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raptures rage

Historical Romance Review: Rapture’s Rage by Bobbi Smith

historical romance review
Rapture's Rage by Bobbi Smith
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1983
Illustrator: Unknown
Imprint or Line: Zebra Historical Romance
Published by: Dorchester, Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 480
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Rapture’s Rage by Bobbi Smith

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Rapture’s Rage by Bobbi Smith, originally a Zebra romance, and then reissued by Dorchester’s Leisure imprint.

The Plot

The book begins with a backstory about the father of Renee Fontaine, the heroine of Rapture’s Rage.

Cliffs’ Notes version: Roger Fontaine, Renee’s father, meets Anne Chase-Parker. They fall in love and get married. He becomes stepfather to her daughter, Elizabeth. Later, Anne and Roger have a daughter, Renee.

Anne dies from fever. Roger goes into deep mourning. Elizabeth is taken away by maternal grandparents.

Elizabeth later marries Marshall Westlake, the hero of the book and a prosperous lawyer in St. Louis. Their marriage is not a happy one, due to Elizabeth’s fears. She dies trying to kill their unborn child.

Fast forward several years.

Renee is now 16, Roger has passed and she is going to live with her aunt, Elise, in St. Louis. Renee is courted first by Marshall’s brother, James, a ship’s captain. The Westlake’s family business is shipping. Marshall is the outlier.

He quickly bows out gracefully upon realizing she only has eyes for Marshall. James will get his own love interest in another book.

Renee and Marshall fall in love, marry, and for a spell, are happy. Their happiness is imperiled, however, by three people. They are: Juliana Chandler, Marshall’s ex-lover, who vows to break up the couple, and Wes and Frank Maguire, two outlaws who Marshall sent to jail.

The brothers break out of prison. With Juliana’s help, they attack Renee and Marshall She is injured as they kidnap and torture him.

Renee moves back to Louisiana and discovers she is having Marsh’s baby. He is later rescued, but believes she is dead.

Renee and Marshall reunite, have a few rocky moments but overcome them, have their own child, a son, and have their Happily Ever After.

The Upside

Ms. Smith does a good job of exploring her characters’ emotions, even her minor ones.

Ms. Smith made me feel Marshall’s despair when he is kidnapped and isolated in a very small room.

She made me feel Renee’s pain when she thinks Marshall is dead, and everything in between.

The Downside

Rapture’s Rage has a misleading back cover. At no point is Renee afraid of Marshall, nor does he hate her for a significant length of time. Marshall does get upset on a few occasions with Renee, and she with him, but this is nowhere near the “fear” and “hatred” the back cover trailer would lead readers to believe.

A bigger issue for me is Ms. Smith’s use of a trope: jilted ex-lover of hero conspires with evil malefactors to attempt to injure or kill hero and heroine. This is a trope used by Ms. Smith not only in Rapture’s Rage, but at least four other books by Ms. Smith.

I do understand it’s difficult to come up with new material every time someone writes something. I find it difficult to come up with new things every time I write a review, which is why I don’t come up with new things! But it would have been nice to see Ms. Smith not use the same storyline on a frequent basis.

Sex

Ms. Smith is not an erotic author by any stretch of the imagination. Her love scenes are, at best, lukewarm.

Violence

Marshall and Renee are attacked by the Maguire brothers and their gang. Renee is shot, and Marshall is assaulted and imprisoned. Later, the Maguires are shot by a posse. Renee slaps Marshall during an argument.

The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line on Rapture’s Rage

Rapture’s Rage is not a 5 star book, but it fits solidly into the 4.0-4.25 range.

4.13 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
4
Characters
4.5
Writing
4.5
Chemistry
3
Fun Factor
4.5
Cover
4
Overall: 4.1

Synopsis

SHE FEARED THE MAN SHE LOVED
At sixteen, Renee Fontaine’s cascading black hair and soft, full curves drew the suitors of St. Louis like bees to spring’s first flower. But the dazzling beauty had eyes only for Marshall Westlake, the handsome lawyer who detested women and scorned love. Though his cold-hearted rudeness frightened her, the innocent young woman couldn’t get him out of her mind–and knew he was the one man she would ever want!

HE HATED THE WOMAN HE CRAVED
A disastrous marriage that ended in tragedy made Marshall swear never to care for a woman again. Yet he hungered for Renee’s caresses, thirsted for her pink-lipped kisses–and despised her for making him want to protect her. Unable to deny the pleasure of desire, he bent her to his will. In a stormy night of ecstasy, he assaulted her senses and stole her innocence, showing her the anguish and delight of…RAPTURE’S RAGE

RAPTURE’S RAGE by BOBBI SMITH
savage surrender case cassie edwards

Historical Romance Review: Savage Surrender by Cassie Edwards

book review historical romance
Savage Surrender by Cassie Edwards
Rating: two-stars
Published: 1987
Illustrator: Don Case
Book Series: Savage Secrets #1
Published by: Charter, Dorchester, Ace, Leisure
Genres: Historical Romance, Western Romance, Native American Romance
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Buy on: Amazon

Historical Romance Review: Savage Surrender by Cassie Edwards

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book and Characters

This review is of Savage Surrender, book #1 in the “Savage Secrets” series by Cassie Edwards.

