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4 star rating

forbidden ecstasy popp

Historical Romance Review: Forbidden Ecstasy by Janelle Taylor

book review historical romance
Forbidden Ecstasy by Janelle Taylor
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1982
Illustrator: Unknown
Imprint or Line: Zebra Historical Romance
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Colonial Era Romance, Native American Romance, Romance with Rape Element, Forced Seduction
Pages: 494
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooksOpen Library (BORROW FOR FREE)
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Forbidden Ecstasy by Janelle Taylor

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Forbidden Ecstasy (“Ecstasy/Gray Eagle Series #3″) by Janelle Taylor.

The Plot

The heroine of the first four books, Alisha Williams, and her husband, Gray Eagle, the “hero,” have been officially married for four days. They have only spent two days together, however, as Gray Eagle has left Alisha to obtain supplies.

When Gray Eagle doesn’t return to her, Alisha wonders what happened.

What she doesn’t know is that Gray Eagle was shot and left for dead by her friend, Powchutu.

There are two reasons he did this:

  1. To punish Gray Eagle for his abhorrent behavior toward Alisha
  2. Powchutu is in love/lust with Alisha.

Alisha believes Powchutu’s lies about why Gray Eagle hasn’t returned, and they set off together.

On their trip, which culminates in St. Louis, Alisha and Powchutu will meet, or meet again, four people who will play a major role in their lives. They are:

  1. Joe Kenny, a white trapper
  2. Jamie O’Hara, a lodgings owne
  3. Mary O’Hara, a mute young woman and niece to Jamie O’Hara
  4. And, sadly, Jeffery Gordon, the evil ex-Army lieutenant who somehow survived the attack on Fort Pierre.

As time goes on, Jeffery blackmails Alisha, threatening great harm to her and Powchutu if she doesn’t marry him. Alisha hedges and Powchutu is killed by Jeffery’s henchmen.

Powchutu’s death pushes Alisha into marrying Jeffery, who makes her life hell on many levels. What neither knows is that Gray Eagle survived his shooting by Powchutu.

Gray Eagle comes to kill Jeffery, finds Alisha, and takes her back to the Oglala camp, subjecting her to more emotional, mental, physical, and sexual abuse along the way.

Despite all of this, by the end of the book, Gray Eagle and Alisha reconcile, as they discover that the bad things they thought about the other were not true. They decide to continue the ruse that Alisha is Shalee, make up with each other, and are happy.

For now, anyway…

The Upside

When Janelle Taylor is at her best, she ranks with Rosanne Bittner as one of my go-to authors. Mrs. Taylor’s style is lyrical and evocative. she brings her readers and me into the lives of her characters.

I felt as though I were watching the lives of the characters instead of just reading about them. Only the best authors can make me feel like that.

The Downside

While I understand Gray Eagle’s feelings about what he believes is Alisha’s betrayal of him, that doesn’t defend/excuse/justify the abuse he inflicts on her. “This kind of derails the Gray Eagle Redemption Tour” Mrs. Taylor was on in Defiant Ecstasy.

Much of the rancor between Alisha and Gray Eagle was due to a lack of trust and communication, which they haven’t had since the beginning.

Sex

Very little and not terribly exciting. Mrs. Taylor does have a few books which have some spice to them. The first three books in the “Ecstasy/Gray Eagle” series are not among them.

Violence

There is, however, a lot of violence. Assault, battery, attempted murder, murder, and rape. None of the violence is super graphic, but it’s there.

Bottom Line on Forbidden Ecstasy

The fact that Gray Eagle is still an unrepentant bastard and the “Stockholm Syndrome romance” between Gray Eagle and Alisha keeps me from giving Janelle Taylor’s Forbidden Ecstasy a five-star rating. 

4 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
4
Characters
4.5
Writing
4.5
Chemistry
3.5
Fun Factor
3.5
Cover
4.5
Overall: 4.1

Synopsis

ALISHA was silk and satin, honey and fire. Never before did the possession of a man fill Alisha with such excitement as when she held her handsome Indian lover in her arms. That she was a white woman living in the red man’s world did not matter. They had promised each other their hearts forever – nothing could keep them apart.

