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transcendence

Pre-Historical Romance Review: Transcendence by Shay Savage

 stone age romance transcendence
Transcendence by Shay Savage
Rating: five-stars
Published: 2014
Illustrator: Unknown
Book Series: Transcendence #1
Published by: Shay Savage LLC
Genres: Historical Romance, Pre-Historical Romance, Science Fiction/ Futuristic Romance, Time Travel Romance
Pages: 312
Format: Audiobook, eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonThriftBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Pre-Historical Romance Review: Transcendence by Shay Savage

We’re Reviewing a “Modern” Romance for Opposite Day

[NOTE: This “Opposite Day” review was intended to post yesterday. Unfortunately, personal responsibilities came first, and my plans for the day fell apart. I had originally intended to post four articles related to this topic. I still might publish them, as Opposite Day is an upside-down, inside-out, topsy-turvy occasion. — J. Diaz, 1.26.2023]

It’s Opposite Day today, January 25, 2023. So instead of a review for an old-school retro romance novel, we’re discussing something more modern: a caveman romance.

Okay, sure, the following book was published eight years ago. It’s not the hottest new read. Still, this is one of our favorite love-stories from the last 23 years. As far as we old dinosaurs at Sweet Savage Flame are concerned, it’s modern! (The date of publication is, anyway. The setting for this romance is the Paleolithic Stone Age.)

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

Shay Savage’s Transcendence is no great work of literature; I admit that. It’s Twilight fan-fiction with a twist.

The plot is not complex. This is a romance novel about a time-traveling teen girl who finds love thousands of years in the past with a caveman who acts like her protective puppy dog.

I have never read any of Stephenie Meyer‘s Twilight books nor have I seen the films. I’ve never desired to, although I did read a sample chapter long ago. Even so, I know more about the series than I care to.

If the names of the main characters weren’t Ehd (Edward) and Beh (Bella), I never would have caught on. Other than the hair colors and the fact that the hero is *OMG* so possessive, I don’t see any similarity between the two romances. There are no feuding groups, love triangles, baseball games, or battles.

It’s a primal story of a brutal, natural world, a lonely man, a frightened woman, and their enduring love for one another.

The Characters

Transcendence is told from the first-person perspective of a prehistoric young male named Ehd. His family is dead, so he lives alone, surviving through his strength and hunting skills. Interesting to note that Ehd lacks the ability to speak, but he can think and reason.

One day Ehd comes upon a beautiful young female who, for no apparent reason, seems terrified, She produces a lot of loud, shrieky noises with her mouth.

This frightened woman strikes a “primitive” chord in this primitive male, and he wants to protect her. Even more, he desires to pair-bond with her.

Ehd calls the woman Beh. Over time, they learn to communicate with one another using a fusion of body language, facial expressions, and sound. Beh astonishes Ehd with her capabilities. She can create fire and build structures his mind could never have conceived. Ehd recognizes how valuable this astounding female’s worth is.

The Plot

Ehd had been so lonely, with no clan to help him survive the cold nights, he had almost starved to death. Beh alone was more capable than a good-sized clan! With her skills and knowledge, and Ehd to protect and provide, they could create a clan of their own.

Ehd’s sole purpose is to please Beh, to keep her safe, and hopefully mate with her so he can put his baby inside her.

The reader’s perspective is limited to what Ehd experiences. Since the reader–presumably–has a higher IQ than Ehd and should be familiar with aspects of living in the present world, it’s evident that Beh is no cavewoman. She is a girl from the 21st century who accidentally finds herself catapulted back to the dawn of humanity, somewhere in the mid-to-late Paleolithic Era.

How could that happen?

80% of the book is just Beh and Ehd alone, dealing with the severe environment.

There’s almost zero spoken dialogue throughout, except for a few grunted words. (Which melted my heart!)

Transcendence is a simple, bare-bones love story between a young, frightened girl and a young, frightened male trying to survive in a heartless world. Together.

My First Impressions

I loved this book! I can’t believe the intensity this made me feel. Sure enough, I cried like a baby reading it. Must have been my time of the month. (If that comment offends you, you are on the wrong site).

