the judas kiss will davies

Category Romance Review: The Judas Kiss by Sally Wentworth

The Judas Kiss by Sally Wentworth is a legendary Harlequin Presents. It’s a twisted tale of revenge, deceit, lies, and passion sure to thrill readers.

category romance
The Judas Kiss by Sally Wentworth
Rating: five-stars
Published: 1981
Illustrator: Will Davies
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Presents #480
Published by: Harlequin, Mills & Boon
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 188
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader

Category Romance Review: The Judas Kiss by Sally Wentworth


The Book

Sally Wentworth’s The Judas Kiss has to rank in my top ten Harlequin Presents because it’s just so epic on so many levels. Nothing is as exhilarating and satisfying as a cray-cray-crazy old-school romance that fires on all cylinders and is filled with riveting twists and turns, deception and revenge. This has a heroine with a vicious will of steel and a hero who turns from kind to cruel to kind–in the end.

At 188 pages, The Judas Kiss is a little book that packs a wallop. It spans over four years and takes the heroine from a sweet, happy-go-lucky girl deeply in love to a hardened ex-criminal who gets plastic surgery to seek vengeance on the man who wronged her—the very man she once loved.

It’s like a Spanish telenovela, La Dama de Rosas, starring Jeanette Rodriquez and Carlos Mata! Boy, that takes me back!

la dama de rosas
La Dama de Rosas, RCTV Internacional

The Plot

Lynette and Beric

Lynette Maxwell is a young British stewardess who meets and falls in love with Beric Dane, a handsome pilot with no baggage. At only 19, Lyn is gaga for Beric, who is young for a hero of this Harley era–he’s only 29.

She’s a virgin and wants to take their relationship to the next level. Beric demurs, claiming to respect and love her too much to take her so casually. Lyn’s the kind of girl a man waits to marry before bedding her, and Lyn, in her haze of love, agrees.

On a return flight to the UK, she gets hauled in for questioning because a container of white powder was found in her bag inside her teddy bear. She is imprisoned, desperately afraid, and wonders how this could have happened.

She accuses Beric of planting the drugs on her after she realizes he was the one person who had access to her purse since they deplaned.

In response, Beric informs the police that she is making up stories to implicate him and abandons her. Lyn is convicted of the crime and goes to prison for three years. Lyn’s parents want nothing to do with her, and her great-aunt is the only person on the outside to support her.

Lynette’s Revenge, Part One

Prison turns Lyn from a sweet, trusting person to a woman embittered by deceit who lives only for vengeance. Fortunately, prison is just the place to meet hardened criminals who know a thing or two about revenge.

When Lyn gets out of the slammer, her face is reconstructed via the finest plastic surgery. She changes her hairline, chin, and nose, and her eyes are pulled further apart. Then she dyes her hair blonde. Viola! Lyn is now Nettie Lewis.

She tracks down Beric in Singapore and gets a job there teaching kids. She stays at the hotel where Beric and his flight crew stay for layovers and then starts to cozy up to some of the stewardesses, who introduce her to Beric. Beric is intrigued by her and pursues her with vigor. She rejects his advances, which spurs his further. He wants “Nettie” with a furious passion.

judas kiss mills and boon
The Judas Kiss, Mills & Boon

Lynette’s Revenge, Part Two

Lyn’s plans change when she realizes how deeply he falls for her. She decides that instead of planting drugs on him–which could potentially put her in danger– it would be better to make him fall in love with her and destroy him in another way.

She repeatedly shoots him down until she worries she may have overplayed her hand. But Beric comes back with a wedding proposal. Unlike before, when Beric wanted to wait until marriage to have sex with Lyn, now Beric wants to smash hard with Nettie. But our cool girl Lyn plays him like Georgia Johhny bowed his fiddle in a contest against the Devil.

They get married surrounded by his warm family, who are delighted that, at last, Beric has found happiness.

Lyn’s complicated plan began before the wedding when she flew out to their honeymoon destination with a tour group to set the trap. Then she took a flight back to get married.

On their honeymoon, Lyn leaves some clues making it seem she’s come to a mysterious, bloody end. She plants a bracelet in the hotel and messes up their room to look like it has been ransacked. Then she slips back with her previous tour group and wears a brunette wig. She watches from the fringes as Beric’s world crumbles around him.

Finally, she hightails it back to England to resume her life as Lyn. She even lets her natural hair color grow out.

Beric’s Revenge

Many months later, Lyn is now a slight attendant again. Although she has to fly regularly, Lyn is always careful not to book with Beric’s airline.

However, she gets recognized by one of his crew and comes face to face with Beric again. Beric pretends he doesn’t recognize her, but we know he does.

