies on Lynx to save her.

Lynx is too perfect a hero. He finds himself in dangerous situations and always comes out scot-free without a scratch. I found this unrealistic.

What I REALLY didn’t like, however, is the way Mrs. Taylor resolved the Brax issue. Rather than Brax explaining in his own words, there are hints throughout the book and a summary at the end. I feel the book would have been better if Brax–and the others involved–could have spoken in their own words about what happened and why it happened. I found the ending very unsatisfying.

Sex

Lots of love scenes with lots of euphemisms and purple prose. That’s how Mrs. Taylor writes her love scenes.

Violence

In addition to the stagecoach guard being killed, Calinda is shot in the shoulder but survives. Plus other scenes of shootings, assault, and batteries. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line

Books like First Love, Wild Love deserve a gradient of stars. It’s not really a 5-star book; more like 4.25 or 4.5 stars.

Read for First Love, Wild Love FREE at INTERNETARCHIVE.COM

Savage Ecstasy Popp

Historical Romance Review: Savage Ecstasy by Janelle Taylor

native american romance
Savage Ecstasy by Janelle Taylor
Rating: three-stars
Published: 1982
Illustrator: Walter Popp
Imprint or Line: Zebra Historical Romance
Book Series: Savage/ Gray Eagle #1
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Western Romance, Native American Romance
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: Amazon
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Savage Ecstasy by Janelle Taylor

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Savage Ecstasy by Janelle Taylor. This is the first book in her Ecstasy/Gray Eagle series, which is known by two different names.

There’s a lot to unpack here in this Zebra Native American historical romance.

The Story

Part One of Savage Ecstasy

The year is 1776, and English expatriate Alisha Williams is 20 years old. Our heroine (who’s also the heroine of the first four books in the series), has journeyed west to find happiness with her only surviving relative, her uncle Thad.

One day, the “men” in her settlement bring a captured Oglala Lakota Indian brave into their camp. that brave is Gray Eagle, the “hero” of the book. Their treatment of him sets the stage for what follows. The whites emotionally and physically abuse Gray Eagle in the camp.

Only Alisha shows Gray Eagle kindness; his response to this is to bite her hand. (This is only the beginning of what he has in store for her over the course of the series.) Despite this, Gray Eagle and Alisha develop romantic feelings for each other.

Part Two of Savage Ecstasy

Gray Eagle, with the help of his best friend, White Arrow, escapes. Shortly thereafter, Gray Eagle, White Arrow, and a hundred of their fellow Oglala braves sack the fortress, killing most people in the camp. The only survivors include three men, and women Gray Eagle keeps alive because he has special plans for them and Alisha.

As the days go on, Alisha and Gray Eagle’s relationship takes the form it will take for the majority of the book and series. Sometimes, Gray Eagle treats Alisha with great emotional, mental, physical, and sexual cruelty. Other times, he’s kind and loving to her. Both people are conflicted with their emotions toward the other.

Sometime later, while the braves are away on a hunt, Alisha is “rescued” by the Army and taken to Fort Pierre. There Alisha meets two men who will affect both her and Gray Eagle’s lives. They are: Powchutu, a half-white, half-Lakota scout for the Army who becomes Alisha’s only friend at the fort. And there is Lieutenant Jeffrey Gordon.

Later, Gray Eagle and a few thousand of his closest friends show up at the fort. They demand Alisha be returned to him, or he and his braves will kill everyone inside. After a short deliberation, the Army decides to hand Alisha back over to Gray Eagle. This is also a tone-setting action for Alisha and Gray Eagle’s relationship and lives.

Upside

At her best, Ms. Taylor is right up there with Rosanne Bittner for writing evocative, lyrical novels. In many ways, Ms. Taylor’s writing in Savage Destiny fits that category. I felt as though I were with Alisha and Gray Eagle, watching their lives. The descriptions of Lakota culture show that this is a well-researched book.

Downside

The biggest downside of this book–and the books in the series he is in–is Gray Eagle. As mentioned above, Gray Eagle is extremely cruel to Alisha throughout the book. Ms. Taylor tries to defend/excuse/justify this behavior in the following ways (my paraphrasing):

  • Alisha is white.
  • She is Gray Eagle’s slave. She should be submissive to him.
  • Because she is not submissive all the time, he has to treat her poorly. In other words, she made him do it.
  • Lakota culture, tradition, and religion.
  • He has to treat her poorly in order not to lose face with his people.

