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2 star rating

Historical Romance Review: Autumn Dove by Sylvie F. Sommerfield

book review historical romance
Autumn Dove by Sylvie F. Sommerfield
Rating: two-stars
Published: 1989
Illustrator: Pino
Imprint or Line: Zebra Historical Romance
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Native American Romance, Western Romance
Pages: 478
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Autumn Dove by Sylvie F. Sommerfield

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Autumn Dove by Sylvie F. Sommerfield, a standalone Zebra romance from January 1989.

The Plot

Starting in 1865, on the Kansas/Colorado border, readers meet Zachary Hale Windwalker. Zach, who is half-white and half-Cheyenne, is trying to discover who is running guns to the plains Indians. This, plus, stirring them up to fight the whites who come into the area.

Meanwhile, back in Washington, D.C., Tara Montgomery, 19, has just lost her parents in a carriage accident. With nowhere else to turn, she decides to go west to live with her brother David, a soldier stationed at Fort Lyon.

She signs on to a wagon train, which Zach is leading. He doesn’t want her there, for several reasons, which are quickly revealed.

As the train makes its way west, Tara and Zach become lovers, but also at odds with each other.

The wagon train makes its way to Fort Lyon, where Tara discovers David isn’t there; he’s on assignment from the Army.

We also learn a bit more about Zach; his mother, Karolyn, who was white, was a teacher. She fell in love with Zach’s father, Waiting Wolf. When Karolyn passed, Waiting Wolf married a Cheyenne woman, Singing Grass, Zach’s stepmother, and they had a son, Little Raven.

Little Raven soon gets into trouble sneaking into the fort. He and Zach are arrested and sentenced to hang. They escape as Zach takes Tara hostage.

Readers also meet Tara’s older brother, David, 25. David has issues he’s trying to resolve in his life as well. He’s in love with a Cheyenne woman, Small Fawn. He doesn’t know how his parents–whom he doesn’t know are dead–or Tara will handle this news.

In the end, the gunrunner is caught. David marries Small Fawn. Tara and Zach have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

The best part of Autumn Dove is the second half of the book. It is here that Tara and Zach realize that they love each other and she is able to get him to let go of some of his bitterness regarding his treatment at the hands of white people.

Downside

In order to get to the second half of the book, however, one has to go through the first half, and the first half is…meh.

There is no emotional juice here, at all. There is also no character depth or development. Mrs. Sommerfield never made me care about any of the characters, beyond the fact that they were in the book.

It feels very much like Mrs. Sommerfield fell into the “Readers Are Supposed to Care” trap. In Autumn Dove, Mrs. Sommerfield believes “Readers Are Supposed to Care” because:

  1. Tara lost her parents and has to go to live with her only other relative, David, her brother.
  2. Zach is hurt by being shunned by whites for being half-white, half-Cheyenne.
  3. David is concerned about being shunned and his life because he is in love with Small Fawn.

It is possible I COULD have cared about any or all of those things if Mrs. Sommerfield gave me a reason to do so. She didn’t. The ending of the book is highly disappointing, not to mention boring.

Sex

Multiple love scenes involving Tara and Zach, and one involving Small Fawn and David. None of these love scenes are exciting, interesting, or hot. These love scenes have all the heat of cold water.

Violence

Assault, attempted rape, battery, kidnapping, and “off-screen” killings. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line On Autumn Dove

Mrs. Sommerfield tilled this ground-and in a much better way-in her earlier book, Savage Rapture.

Autumn Dove is a major disappointment.  

Rating Report Card
Plot
2.5
Characters
2.5
Writing
2.5
Chemistry
1
Fun Factor
1.5
Cover
4
Overall: 2.3

Synopsis:

HATE COLD AS THE WINTER SNOW
When her parents died without a cent, innocent Tara Montgomery had no choice but to head for Fort Lyon to reunite with her soldier brother. The independent miss never dreamed of the journey’s perils – and the worst was her suntanned, buckskin-clad wagonmaster Zach Windwalker. His disdain of women traveling alone infuriated her; his grisly stories of Western life annoyed her. But Zach’s masterful lips upon her sensitive flesh drove her to distraction. Even as Tara swore to dispise him forever, the passionate pioneer was guiding his hands to her buttons, her chemise…and to the wildly beating heart beneath!

LOVE HOT AS THE SUMMER SUN
Half-breed frontiersman Zach Windwalker didn’t need a tempting morsel like Tara Montgomery in his life – not when he was on the verge of trapping the gunrunners who were supplying the Cheyenne. The virile tracker planned to almost seduce the untouched beauty to scare her back to Washington D.C. But at the moment the strong-willed male should have pushed her away, he pulled Tara even closer. With only the vast plains and distant hills as witness, Zach was as single-minded as the invincible American eagle as he swooped down with unwavering passion upon his unresisting, gentle AUTUMN DOVE.

AUTUMN DOVE by SYLVIE F. SOMMERFIELD
tempt not this flesh

Historical Romance Review: Tempt Not This Flesh by Barbara Riefe

historical romance review
Tempt Not This Flesh by Barbara Riefe
Rating: two-stars
Published: June 1, 1979
Illustrator: Jordi Penalva
Book Series: Lorna & Paul Trilogy #1
Published by: Playboy Press
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Romance with Rape Element
Pages: 400
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Tempt Not This Flesh by Barbara Riefe

The Book

Barbara Riefe’s Tempt Not This Flesh was yet another inexplicable bestseller for the gender-bending author whose real name was Alan Riefe. It’s a 1970s bodice ripper Playboy Press published that has very little romance, includes some rape, and lacks any real excitement.

One wonders how desperate readers in the 1970s were for anything interesting to happen in their “romances.”

The Heroine

Lorna, the heroine of Tempt Not This Flesh, definitely deserved a better book than the one she was forced to partake in. Really, with quotes like this:

“Every day, almost every hour a new problem cropped up, piled upon the other like [kindling] piling around Joan of Arc at the stake. Still, whatever had happened, whatever was to come, this Yankee was no martyr; come what may, [Lorna] was not about to be a human sacrifice on the altar of this old man’s insatiable ambition. A pawn in his game, perhaps, but only until she could turn the play around and checkmate him.”

Or this one, which shows she is much too smart for this mild turkey of a bodice ripper:

She could never love him again, what woman with pride and self-esteem and memory could? It was like being brutally raped, only to have your assaulter satisfy his lust, then turn around and propose marriage. His logic, his love-supplanted-by-hate-which-in-turn-could-be-supplanted-once-again-by-love idea was false. Absurd as far as she was concerned.

so wicked the heart
So Wicked the Heart, Barbara Riefe, Playboy, 1980, Sanjulian cover art
(Book #2 in the Lorna & Paul trilogy)

The Plot

Poor Lorna only wanted to enjoy her honeymoon and make love to her husband.

That’s how the book starts, with Lorna Singleton-Stone, formerly of Hanover, New Hampshire, USA, and her husband Philip making love at an inn in Boston. But before the night is out, her husband is brutally murdered right before her eyes, and Lorna is kidnapped and set on a ship headed to a nightmare.

A nefarious Count holds Lorna held captive in the small kingdom of Savoy. He has plans for her, as a crazy king and wicked queen rule during turbulent times. Except for her hair color, Lorna looks. almost identical to Queen Caroline-Louisa. The Count forces Lorna to pose as her double. He has her head s shaved as smooth as a freshly-shat-out egg, thus cementing the frightening trauma that begins.

Many evildoers threaten Lorna with torture, terrorize her, and attempted assassination. She raped several times (really raped, no forced seductions here).

But her will is steel. She will not break. Lorna may be forced into this game of madness, but she plans to survive at all costs.

Along the way, she meets and falls for Paul, the Queen’s lover, who has a secret plan of survival himself. Twists and turns occur. Sadly, though, what started out as a promising adventure turned into a slow, painful slosh through muddy waters.

Final Analysis of Tempt Not This Flesh

You know the meme with the guy with the awesome sideburns, who rages on about “The rent being too damned high!”? In this book, “The paragraphs were too damned long!” It was full of info-dumps that bored me and caused me to skim.

A lot.

A whole lot, especially past the halfway point when all I wanted was to get it over with!

By the end, my eyes couldn’t handle those page-long paragraphs on yellowed paper. Or the words in a faded size-8 old-timey serif font. (What is the name of that font, anyway? It’s not Baskerville, right? I should know this!)

Yeesh, it turns out that trying to find a great read in these old Playboy Press books is akin to dumpster diving. You hope to find an untouched 5-star gourmet meal sealed up in one of those fancy take-out aluminum-foil swans. But…

It’s possible, for sure. However, it’s a messy slog to get there. And there’s a 100% chance you’ll end up with lots of stinky crap in your hands first; if ever you do find one.

P.S. If anyone knows the name of that font/typeface that many of these old books were written in, let me know. [Somehwere from the mid-1950s to the early-1980s era. I feel like an idiot not knowing something so basic. Thanks.

