too many husbands

Category Romance Review: Too Many Husbands by Elise Title

category romance
Too Many Husbands by Elise Title
Rating: four-half-stars
Published: 1990
Illustrator: Cinille
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Temptation #282
Published by: Harlequin
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 212
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader

Category Romance Review: Too Many Husbands by Elise Title


A Christmas Romance Filled With Merriment

There are Christmas tales that inspire, ones that make us cry, and others that make us laugh with the joy of being alive. The Harlequin Temptation romance, Too Many Husbands by Elise Title, falls into the latter category. It’s a zany romp of a romance that could have been an old-fashioned screwball comedy on the live screen.

What does a woman do when she has not one, nor even two, but three husbands coming over for Christmas?

No, this is not a remake of the 1940 romantic comedy of the same name starring Fred MacMurray and Jean Arthur. Nor is it related to the similarly-styled film My Favorite Wife, which starred Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. Even so, you can see their influences, as Too Many Husbands is as silly and enjoyable as those films.

The Wacky Plot

At only 28, Casey Croyden’s a hotshot in the commercial real estate market. Due to her laser-beam focus on business, she has one failed marriage behind her. When the largest Japanese hotel chain owner decides to set his sights on the US market, Casey is just the one to make the deal.

The only impediment is that Toho, the owner of the hotel chains, is a “traditional” man. This means he might not accept entering into a deal spearheaded by a single woman whose focus is solely on her career. So Casey concocts a plan to have Toho and his wife Akiko stay with her in a huge rented house in a cozy New England setting with Casey and her husband. That is, an actor hired to play her husband.

Enter John Gallagher. He’s Casey’s new next-door neighbor. His unexpected arrival on her doorstep has Casey mistaking him for the actor she hired. She plants a big kiss on him, to John’s bewilderment, and acts as if they’re madly in love. John, to his benefit, plays along.

It Gets Even Wackier

Things take a wacky turn when David, the real actor, shows up. Caught in a trap of her own making, what’s Casey to do? What would any good actor do? Improvise! David is relegated to Casey’s brother, who’s also spending Christmas with them.

Remember, though, this is called Too Many Husbands, not One Husband Too Many. Who else turns up? Casey’s ex-husband, Wes. Casey and her ex aren’t on bad terms, but his appearance is bound to cause confusion. As a result, he’s given the role of a family friend.

To make the situation even more insane, John’s ex-wife, Brenda, appears. An ex-wife would muddy the waters more, so she’s presented as Casey’s best friend.

If you’re counting, that’s three husbands and two wives, not including Toho & Akiko. That makes for a winning combination as a full house beats out a three-of-a-kind hand!

It’s a full house indeed when Casey’s PA drops by to check on how the merriment is progressing. She’s shocked to find her normally cool-headed boss all distressed. What’s with this Christmas tomfoolery?

Somehow Casey should be out of her mind trying to broker a deal with Toho, all while trying to keep up appearances. John is her solid rock, and she can’t help but rely upon and be attracted to him. The pair are forced to share rooms and matching robes. “The Walls of Jericho” (a reference to the famous 1930’s comedic romance It Happened One Night) are raised to keep things platonic.

John is even described as looking like Clark Gable. (Although he looks nothing like him on the cover!) John remains a man of mystery, as we never learn much about him. We do know that he has no feelings for Brenda, their divorce was amicable, and he only has eyes for Casey.

Final Analysis of Too Many Husbands

Too Many Husbands is a hilarious romance. Nothing is meant to be taken seriously except the love story. As said, this book is a screwball comedy in the style of films from the 1930s and 1940s.

Have you ever seen the Frasier episode “The Two Mrs. Cranes,” where Daphne, wanting to fend off an old boyfriend, pretends to be married to Niles? Then Roz shows up and pretends to be Nile’s wife, “Maris,” who is “married” to Frasier. And the cop father pretends to be an astronaut? That was one of the funniest moments on television, and that’s what this book is like. One bit of slapstick silliness followed by another!

An epilogue wrapping up this story would have been the perfect bow to add to this gift of a Christmas romance. There are some loose ends, so it’s not perfection. But whether it’s Christmas or any time of year, Too Many Husbands is an exceptional, sidesplitting tale that will keep you smiling for a long time.

Rating Report Card
Fun Factor
Overall: 4.8


Naughty and Nice…

All Casey Croyden wanted for Christmas was a husband. Not a permanent one – just a man to play the part and help her impress the traditional Japanese businessman she was entertaining over the holidays. Sounded simple enough. Hire one from Actor’s Equity.

