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the treacherous heart gignilliat

Historical Romance Review: The Treacherous Heart by Angela Alexie

historical romance review
The Treacherous Heart Rating: one-star
Published: 1980
Illustrator: Elaine Gignilliat
Published by: Fawcett
Genres: Historical Romance, Regency Era Romance
Pages: 286
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: The Treacherous Heart by Angela Alexie

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

The Treacherous Heart by Angela Alexie is a tale of a Gaelic, black-haired, fiery-spirited lass forced by circumstances to become a thief to provide for her family, only to be thwarted by an arrogant, scar-faced, golden-haired Duke…

Don’t Tell Me You’ve Heard This One Before!

Hmm. Where have I heard this plot before? Oh yes, Laurie McBain‘s Moonstruck Madness!

Sadly, that’s where the similarities end. If you remove all the intelligent writing, the interesting side characters, and the sexual chemistry between the leads from McBain’s book, we have this dull, meandering read.

Except for Jennifer Blake, I’ve come to find that Fawcett-published romances were rarely ever excellent, and this dud is another to put in the slush pile.

The Plot

The Treacherous Heart begins one day in Lancashire, England. Some drunken soldiers looking for excitement come upon the house of the Avory family. They ransack the home, kill the dog, the Irish-born widow Lady Delilah, and her young son before raping the teenage daughter.

The eldest sister and heroine, Raven, was not in residence while this occurred. She arrived only in time to witness the aftermath of her home’s destruction. So Raven flees with her sister Crystal to London to find comfort with relatives.

While her relations are suitably affluent, Raven and Christie find their financial circumstances are tenuous at best. A greedy land manager’s mishandling of their estate has left them destitute.

Raven enters Society, going to balls while escorted by her adoring cousin Wesley, who is gaga over her. At a masquerade, she meets the Duke of Dorchester, Eric Draquewall, our hero, who is predictably cold and arrogant. The duke glares at Raven and then insults her, but to his shock, her response is to laugh in his face, causing the duke to vow that he’ll teach the haughty chit a lesson!

Responsible for her convalescing younger sister and reliant upon the charity of relatives, Raven decides she’s too good to marry a wealthy chinless wonder. Within mere pages (by page 35), she decides to be a thief. She steals jewels and precious items from the gentry who welcomed her into their homes.

Soon, tales of the audacious jewel thief make the rounds. The burglar is given the moniker “The Black Cat.” (Get it? The heroine is named Raven and has black hair and green eyes, just like a black cat! Just like a cat burglar. And nobody even knew. Does that blow your mind, or what?)

The Romance

Jealous of Raven’s close relationship with her male cousin, the handsome Duke of Dorchester hires an investigator to find out if they’re secret lovers.

By page 60, he finds information that proves Raven is behind the jewel-napping antics. Dorchester could reveal her secret.

However, as Eric is attracted to Raven–what do you think that glaring and insulting was all about? That’s how these old-school romance heroes showed how much they liked a girl–he decides to blackmail her into being his mistress.

Or his wife.

Or mistress. Eric’s not really sure. All he knows is whatever Raven’s got under her velvety skirts, he wants in on that.

Raven finds that she responds to Eric’s caresses, despite her initial distaste towards any physical touch.

Raven was so disturbed by the brutality perpetrated upon her sister that she vowed no man would ever touch her.

Ironically, Crystal, the one who was violated, had an easy time finding healing through romantic and physical love. Okay, people react differently to trauma. Perhaps in the hands of a nuanced author, Raven’s survivor’s-guilt aversion to sex would have been a compelling part of her character. Alas, it isn’t. It’s just a plot contrivance to keep the hero and heroine from getting together. Circumstances occur mechanically here, without any flavor.

It Keeps Going and Going and Going…

And so Eric and Raven engage in a cat-and-mouse-will-they-or-won’t-they game for a few more pages.

Eric befriends Raven’s sister, showing he’s a nice guy. Eric’s mother thinks Raven would make the perfect wife for Eric. Raven resists the thought of marriage to this wealthy, handsome, friendly, attractive Duke because… Reasons?

When cousin Wesley finds out that Eric has been less than honorable with Raven, he challenges the Duke to a duel. Wesley is wounded in the swordfight, Eric gets scarred, and later Raven’s sister gets married. Then Eric sweeps Raven off to his estate, declaring his love for her before they finally get it on.

But Raven can’t be with Eric, because remember reasons!

So she flees to America to mooch off other family members, and The Treacherous Heart is only halfway through, and… OMG, make it stop!

Eric follows Raven to America, blah, blah, blah, a possible other woman makes an appearance, blah, blah, blah, Eric and Raven reunite, blah, blah, blah, villain seeks revenge, blah, blah, blah, happy ending.

Final Analysis of The Treacherous Heart

Events happened in Angela Alexie’s The Treacherous Heart. Characters engaged in dialogue, and time passed on, yet it was so dull.