Rating Report Card
Plot
2.5
Characters
3.5
Writing
2.5
Chemistry
1.5
Fun Factor
1.5
Cover
3
Overall: 2.4

Synopsis

Tempt Not This Flesh is a story of abduction and sexual enslavement, a story of passion unleashed and unbounded. And above all it is the story of a woman’s love, shattered like glass, then resurrected, rekindled by a dashing captain of dragoons. A love so powerful it is forged into a weapon that topples a dynasty. 

TEMPT NOT THIS FLESH by BARBARA RIEFE
savage obsession Kursar

Historical Romance Review: Savage Obsession by Cassie Edwards

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Savage Obsession, book #1 in the “Chippewa” series by Cassie Edwards. (Note, only the first two books in the “series” appear to be related to each other).

The Plot

The book begins in Minnesota in 1859 in a remote area outside of modern-day St. Paul. It is here that Lorinda Odell, 17, the heroine of the book, lives with her father, Derrick, her mother Mavis, and her 5-month-old sister, Amanda. The Odells are not a well-off family, and so Derrick’s sister, Rettie, who owns a boarding house in town, urges Derrick and Mavis to let Lorinda stay with her for a better life. They reluctantly agree.

Lorinda runs into problems in town, however, namely being accosted, kidnapped, and nearly raped by Lamont Quimby, owner of a mining camp and one of Rettie’s boarders. She is saved from him by Yellow Feather, the hero of the book. Yellow Feather is the son of–and therefore future chief of–a band of Chippewa Indians led currently by his father, Chief Wind Whisperer.

As their relationship deepens, Lorinda and Yellow Feather face many challenges:

The kidnapping of Amanda by Sioux Indians after they kill Derrick and Mavis; Amanda is later rescued.

Another villain, Silas Konrad, tries to rape Lorinda.

Flying Squirrel, Yellow Feather’s friend, is far less a loyal friend than Yellow Feather believed at one time.

Foolish Heart: Before being banished for her actions, she was one of Yellow Feather’s wives. Another wife, Happy Flower, is pregnant with his child. She is used and abused by Quimby before being abandoned.

By the end of the book, Amanda is found, Lorinda and Yellow Feather-somewhat-reconcile with Rettie, Lorinda gives birth to a son, Gray Wolf–who gets his own story later–,and Lorinda and Yellow Feather have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

Mrs. Edwards does a lot of research into each Tribe of the books that she writes about, and it shows.

Downside

Although I am a fan of Mrs. Edwards–mostly for her love scenes–I am also not unaware of her many issues as a writer. Mrs. Edwards’s career essentially ended after being accused by the romance novel blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. of being a plagiarist.

Then there is the fact that Mrs. Edwards’ novels, especially her Native American books, are horribly formulaic. That formula, which is on full display in Savage Obsession, goes like this:

The beautiful, innocent, naive, sweet heroine, who is almost always Anglo, meets and falls in love with handsome, noble, strong, Indian brave, who is ALWAYS either the chief or son of–and therefore future chief–of his band of the Tribe of the Book.

After they fall in love, the hero and heroine’s love is threatened by the Evil White Man, the Evil Indian Brave, and/or the Evil Indian Maiden. While these efforts ultimately fail, the Evil characters do manage to cause the hero and heroine pain and suffering before the hero and heroine find happiness. (All of the above characters appear in Savage Obsession. Quimby and Konrad are the Evil White Men, Flying Squirrel is the Evil Indian Brave, and Foolish Heart fills the Evil Indian Maiden quota).

I didn’t find either Lorinda or Yellow Feather particularly likable. Lorinda is whiny–although to her credit, she kills Quimby as he’s trying to rape her. But Yellow Feather is an obnoxious, unfeeling individual whose verbal tone toward Lorinda is described–constantly–by Mrs. Edwards using the adjective “flatly”. The “romance” between Lorinda and Yellow Feather is very much a Stockholm-Syndrome type of romance with little to no passion or tenderness.

Sex

Mrs. Edwards’s love scenes are the best part of her books for me. They aren’t super erotic all the time, but she is willing to occasionally add some pepper to the soup.

Violence

Savage Obsession contains scenes of assault, battery, attempted rape, and murder. Most of the scenes aren’t graphic.

Bottom Line on Savage Obsession

Mrs. Edwards’ books are like going to a fast-food chain restaurant. You pretty much know what you’re going to get. From what I read of others’ reviews of her books, there is no middle ground with Mrs. Edwards’ work. Some love her, and others absolutely hate her. I’m kind of in the middle.

Savage Obsession won’t make anyone a fan of Mrs. Edwards’ work who wasn’t already one.

2 Stars


Synopsis:

POSSESSED BY HIS STRENGTH
Orphaned when Indians slayed her parents, kidnapped by a lustful lumberjack, stunning Lorinda was sure nothing worse could ever happen in life… until she saw the broad- shouldered, copper-skinned brave towering over her. Instant terror made her shiver with fear, but shameless instinct made her tremble with desire–and somehow she felt that her fate would always he bound to his.

CHARMED BY HER BEAUTY
As Yellow Feather gazed at his white captive’s satiny mane of auburn hair, he was compelled to caress her creamy skin and gentle curves. His burning touch commanded her to respond to his ardor; his enflamed need demanded she return his love. The handsome Indian wanted her to be more than his prisoner; he wanted a woman to possess forever. And, deep inside, Lorinda sensed he was so much more than a heartless captor–he was the only man for her. He was her…

Savage Obsession by CASSIE EDWARDS
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
the wild one

Historical Romance Review: The Wild One by Danelle Harmon

Synopsis:

England, 1776:

Lord Gareth de Montforte is known as an irresponsible rake with a heart of gold. When he takes a bullet for boldly thwarting a stagecoach robbery, he is stunned to discover that the beautiful young woman he has heroically rescued, Juliet Paige, is his deceased brother’s American fiancée, accompanied by her infant daughter. Despite his brother the duke’s refusal to acknowledge Juliet, Gareth is determined to do right by the courageous woman who crossed an ocean to give her baby her rightful name. But Juliet is wary of marrying this black sheep aristocrat, even while she is hopelessly charmed by the dashing devil.

Never has she met anyone who embraces life so thoroughly, who makes her laugh, who loves her so well. And, even when it seems the odds are against them, Juliet has absolute faith that Gareth will go beyond the call of duty, risking his life itself to give her and her daughter a home — and a love that will last a lifetime.

THE WILD ONE

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book and the Setup

Danelle Harmon’s Georgian-era historical romance series of four brothers and one sister begins with The Wild One. Lord Gareth de Montforte is one of the younger sons of the de Montforte clan. His eldest brother is a Duke. Another older brother, Charles, was a soldier who went to fight in the Americas and is presumed dead. The family will soon find that particular brother left behind some unchecked baggage they will have to carry.

The Plot

Each one of the de Monforte Clan has a moniker describing their personalities. Gareth is an impetuous rake-in-the-making with a heart of gold and is labeled “The Wild One” of the group. He’s like an overgrown frat boy who likes to party with his buddies and play practical jokes. It is upon his irresponsible shoulders where familial duties will fall.

Gareth daringly thwarts a stagecoach robbery and takes a bullet in the process. On that coach is Juliet Paige, a lovely woman who harbors a secret that stuns the de Montfortes. She claims to be dead Charles’ American fiancée and has borne Charles an illegitimate daughter. Lucien, the eldest brother, the Duke, and the family’s patriarch, doesn’t accept Juliet and her daughter as part of the family.

With no one else to do right by her, Gareth, the unlikeliest of brothers to be responsible, offers her his name. Juliet, despite herself, is attracted to Gareth. However, she dithers about her feelings, going back and forth so often and quickly. It was like watching Forrest Gump play Ping-Pong against a Chinese champion.

Juliet bit her lip, her stomach knotting with confusion and, yes, fear. But I don’t love him! I desire him, yes, but what if that’s only because he’s Charles’s brother? What if I only feel that desire because he’s as close as I can get to Charles, the next best thing? I should want this man for being the man he is, not for resembling, or being related to, the man I wish I could have!

THE WILD ONE

Egads, woman, will you make up your mind?

the wild one
The Wild One, Danelle Harmon, 2020 Reissue

A Marriage With Loose Ends

With no one to turn to but some of Gareth’s friends in low places, Juliet finds herself and her daughter spending time in a brothel as their guests. She berates her young husband for going out, getting drunk with friends, and being reckless. Gareth gives it right back to Juliet:

“We haven’t even been married a day, and already it’s obvious that you’re hopelessly out of your element. You have no idea what to do with a wife and daughter. You have no idea where to go, how to support us — nothing. Yet you had to come charging after us, the noble rescuer who just had to save the day. I’ll bet you didn’t give any thought at all to what to do with us afterward, did you? Oh! Do you always act before thinking? Do you?