Transcendence is a remarkably straightforward and increasingly repetitive story. I’m not knocking its simplicity, as I adored this romance. To be frank, however, it was written on a sixth-grade reading level. The terms baby, mate, or put a baby in my mate show up on every other page!

Transcendence was quite basic and crude, with a minimal plot, but it had its charms! I suppose it appealed to my inner 12-year-old, a being I did not know was still in existence.

More likely, it shares a startling similarity with the film I consider to be the most romantic ever (with a happy ending): “Quest for Fire.”

caveman romance
Quest for Fire

In a caveman romance, it makes sense that the hero is all:

“You, my woman. I, your man. We are mated. I protect you. I throw you over my shoulder. We make many babies.”

Some Book Blogger Paraphrasing Grunts into Words

That attitude doesn’t work for me in contemporary romance or most other genres. But here in the Stone Age, it works; it makes sense.

About the Unique Hero

I’ve seen many readers label Ehd an Alpha male, but he came off as totally Beta to me. Maybe my definition of an Alpha male isn’t jiving with the accepted definition of the word.

He was a caveman, yes, but an eager-to-please, genuinely nice one. Alphas are independent males who, through their strength, vitality, or charisma, convince other men to follow them to their deaths. They can seduce women and make them hyper-ovulate with just a steely glint in their sensual eyes.

Ehd wasn’t independent at all. The loyal guy he was, he wanted nothing more than to be with Beh, forever by her side.

Ehd was constantly thinking:

“I want protect mate. I never let mate out of sight. I growl at all who comes near mate.

“My penis is hard.”

Still that book Blogger Lady

He reminded me of my dearly loved and long-departed American Eskimo dog. He was poofy, insanely loyal, hated being alone, loved to cuddle, barked at all strangers, and had constant erections when he was happy.

eskimo dog
My old American Eskimo doggie, standing by, ready to defend his pack from all sources of danger, be it squirrel, bird, or UPS delivery man.

Some readers have assumed that Ehd is a Neanderthal, with a sloping forehead and a mouth full of huge teeth. But in her introduction to her book, Shay Savage states he is part of the early “Homo-Sapien” species. It’s just that he lacks the ability to speak. Artistic license and all that.

So rather than looking like this:

romance caveman quest for fire
Handsome fellow, eh?

Ehd looks more like this:

caveman romance
He cleans up nice for a caveman.

Final Analysis of Transcendence

Shay Savage’s Transcendence was a unique experience, told from a rare (for me, anyway) male 1st-person-POV. This worked on adding a sense of confusion to the story.

A young girl is propelled back in time, and we, the readers, must put the pieces together to figure out what’s going on.

As much as I loved this caveman romance, I hope there is no sequel or one of those alternate POV sequels. (Ugg. There is).

The story finishes rather definitively. There are some hanging questions, but the ending was an ending for me. It was both a bittersweet and happy ending. One of the best endings I’ve read in a long time.

What can I say? Sometimes a story appeals beyond all rationalization and reason.

I loved Transcendence.

“ehd luffs beh”

-ACTUAL QUOTE FROM TRANSCENDENCE BY SHAY SAVAGE
SPOILER ALERT ⚠
Do NOT Read This Unless You Really, Truly Want To

The ending: after many years together, producing many children and grandchildren, Beh dies of old age and illness while Ehd holds her in his arms, lets the fire in the cave burn out, and dies lying next to her, heartbroken. Just like a loyal doggie would.

Rating Report Card
Plot
5
Characters
5
Writing
4.5
Chemistry
5
Fun Factor
5
Cover
4
Overall: 4.8

Synopsis

It’s said that women and men are from two different planets when it comes to communication, but how can they overcome the obstacles of prehistoric times when one of them simply doesn’t have the ability to comprehend language?

Ehd’s a caveman living on his own in a harsh wilderness. He’s strong and intelligent, but completely alone. When he finds a beautiful young woman in his pit trap, it’s obvious to him that she is meant to be his mate. He doesn’t know where she came from, she’s wearing some pretty odd clothing, and she makes a lot of noises with her mouth that give him a headache. Still, he’s determined to fulfill his purpose in life – provide for her, protect her, and put a baby in her.