Now, it’s his turn for payback. He stalks her and pretty much kidnaps her when he gets her alone in a cottage. The gig is up! This is not the kind and gentle Beric she had known nor the eager fiance dazzled by new love.

This Beric is enraged, betrayed, and wants answers. And he wants that honeymoon night she never gave him.

Lyn is truly frightened–at first. But in the end, defiance reigns in her heart. Beric is no victim but the evildoer who put her in prison.

Beric realizes Lyn is genuinely innocent and sincerely believes he set her up. It was her outrage at this injustice that propelled her to seek revenge. His love for her makes him see the errors of his ways, and Beric vows to find who set her up.

With a little bit of sleuthing, they soon discover the true culprit. They find that she is living in her own personal hell as life has not gone well.

Lyn decides the guilty party has been punished already by Karma. She has had her fill of revenge and is not pleased with herself, knowing how she hurt Beric in her hunt for his blood.

But Beric–who is really a wonderful hero–forgives her. This enables Lyn to let the past anger and hurt fade away.

She and Beric turn to one another, and their Harley hell becomes heaven.

Final Analysis of The Judas Kiss

The Judas Kiss is freaking fantastic! This book deserves to be remembered in the annals of Romancelandia’s hall of fame. It has such an audacious plot, with a heroine who is cruel and single-minded in her pursuit of vengeance,

Beric is fantastic. He’s a really decent guy who’s shattered by Lyn’s actions. In his hurt, he is also cruel, seeking retaliation for Lyn’s treachery. But ultimately, his decency compels him to go in a different direction.

Oh, this was such fun! What a shame The Judas Kiss is not available in e-book format. If Dorren Hornsblow’s (Sally Wentworth’s real name) family controls the rights to this, hopefully, they’ll correct that error one day.

If you’ve never read this, what whacktastic excitement you’ve missed out on! Go on, search your favorite UBS, and get this one. Even if you hate it, The Judas Kiss can’t fail to thrill!

Rating Report Card
Fun Factor
Overall: 4.9


The man she’d loved had ruined her life

“I didn’t do it!” Lyn had protested, horrified, when accused of drug smuggling. But no one–customs officials or jury–had believed her. And then she discovered that her pilot boyfriend, Beric, had deliberately set her up! Her blind, trusting love rapidly turned to hate.

After three years in prison, she was determined to be revenged on Beric. So she worked out a complicated plan to get back into his life without his knowing who she was. And it worked.

But not quite in the way that Lyn had intended…

The Judas Kiss by Sally Wentworth
wish on the moon

Category Romance Review: Wish on the Moon by Sally Wentworth


The Book

Wish on the Moon by Sally Wentworth has gotten mixed to low reviews around the internet, but it’s a romance I fully enjoyed.

The Plot

The heroine of Wish on the Moon, Skye, is a plain-looking, sweet girl who goes out to a Caribbean island for her cousin Jodi’s wedding.

Skye has always been in Jodi’s shadow: not as pretty, not as popular, not as rich. Skye is mopey but likable because she’s imperfect. You get the idea. She’s a portrait painter, and Jodi wants her to paint a picture of her fiance.

The sparks fly for the heroine and the hero. Who’s the hero? The very man she’s to paint a portrait of. Thane is very handsome and from the upper-crust of society. And he’s engaged to marry Skye’s cousin, Jodi.

Thane seems antagonistic to Skye at first, and that’s because he’s fighting his feelings for her. He’s not ga-ga over Jodi, but he cared enough about her to consider her the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with. Thane is not a willing cheater. But along comes Skye with her gentleness, openness, and sporting no airs of superiority.

Jodi is instinctively aware of the attraction between the pair, although she finds it hard to accept, as Skye is so “beneath” her in every way. Jodi isn’t written as a perfect martyr. She’s not very nice, and other than her wealth and beauty. One wonders what Thane sees in her.

There is a scene towards the end when Jodi sees the portrait Skye painted. She flies into a rage and destroys it. So stunning was Skye’s work that it cried out her love for Thane.

Skye and Thane struggle with their attraction. Surprisingly, Skye is more willing to take a chance than Thane is. Perhaps that was to show Thane wasn’t written to be an utterly callous monster with no regard for other people’s feelings.

My Opinion

Nevertheless, love finds a way in Wish on the Moon. Even though Jodi tries to get revenge, it’s not enough to stop what must be.

This is an unusual romance because technically, the heroine is “the other woman.” She comes in and breaks up a seemingly happy engagement–and not just a random stranger’s but her cousin’s. This trope seems to be unliked around Harlequin-loving circles, and it’s easy to understand why.