He looked at her for a moment, brows raised, stunned by the force of her attack. Then he said dryly, “My dear, if you’ll recall, that particular character defect saved your life. Not to mention the lives of the other people on that stagecoach.”

THE WILD ONE

Ouch! 2nd-degree burns all around!

Eventually, Juliet loosens up a tad while Gareth straightens himself out. It’s not the most conventional arrangement, but marrying his dead brother’s betrothed to give his niece a name and home isn’t anything to be ashamed of. The pair find themselves falling for each other, and attraction turns into love.

However… The Beloved One is the next book in the series. Just who is “the Beloved” de Montforte brother? Why it’s the presumed dead Charles, who’s actually alive, and will find love with a new woman in his own book. Oopsie!

I would have preferred The Wild One deal with this juicy conflict as this romance was too breezy and lighthearted.

Final Analysis of The Wild One

I can’t say I loved this book. My quibbles with Danelle Harmon’s The Wild One are all personal. When I dislike the main characters and feel icky about the plot, it’s hard to give a book a positive rating. Sure older brother Lucien, the supposed “Wicked One,” was an intriguing character, but one side character was not enough to make me enjoy The Wild One.

Juliet couldn’t make up her mind about what she wanted. Gareth is a wet-behind-the-ears college boy. While he developed some maturity, I couldn’t see him settling down and becoming a responsible husband and father for the long haul.

Lastly, I couldn’t get over the “yuck” factor of Juliet having an affair with Gareth’s older brother, Charles, bearing Charles a child, and then marrying and falling in love with Gareth. All that, when Charles is very much alive and will be the hero in the next installment of this series.

The writing was decent here, so I can’t fault Harmon for her talents. It was the story that mainly drew me away. I don’t know how I’ll feel about Charles’ story. Maybe I’ll skip over that one and get to Lucien’s instead.

1.85 stars

for the love of sara don sinclair

Category Romance Review: For the Love of Sara by Anne Mather

Synopsis:

Rachel had tried to escape the torture of her thoughts and memories. She had loved Joel–loved him with all the wealth of tenderness and passion she possessed. He had taken her love and destroyed it… Now she heard Joel say, “I know what I always said. And I used to believe it, too. But not any longer. I’ve been a fool, Rachel. You don’t know how much of a fool.”

But it was too late; she couldn’t let herself believe him now.

For the Love of Sara

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book & Characters – For the Love of Sara

For the Love of Sara isn’t one of Anne Mather‘s bests. It features a rather unlikeable hero, which is par for the course for Mather. He’s named, pompously enough, Joel Kingdom. It doesn’t help that he’s a functioning alcoholic who keeps cans of beer in his glove compartment to help him deal with stress.

Plus, Joel has horrible fashion sense. He’s one of those cheroot-smoking males so prevalent in Mather’s books. He shows off his vintage 70’s wardrobe, wears silk shirts open down to his waist, revealing his hairy, medallioned chest. He decks out in maroon velvet tuxedos, lots of tight-fitting corduroy bell-bottoms, and even a sexy matching blue suede suit.

blue suit

Joel Kingdom is a successful artist from a highborn, wealthy family. His father disowned him when he refused to go into the family banking business.

The heroine, Rachel Gilmour, isn’t any better. She’s a professional martyr who’s made a lot of poor life decisions. When the book opens, she’s about to embark on another bad choice, but in this case, she’s doing it to save someone she cares for.

The Plot

Joel’s younger half-brother is concerned he may get written out of their father’s will. Their elderly father is about hop into a third marriage, this time with Rachel.

The kink in the ironworks is that Rachel and Joel had a brief affair several years back. Joel taught art, and Rachel was one of his young students. The fling ended rather abruptly when Rachel thought they had a serious relationship after making love. Joel, for his part, was not ready for anything long-term but was willing to cohabitate. Rachel, who had been a virgin, wanted a lifetime commitment or nothing, so she left him.

Joel is gobsmacked to hear that his father plans to marry his former girlfriend. He finds that Rachel works as a maid for an aged Colonel and seeks her out. What he discovers shocks him. Rachel has a six-year-old daughter named Sara. At first, Rachel tries to convince Joel she’s a widow, then she concedes that Rachel is the result of their one night together.

Because Joel had been so adamant that he was unready for marriage and family life, Rachel didn’t turn to him. Instead, she went to his father, asking for money for an abortion. Of course, she planned for no such thing but needed some income to help her get on her feet until she could find gainful employment.

Rachel reveals she is marrying Joel’s father because he has the financial resources to help Sara, who has a fatal blood-borne disease. Joel is determined to put a stop to this. He never abandoned his child and wants to be in her life now.

However, Rachel’s bitterness regarding Joel’s refusal to marry her in the past controls much of her emotions. She’ll marry James Kingdom, and that’s that.

Joel’s father wants revenge upon his son for refusing to be a part of the family business.

Joel has another woman in his life, but his attraction to Rachel never died out. Now that he knows they share a daughter, he pursues her, intending to marry. Even so, Rachel is irrationally stubborn. What will it take to get these two together?

For the Love of Sara, Anne Mather, Harlequin, 2015 Reissue

Final Analysis of For the Love of Sara

Rachel was a tough character to understand. Her pride was so great; she refused to do what was best for her daughter. Instead, she made a bad situation worse.

Joel didn’t abandon Rachel in her time of need. He simply declared at 28, he wasn’t ready for marriage. That didn’t mean he would have tossed Rachel and his child aside. Rachel really needed to have a deep heart-to-heart with Joel before throwing in the towel and leaving him.

The problem in For the Love of Sara is one so common in romances: a major lack of communication.

These were two people who–in the present time–wanted each other and had a daughter who needed stability. Joel had more than enough money to pay for Sara’s medical bills. Joel was a bit of a player but compared to Rachel’s stupid idea of marrying her daughter’s grandfather (which wouldn’t have been a marriage of convenience, but a real marriage!), displayed a lack of common sense and pettiness I couldn’t get over.

Mather’s prose is always engaging, but this book was a dud.

2 Stars

texas conquest

Historical Romance Review: Texas Conquest by Caroline Bourne

Texas Conquest, Caroline Bourne, Zebra, 1988, Robert Sabin cover art

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

2 Stars

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Reviewed by Blue Falcon

This review is of Texas Conquest by Caroline Bourne. This historical romance is a Zebra Lovegram, published in 1988.

The Plot

Part II

The book starts in London, England, in 1810. Elsa Palmer is searching for her sister, Claretta, who became a prostitute after the death of her husband. He was a man their father didn’t approve of. Elsa convinces Claretta to travel to America with her and Elsa’s husband, William.

Fast forward 22 years. In Texas, on the Brazos River lives Mariah Palmer, 22, Elsa and William’s daughter and the heroine of the book. Mariah lives with Elsa (William has now passed away) and a younger brother, Jessie, who is away but coming home.

Mariah is a steadfast supporter of Texas independence from Mexico, which will place her squarely at odds with her new neighbor, Matthew Cade, the book’s hero. Even though he is an American, Matthew is the right-hand man for General Antonio Lopez y Santa Anna. Santa Anna has ordered Matthew to buy the home of Mariah’s neighbor, Francisco Gomez. He also ordered him to buy the Palmer land and push them out. Naturally, Mariah plans to put a stop to that.

Santa Anna has other plans for Mariah as well. He orders her brought to Mexico to become his latest mistress. Matthew escorts her to Mexico, and on the trip, they become lovers.

Part I

Mariah and Matthew return to Texas and soon travel to New York, where Elsa is having surgery (Elsa is blind from an illness she contracted years ago). While in New York, Mariah attends a party at West Point and is shocked to see Matthew there with another woman. They argue, and Matthew rapes Mariah. Further tragedy follows when Elsa passes away.

Despite these tragedies, Mariah and Matthew marry. She later finds out she is pregnant and discovers family secrets that Elsa kept before her passing. Happiness and tragedy follow as Mariah and Matthew become parents to a daughter, Laureli (pronounced Lorelei). However, another death occurs as Jessie is killed at the Alamo. Or so they think, as Jessie returns alive.

By the end of the book, all secrets are revealed, Mariah and Matthew have their Happily Ever After, and 5-year-old Laureli sings of future love. Will she find it? You’ll have to read the sequel to Texas Conquest, Texas Fire to find out.

Upside

Ms. Bourne is clearly a soap opera fan as she has about ten storylines going in this book, and she does a decent job keeping them going.

Downside

That, however, is also one of the issues I have with Texas Conquest. Most of the storylines appear to be filler to reach a page count (the book is 508 pages), and most of the storylines are unfinished and abandoned.

Mariah and Matthew make for an okay hero and heroine. Mariah is supposed to be a fiery personality, but that is rarely shown. Once Matthew rapes Mariah, he is dead to me. No matter how much Ms. Bourne tries to rehabilitate him–and she does–there is no redemption for a rapist hero. Ms. Bourne never made me care about Mariah, Matthew, or any other character in the book.