All the pieces were in place, but the story was lifeless, like a dead frog connected to a car battery by jumper cables. Turn the ignition all you want; there’s just no spark here, no animation.

When boring writing is combined with a drawn-out, pale imitation of a superior work, it makes for a 1 star read. In this case, as I do appreciate the Elaine Gignilliat cover, I’ll give this sucker approximately one-and-a-half stars.

Rating Report Card
Plot
1
Characters
1
Writing
1
Chemistry
1
Fun Factor
0.5
Cover
4
Overall: 1.4

1.74 Stars


Synopsis

The lady was a thief, the gentleman was a rogue. Their stormy romance defied propriety with a daring covenant of love.
Dire circumstances had left the beautiful young Lady Raven Avory bereft of family and funds. A desperate situation demanded a desperate remedy, and so she began stealing small jewels from the wealthy who had welcomed her as a guest.

She had not counted on being caught at her game, especially not by the handsome Duke of Dorchester. Suddenly she found herself forced into his debt, into his arms, into a star-crossed affair that would sweep her into a whirlwind of tangled hearts and the most brazen ecstasies of love.

The Treacherous Heart by Angela Alexie
desert hostage gignilliat

Historical Romance Review: Desert Hostage by Diane Dunaway

historical romance review
Desert Hostage by Diane Dunaway
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1982
Illustrator: Elaine Gignilliat
Published by: Dell
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Harem Romance
Pages: 474
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Desert Hostage by Diane Dunaway

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

Other than E. M. Hull’s masterpiece, The Sheik, or Johanna Lindsey‘s Captive Bride, the Dell-published Desert Hostage by Diane Dunaway would qualify as my most-liked sheik romance.

Harems and desert sheiks romances aren’t usually my cup of tea, as I prefer historical heroes to be swordsmen, cowboys, or knights. Nevertheless, a man like Karim, who is passionately devoted to his heroine, makes for a great hero, and a romance with such a male protagonist will certainly catch my interest.

The Plot

Desert Hostage is another book where the half-European, half-Arab sheik carries off his object of desire into the sandy dunes and makes her his.

The story starts with a bang, where we read about Karim’s mother and her desert abduction at the hands of a ruthless sheik. She plots and manipulates to have her son be taken to Europe, where he will be educated and ”civilized.”

In England, Karim then meets and falls for Juliette, a lovely and genteel young British woman. He pursues her with restrained fervor. Karim does his gallant best to woo Juliette. But Juliette is so dumb that she can’t make up her mind about what she wants in life.

There is a love triangle where Juliette can’t decide which man she wants. The other man is nothing compared to Karim, and it’s obvious who she should choose!

The middle of Desert Hostage lags a bit as Juliette is incredibly annoying with her indecisiveness. She also speaks in hushed whispers, like a Barbara Cartland heroine…very…slowly…like…this…

Then Karim finds out that Juliette is the daughter of his father’s sworn enemy. She has toyed with his heart as all evil British women do to men, as Karim thinks.

She will receive her due punishment, and Karim will have his revenge! He turns from a once gentlemanly suitor into a man set upon vengeance, and Juliette will pay dearly for treating him so callously!

While there is a harem here, it’s only featured briefly, as this story is a one-man-one-woman romance. Karim is a dedicated, faithful hero who is incredibly appealing.

Final Analysis of Desert Hostage

I read Diane Dunaway’s Desert Hostage not too long ago and found it a wonderful romance, just with a few lagging moments.

The hero is strong and powerful but not viciously cruel. Juliette is not a memorable heroine; it’s Karim who really makes this one shine.

I’ve put this book in storage for the time being, as one day, I will have to dig it out to give it a reread. It’s certainly worth it.

4 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
4
Characters
3.5
Writing
4
Chemistry
3.5
Fun Factor
4
Cover
5
Overall: 4

Synopsis

The Searing Passion, The Savage Ecstasy…..

Behind her lay England and her innocent first encounter with love. Before her lay a mysterious land of forbidding majesty. Kidnapped, swept across the deserts of Araby, Juliette Clayton saw her past vanish in the endless, shifting sands.

Desperate and defiant, she sought escape only to find harrowing danger and to discover her one hope in the arms of her captor, the Sheik of El Abadan. Fearless and proud, he alone could tame her. She alone could possess his soul. Between them lay the secret that would bind her to him forever, a woman possesssed, a slave of love.

DESERT HOSTAGE by DIANE DUNAWAY
highland tryst

Historical Romance Review: Highland Tryst by Jean Canavan

Highland Tryst, Pocket Books, 1986, Elaine Gignilliat cover art

Tapestry Romance #85

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

1 star

Rating: 1 out of 5.

The Book

Let me spoil this turkey and save anyone who’s even contemplating reading this mess of a book their valuable time. As far as I know, we only live one life, and there’s no reason to spend a moment of it in undeserved agony.

(Highland Tryst is also about 30 years out of print, so I don’t feel too bad about hurting anyone’s career.)