If I put myself in Jodi’s shoes, I’d see she had every right to be upset with her cousin and fiance. But Harlequin Presents exist in a part of the universe where crazy topes are acceptable and, within the hands of a solid writer, can be emotional-wrenching reads you actually enjoy. Sally Wentworth was one of Harlequin’s talented writers who could handle this plot.

Final Analysis of Wish on the Moon

Perhaps if I had read Sally Wentworth’s Wish on the Moon from Jodi’s point of view, I would have felt differently toward the main couple and viewed them as antagonists, not as the protagonists they were. Even so, perspective can alter the way opinions are formed.

Plus, with Wentworth’s solid writing, she had me rooting for Thane and Skye. She’s written some crazy books in her day, but for the most part, Wentworth was in my top tier of writers from this imprint.

Obviously, holidays for this family will mean separate households! But such is the case in HP Romancelandia.

4 Stars


She felt betrayed by fate…

From England, Skye Holman had traveled to the colorful Bahamas, happily anticipating her cousin Jodi’s wedding. But when she met Thane Tyson, the groom-to-be, she couldn’t deny the spark that ignited between them.

Resolutely, Skye convinced herself that she had nothing in common with Thane. She was an artist who valued tranquility—whereas Thane was a lawyer, driven by ambition. In fact, social-climbing Jodi would be perfect for him.

Yet Skye longed for Thane, even though she was reaching for the moon. And, despite her own pain, she would never deliberately hurt Jodi. 

The Lion Rock Sally Wentworth

Category Romance Review: The Lion Rock by Sally Wentworth

category romance
The Lion Rock by Sally Wentworth
Rating: three-stars
Published: 1983
Illustrator: Ralph Amatrudi
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Presents #662
Published by: Harlequin, Mills & Boon
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 191
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader

Category Romance Review: The Lion Rock by Sally Wentworth

The Book

The Lion Rock by Sally Wentworth has an exotic setting, but plot-wise is your typical Harlequin Presents/Mills & Boon romance.

The Plot

Cordelia, a young British woman, visits her birthplace of Sri Lanka with her emotionally distant father. Her father has a heart attack, and Marcus Stone, an older, sophisticated gentleman, comes to her rescue.

They both experience a deep, instant attraction, but Marcus is cold and pushes her away for some mysterious reason. There’s a nasty other-woman who makes trouble and a younger guy who’s mad about the heroine. Cordelia dates him and makes him think she likes him even though she’s in love with Marcus.

Drama ensues. Some mild nookie. Happy ending.

the lion rock sally wentowrth

The Weird Stuff

This was a perfectly adequate book, not exciting, but worth a couple of hours of reading.

One thing I found funny was that Marcus kept pushing Cordelia away because he thought she was only wowed by his celebrity status. His claim to fame? He’s a writer of popular non-fiction books about history and global politics, not unlike Francis Fukuyama or Thomas Friedman. Fine, worldly men, true enough, but I hardly consider them glamorous sex symbols who seduce legions of 20-year-olds out of their panties.

Come Back to Me Sally Wentworth
Thomas Friedman, our hero?

(Or am I wrong, ladies?)

The other thing that stands out from this book is the–how do I put this?– less-than-gallant attitude depicted toward the Sri Lankan setting. I try to imagine how the brainstorming for this book went on:

Editors: Hullo, Sally, how was your holiday in Sri Lanka?

SW: I hated it. This place sucks; it’s too hot, the food is too spicy, the people are lazy, there are no hospitals, the native dances stink, the local guys are creepy. Ceylon, pardon, Sri Lanka, is lost without Europeans to guide it. But at least there are some nice Buddhist statues to take pictures of.

Editors: Great. Now you know our readers love those exotic settings, so we want you to set your new book there. Make it as authentic sounding as you can.

SW: Oh, I‘ll make it authentic all right. (Grumble!)


Final Analysis of The Lion Rock

The Lion Rock by Sally Wentworth was a ho-hum, kind of meh romance but a pleasant enough way to pass the time on a train ride. Despite the book’s odd points, I’ll give it a tepid thumbs up.

3 Stars

Rating Report Card
Fun Factor
Overall: 3


She was more than willing to surrender to love

Never before had Cordelia experienced such desire as she felt for Marcus Stone. And one sultry night in the exotic gardens of his Sri Lankan home, he revealed his own fierce passion for her.

Then suddenly he became remote and strangely reluctant to accept what she wanted to give. “Aren’t you willing to take a risk if you want something badly enough?” Cordelia had asked him.

Marcus had shown he was a risk-taker in other ways. But now he was clearly showing Cordelia that he didn’t want her.