Sex

Mariah and Matthew have several love scenes. The scenes are neither graphic, exciting nor erotic.

Violence

There is violence at the Alamo, and Santa Anna threatens to whip Mariah after discovering that she and Matthew are lovers. Most of the violence is “off-screen.”

Bottom Line

Texas Conquest is a frustrating book because there are good elements, but Ms. Bourne doesn’t put them together. Hopefully, she can address these issues in future books.

chance winds of fortune

Historical Romance Review: Chance the Winds of Fortune by Laurie McBain

Chance the Winds of Fortune, Laurie McBain, Avon, 1980, Tom Hall cover art

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

2 stars

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Chance the Winds of Fortune A Disappointing Sequel

Chance the Winds of Fortune is the sequel to Laurie McBain‘s Moonstruck Madness, a romance about a gender-bending highwayman (girl) who falls for an arrogant, scarred Duke, notorious for his dueling skills. I LOVED Moonstruck Madness… The follow-ups to that wonderful book about their daughter, Rhea Claire, Chance the Winds of Fortune & Dark Before the Rising Sun, though…uggh.

Please forgive my bluntness. They’re too long, boring, and stink. Even McBain’s tepid first outing, Devil’s Desire, was better than these.

The two sequels books combine to over 1000 pages, telling the tale of a vanilla-bland daughter of the protagonists of a much more compelling story. Perhaps if McBain had combined both novels into one 700 page epic, I would have found more enjoyment out of the romance.

If you take Chance the Wind of Fortune as a historical adventure, this read might not be so bad. Perspective matters. However, this was not marketed as Historical Fiction, but a Historical Romance, which made all the difference to me.

The Plot

Dante Leighton is titled lord turned pirate. Nefarious deeds have resulted in his having to leave behind his life in England as the Marquis of Jacobi. Now Dante and his crew are after lost gold that’s said to be found in a sunken Spanish ship.

Rhea Claire Dominick is the daughter of Lucien and Sabrina, the hero and heroine of Moonstruck Madness. Returning to this saga is Lucien’s cousin, who vows revenge upon Lucien and his family for killing her brother. Her machinations result in Rhea getting kidnapped.

After a long series of tedious events, Rhea ends up on Dante’s ship, and that’s when the adventure begins.

Oh, did I forget to mention that in this 500+ page tome, Rhea and Dante don’t meet until well over halfway through it! 100 pages, I could have tolerated, but that was way too much exposition to get to the meaty parts. Their romance is maybe 1/5 max of this book.

Chance the Winds of Fortune is one of those pirate books where the entire crew is filled with softies who adore the baby-ish, innocent violet-eyed heroine, Rhea, who farts potpourri. Just as in Moonstruck Madness, there’s a treasure hunt for gold, but the real treasure is true love. *Sigh*

Things do get better at the end with Rhea and Dante’s romance, but at that point, I barely cared. It did bump my rating up from 1 1/2 stars to 2, so bully for that.

Final Analysis of Chance the Winds of Fortune

I have read  Dark Before the Rising Sun, the final book in the series, although it will be a while before a review comes out. Life’s too short to dwell on things you don’t enjoy.

My apologies for sounding like a grouch. It’s that I was so enamored by Moonstruck Madness, I wanted to experience another thrill like it. Perhaps Moonstruck Madness was an aberration for Laurie McBain. Or maybe her novels are fine, and it’s just me. I do have weirdly perverse tastes in books.

The Tom Hall covers lured me in. They often did, as my bookshelves can attest. Avon knew what they were doing, having him illustrate so many covers. That man’s art could sell a pamphlet, or convince readers that anything featuring his dazzling work had to be just as wonderful.

I seem to be a rare dissenter when it comes to negative reviews for Chance the Winds of Fortune, therefore, as always, take my opinion for what it’s worth. (Apparently less than .01 cent a review, so click on more ads, please.😁)

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

To see a Stranger

Category Romance Review: To See a Stranger by Kate Cartwright

To see a Stranger
To See a Stranger, Kate Cartwright, Magnum Books, 1976, cover artist unknown

Magnum Books Blue Fire Romance #4200-86

Spoiler-free review 🙂

2 stars

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Good novel, poor romance

In a way, Kate Cartwright’s To See a Stranger is a fine novel. It’s well-written. It ticks most of the boxes. But it still disappointed me. Why? Because IMHO if a story is labeled a romance, there should be plenty of romance in it. Here there’s hardly any. So I almost didn’t write a review for this blog. But my definition of romance fiction isn’t everyone’s, so here goes.

First, the publishing background, which is sketchy. The paperback I read was issued by Magnum Books, an imprint of Playmore, Inc., Publishers and Waldman Publishing Corp., both in New York. At least that’s what’s listed on the copyright page; some other titles in the series list Prestige Books as the publisher.

But there’s no publication date. Since this same page says the book is copyright 1976 by IPC Magazines, Ltd., To See a Stranger must have been originally published as part of the Woman’s Weekly Library series in the UK. My guess is the Magnum reprint was issued a year or two later.

About the author, Kate Cartwright, I have no information at all. Yes, I looked for it.

“I want to break free!”

So goes a classic rock song by Queen, and it fits how our heroine Roslyn Fenton feels as the novel opens. She’s had it with life in a provincial English village. Especially with two men; one is her control-freak father, with whom she still lives. The other is Evan Witham, the lover who got engaged to her, then suddenly and unceremoniously dumped her for another woman. Roslyn heads for the (fictitious) city of Martsworth, where she finds work as the secretary to an insurance agent.

But her job plays hardly any part in the story. What does is her charitable work at a counseling center, a clearinghouse for information for the poor and marginalized seeking help. It’s run by Robert Greysand, whose heart is in the right place. But he can be just as overbearing as the father Roslyn moved out on.

In helping the needy, she finds herself. Roslyn develops the strength to stand up on her own. She needs it when Evan gets second thoughts and tries to talk her into giving him another chance.

Old love vs. new love

It seems the author intended this novel to be a one woman/two men triangle romance. But it doesn’t work because most of the wordage deals with the heroine’s charity work. What romance there is doesn’t develop until the last quarter of the book. Way too late!

As if that’s not bad enough, there’s plenty of interaction, but no romantic chemistry between the hero and heroine. When their love finally happens, it seems perfunctory. The reader—well, this reader, anyhow—is left wondering what she sees in him, and vice versa. And why it took so long!

Bad timing?

There was a period in my life when I was in a situation comparable to Roslyn’s. I too rebelled against others directing my life. It took a lot of pain, worry, drama, and grief; but eventually I determined that the only person who’d direct my life would be me.

Had I read this book back then, it probably would’ve deeply resonated with me. I would’ve related to the heroine and her situation in a meaningful manner. Alas, that phase of my life was around forty years ago. The central issue of this novel is no longer an issue at all.

So the personal-growth theme failed to move me. All that was left was a sense of disappointment in a romance with too little romance.

Reviewed by: Mary Anne Landers

to cherish my beloved

Category Romance Review: To Cherish My Beloved by Dorothy Heaton (aka Mary Cummins)

cherishmybeloved2
To Cherish My Beloved, Dorothy Heaton, Magnum Books, 1977, cover artist unknown

Magnum Books Blue Fire Romance #4200-81

Spoiler Free Review 🙂

2 stars

Rating: 2 out of 5.

A Promise Not Delivered

I’m very fond of the line of Magnum romances published during the seventies. Someone was carefully curating the best products of the big British publishers for reprinting in the US. Often the result was a winner. But often isn’t always.

First published in 1976 by IPC Magazines Ltd. in the Women’s Weekly Library series, To Cherish My Beloved by Dorothy Heaton in its 1977 Magnum reprint caught my eye with an intriguing blurb and a gorgeous emo clinch cover; wish I knew who created it. The first few chapters presented a fascinating situation. I just had to find out what happened next!

A lot of stuff did, but overall the story failed to live up to its early promise. So I must be frank: this book is a dud.

Now You See Him, Now You Don’t

Candice Errinmore, assistant to an airport manager on the south coast of England, is engaged to Clive Benley. But not for long. He’s a mercurial, impulsive, self-centered drama king. When she lets him know she’s had it with him, he threatens to kill himself. Then he goes missing while swimming off the seashore. Did he drown? Was Candice to blame?

Of course she wasn’t, but that’s all she’s sure of. As the days wear on and Clive fails to turn up, the local gossip blames her more and more. For reasons that hardly warrant explanation, she accepts a job on the other side of England, as the administrator of a heliport. Their choppers take off to supply the then-new oil rigs in the North Sea.

Oops, She Did It Again

A change of venue might mean a second chance for love. Sure enough, her boss Martin Starr, manager of the nearby airport, falls for her hot and hard, if rather clumsily. Candice won’t warm to him.