GRAY EAGLE was fierce and gentle, powerful and possessive. He would never forsake his bride of two moons; he would never let her go. But when Alisha awoke to dawn’s first light her bronze-skinned warrior was gone. Her lips were tender from his fiery kisses; her body throbbed from his fierce passion – and still she longed for him. Lost between two worlds, she was desperate and alone. Betrayed by her savage lover, she hungered for their forbidden love!

Forbidden Ecstasy by Janelle Taylor
CATEGORIES: , , , , , , , , ,

***

texas-wildcat-duillo

Historical Romance Review: Texas Wildcat by Linda Benjamin

historical romance review
Texas Wildcat by Linda Benjamin
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1988
Illustrator: Elaine Duillo
Imprint or Line: Zebra Lovegram
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Western Romance
Pages: 414
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Texas Wildcat by Linda Benjamin

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

This review is of Texas Wildcat by Linda Benjamin, a 1988 Zebra Lovegram historical romance.

The Plot

Texas Wildcat begins in Texas with the heroine of the book, Cordelia “Cat” Jordan, 19, who lives on a ranch, the Circle J, with her mother, Olivia, and her brother, Matt. Matt is physically challenged due to a past incident.

As the book begins, Cat is trying to forestall the Circle J from being foreclosed on. The owners of the banknote on the Circle J are the Blackstone family, a family which has a history with the Jordans, not all of which is positive.

Cat decides to meet the representative who has come to Texas to conduct the foreclosure. She is shocked to find out that the person is Logan Blackstone. Olivia and Matt already know and detest him. She also discovers that her father Hadley’s death may not have been accidental.

Romantic feelings form between Cat and Logan. However, other potential love interests are both pursuing them. Ryan Fielding, the owner of the neighboring Rocking R ranch, wants Cat–in part to merge their two ranches. Logan, meanwhile, is being pursued by Chastity Vincent, the promiscuous daughter of the local banker.

As Texas Wildcat goes on, Cat and Logan become lovers. Matt learns to find his pride and self-respect. With the help of Matt’s girlfriend, Maria Hidalgo, more shocking secrets are revealed.

Cat and Logan realize they truly do love each other and have their Happily Ever After.

The Upside

Cat and Logan are both strong characters. Once again, Ms. Benjamin wrote a book where her hero felt his emotions strongly, and that is great to see. She also made me care about the characters, which is extremely important to me as far as liking a book.

The Downside

The love scenes could be hotter, but that was never a strength of Ms. Benjamin’s books for me.

Sex

There are several barely lukewarm love scenes.

Violence

Multiple assaults and battery scenes. A couple of shootings and killings. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line on Texas Wildcat

There isn’t enough overall strength in Linda Benjamin’s Texas Wildcat for 5 stars, but it’s a definitely solid 4-star book.

4 Stars

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

***

Categories: , , , , , , ,

Synopsis

No-Wit Banker
From the moment spirited “Cat” Jordan met handsome Bostonian Logan Blackstone, she couldn’t stand his overbearing arrogance. How dare he deny her ranch credit because he didn’t think a woman could do the job? Though the slender blonde had never before played the flirt, she realized that approach was her last gamble to keep her property. But the closer the long-limbed beauty sidled up to her dark-haired enemy, the more she enjoyed her role, and the less control she had over what the results might be!

Gun-Toting Hoyden
Virile, aloof Logan Blackstone was no stranger to women, but when he came across Cat Jordan, he knew she was one of a kind. The Texas filly could break horses, herd cattle, mend fences, and ignite his desire as no other female ever had! The cool Yankee refused to acknowledge her effect on him, and swore they would part the sooner the better! But once she pressed her nubile body against him and opened her lips to his, Logan was past the point of no return, swept up in the sensuous tempest of his Texas wildcat.