Elizabeth doesn’t know where she is or exactly how she got there. She’s confused and distressed by her predicament, and there’s a caveman hauling her back to his cavehome. She’s not at all interested in Ehd’s primitive advances, and she just can’t seem to get him to listen. No matter what she tries, getting her point across to this primitive but beautiful man is a constant – and often hilarious – struggle.

With only each other for company, they must rely on one another to fight the dangers of the wild and prepare for the winter months. As they struggle to coexist, theirs becomes a love story that transcends language and time.

Transcendence by Shay Savage
CATEGORIES: , , , , , ,

***

nancy gideon midnight

Paranormal Romance Review: Midnight Kiss by Nancy Gideon

paranormal romance
Midnight Kiss by Nancy Gideon
Rating: three-half-stars
Published: 1994
Illustrator: Richard Newton
Book Series: Midnight Vampire #1
Published by: Pinnacle
Genres: Historical Romance, Regency Era Romance, Paranormal Romance, Vampire Romance
Pages: 398
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Paranormal Romance Review: Midnight Kiss by Nancy Gideon

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

Midnight Kiss by Nancy Gideon is a vampire romance from way back in 1994.

Nancy Gideon is an author I’m familiar with only through her identity as Dana Ransom. As Dana Ransom, Gideon has written some of my favorite historical romances.

Although I’ve read a few vampire romances, I’ve never been a sucker for them, so this Halloween I decided to bite my teeth into Gideon’s Midnight Kiss. (The puns are awful, aren’t they?)

The Characters and the Setup

Set in Regency Era England, Midnight Kiss begins with man prowling the dark London streets. This man is no man, however; he is an immortal–a vampire named Louis.

Marquis Louis Radman is desperate to find a cure for his preternatural malady. He has spent one hundred thousand nights wandering through the cities of Europe for sustenance, cursed as one of the–surprisingly many–undead who exists by drinking human blood.

Like vampires of legend, he cannot die a natural death. A stake through the heart or sunlight can destroy him. Nor can Louis tolerate the touch of a crucifix or the smell of garlic.

Driven mad by his doomed eternal state, he seeks the help of Stuart Howland, an English physician who specializes in bloodborne illnesses. Dr. Howland attempts to cure Louis of his vampiric disease by experimenting with blood transfusions.

Meanwhile, Louis is drawn to the doctor’s lovely assistant, his daughter, Arabella–the OG Bella of vampire romances.

The Plot

Arabella is a clever and capable young miss who didn’t fair well in her only London Season due to her outspoken personality. Although she doesn’t fully comprehend the nature of Louis’ illness, she is drawn to the dark, mysterious man who can only be seen at night.

Louis is enchanted by Arabella and vows if he can live as a mortal, he will make her his bride.

Another man has eyes for Arabella, and his fiendish attempts to make her his will draw a horrific danger close to home.

At last, when the treatments seem to work, Louis and Arabella marry. Inexorably drawn to Louis, Arabella has no idea what evil lurks ahead. The pair have a passionate start to their relationship, believing a bright future lies on the horizon.

Recall that Louis is not the only vampire who walks the earth. He shares a turbulent connection with a several who will seek him out and try to take the life of his innocent human bride.

When the truth of her husband’s nature is unveiled, will Arabella be horrified by his monstrosity? Or will she become drawn to him even more?

The Conclusion: Spoilers ⚠

Louis cannot escape his past, as he is a being trapped in time. The vampire who created him is obsessed with him and hunts him down. Death awaits.

By the end, Louis and Bella vanquish some of his enemies, while others survive for another day.

Husband and wife leave England to flee to Vienna. Arabella is pregnant with Louis’ child, and a world of possibilities lies before them.

However…

SPOILER WARNING

Arabella’s father dies before he can find a cure for Louis’ vampirism, so Louis is doomed to remain undead. Arabella remains mortal and will die of old age.

In following sequels, after Arabella’s death, Louis finds love with several other mortal women.

Thus breaking the HEA rule of romance!

For that reason, I don’t think I’ll be finishing the series. Knowing this also affects my perspective on this book, and reduces my enjoyment factor. YMMV, but I’m a stickler for for the rules.