But another man hovers onto the scene, literally. A cocky helicopter pilot with all the warmth of an ice sculpture. And who should it be but Jonathan Benley, brother of the missing Clive? The person most suspicious of Candice and her role in the disappearance.

And Then What?

As I mentioned earlier, a lot of stuff happens. Much is potentially interesting. But after the initial episodes, the story fails to come to life. Largely because the focal figures fail as well.

Candice is more of a character sketch than a character. Ditto the rest of the cast. Except for Clive, who’s out of there quickly.

Eventually, there’s a romantic relationship, but it lacks chemistry. And it takes forever to develop. There’s a slow burn, and then there’s a no burn. Guess which one this romance is.

The plot depends heavily on contrivances. I’ve already indicated one, how the missing man’s brother turns up in the heroine’s life. There’s an even bigger one at the end. But I doubt a discerning reader would stick around that long.

Thumbs Up? Thumbs Down?

Down, of course. But just because this book struck out with me doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t appeal to somebody. If you want to check it out, you can search for free at the Internet Archive, the online lending library with a humongous catalog, including reams of vintage romances.

Reviewed by: Mary Anne Landers

Click here to read To Cherish My Beloved FREE at Internet Archive

once a princess duillo

Historical Romance Review: Once a Princess by Johanna Lindsey

historical romance review
Once a Princess by Johanna Lindsey
Rating: two-stars
Published: 1991
Illustrator: Elaine Duillo
Book Series: Cardinia Royalty #1
Published by: Avon
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 432
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonThriftBooks

Historical Romance Review: Once a Princess by Johanna Lindsey

The Book

“Tanya, ya slut!”

ONCE A PRINCESS

Once a Princess was not one of my favorites by Johanna Lindsey. I’d put this in the unremarkable category with books like Glorious Angel and Tender is the Storm. Not her worst, by any means, but not her best either.

The Cover

Perhaps it had to do with Once A Princess’s aesthetics. I’ve always been a curmudgeon who doesn’t like change simply for the sake of change when everything is fine.

So it was a shock that particular June of 1991 to find the Lindsey covers had been revamped. The font was more “romantic” with its loops and curves. The book was a step back, and I prefer an open clinch. Avon updated Johanna Lindsey’s pretty photo on the inside back to a less flattering extreme close-up.

And the most glaring insult of all, where in the heck was Fabio?

once a princess cover

The Plot

The plot about the search for a secret princess from a fictional country was all right. It was the main characters that made this one almost unbearable.

It’s the mid-19th century, and Stefan Barany from the kingdom of Cardinia is in Mississippi, USA, to find the long-lost Princess Tatiana. She was stolen as an infant from her family, who’ve searched for her for years. So how will Stefan know who she is? Well, she’s got a special little birthmark hidden away in a very private place that will prove her identity. That sounds positively regal.

Tanya, the princess they’re looking for, works in a tavern as a maid, gets paid a pittance, and is treated like garbage. I believe the first words spoken to her were “Tanya, ya slut!” so you know she gets no respect.

She tries to make herself look ugly on purpose for the customers not to harass her. All Tanya had was dirt and mud smeared on her face, but Stefan thought Tanya was unattractive, too. That is until her ugly makeup comes off when she does some naked swimming, and Stefan catches sight of her.

I couldn’t enjoy the story because I never warmed up to the characters. This was one of those Lindseys where the protagonists are unbearable. Stefan was a grouch, mainly because of his insecurity about being ugly. His face was scarred by an injury from an animal’s claws. Tanya was too feisty, always fighting for the sake of fighting. So together, they just argued and argued for ages.

I much preferred Stefan’s sexy cousin, Vasili, and I suppose Johanna Lindsey did also, as she gave Vasili his own book, You Belong to Me.

Final Analysis of Once a Princess

It took forever to finish Once a Princess, and I skimmed a lot to get to the end. For me to do that with a Johanna Lindsey book was unheard of at the time. I thought this one was a sign of ominous things to come, but for the time being, it was an anomaly, as I loved her next books from Prisoner of My Desire to Surrender My Love.

After that, I was busy with school and a social life that consisted of dating guys rather than reading about them. Therefore I had neither the time nor inclination to read romances until I settled down years later.

(TMI, I know, but that’s what I do in these reviews.)

2.12 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
2.5
Characters
1.5
Writing
3
Chemistry
2.5
Fun Factor
3.5
Overall: 2.6

Synopsis:

Once Upon A Time…In a rustic Mississippi tavern, a beautiful exiled princess was forced to dance for the pleasure of others unaware of her regal birthright…and infuriated by a magnificent golden-eyed devil who crossed an ocean to possess her. From A Far Off Land… A bold and brazen prince came to America to claim his promised bride. But the spirited vixen spurned his affections while inflaming his royal blood with passion’s fire…impelling virile Stefan Barany to take in sensuous and searing conquest the love Tatiana vowed never to yield.

ONCE A PRINCESS by JOHANNA LINDSEY
Bride at Whangatapu Donald

Category Romance Review: Bride at Whangatapu by Robyn Donald

Bride at Whangatapu, Robyn Donald, Harlequin, 1977, Craig cover art

From the back of the book:

Nothing has changed,” Fiona said in desperation. “Jonathan is my son.

Fiona had had five years to think about her youthful folly–five years to remember Logan Sutherland’s treatment of her. Now, a whim of fate had brought them together again, and he laid claim to the son he hadn’t known existed.

Well, for Jonathan’s sake she would marry this cool, calculating stranger as he demanded. But she would never be his wife!

Harlequin #232

SPOILER FREE REVIEW 😊

2 stars

Rating: 2 out of 5.

The Book

Bride at Whangatapu includes the hallmark of almost every one of Robyn Donald’s books. It intimately details the natural environment of New Zealand. Whether her books were set on a sheep station, on a yacht in the Pacific, or just a tropical backdrop, you could see the bright green grass, feel the ocean spray on your face or smell the hibiscus blossoms (which don’t even have much a scent, do they?).

Bride at Whangatapu
Bride at Whangatapu, Mills & Boon

The Plot

Also present, Robyn Donald’s first published book is the other hallmark of her writing: an ultra-jerky hero who bullies his way over the heroine.

Right from chapter one, when Logan finds that Fiona was the mother of his son who resulted from a one-night stand many years ago, he demands she marry him. He blames Fiona and her dead parents for not having told him the truth.

However, he was a pig about their lovemaking, calling Fiona a slut and a promiscuous bitch for sleeping with him (she was an 18-year-old virgin, he was a more experienced 26 years of age), so Fiona left and never looked back.

Final Analysis of Bride at Whangatapu

Donald’s heroes are odd, as they are incredibly cruel, yet sometimes that meanness makes them so appealing. Not so much here in Bride at Whangatapu, her first HP. I guess it took a bit of practice to master that fine line.

Nelsons Brand palmer

Category Romance Review: Nelson’s Brand by Diana Palmer

category romance
Nelson's Brand by Diana Palmer
Rating: two-stars
Published: 1991
Illustrator: TBD
Imprint or Line: Silhouette Desire #618
Published by: Silhouette
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance, Western Romance
Pages: 188
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: Amazon
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: Nelson’s Brand by Diana Palmer

SPOILER FREE REVIEW 😊

The Book

Nelson’s Brand was my first and, so far, only foray into Diana Palmer‘s little corner of Romancelandia. Palmer has got a bit of a reputation in the genre as an author of ultra-macho, hairy-chested heroes and virginal, too-stupid-to-live heroines.

I read Nelson’s Brand back when in the 1990s when I subscribed to the Silhouette Desire line. They used to run a Man of the Month theme and Nelson’s Brand was that month’s pick (January 1991). I recall never being too impressed with the Desire editors’ choices, and this was one of those books that failed to impress. The Desire staff really dropped the ball by not picking Lass Small’s Four Dollars and Fifty-One Cents over this one.

The Plot

Allison Hathoway is new in town. She’s got a tragic back story where her missionary parents were killed in South America. Her friend, Winnie, treats her with kid gloves as, if she’s so delicate she might break at the slightest touch.

Gene Nelson is Winnie’s fiance’s brother. Gene and his brother, Dwight, run their family ranch together, although lately, Gene hasn’t been tending much to his responsibilities. He’s been drowning his sorrows in drink and women. Although now deceased, the man Gene thought was his father all his life, turned out not to be his biological parent at all.

Allison is inexplicably drawn to Gene, seeing something in him. Maybe it’s his furry chest, cool green eyes, or his ridiculously large…cowboy hat.

The Bad Seed Hero

Gene is supposed to be an independent, “I go my own way” kind of man. Not so much an “alpha” male, but a “lone wolf” or I guess what’s called a “sigma” male in some circles. I recently found out I’ve been erroneously referring to this type as “gamma” which is a whole ‘nother kind of guy. Sigmas are men who are traditionally “masculine” but shun groups and hierarchies.