The Plot

Kathlyn and Alex are from warring Scottish clans. When Highland Tryst begins, they are already lovers, frequently meeting for very intimate encounters. They’ve seen each other naked, inside and out. They know what the other looks like, sounds like, smells like…

So to be totally clear: they’ve HAD SEX WITH EACH OTHER MANY TIMES.

Their families discover the affair. The secret lovers are cruelly separated. Kathlyn flees from her family into the wilderness and comes into danger.

Duncan, an ugly, deformed stranger, rescues her. His looks repel Kathlyn at first. He cares for her and shows her his gentle nature. Duncan is so kind that eventually, they fall in love.

And HAVE SEX.

So now, Kathlyn is torn between two men. On the one hand, there is her handsome former lover. On the other is the kind–yet ugly–stranger who saved her.

Guess what? There’s a twist…

Duncan is actually Alex! He was in disguise the whole time. With a bit of mud here, some padding there, a change of facial expressions, and viola! He created a new secret identity that only he and the plastic surgeons of the 21st century could master.

All is well and Kathlyn and Alex have their HEA.

Final Analysis of Highland Tryst

Highland Tryst by Jean Canavan. What can I say about it? It was dumb… Just dumb.

And boring, to boot!

Rating Report Card
Plot
0.5
Characters
0.5
Writing
1
Chemistry
0.5
Fun Factor
0.5
Cover
4
Overall: 1.2
masquers-gignilliat

Historical Romance Review: The Masquers (aka Splendid Torment) by Natasha Peters

historical romance review
The Masquers (aka Splendid Torment) by Natasha Peters
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1978
Illustrator: Elaine Gignilliat
Published by: Ace
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Renaissance Era Romance
Pages: 475
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: The Masquers (aka Splendid Torment) by Natasha Peters

The Book

Natasha Peters’ Splendid Torment–originally published as The Masquers–takes us to late 18th-century Venice. It is the world of Fosca Loredan, a titian-haired young noblewoman who is trapped in a loveless marriage to a much older nobleman.

It’s an unusual romance, in the style of Bertrice Small sans purple-prose: part bodice ripper, part historical fiction, replete with swashbuckling and political intrigue.

The Plot

Two heroes are vying for Fosca’s attention. There is Raffaelo: an atheist, revolutionary, bastard Jew. The other is Alessandro, a middle-aged, philandering, anti-Semite politician.

But this love triangle is in reality a quadrangle. The fourth player is Lia, a woman who will do anything with anyone to save her true love.

Besides this adulterous entanglement, the book has several highlights. They include a Dynasty-style catfight, a Sapphic May-December love affair, and an omniscient dowager who hasn’t left her bed in 20 years. And oh yes a singing eunuch and a cross-dressing, dancing dwarf!

One gripe: Fosca’s inability to think with anything other than her hoo-hoo is frustrating. The girl is recklessly horny and could well have benefited from a chastity belt.

In fact, they all could have used one. These guys got around!

splendid torment the masquers
Splendid Torment, Natasha Peters, Ace, Elaine Gignilliat

Final Analysis of The Masquers (aka Splendid Torment)

The Masquers is the third Natasha Peters romance I’ve read. The others being Dangerous Obsession and Savage Surrender. I enjoyed them all. She skillfully wove history with melodrama and created flawed, yet all-too-real characters in over-the-top scenarios.

Despite being morally repugnant, all the players in this game captured my sympathy. As such, I was both saddened and pleasantly surprised at the result of the love triangle. There was one hero I cared for who was left behind, while the other got his unexpected happy ending.

This epic drama spans decades as characters are too proud and stubborn to communicate, thus leading to their own downfalls. Characters rarely tell the truth to themselves or others, hiding behind their Carnival masks.

But what a dazzling Carnival it is.

4 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
4
Characters
4
Writing
4.5
Chemistry
4
Fun Factor
4.5
Cover
4.5
Overall: 4.3

Synopsis

Venice. A city of intrigue, a city of beauty, a city of exquisite sensuality….

In the late 18th century, during the days of a dying aristocracy, of never-ending Carnival and unbridled licentiousness, Venice teems with mystery and immorality. Gondolas glide soundlessly through narrow canals, carrying masked lovers to secret trysts, while cicisbei play court to bored noblewomen.

Such a woman is the magnificently beautiful Fosca Loredan. Her husband, Alessandro, is the ambitious leader of the aristocracy. Her lover is the bold revolutionary, Rafaello Leopardi – Alessandro’s deadliest enemy.

The flaunting of their passion before her husband’s eyes leads to imprisonment, exile, and treason.

Raf, Alessandro, Fosca – a triangle that sizzles with the heat of passion, that fire of hate; a triangle of emotional torture and delight that could happen only in the treacherous, the beautiful, the sensual city of Venice.

THE MASQUERS (aka SPLENDID TORMENT) by NATASHA PETERS