Final Analysis of Midnight Kiss

I wish I had read Midnight Kiss when it came out in 1994. At 16 years old, that would have around the end of my vampire-craze phase. The 1992 film Bram Stoker’s Dracula & 1994’s Interview With the Vampire, along with Anne Rice’s Vampire series (up to Tales of the Body Thief–oh, Lestat, how I loved you!), the Dark Shadows TV reboot, and a life-long adoration for Christopher Lee led to my passion for blood drinkers.

Alas, I no longer hold vampires in the same romantic light I did back then. The angsty themes of eternal suffering while existing as a human-but-not-human once fascinated me. It’s all a bit too emo for me, now.

Still, I found Midnight Kiss to be engaging, if a bit overwrought. I’m not certain if Nancy Gideon was the first author to pen a full-length vampire romance. Undoubtedly, she was one of the firsts. So I commend Gideon for trying something innovative and fresh–as this was thirty years ago.

Nevertheless, I know there are better vampire romances the genre has to offer.

Midnight Kiss was the first in a long-running series. I’d rate Midnight Kiss 3.5 stars if I view it as a standalone. Since I’m not continuing the series, I’ll keep that rating.

3.5 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
3.5
Characters
3.5
Writing
4
Chemistry
4
Fun Factor
3.5
Cover
3
Overall: 3.6

Synopsis

WHITE ROSES
They were a gift from her handsome new suitor. After a wretched Season in London, Arabella Howland was ripe for a real romance. But she soon discovered that the Marquis Louis Radman was no ordinary bachelor…

SCARLET SECRETS
A mysterious blood malady had brought Louis to Arabella’s father. The celebrated Dr. Howland was his last hope–the only man alive who could break the spell that had tormented the nobleman for the past three centuries…

DARK DESIRES
But Arabella saw only a man–a tender, irresistibly seductive stranger whose burning touch sent her own blood racing. Yet even as she donned a wedding dress and vowed to love Louis forever, the past was reaching out to claim him, calling him back to a place of eternal lust and longing–and forcing Arabella to choose between her sunlit world and the dark ecstasy of a…Midnight Kiss

MIDNIGHT KISS by NANCY GIDEON
THIS RAVAGED HEART

Historical Romance Review: This Ravaged Heart by Barbara Riefe

barbara riefe historical romance review
This Ravaged Heart by Barbara Riefe
Rating: three-stars
Published: 1977
Illustrator: Betty Maxey
Book Series: Dandridge Trilogy #1
Published by: Playboy Press
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Paranormal Romance, Time Travel Romance, Romance with Rape Element
Pages: 414
Format: Paperback
Buy on: Amazon
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: This Ravaged Heart by Barbara Riefe

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book – This Ravaged Heart

This Ravaged Heart by Barbara Riefe–aka Alan Riefe–is a 1970’s Playboy Press bodice ripper. This weird work of fiction sold almost two million copies; no joke!

While it wasn’t a great book, it had enough bizarre twists to qualify for a grudgingly positive review.

This was one freaky-deeky read.

A Weird, Wild Trip

This Ravaged Heart opens up with Ross Dandridge aboard a ship that is headed from England to the USA. He has brought his bride, the English Rose, Lisa, to meet his wealthy shipbuilding family in Rhode Island.

They make love on the ship while sailors bet on when the pair will finally leave their room for some fresh air. And that’s it for romance.

That’s right. The hero and heroine have already met, fallen in love, and gotten married before the book starts, so what the hell else is there?

I tend to enjoy bodice rippers penned by male authors as they usually bring a lot of crazy fun into their works.

However…

Unlike Mr. Melissa Hepburne, who knew how to keep the pages turning with rompy, rapey/forced seduction stupidity…

Or Mr. Janette Seymour, who threw bodice-ripping tropes one after another, handled with surprising grace and sentiment…

Or Mr. Jennifer Wilde, with his penchant for verbose purple prose and clothes porn…

Barbara Riefe/ Alan Riefe is like a monkey banging away on a typewriter, putting letters onto paper in random chaos, attempting for anything remarkable to appear.

And sometimes it does, but there are a lot of dull parts to trudge through to get to them.

The Plot?