Whatever he was supposed to be, Gene came off as… I wouldn’t call him whiny, perhaps emo is more accurate. He was an emo cowboy, a sad, pathetic case, always moping about his woes. I suppose one can say he found some solace in Allison’s purity, but it just came off as phony “dwama.”

Every time these two get together someone tries to separate them. It got a little silly, reminding me of the Seinfeld episode where George acts like a bad boy and dates one of Elaine’s employees, and Elaine desperately tries to keep them apart, because George is a “bad seed:”

Final Analysis of Nelson’s Brand

More than anything, Nelson’s Brand was dull. Silhouette Desires are short books, maxing out at 188 to 189 pages. In my eyes, this just went on forever.

I understood Gene was hurting, Allison was hurting, and they found comfort in each other despite everybody trying to keep them apart. Good for them.

Unfortunately for me, I had to vicariously experience their boring romance.

I keep hearing about how crazy-fun Diana Palmer’s books are. To my misfortune, Nelson’s Brand was not one of them.

Oh, well, Palmer has written over 160 romances. There’s bound to be a better book out there.

(COVER POINTS DO NOT COUNT TOWARDS RATING)

Rating Report Card
Plot
2
Characters
2
Writing
3
Chemistry
3
Fun Factor
1.5
Cover
3.5
Overall: 2.5

Synopsis

Can he get past betrayal?

Allison Hathoway’s life was about healing. And she was good at it. Or had been good at it until the tragedy in South America. Now she couldn’t even fix herself. She didn’t know how to go on, didn’t know what to do, or who to be.

She had that in common with Gene Nelson. After the rancher found out the truth about his father, he’d realized his whole life was a lie. He’d gone a little wild, and saw no reason not to give in to his every desire. And the minute he saw Allison, he wanted her. But underneath their explosive passion, Allison and Gene found comfort in each other’s wounded souls. And a chance to start over.

NELSON’S BRAND BY DIANA PALMER
the heir cover

Historical Romance Review: The Heir by Johanna Lindsey

historical romance review
The Heir by Johanna Lindsey
Rating: two-stars
Published: 2000
Illustrator: Elaine Duillo
Book Series: Reid Family #1
Published by: Avon
Genres: Victorian Era Romance, Historical Romance
Pages: 416
Buy on: AmazonThriftBooks

Historical Romance Review: The Heir by Johanna Lindsey

The Book

Was this tepid, dull romance actually penned by Johanna Lindsey? The Heir was Lindsey’s first book where I noticed a weird change. Previously, if there was a Lindsey I didn’t like, it was due to a meandering plot or excessive fighting between the leads. There is friendship for sure in this one, but romantic isn’t what I’d call the relationship between Duncan and Sabrina.

The Plot: Friends to Lovers

Duncan, a Highland Scot, is the newly made heir to an English Marquess. Everyone in the county is eager to meet this young laird–er lord–especially the unmarried ladies. Our heroine Sabrina, however, has no designs on Duncan. She’s plump, plain, and orphaned. Sabrina’s not anyone’s ideal candidate for a wife. Certainly not for an heir to a Marquessate.

One of the ladies with eyes on Duncan is the beautiful Miss Ophelia. Ophelia desperately wants to be a Marchioness. She will connive to do whatever it takes to move up the social ladder.

When Duncan and Sabrina meet, there are no sparks. They are cordial to one another, though. A friendship forms between the two outsiders. They meet on walks and talk.

Then, one night–totally out of the blue–Sabrina and Duncan’s relationship turns physical. The pair make love. Boring, boring, love.

Thus, by doing so, Duncan has ruined his dear friend Sabrina.

A Weak Hero With No Backbone

In a shocking twist (not really), Ophelia schemes to make it appear as if Duncan ruined her. So the red-haired idiot decides to do the honorable thing: marry Ophelia, the woman he hates. If Duncan truly had any honor, he would have done right by Sabrina. Instead, he cowardly leaves her in the dust. At only 21, Duncan flounders in areas where a more mature man would have acted differently. I can’t imagine previous Lindsay heroes going along with this stupidity.

Of course, Sabrina says nothing about her part, as she wants no part in a scandal. Plus, boo-hoo, she wasn’t cut out for marriage anyway. She’s so fat! Who in his right mind would want a 140-pound schlub like her? (Yes, folks, that’s sarcasm.)

If it weren’t for the only person in this book with any charisma, Raphael, twisting Ophelia’s arm to break the engagement, Duncan would have married a woman he didn’t have to. A woman he didn’t love but despised! As it is, I wasn’t even sure if Duncan loved Sabrina. They were pals. Yes, they conversed with one another without resorting to bickering, like so many Lindsey leads tended to do. Nevertheless, they lacked chemistry.

I wasn’t fond of most of the characters. Raphael was the lone exception. Sabrina was spineless. Duncan was a squish with an annoying brogue. Ophelia was just a nasty witch who didn’t deserve her own book. Oh yes, she gets paired off with Raphael in The Devil Who Tamed Her.

Final Analysis of The Heir

When I saw Duncan’s mullet hairstyle on the inside of the stepback edition of this book, I cringed. Gone were the halcyon days of Fabio. Even sadder, this was one of Elaine Duillo‘s last covers for Johanna Lindsey. An era was over.

I listened to The Heir on audio cassette while I drove to and from work. That’s the only way I could have consumed this story. Reading it would have been a chore. As it was, that daily one-hour round trip should have passed easily with an audiobook to listen to. But it didn’t–because The Heir was not an engaging romance.

It just was. (Does that make sense?)

After The Heir, I’ve only read one “newer” Lindsey I enjoyed: When Passion Rules. That was a mildly better version of Once A Princess, another book I wasn’t crazy about.

Oh well, Johanna Lindsey had a long run as a writer of wonderful novels that made the historical romance genre exciting. She’s now gone to the great beyond to be with her beloved husband. Lindsey leaves behind a legacy of entertaining romances that made tens of millions of readers giddy with joy. Too bad, for me, The Heir wasn’t one of them.

2 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
2
Characters
1.5
Writing
3
Chemistry
2.5
Fun Factor
3.5
Overall: 2.5

Synopsis

Has anyone in London ever taken part in the coming-out Season with less enthusiasm than Sabrina? Luckily, the most sought-after lady in the city has agreed to usher this young, lovely country girl through the perils and pitfalls of her all-important first season.

Dashing highlander Duncan MacTavish is even less keen to be in London. Having recently learned he is the sole heir of an English marquis, Duncan is now required to assume his grandfather’s title and estates—and to marry Sabrina’s ravishing, viper-tongued guide, who has been heard to make scathing statements in public about her “Scottish barbarian” groom-to-be.

His unwanted betrothal, however, has brought Duncan into close proximity with the enchanting Sabrina—a kindred spirit whose wit delights him… and whose essence is the exquisite stuff of dreams. But duty, station, and a secret that dwells in the lady’s past forbid Sabrina’s and Duncan’s desired union—unless true love can somehow miraculously find a way.

The Heir by Johanna Lindsey

passions web

Historical Romance Review: Passion’s Web by Cassie Edwards

Passion’s Web, Cassie Edwards, Zebra, 1984, Walter Popp cover artist

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

2 Stars

Rating: 2 out of 5.

The Book

This review is of Passion’s Web by Cassie Edwards.

The book begins in Key West, Florida, with the heroine of the book, Natalie Palmer, and the hero, Bryce Fowler, meeting in a carriage. Shortly after they meet, Natalie and Bryce become lovers.

Backstory #1

Natalie lives with her father, Saul, a wealthy tobacconist. She also has an older brother, Adam. Natalie’s mother, Kathryn, passed when Natalie was younger. The circumstances of her passing is one of many secrets–the theme of the book–that Saul is trying to keep from Natalie.

Backstory #2

Bryce–who has multiple aspects to his persona–has come to Key West at the request of his dying father, Tom. Bryce has been estranged from his father for a long time. Bryce also has to deal with his younger brother, Hugh, with whom he has bad blood.

The Plot

Bryce is hired by a businessman in New Orleans, Clarence Seymour, to find three things. An opium shipment, and Seymour’s wife and daughter, who were taken in separate incidents years apart. Bryce won’t be able to bring back Seymour’s wife–she, Kathryn, is dead–but he can bring back his daughter…Natalie.

Bryce kidnaps Natalie and takes her to New Orleans to meet Clarence. He’s happy to see her, but one person who most definitely isn’t is Brenda Seymour, Clarence’s other daughter, Natalie’s sister…and Adam’s lover.

When Natalie decides to go back to Key West, Brenda helps her. This effort ends up with Natalie being forced to marry a man, Albert Burns, who is a former pirate.

Bryce saves her from this forced marriage and they return to New Orleans, to discover sadly that Clarence has been shot. He is later shot again.