At the end of the book, Alisha blames herself for his abuse of her. None of these excuses hold water in my view. All of the above turn the “romance” between Alisha and Gray Eagle into a Stockholm Syndrome relationship.

The secondary characters–except for Gray Eagle’s best friend, White Arrow, who is also in love/lust with Alisha (as just about every male in the book ios)–are one-dimensional. The white characters hate Indians. The Indian characters hate whites.

As strong as Alisha is on many levels, she is extremely weak when it comes to her relationship with Gray Eagle, accepting and attempting to justify his abhorrent behavior. Although in the interest of fairness, Alisha has no money and no family to help her after her uncle, Thad, was killed in the raid on the fortress earlier.

Sex

Ms. Taylor’s love scenes are very flowery, with a lot of euphemistic expressions for sex rather than a nuts-and-bolts description of the act.

Violence

Plenty of emotional and physical violence. Assault and battery, attempted rape, actual rape, and torture are all featured here.

Bottom Line on Savage Ecstasy

I deleted an earlier review in order to reread the book to give this Native American romance a more nuanced review. On a lot of levels, Janelle Taylor‘s Savage Ecstasy is a very good book.

However, the deliberate, misogynistic violence–and the lame attempts to excuse it–bring the book down quite a bit in my eyes.

3 Stars

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

Synopsis

It was like lightning, the first time they looked into each other’s eyes: Gray Eagle, the captured Indian brave, and Alisha, the beautiful young settler. As the proud Oglala warrior was being tortured by his white captors, only Alsiha seemed to notice he was a human being – handsome and strong, and one who took her breath away.

But if Alisha could have read Gray Eagle’s thoughts she would have been even more disturbed…Because from the moment he saw her, the Indian knew he had to possess the fair-skinned one – and his life would not be complete until he had made her his slave!

Savage Ecstasy by Janelle Taylor
savageconquestduillo

Historical Romance Review: Savage Conquest by Janelle Taylor

book review historical romance

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Savage Conquest, the 9th and final book–although the 6th published–in the Ecstasy/Gray Eagle series by Janelle Taylor.

savageconquestduillo
Savage Conquest, Janelle Taylor, Zebra, 1985, Elaine Duillo cover art

The Plot

Amanda

Savage Conquest begins in 1873, approximately 17 years after the previous book, Forever Ecstasy, ended. It is not a happy time for Miranda Lawrence, the “heroine” of the book–only in the second half–and her fraternal twin, Amanda, the heroine of the first half, both 18. Their parents, Joe and Marie “Morning Star” Lawrence are presumed dead in a boating accident. (Their bodies have not been recovered.)

Amanda, who is seeing fellow shipping company owner Weber Richardson, decides to take over the family business. She also later meets Reis Harrison, a man whom she is attracted to, and starts to fall in love with. There are, however, issues standing in their way: Reis is not entirely truthful about why he came to Virginia, and he has a long-standing beef with Weber, who feels similarly predisposed towards Reis.

Amanda and Reis become lovers and later marry surreptitiously, and Reis sets into motion a plan in which he hopes to trap Weber and expose him for what he really is.

Miranda

Meanwhile, Miranda and the girls’ cousin, Lucas Reardon, a newspaper writer, travel to the Dakotas; Lucas for business and Miranda to try to meet her mother’s estranged family. Miranda is saved from snakes-the two-legged and reptilian kind-by an Oglala Lakota brave, Blazing Star, the hero of her part of the book.

Miranda and Blazing Star become lovers, although he is reluctant to commit to her due to concerns about the future of the Oglala people.

A series of challenges are faced by Amanda, Reis, Miranda, and Blazing Star, but they are conquered for the most part, and the two couples get a pleasant surprise and have their Happily Ever After.

Savage Conquest
Savage Conquest, Reissue

Upside of Savage Conquest

Mrs. Taylor is an evocative writer, and as she usually does, she put me as a reader in her characters’ lives, allowing me to view them not as words on a page, but as real people. Savage Conquest, like all the books in the Ecstasy/Gray Eagle series, is well-researched.

Downside of Savage Conquest

I felt that Mrs. Taylor could have done a better job displaying her male characters’ emotions; most of the emotional depth in the book comes from Miranda and Amanda. This book was not originally intended to be part of the Ecstasy/Gray Eagle series and it shows, as some of the storylines to me feel a little forced to fit the story arc of the series as opposed to the originally planned standalone.

Sex

Mrs. Taylor’s love scenes are known for their “purple prose”, and there’s plenty of it here. As always, Mrs. Taylor’s sex scenes are more about the emotions of the act than a description of the mechanics.