TEXAS WILDCAT by LINDA BENJAMIN
hearts-aflame-duillo

Historical Romance Review: Hearts Aflame by Johanna Lindsey

Hearts Aflame by Johanna Lindsey
Hearts Aflame by Johanna Lindsey
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1987
Illustrator: Elaine Duillo
Book Series: Viking Trilogy #2
Published by: Avon
Genres: Historical Romance, Medieval Romance
Pages: 368
Format: eBook, Hardcover, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Hearts Aflame by Johanna Lindsey

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

Hearts Aflame is a notable Johanna Lindsey historical romance for a few reasons.

Back in June 1987, John Le Carre, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Robert Ludlum, Arthur C. Clarke, and Star Trek were on the NY Times Weekly Bestseller list for paperbacks. Also in the top ten? Jude Deveraux’s The Raider and Johanna Lindsey‘s Hearts Aflame at #3.

Spy thrillers, mysteries, science & women’s fiction were always big hits, but for many years, it was hard to see more than one romance novel numbering near the top. With her 14th book, Lindsey was on a roll, writing blockbuster romance after blockbuster romance.

Readers of this blog and fans of Lindsey might be familiar with Hearts Aflame, as it contains two hallmarks of her books. First (no longer was Robert McGinnis illustrating) was “The Queen of Romance Covers” herself, Elaine Duillo painting the artwork.

Second, this book featured romance supermodel Fabio posing for the clinch. This was one of–if not the–first romance front cover for the Italian-born hunk.

The Background

Hearts Aflame by Johanna Lindsey is the sequel to her third book, the bodice ripper Fires of Winter. In it, the beautiful Welsh Lady Brenna finds her life torn asunder when Vikings raid her home.

They kill all the men and take the women captive. Brenna is given as a prize to the Viking chief’s son, Garrick.

After a very rocky beginning, Garrick and Brenna find love together.

The heroine of Hearts Aflame, Kristen, is their daughter. She is as fierce and strong as both her parents.

The Plot

With her many Viking brothers and cousins, young Kristen has always desired an adventure as they claimed to have experienced. In search of action, she stows away on their raiding ship.

The raid is a failure when the Vikings are beaten and taken hostage by the Saxons, led by the arrogant Thane Royce.

Kristen is dressed as a male, and her kinsmen guard her true identity. But soon, the nature of her sex is discovered by Royce. Royce forces her to serve as his personal house slave. He places Kristen in chains when she refuses and finds her will is unbreakable.

From there on, the relationship between Royce and Kristen is a power play of master and slave, captor and captive, man and woman.

Kristen is not a simpering dame, as her actions prove. Although Royce is a powerful leader and tries to master her, it’s she who proves to be the real mistress.

Speaking of mistresses, Royce has one; a rare instance in a Lindsey romance where the hero beds the other woman. But no fear, her simpering nature proves no match for Kristen’s fierce one.

Some evildoers would see Kristen and Royce fall, but Royce shouldn’t worry when Kristen is on his side. She has no qualms about threatening Saxon lords and ladies and can back up her words with fighting skills.

Of course, Kristen and her fellow Vikings are to be avenged by her people, and this leads to a dramatic ending where her parents show up to save them.

Final Analysis of Hearts Aflame

Hearts Aflame is a solid Johanna Lindsey romance, perhaps not in my personal top-tier, but it still was a blast to read.

Kirsten has all the warrior skills of her mother, with her father’s stubborn temper.

Royce is sexy enough, even though Kirsten steals the show. But it’s fun to imagine him looking like Fabio since he was the first Lindsey hero painted by Elaine Duillo.

Fans of Kirsten’s older brother, Selig, will be happy to read his story in Surrender, My Love, the conclusion to Lindsey’s “Haardrad Viking Trilogy.”

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

Synopsis

Kristen Haardrad met the icy fury in her captor’s crystal-green gaze with defiance. She was the prisoner of Royce of Wyndhurst, but his slave she’d never be. This powerful Saxon lord had at last met his match in the Viking beauty – his equal in pride, in strength…and in the fierce, hot hunger of insatiable desire. But Kristen could not know the torment that divided his soul; how he ached to hold her soft, supple body, thirsted for the ringing joy of her laughter – yet hated her for an ancient crime that was not her own.