(Reviewer notes: The original version was published by Charter/Ace in August 1987. Savage Surrender was later republished by Jove (May 1991) and then Leisure (May 1996). The “Savage Secrets” series is NOT to be confused with the “Savage” series, which Mrs. Edwards also wrote.).

Heroine: Brenda Denise Pfleugger, 17, Red hair, blue eyes. Pioneer’s daughter.

Hero: Striped Eagle, 25. Black hair, brown eyes. Future chief of the White Bear band of Ojibwa Indians.

The Plot

The book begins in Minnesota, circa 1840, at the home of the Pfleugger family, consisting of father Harrison, mother Carole, and their two children, daughter Brenda Denise, 17, and the heroine of the book, and son Tommie, 5. Sadly, this will be the last night the Pfleuggers spend together. Soldiers, led by the villainous Major Joseph Partain, attack their home.

Only Brenda survives the attack. She escapes to the woods. Striped Eagle, the hero of the book and an Ojibwa Indian, finds her and saves her life. He takes her to his village. There, they become lovers.

Brenda gets into constant battles, pulled in different directions. On the one side is her love for Striped Eagle. On another side is her desire for revenge. And on yet another side: Striped Eagle’s sister, Morning Flower, and her hatred of Brenda.

In the end, Brenda and Striped Eagle marry. Major Partain is killed. Morning Flower grows to accept Brenda as Striped Eagle’s wife, and they have their Happily Ever After.

Savage Surrender, Cassie Edwards, Dorchester, 1999, cover artist TBD

Upside

Mrs. Edwards is an excellent atmospheric writer, meaning she describes scenes in a way that allows me, as a reader, to feel like I am there as an observer as opposed to simply reading words on a page or screen. One other highly underrated and appreciated part of Mrs. Edwards’ work is the research she has done into her Tribe of the Book language and customs; there are many books about Native Americans that don’t do so the way Mrs. Edwards’ books do.

Downside

Let’s start with the characters. Although Brenda checks off some boxes for romance novel heroines: she’s beautiful and has a great body, she is also young–she’s 17–and impetuous. These qualities lead her into trouble multiple times, which Striped Eagle has to rescue her from (she extricates herself in one instance). It’s not fair to call Brenda a Simpering Sara but rather a Perilous Penelope.

At the beginning of the book, Striped Eagle is a bit of a bastard. Almost immediately upon meeting Brenda–and knowing she just witnessed her family’s murders–he’s pressing her to have sex with him, which is at best insensitive and at worst incredibly sleazy.

He only becomes more sensitive and caring when his father dies, making him the chief of his band of Ojibwa. There is no character development or depth, and the supporting characters only exist as foils for Brenda and Striped Eagle, neither of whom is strong enough to truly lead a book.

Sex

Mrs. Edwards usually writes great love scenes. Her love scenes are quite muted here in Savage Surrender.

Violence

Assault, attempted rape, battery, knifing, shootings, and killings take place in the book. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line of Savage Surrender

Savage Surrender is not a great start to Mrs. Edwards’ “Savage Secrets” series.

Tropes: Historical romance. Native American hero.

Location: Minnesota, 1840.

2.24 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
2
Characters
2.5
Writing
2
Chemistry
3
Fun Factor
2.5
Cover
4
Overall: 2.7

/


Synopsis:

Love’s Captive
Strong-willed and beautiful, Brenda had escaped the brutal muderers of her pioneer family. Her anguish and fury were then challenged by the savage wilderness, where her only hope for survival lay in the forceful bronzed arms of an Ojibwa warrior. Striped Eagle was the kind of man she had been raised to fear – the kind of man whose dark, smoldering gaze unleashed her heart’s forbidden temptations.
Passion’s Slave
She was his – body and soul. The burning touch of his lean, muscled torso against her tender flesh aroused the sweetest rapture of desires unknown. The probing heat of his kiss blazed a trail of unexplored ecstasy. And his loving embrace awakened a hunger for more. While defying her future and daring to avenge her family’s enemies, Brenda would share with Striped Eagle a love that triumphed in the flames of eternal desire and…

SAVAGE SURRENDER by CASSIE EDWARDS
Paradise and More

Historical Romance Review: Paradise and More by Shirl Henke

historical romance review
Paradise and More by Shirl Henke
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1991
Illustrator: Pino
Book Series: House of Torres #1
Published by: Dorchester, Leisure
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper
Pages: 443
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonThriftBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Paradise and More by Shirl Henke

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book and the Cover

Paradise and More by Shirl Henke is memorable to me for having one of the most eye-catching covers in romance. A dazzling beauty by Pino Daeni, it features a fully naked couple in a glorious clinch, their nudity covered by some strategically placed flowers and the book’s title.