In the end, the secrets Saul and Adam wanted to hide from Natalie are revealed She and Bryce have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

I got through it.

Downside

Passion’s Web contains many of the same literary weaknesses which mark the rest of Mrs. Edwards’ work: shallow, undeveloped characters and storylines; unsatisfactory endings; and way too many exclamation points! At unnecessary times! It’s annoying!

Sex

There are a lot of love scenes. None are as hot as what Mrs. Edwards would come up with for her Native American romances.

Violence

Assault, battery, shootings, and killings. None of the violence is graphic.

Bottom Line

There are books I’m glad I got through because I paid for them and can now resign them to the dustbin of history–literally and figuratively. Passion’s Web is one such book.

Historical Romance Review: Halfway to Paradise by Emily Bradshaw

Halfway to Paradise, Emily Bradshaw, Dell, 1993, Elaine Duillo cover art

SPOILER FREE REVIEW 🙂

2 Stars

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Judging a Book by Its Cover

Brooklyn-born artist Elaine Duillo, who, in her long and storied career, earned the well-deserved moniker of “The Queen of Romance Cover Art,” did it to me again! How many books have I purchased simply because I was dazzled by the hypnotic painted covers, only to find disappointment within the pages of those supposedly lurid novels?

The best thing about Emily Bradshaw’s Halfway to Paradise is its stunning jacket, which is an excellent representation of Duillo’s flair for making even the most mundane tale seem enticing. This one is done primarily in purple hues, with the heroine’s long blonde locks that flow down to her knees providing a bright complement to the hero’s dark-violet doublet.

Back in the day, an Elaine Duillo cover guaranteed you were reading a juicy bodice ripper. That was not the case with this book.

Why have I spent so much time in this review discussing Duillo’s talent rather than the content of this Halfway to Paradise? Because, lamentably, the book put me halfway to sleep.

The Plot

It took me six weeks to finish this dull story about a widowed Puritan lady who adopts an imprisoned Cavalier’s son. The English Civil War and Restoration eras generally hold great appeal for me, but this lifeless romance just didn’t cut it.

The Earl of Chester, Matthew Hawkins, as an enemy of Cromwell, has had everything taken from him, including his liberty. He escapes prison to become an underworld criminal called, predictably, the Hawk. Determined to find his son, Hawk plots vengeance upon the woman who stole him. Instead of revenge, he finds love with Mrs. Jane Alexander, who, like many widowed heroines in Romancelandia, was unhappy in her first marriage.

Eventually, Jane, Matthew, and their son leave England for the safety of Holland, where they do nothing but pine for home and write letters, and then it’s back to England for a happy ending. This was a lackluster read with minimal conflict in the plot and little chemistry between protagonists.

Final Analysis of Halfway to Paradise

I read this one back when I was determined to complete every book I started. It was like water torture, every page a painful drip, drip, drip. According to my stats, I began this book in early November 2010 and finished it on New Year’s Eve, just in time to add it to my annual tally of read-books.

Ten years later, I’m much wiser when it comes to reading habits. If I get into a slump, I know it’s time to reread old favorites or turn to different genres to get my mojo back. And most importantly, I understand that it’s okay to categorize a book as “did-not-finish.” I used to feel that DNFing a book was a wasteful extravagance, like not finishing a meal that I’d paid for (I got that attitude from growing up poor. If we spent money on anything, the item had to be put to use, no excuses.) What’s truly wasteful is spending time on a book that brings no pleasure, no matter how many pages you’ve read so far, or how costly the book was, or how great everyone else thinks it is.

For me, Halfway to Paradise isn’t the worst book ever, so it’s worth more than a 1-star rating. As I said, that cover is a thing of beauty, so I’ll give this 2 stars for that superficial reason alone.

texas torment

Historical Romance Review: Texas Torment by Catherine Creel

historical romance review
Texas Torment by Catherine Creel
Rating: two-stars
Published: 1985
Illustrator: Oliviero Berni
Imprint or Line: Zebra Lovegram
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Western Romance
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonThriftBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Texas Torment by Catherine Creel

SPOILER FREE REVIEW 😊

The Book

Texas Torment, a Zebra Lovegram by Catherine Creel is set in Texas, naturally, in the post-Civil War era. In this book, Adelaide has left her husband Daniel and Daniel seeks her out again.

Catherine Creel liked using the “secretly married couple that is separated & then reunited under crazy circumstances” plot, didn’t she? She had a similar thing going on in the much more fun Passion’s Chains.

The Plot

Daniel’s a Yankee, while Adelaide’s family were Confederates. Daniel and Adelaide fell in love and eloped, but the war tore them apart.

Adelaide’s family moved to Texas to start a ranch. Daniel pursues and finds her, buying a neighboring ranch of his own. He agrees to keep their marriage a secret from her family and the townsfolk but is determined to win her love again.

Adelaide is an abrasive heroine and I really could not understand why she was so adamant against being with Daniel. He is such a better hero than she deserved.

Final Analysis of Texas Torment

I wish I knew where I put this book because I had some passages marked noting Daniel’s awesomeness. However, at almost 500 pages, this premise wore thin, leading to a so-so experience. It took me so long to finish Texas Torment that it became Introvert Reader’s Torment!

2 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
2.5
Characters
2
Writing
3
Chemistry
2.5
Fun Factor
1.5
Cover
4
Overall: 2.6

show me

Category Romance Review: Show Me by Janet Dailey

show me dailey category romance
Show Me by Janet Dailey
Rating: two-stars
Published: 1977
Illustrator: TBD
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Presents #200
Book Series: Americana #25
Published by: Harlequin, Mills & Boon
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 188
Format: Paperback, eBook
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: Show Me by Janet Dailey

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

Janet Dailey‘s Harlequin Presents #200 Show Me takes place in the “Show Me” state of Missouri. The hero, Jake, spouts lines like this over and over again: “I’m from Missouri. You have to show me to believe.”

As the first American author of Harlequin Presents, Janet Dailey set her novels in all 50 states. I suppose this was to show foreign readers how diverse and exotic the USA can be.

Although her books never inspired me to jet-set across the country, I, too, have traveled around the States and found myself in various oh-so-glamorous US cities like

  • Providence, Rhode Island
  • Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Tampa, Florida
  • Bridgeport, Connecticut
  • South Bend, Indiana
  • Newark, New Jersey

Talk about exotic!

The Plot

In Show Me, Jake is a bitter man who’s returned home after being away for more than half a decade.

He’s sour because he was forced to marry Tanya, the mother of his son, John. The child was a result of a drunken one-night stand Jake can’t recall.

The “hero” is a deadbeat dad, as he’s lived in Africa for 7 years and made no effort to get to know his son. Plus, he’s contemptuously open about not having been a faithful husband.

There is a Harley dramatic revelation at the end, which the heroine had to do if she expected to engage in makeup sex with her husband.

So the big twist is… Tanya isn’t really John’s mom, and Jake isn’t his dad. Their dead siblings were the real parents, and their shotgun marriage was due to a big lie/misunderstanding.

Jake didn’t have to stay away from his family for so many years if Tanya had talked to him back when the kid was born.

Final Analysis of Show Me

But what kind of story would exist if the protagonists acted like adults and engaged in conversation? It would make for a dull romance. Almost as dull as this one.

Show Me was a slow, ponderous read. I swear Janet Dailey could take a decent plot and make it as fun as reading furniture instruction manuals.

2 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
2
Characters
2
Writing
2.5
Chemistry
2
Fun Factor
1.5
Cover
3.5
Overall: 2.3

Synopsis

I don’t blame you for hating me at first,” Jake said. “After all, I forced you to marry me. But you do see why I had to tell you all this, don’t you? You’ve been so honest with me that I had to be the same with you.

Tanya’s heart sank. Honest! Honest! The word kept haunting her. Her supposed honesty was the one thing he admired about her.

She couldn’t possibly tell him the truth now. If she did his love for her would be shattered forever!

Show Me by Janet Dailey
beloved enemy jane feather

Historical Romance Review: Beloved Enemy by Jane Feather

Synopsis:

DEFIANT BEAUTY
Ginny Courtney faced the tall intruder with cool mockery in her wide gray eyes and prayed he would not sense her fear. She could not let this Roundhead colonel cast her out of her home! For the sake of the royalist fugitives hidden on the estate, she had to remain …even f it meant being at the mercy of the man who stood so arrogantly before her. She wanted to hate him, but as she watched his handsome face soften with compassion and felt his green-brown eyes shower her with unexpected warmth, her defenses began to crumble, leaving her heart as vulnerable as her trembling body.

BOLD CONQUEROR
Alex Marshall was not a man who took defiance lightly, but somehow the impertinent chestnut-haired beauty intrigued him. He had the power to destroy everything the girl held dear, yet she taunted him with her glances, challenged him with her words, showed her willfulness with every graceful move of her slender frame. A
lex couldn’t help but wonder if she would respond to his kisses with that same spirit and fire, and he swore he’d have his answer before too many nights had passed. He would take her in his arms and caress her silken curves until she begged for the tender touch of her BELOVED ENEMY. 