But her golden loveliness drives him mad with desire, her fiery eyes taunting him, compelling him to claim her. Until, in wordless surrender, they cast aside the shackles of doubt and distrust to unite forever in the searing promise of all-consuming love.

HEARTS AFLAME by JOHANNA LINDSEY

Links

PAPERBACK BEST SELLERS: JUNE 7, 1987

List Fiction:

  • 1 A PERFECT SPY, by John le Carre. (Bantam, $4.95.) The tale of a British secret agent and his father, a flamboyant con man.
  • 2 BARRIER ISLAND, by John D. MacDonald. (Fawcett, $4.50.) One man’s effort to thwart a multimillion-dollar land swindle.
  • 3 * HEARTS AFLAME, by Johanna Lindsey. (Avon, $3.95.) A beautiful captive becomes the captor of a handsome thane in the age of the Vikings.
  • 4 ACT OF WILL, by Barbara Taylor Bradford. (Bantam, $4.95.) Three generations of talented, ambitious women in England and New York.
  • 5 THE GOOD MOTHER, by Sue Miller. (Dell, $4.95.) A woman’s attachment to her daughter becomes a consuming passion.
  • 6 TAMING A SEA-HORSE, by Robert B. Parker. (Dell, $4.50.) Spenser tracks a young woman through the seamy byways of a pleasure empire.
  • 7 THE SONGS OF DISTANT EARTH, by Arthur C. Clarke. (Del Rey/Ballantine, $4.95.) Mankind’s first encounter with life in a paradisaical world.
  • 8 THE BOURNE SUPREMACY, by Robert Ludlum. (Bantam, $4.95.) A plot to seize Hong Kong and bring China into conflict with the West.
  • 9 THE RAIDER, by Jude Deveraux. (Pocket, $3.95.) Rebels, Red Coats, and love in colonial New England.
  • 10 DREAMS OF THE RAVEN, by Carmen Carter. (Pocket, $3.50.) In this Star Trek novel, Captain Kirk faces a nightmarish enemy. 

***

CATEGORIES: , , , , , , , ,

Historical Romance Review: Rapture’s Ransom (aka Not Quite Married) by Betina Krahn

book review historical romance
Rapture's Ransom by Betina Krahn
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1983
Illustrator: Unknown
Imprint or Line: Zebra Historical Romance
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Pirate Romance, Historical Romance
Pages: 368
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonThriftBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Rapture’s Ransom (aka Not Quite Married) by Betina Krahn

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Rapture’s Ransom by Betina Krahn, a Zebra historical romance. This was later reissued and retitled as Not Quite Married.

The Set-Up

The book begins in the South of England in 1787.

It is here that Brien Weston, the heroine of the book, lives–a better term might be “exists”–with her father, Lord Lawrence Weston, the sixth Earl of Southward.

The relationship between father and child is strained and becomes even more so when Lawrence, after a trip to France, announces he has affianced Brien to a man, Raoul Trechard, whom she has never met.

The Plot

When Brien and Raoul finally meet, Brien feels there is a possibility of a love match. That feeling quickly dissipates, however, when Brien learns Raoul’s true colors. She tries to end the engagement, even going so far as to lose her virginity to a stranger to deny Raoul that opportunity.

None of the efforts work, however, and Brien finds herself married to Raoul, who kidnaps, imprisons, and rapes her. She is freed from this torment when Raoul dies in a fire.

Over a year later, Brien meets the man she gave herself to, his name is Aaron Durham, the hero of the book. Brien is sailing to the colonies on business; Aaron is the captain of the ship she’s sailing on, and they re-establish their relationship as lovers during the trip and after they arrive at their destination, Boston.

Brien and Aaron’s happiness is threatened by several factors:

  • Horace Van Zandt: an evil privateer who has a history–and bad blood–with Aaron.
  • Differences in their viewpoints, Aaron wants to live in America and denies his status as a peer of the realm; Brien wishes to live in England.
  • The de Saunier Family: the unnamed patriarch of which tries to force Brien to marry his other son, Louis.
  • Brien’s pregnancy.