Lamentably, I have a later reissue where their nakedness is hidden behind a respectable-looking stepback. Why would anyone want to hide that stunning beauty?

As for the book itself? I was conflicted. It’s both excellent at times and frustrating at others.

The Old World

A swashbuckling historical, Paradise and More is the first entry in the House of Torres duo. This romance is in late 1400s Spain. This is a seminal time in history with Columbus’ exploration into the “New World.” This was months after the expulsion of Jews from Spain. The Catholic Monarchs of Castile and Aragon had just reconquered the Iberian Peninsula from the Muslims who had entered Hispania 700 years prior.

Lady Magdalena Luisa Valdes–for some unfathomable reason–falls madly in love at first sight with Aaron “Diego” Torres, the son of a wealthy converso family (a Jewish family that converted to Catholicism).

Aaron is arrogant and contemptuous of Magdalena, a wonderful character with the kind of fortitude that makes a heroine legendary. Beautiful and kind-hearted, Magdalena has to navigate court intrigues to avoid the eyes of the Reyes Católicos. This is to say, the King’s wandering eyes and the Queen’s jealous ones.

To flee from prejudice and persecution, Aaron decides to travel the uncharted seas with Columbus as his second-in-command, to search for new lands. Meanwhile, Magdalena befriends Aaron’s family, becoming like a second daughter to them.

After a successful conquest, Aaron returns to find Magdalena living in his parents’ household. He takes advantage of her crush on him and forces himself upon her. After ravishing her, he leaves to return to the newfound colonies. The Torres family demands honor and avow their wayward son must marry their darling Magdalena.

Destiny has tragedy in store for the House of Torres, as they are accused of heresy by the Inquisition and then executed.

The New World

Alone in the world, Magdalena has but one mission in her life: to be with the man she loves. She follows Aaron across the ocean to Columbus’ settlement in Hispaniola. Despite his contemptible behavior towards her, Magdalena still wants to marry Aaron.

However, when Magdalena arrives, she finds Aaron already has a mistress, the Native Princess, Aliyah. What’s more, Aliyah is pregnant with Aaron’s child.

As a lone European woman in Hispaniola, Magdalena draws much attention from men, including the brothers of Columbus. Aaron cannot deny the allure she holds. And though he will never be forced to do anything against his will, Aaron knows his family’s final wishes were for him to marry Magdalena.

The tropical backdrop makes an appropriate setting for their heated attraction. Their passion for each other grows to a climax. After they marry, Aaron and Magdalena find that their adventures together are just beginning. Aaron’s spurned mistress connives with the villains to destroy him in every way she can. Aaron and Magdalena must work together to overcome even more obstacles.

Final Analysis of Paradise and More

I loved that Paradise and More took us to late 15th-century Spain, an era I can’t get enough of. Columbus’ expedition into the Americas was an unusual backdrop for a romance. Shirl Henke did a great job capturing the era, even though her protagonists were sometimes a bit too modern in their thinking.

This epic, late-era bodice ripper is a tumultuous read that features a loveable, resilient heroine, but the hero is a bit of a jerk and not in a good way. Although I must say, the love scenes were…oh my! ¡Muy caliente!

The first half of this book was so good and filled with action: bloody sword fights, the hero’s entire family being killed, forced seduction, and the spanning of years & continents. Although, when Magdalena got to Hispanola, the pace slowed down a bit.

Aaron was a douche canoe. If not for the machinations of the scorned “other-woman,” Aliyah, the last half would have dragged needlessly.

All in all, I found Paradise and More to be a mostly diverting historical romance that took both history and romance seriously. This had a great cover, a likable heroine, and a unique setting. It needed a to-die-for hero to elevate it to a spectacular level.

For those curious to continue the story, the love lives of Aaron’s two sons are told in the sequel, Return to Paradise.

4 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
4
Characters
3.5
Writing
4
Chemistry
4.5
Fun Factor
4
Cover
5
Overall: 4.2

Synopsis

Second in command to Cristobal Colon, Aaron sets sail for the Indies seeking adventure in the new world and fleeing persecution in the old. Caught between King Fernando’s desire and Queen Ysabel’s jealousy, Magdalena follows the man she has always loved to the ends of the known world and beyond. Drawn together across religious barriers and storm-tossed oceans, they discover a lush paradise fraught with danger and desire.

PARADISE AND MORE by SHIRL HENKE