Ross has zero personality and is really quite stupid. Lisa has a good head on her shoulders, but the situations she’s in aren’t that engaging, despite how bat-guano-crazy they seem. Don’t expect any fun between Lisa and Ross; they’re separated for almost the entire book. Yup, this is a romance novel, just one without any romance.

The best thing about This Ravaged Heart is Lavinia. In her early 40’s, Lavinia is Ross’s aunt, who is engaged to her brother-in-law, Ross’s father. However, she hungers for her nephew, Ross–and shockingly, it’s revealed she is actually his mother!

Her twin sister was unable to conceive, so Lavinia switched places with her. She slept with her sister’s husband and gave birth to Ross in secret while the wife pretended to be pregnant.

And Lavinia’s a witch. Not just any old witch, but one in league with Satan’s minions, a witch who engages in sexual romps with other local witches, and has the devil’s demon, Ledion, lusting after her for hot demonic sex.

Her lack of remorse for her evil deeds and incestuous love, her unwillingness to surrender in the face of failure, and her tireless efforts to get what she wants, made Lavinia the star of the show.

Lavinia plots to get rid of Lisa and does so in a completely unexpected way. Lisa is retro-incarnated back to England in the 1660s into the body of a dying blonde. Lisa awakens to a confusing world that her post-Enlightenment, Industrial-Age mind has trouble accepting.

Then Lisa is raped various times by wicked men, makes some friends and loses them, is jailed for murder, and becomes a witch so that she can get back to her beloved (but absolutely boring) Ross.

Sounds exciting, right?

My Opinion

Well, it’s okay, but not great.

Plus, the last third of this book really draaaaagsss. Thank the Devil for Lavinia’s malicious, murderous and incestuous shenanigans. She knows how to get what she wants.

He had adored her, reveling in her body, in her movements, unable to control his passion. She laughed…a man half her age, in the prime of his youth and in one hour she had worn him down to the brink of exhaustion. It was fantastic, too beautifully barbarous to be believed. Her own flesh and blood, her own fetus grown to manhood had fallen in love with her!

It’s so freaking sick, but that’s Lavinia.

Warning to Book Collectors About the Paperbacks

Sidenote: These 40-year-old Playboy books were made of really crappy material.

My edition looked as if was in good condition but literally disintegrated in my hands: falling apart, piece by piece, the glue cracking in the spine, the cover chipping and tearing until it fell off completely.

Even my old Zebras have withstood the test of time and various re-reads with ease.

Fortunately, I had 3 extra copies of this “romance “(don’t ask me how or why!). This Ravaged Heart is notable for being one of the first romance novels to have a full-stretch cover clinch instead of a smaller image centered in the middle.

Either Barbara Riefe ‘ripper or Kathleen E. WoodiwissShanna was the first to have this style. Both novels were published in 1977. In my opinion, Betty Maxey‘s artwork isn’t as memorable as H. Tom Hall‘s illustration.

Final Analysis of This Ravaged Heart

So This Ravaged Heart by Barbara Riefe is the first in a series of three novels. Which I have to read since I own them.

Although I’m not feeling compelled to do so anytime soon. Alan–that is, Barbara–may have gotten the WTF factor of bodice rippers right. But there are no romantic elements or engaging leads to draw me in.

This was supporting character Lavinia’s book to shine. The main characters blew.

Still, I had to give this an overall positive rating. If not for the romance, just for Lavinia’s wicked, son-loving heart, with her ridiculous Satan-worshipping, witchy antics, and of course, her cat, Mody, who was all kinds of awesome.

Rating Report Card
Plot
3
Characters
3.5
Writing
2.5
Chemistry
2
Fun Factor
3.5
Cover
3
Overall: 2.9

Synopsis:

Lisa Allworth Dandridge, a young English bride, came to America as mistress to a vast shipping fortune. Desperately in love, she and her dashing husband, Ross, never dreamed that they would soon be parted by malevolent forces beyond their control.

A powerful story of one woman’s tender love and another’s overwhelming jealousies. Their struggle for the same man sweeps across continents and across time – from the 19th century world of aristocratic splendor to plague-ridden London; from the heights of passion to the darkest pits of hell. It is a magnificent novel of star-crossed lovers caught in a web of horror.

THIS RAVAGED HEART by BARBARA RIEFE