The book ends with Brien and Aaron married. They are parents of a son, Garrett, whose presence helps Aaron begin to repair the strained relationship he has with his father, Thomas.

Aaron and Brien have their Happily Ever After.

rapture's ransom not quite married
(Alternate Title version) Not Quite Married, Betina Krahn, Bantam, 2004 edition, Alan Ayers cover art

Upside

It is rare in early 1980’s books–Rapture’s Ransom was first published in November 1983–to have a non-Simpering Sara heroine, but Ms. Krahn does just that in this book. To be fair, this is not entirely about Brien’s strength-Lawrence doesn’t have any sons or male relatives, and Brien is his only surviving child–but still, strength is strength.

Downside

I didn’t feel that Ms. Krahn did enough to flesh out Brien or Aaron. We barely hear about their extended families and only meet Thomas Durham in the last few chapters of the book.

I also didn’t like the fact that two of the villains in the book–Van Zandt and de Saunier–escape basically unscathed despite their deviltry, and even though Raoul dies in a fire, it still feels less than it could have been. I love series-like E.J. Hunter’s “White Squaw”-where the bad guys get their comeuppance.

Sex

There are love scenes, but they are, for the most part, quite mild.

Violence

Scenes of assault, battery, and threats. The one death occurs “off-screen.”

Bottom Line on Rapture’s Ransom

Betina Krahn’s Rapture’s Ransom–aka Not Quite Married–is a sold low four-star book. There are simply too many areas of concern to rate it any higher.

3.99

Rating Report Card
Plot
4
Characters
4
Writing
4
Chemistry
3.5
Fun Factor
4
Cover
3
Overall: 3.8

Synopsis

THE COST OF COMFORT
Golden-haired Brien was indescribably happy: soon she would be the wife of a rich, handsome Frenchman. But when the glowing bride-to-be heard her fiance’s drunken bragging about his past exploits, she couldn’t bear the thought of matrimony to such a scoundrel. There was no way out — and Brien decided that if she must suffer a lifetime by the wastrel’s side, she would delight in just one night of pleasure before her hateful marriage began.

THE PRICE OF PASSION
Dark, rugged Allen Stewart wondered who had summoned him to the discreet, quiet inn, but when he saw the lush, lovely lady, he felt the need for ecstasy, not explanations. They shared a night of unbridled desire — then Allen awoke to a cold, empty bed. the soft, fragrant beauty had bewitched him and he swore that he’d search the whole world and pay any price for RAPTURE’S RANSOM.

RAPTURE’S RANSOM by BETINA KRAHN
defiant ecstasy janelle taylor

Historical Romance Review: Defiant Ecstasy by Janelle Taylor

book review historical romance

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Defiant Ecstasy Book #2 in the “Ecstasy/Gray Eagle” series by Janelle Taylor.

The Plot

Part One Defiant Ecstasy

Defiant Ecstasy begins by filling in details of what occurred at the end of the first book, Savage Ecstasy.

Then Gray Eagle, the “hero” of the series, shows up at Fort Pierre with 2,000 Indian warriors behind him. He has a demand for the denizens of Fort Pierre. They must release his white lover, Alisha Katrina Williams, to him, or he and his warriors will destroy the fort and everyone in it.

After some contentious debate, the Army decides to send Alisha back to Gray Eagle.

Gray Eagle and Alisha are both happy with the decision. Nevertheless, Gray Eagle orders his braves to destroy the fort, anyway, as payback for how the soldiers and others in the fort treated Alisha. For a while, they are happy.

Two events, however, happen to shatter their happiness.

The first: Gray Eagle’s “betrothed”, a Lakota woman named Chela, tries to kill Alisha. Gray Eagle stops this from occurring.