BELOVED ENEMY by JANE FEATHER

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

When my cat destroyed the cover of my edition of Jane Feather’s Beloved Enemy, chewing it to shreds, I lamented the loss. It was a pretty cover, although I cared nothing for the book. Beloved Enemy begins with an intriguing premise, then about 20 pages in, the annoying “insta-luv” trope rears its head. Everything goes downhill from there.

I’ve read Jane Feather’s books before. They’re the kind one loves or hates, and usually, I’ve enjoyed them. One positive about this was that it was originally published as a Zebra Heartfire in 1987, and compared to other Zebras, the writing is like Tolstoy.

The Plot

Ginny Courtney is a war widow. Her older brother is presumed dead, and her family remains fiercely loyal to the crown. At the same time, Alex Marshall is a Colonel in Cromwell’s Army. He takes command of her family home as his army looks for fugitives.

The hero is…not charismatic. All he does is shout and yell at Ginny. He gives Ginny one of the worst pet names I’ve heard a hero say to his heroine. Alex calls her his beloved “chicken.” No, not his “henny” or something cute like “chickadee” or even “pigeon.” If Ginny ever reciprocated in kind by calling him her “cock,” Feather never let us readers know, more’s the pity.

The two fall for each other instantly, although why I don’t know. He has zero charm, and she never trusts him and hides various secrets. Even though Alex is her enemy and her “captor,” Ginny chooses to be Alex’s personal camp follower. I don’t know how authentic it was for a supposed Puritan Colonel to have his high-connected Loyalist lover follow him from camp to camp. Then again, how important is historical accuracy in these books?

Beloved Enemy, 2013 Zebra Re-issue

Ginny even gets to talk to King Charles and acts as his spy, passing on information to other agents.

Alex and Ginny move from location to location. They bivouac and decamp from town to town as occupying an occupying army would do. That’s about it for the first half. Unfortunately, Beloved Enemy takes about three hundred pages for any action to start. When it does, it’s a bit wild, from accusations of witchcraft, death of an interesting secondary character, a return from the dead, and more death.

Final Analysis of Beloved Enemy

If it takes more than half the book for a story to get going, it’s too late for me to care. I don’t mind a slow burn build-up, but this book was one half of nothing happening, then for the other half, everything was tossed into the plot but the kitchen sink. As a result, the pacing was uneven, the book took an excruciating 500 pages to tell its story when it should have been cut down to a tight 350.

Beloved Enemy blew like a Category 4 Hurricane. It could have been worse, yet it wasn’t a fun time.

My disappointment was such a shame as I love English Civil War and Restoration Era romances filled with priggish Roundheads & debauched Cavaliers.

All through the dull parts, I kept thinking, “Why am I reading this boring book?” Sure it ticked boxes of categories I love, such as: an illicit romance among enemies; a redheaded, stoic military hero; and a pretty Zebra cover by Ray Kursar. However, it was so tedious. Still, I finished it.

As said, boring it may have been, for what it was, it was written by Jane Feather, an author with some literary skill talent. For that, I’ll give it a two-star rating. I am doubtful, though, that I’d have been so generous if I’d read the reissue or Kindle version and not have been so dazzled by the Kursar cover.

So take this review with a grain of salt.

2 Stars

claiming the courtesan

Historical Romance Review: Claiming the Courtesan by Anna Campbell

neo bodice ripper
Claiming the Courtesan by Anna Campbell
Rating: two-stars
Published: 2007
Illustrator: TBD
Published by: Avon
Genres: Neo-Bodice Ripper, Historical Romance, Regency Era Romance
Pages: 375
Format: Paperback
Buy on: Amazon
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Claiming the Courtesan by Anna Campbell

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

I’m not a fan of the execution of Claiming the Courtesan. I did think, though, what Anna Campbell tried to accomplish in her first book was refreshing.

She wrote a style romance I call a neo-bodice ripper. These books attempt to capture the violent sexual power dynamics of older romances yet are distinctly modern in presentation.

Something Old is New Again

I appreciated what Campbell wanted to create in the anti-hero Kylemore. A handsome, spoiled Duke, he was obsessed with hunting down his mistress Soraya who abandoned him. He was a loathsome, detestable being who cared only for his mad desires.

Initially, his intensity drew my attention. Soon, though, I found him to be a bratty, uncharismatic psycho-stalker.

I seem to be alone in this regard as I yearn for the days of stoic, inscrutable heroes. Those men whose love was shown through their actions. When they did speak, the words meant so much.

I prefer to be in the hero’s head as little as possible. Here, we’re given every angsty thought, every hateful sentiment, or lustful urge.

Soraya/Verity, with her dual personality, was an interesting albeit flawed character. She had to sell her body to help her family survive but wanted freedom.

It seemed as if Campbell intended this book to be a romantic feminist oeuvre, just like any good bodice ripper is. Because, despite their violent and rapey reputation, bodice rippers are decidedly pro-female.

Alas, Claiming the Courtesan failed to achieve what the great rippers of the ’70s & ’80s did: enlighten and titillate. This was too emo, with no thrills. The endless introspection and bad sex scenes became tedious.

The Plot & What Could Have Been

A problem with some modern romances is that authors dismiss what made many older ones great. The reader got to see the plot progress. Claiming the Courtesan lacked tension. The drama doesn’t unfold before our eyes, as the story begins in medias res with Kylemore searching for his missing mistress.

How more engaging if the book began with Kylemore meeting Verity? She would still be a courtesan whom many men desire. Over time, Kylemore seduces her away from her protector. All the while, Verity would be conflicted. Determined to leave her imposed career, she struggles with her feelings for Kylemore.

We’d see into more Verity & Kylemore’s relationship, perhaps a snarky side character or two, and more about Kylemore’s evil mother.

Then–just as the book actually began–Verity would flee from Kylemore, who would track her down and kidnap her. At that point, we’d see how their unusual bond progresses.

Finally, the epilogue would show how they deal with their scandalous relationship in polite society. Perhaps they’d decide to say to hell with the stifling ton and go to the colonies.

Instead, we hear them vow promises for a vague future.

A sex scene or two could have been cut, along with dozens of pages of inner monologue. But there’s your action; that’s a story.

Instead, there are chapters with dumps of internal dialogue.

The plot of Claiming the Courtesan consists of drawn-out events. After Verity is kidnapped (this portion alone takes up a considerable part of the novel), there are two-and-a-half-long chapters where she escapes from her carriage, is chased down in the dark by Kylemore, and is finally caught and brought to the carriage. It felt like watching a hamster run in a wheel, moving but going nowhere.

Introduced later on to add more drama are Verity’s concerned brother and Kylemore’s wicked mother. The characters feel clumsily tacked on.

The final resolution is unsatisfactory. There is a hint of a happy ending; an epilogue was necessary to cement it.

“Verity, you have a choice,” he said gently. “We eat, we talk, we pass the evening with an attempt at civility. Or we fuck. It’s up to you.”

My Opinion: The Decline of Historical Romance

My frustration with so many romances of the last two decades is that they’ve lost the art of storytelling in favor of emotional overload. Nothing happens, but every minor issue is so dramatically addressed. It’s so overwrought.

Why has historical romance degraded to wallpaper irrelevance? Is this what audiences really want? Characters dressed in old-time garments, sipping tea? Books that superficially touch upon manners, but have tons of explicit sex scenes? Heroes asking for consent at every turn and page after page of emotional hand-wringing?

I guess it is, and I’m just not part of the cool kid’s club. Give me food and clothes porn, un-politically correct mindsets, heroes who dare to do wrong, heroines who’ll slap them right back, and salacious purple prose any day.

Final Analysis of Claiming the Courtesan

This book could have sparked a retro genre of 21st-century bodice rippers, rather than just being a gimmick of a plot that led to a bit of controversy. If I want to read a romance with power struggles and dominance issues between the hero and heroine, they rarely exist in historical romances anymore. Those books have been diluted to blandness. Historicals are all so cookie-cutter. I’d have to contemporary-set BDSM romances, New Adult erotica, or paranormal fantasy to look for my spice. However, I’m just not interested in those genres.

This was such a shame. Claiming the Courtesan could have been something special, but it was bogged down in psychological analysis and not enough substance.

A wise rapper, Redman, once said, “If you gotta be a monkey, be a gorilla.” If you’re going to pen a bodice ripper, go balls-to-wall crazy with it. Have no shame about it. Be proud to be outrageous. Otherwise, stick to what everyone else writes because, apparently, it does sell.

2 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
1.5
Characters
1.5
Writing
1.5
Chemistry
4
Fun Factor
1.5
Cover
3.5
Overall: 2.3