When John Gallagher arrived on her doorstep, the attraction between them was no act. And the debonair Mr Gallagher was no actor! Casey didn’t have the faintest idea who he was, but she had no time to trifle over details. Especially over the other minor glitch in her plan…what to do with him when the lights went out!

Too Many Husbands by ELISE TITLE
Forbidden Fantasy cinille

Category Romance Review: Forbidden Fantasy by Tiffany White

category romance


A Book Burned Forever in My Memory

I burnt the beans!

Whenever I hear of Forbidden Fantasy by Tiffany White (aka Anna Eberhardt), a category romance from the 1990s, that’s the first thought that pops into my head. Then I recall the sweet twist that the plot hinges upon.

An Editor’s Choice pick for the Harlequin Temptation line, Forbidden Fantasy was a book I enjoyed, sure enough. Although I wouldn’t rank it as an all-time great, it is etched forever in my mind.

The Plot

In Forbidden Fantasy, Zoe is in Paris trying to put as much distance between herself and a bad relationship–namely, her marriage to her ex-husband. He was a cop who spent too much time at work and too little with her, both physically and emotionally. So she left him behind and fled to Europe on a voyage of self-discovery.

Now Zoe’s got French friends and loves to shop in the city. On one of her forays, she realizes a handsome American man is stalking her. What starts as a flirtatious game turns into a sensual love affair. Grey is everything her husband wasn’t: a good listener who shares his feelings with Zoe and is eager to spend time with her. What’s more, he’s a sensual, giving lover who engages in erotic delights that Zoe could have never imagined.

Is this passionate romance the real thing? Or is Zoe’s past too much of a burden to overcome, and she simply is enjoying a rebound fling?

The sex scenes in this book are not graphic. They focus very much on feeling and desire. My attention was certainly captured by their sensual nature.

Highlights include Zoe’s French friend, who is “man-hungry” in an adorable way, plus Grey makes for a sexy hero. Zoe’s character is probably the least memorable of the three. All in all, this was a fine romance, and I would recommend it to readers looking for a quick bit of escapism.

No Beans About It (A Side Story Not About the Book)

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The Burnt Pot

So about the beans. I was in 7th grade, home from school, sick. My mother worked about five minutes from our house, so she came home during her lunch break. The beans had soaked overnight, so she put them in a pot to boil. Then she sternly reminded me that they should simmer on low for a little over an hour. I nodded in understanding, and she left back to work.

My siblings were either staying late after school or at daycare, so I had the house to myself for several more hours. I lay down in my upstairs bedroom and started to read this book.

At a little past 4, I heard my mother’s car pull into the driveway. Oh crap!

I ran downstairs. The house was filled with smoke.

My mother, who had a legendary temper, was infuriated! Not only would there be no beans to eat with dinner, but they had also burnt for so long that the pot was ruined, too.

I Hate Beans

So, these must be some beans, you might ask.

Ehhh. They might be the best damn beans on Earth. My siblings certainly love them.

As for me? Please don’t ask me to cook my mother’s white rice and pinto beans–or any other of her rice and bean recipes. For I’m sad to say when she goes, her recipes go with her. (Her Dominican cake with dulce de leche is another story.) Two of my sisters love her rice and beans but hate to cook. One loves to cook but is agnostic when it comes to beans. And while I enjoy cooking, I cannot stand the taste and pasty texture of beans.

Black-eyed peas, Pinto, black beans, cannellini, don’t care, I hate them all.

God bless my mother; she worked hard to stretch a dollar and feed five kids, so rice and beans–or “arro’ y ‘bichuela'”–was a staple of my young life. Except for Fridays. Then, we had eggs or bacalao–salted codfish–which I did like. Typically, though, some kind of rice with some form of bean was always served as dinner.

Rice, I have made peace with. The evil legume, however, is still my hated enemy. Peas are fine, though, as long as they’re fresh. Lentils, I abhor. While I pose as an epicurean, my stomach is that of a three-year-old child, for I am a shamefully picky eater.

forbidden fantasy tiffany white

Final Analysis of Forbidden Fantasy

As long as I have a memory, Forbidden Fantasy by Tiffany White is a romance I will never forget reading. Hopefully, if you pick it up, you’ll feel the same way.

But for a different reason.

4 Stars

Rating Report Card
Fun Factor
Overall: 4


A stranger was stalking her…seducing her

When Zoe fled her humdrum life to do everything she’d never dreamed of doing in Paris, she’d never, even in her wildest dreams, imagined meeting a man like Grey. He was her every forbidden fantasy and he wanted her…body and soul.

Grey challenged her to explore intimacy, to share her deepest, most private dreams and secrets. Even as his passion thrilled her, Zoe knew this was not reality. What they had was only an affair – and she needed to choose….

Her lover or her husband?