Part Two Defiant Ecstasy

What he can’t stop, at least immediately, is the second event. A Blackfoot woman concocts a ruse that Alisha isn’t really Alisha Williams, an English ex-pat, but Princess Shalee, a half-white, half-Blackfoot woman who was abducted years earlier. As part of the scheme, Alisha is taken out of the Lakota village and to a Blackfoot village to marry Shalee’s betrothed, a Blackfoot warrior named Brave Bear.

While in the Blackfoot camp, Alisha begins having romantic feelings toward Brave Bear, who treats her with kindness that Gray Eagle doesn’t. Gray Eagle, however, refuses to give Alisha up and challenges Brave Bear for the right to marry her. Gray Eagle defeats Brave Bear–but, at Alisha’s urging, does not kill him.

As they prepare for their joining ceremony, Gray Eagle and Alisha are plagued with problems, most of which are self-inflicted.

Some of these issues are eventually resolved, and Alisha and Gray Eagle marry and are happy…

For now, anyway.

defiant ecstasy alt
Defiant Ecstasy, alt cover

The Upside

Mrs. Taylor’s evocative, flowing writing style is on display here, as she brought me into the world of Gray Eagle and Alisha. The characters are well-developed.

The Downside

Having already established Gray Eagle as an emotional/physical abuser/rapist, Mrs. Taylor spends much of Defiant Ecstasy trying to rehabilitate him.

For some, it might work. For me…not at all. While I don’t believe it is necessarily fair to judge someone solely by one action–or a series of actions–Gray Eagle shows no remorse for his behavior. In fact, he blames Alisha for what he has done to her! And Alisha, on occasion, agrees with him! Not good.

Sex

Very little in the way of love scenes, and those that do happen are typically mild and flowery in the Janelle Taylor style.

Violence

The sacking of Fort Pierre occurs “offscreen.” Gray Eagle and Brave Bear’s fight is only mildly graphic.

Bottom Line on Defiant Ecstasy

I am a fan of Janelle Taylor and her works. Defiant Ecstasy is a decent book. However, I totally repudiate her efforts to try to defend/excuse/justify Gray Eagle’s behavior.

3.85

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

Synopsis

The longer Alisha Williams remained at Fort Pierre, the more she hoped her redskinned lover would rescue her from the taunts and tirades of the white pioneers. They would never let her forget she had been the mistress of the infamous savage warrior, Gray Eagle. As if the auburn-haired beauty could forget! Each night, Alisha sweetly remembered Gray Eagle’s bold caresses, burning kisses, his blazing passion. Each day, she scanned the vast horizon in hopes her Oglala brave would recapture her.

Then one day, Alish saw hundreds of Indian warriors riding to the gates of Fort Pierre–and at their head was the fierce Gray Eagle. Though her most fervent prayers had been answered, Alisha’s heart skipped a beat: Would Gray Eagle destroy her–or make her destiny his own? 

Defiant Ecstasy by JANELLE TAYLOR
once more with feeling nora roberts

Category Romance Review: Once More With Feeling by Nora Roberts

once more with feeling
Once More With Feeling by Nora Roberts
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1983
Illustrator: George H. Jones
Imprint or Line: Silhouette Intimate Moments #2
Published by: Silhouette
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 250
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: Once More With Feeling by Nora Roberts

The Book

Once More With Feeling is the second outing from the Silhouette Intimate Moments line. Nora Roberts‘ category romance tells the love story between two musicians, one a rising star and the other an established musician, who previously knew each other.

Now they must try to make beautiful music together again–literally. Only later does the situation take a turn for the metaphorical.

The Plot

Five years prior to the opening of Once More With Feeling, a teenaged, black-haired Raven Williams was a fledgling artist. (Just once, I’d like to read a book where a blonde or redhead has that name. Or a brunette or a blonde named Flame to subvert expectations.) Raven and a seasoned Irish-British musician named Brandon Carstairs garnered great success together before her star went on the ascendency.

Their working relationship had made it to the front pages of the gossip columns. Was there more to the two beautiful musicians than music? There was, but alas, it came to an abrupt end. Raven had kept herself at a distance from Brandon, and he was unwilling to put up with her reticence.