Violence

Assault, attempted rape-both Miranda and Amanda-as well as human and animal murder. (Blazing Star kills a bear.)

Bottom Line on Savage Conquest

Savage Conquest isn’t as well-written as my favorite by Mrs. Taylor, Sweet Savage Heart. It isn’t her best book, but it’s still pretty good.

4 Stars


Synopsis

There was no Virginia belle more irresistible than ebon-haired Miranda Lawrence. Though the willful beauty had her pick of handsome beaux, she felt a wild need deep within her for the kind of man she’d never meet in polite society. Heeding the call of her destiny, Miranda stole away from her plantation home, back to the land of her mother’s people. But when she found the passion she sought in the arms of handsome Indian, Miranda had to make a final choice–between the life she’d left behind and the future that would giver her his love!

Savage Conquest – Janelle Taylor
sweetsavageheart

Historical Romance Review: Sweet Savage Heart by Janelle Taylor

book review historical romance
Sweet Savage Heart by Janelle Taylor
Rating: five-stars
Published: 1989
Illustrator: Pino
Imprint or Line: Zebra Lovegram
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Western Romance, Native American Romance
Pages: 576
Format: Paperback, eBook
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Sweet Savage Heart by Janelle Taylor

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

Janelle Taylor‘s Sweet Savage Heart, a Zebra Lovegram historical romance, begins in Dakota Territory, in May 1867.

The Setup

It is here that an Oglala Indian maiden, Wild Wind, is troubled, for she is arguing with her brother, Lone Wolf, over her future.

Wild Wind is not actually Indian at all. Her name is Rana Michaels, and she was adopted into her band of Lakotas by Soaring Hawk, a Lakota chief who stole her from the Kiowa tribe which captured and enslaved her after they killed her parents, Marissa Crandall Michaels and Raymond Michaels.

Rana is conflicted about her life, and things are about to get more complicated.

The Plot

In Texas, rancher Nathan Crandall, owner of the Bar-C ranch and Rana’s grandfather, sees a painting of her and realizes it’s his granddaughter.

He asks his foreman, Travis Kincade, the hero of the book, for help in getting Rana back. Travis is half-Hunkpapa Lakota Indian and half-white. Their efforts are successful. However, there are complications due to many factors, including Rana herself.

However, she does agree to go with Nathan and Travis, and on the way to the ranch, Rana and Travis become lovers.

According to Oglala customs, that signifies marriage. White law doesn’t recognize this, however.

Back in Texas, however, there are major problems for the men, and now Rana. Nathan and Travis’ neighbor, Harrison Caldwell, and his daughter, Clarissa, have been using various means–mostly illegal–to force out all the ranchers in their valley in an attempt to create an empire for themselves.

The only rancher they haven’t forced out yet is Nathan, although they’re trying.

Upon their return to Texas, Harrison and Clarissa put their plan in motion to drive Nathan off his land. Nathan, Travis, and Rana help counter these actions. As the book goes on, secrets are revealed and a tragedy occurs.

In the end, the good guys defeat the Caldwells. Rana and Travis marry by white man’s law. They have two children and get their Happily Ever After.

sweetsavageheart
Sweet Savage Heart, reissue

Upside

In the past, I have frequently criticized authors for their lack of character development. That is certainly not the case here. Mrs. Taylor delves deeply into the characters of Rana, Travis, and Marissa. Rana and Travis are both strong characters.

I liked the fact that Rana had the opportunity to use the skills she learned as an Oglala to help Nathan and Travis.

Downside

Slightly nitpicky here, but the chapters average 28+ pages long. Even though people may have more time to read these days due to what is going on in the world, the chapters could have been shorter.

Sex

Multiple sex scenes, most of which feature Mrs. Taylor’s purple prose.

Violence

Assault and battery, attempted rape, attempted murder, shootings with bow and arrows and guns, and killings. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line on Sweet Savage Heart

Sweet Savage Heart is one of Janelle Taylor’s best books.

5 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
5
Characters
5
Writing
5
Chemistry
4.5
Fun Factor
5
Cover
5
Overall: 4.9

Synopsis

Kidnapped when she was a child, eighteen-year-old Rana Michaels couldn’t imagine any life other than her carefree existence among the Sioux. Then the white man Travis Kincade appeared in her camp, and the flame-haired beauty’s peace was shattered forever. But when he traded a few trinkets for her freedom, Rana vowed to slay him before returning to her people.

Sweet Savage Heart by Janelle Taylor