Heartbroken, Raven immersed herself in music, putting her career above love. Now Brandon has a gig to score a potential blockbuster musical film—and he wants Raven to co-write it with him.

I enjoyed watching Raven and Brandon’s new relationship unfold. Now in her mid-twenties, Raven was still a young woman but more sure of herself, although just as close-guarded. Brandon is a sexy character with longish back hair, blue-green eyes, and Irish-British charm (it seems Roberts has a type). However, he runs roughshod over Raven, vowing to break through her inner resolve.

Before these two can have their happy ending, there are big misunderstandings–because the characters refuse to say what they have to!–and the heroine has to rush to her dying mother’s bedside in a dramatic scene.

Back cover of Once More With Feeling, Nora Roberts, Silhouette, 1983, George H. Jones cover art.

Final Analysis of Once More With Feeling

Five years before the start of Once More with Feeling Brandon broke Raven’s heart when he left her. Now Brandon is back and asks her to co-write the music for an upcoming, much-anticipated movie. Can these two learn to trust and love again? 

Written in the early 1980s, this book feels like part of that era, especially with how cruel Brandon can be to Raven. Other readers may be more discriminating and have difficulty digesting the caveman antics of the “hero,” but not me.

One of my favorite moments in the book is near the conclusion when our couple finally reveals their feelings for one another, and they have this exchange:

“You can’t own me Brandon.”

A quick flash of fury shot into his eyes. “Damn it, I don’t want to own you, but I want you to belong to me. Don’t you know there’s a difference?”

ONCE MORE WITH FEELING by NORA ROBERTS

Once More With Feeling was a solid romance, although Nora Roberts is capable of much better. This was only Robert’s 13th book, which sounds like a big deal. Considering that she’s written hundreds, it’s obviously created in the formative years of her career. Roberts’ writing has gotten sharper with age.

I had a fun time with Once More With Feeling, even if it was flawed in some respects. The heroine was a tad weak-willed, and the hero was too bossy.

This could have been lackluster in the hands of a less skillful author. One never knows how the wind will blow with a new series or writer.

Ultimately, I was satisfied with Raven and Brandon’s love story. Roberts always had the instinct to be a superb writer. She simply needed time to perfect her craft.

Rating Report Card
Plot
4
Characters
3.5
Writing
4
Chemistry
3.5
Fun Factor
3.5
Cover
5
Overall: 3.9

Synopsis:

THEIR SONGS AND THEIR PASSION WOULD ELECTRIFY A WAITING WORLD.

RAVEN WILLIAMS was a singer who had an overwhelming need to love and be loved, and whose voice had catapulted her to fame.

BRANDON CARSTAIRS was a musician in whom the charming Irish dreamer warred with a practical British reserve.

The music they made together was exciting, disturbing, erotic. Soon it would reach a dangerous crescendo.

ONCE MORE WITH FEELING by NORA ROBERTS
night fire catherine coulter

Historical Romance Review: Night Fire by Catherine Coulter

book review historical romance
Night Fire by Catherine Coulter
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1988
Illustrator: Steve Assel
Book Series: Night Series #1
Published by: Avon
Genres: Historical Romance, Regency Era Romance
Pages: 388
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: Amazon
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Night Fire by Catherine Coulter

SPOILER FREE REVIEW 😊

The Book

Night Fire by Catherine Coulter features one of her few truly nice guy heroes. This romance was a pleasant surprise–despite its dark themes–due to the charming Burke Drummond.

This romance is the first in Coulter’s “Night Trilogy,” which is set in Regency-era England and in the final book, America.

The Plot

In Night Fire, Arielle and Burke had met years prior when she was 15 and he in his twenties. Burke instantly fell in love with Arielle but couldn’t do anything about it as he was called to war against the French.

In the interim, Arielle was forced into marriage with a cruel, elderly lecher.

Burke returns to find Arielle a bitter widow, suffering post-traumatic stress from the abuse she endured. She wants nothing to do with men.

Meanwhile, Burke’s feelings for Arielle still run strong. He wants her and pursues her. When he discovers the horrors of her marriage, Burke changes to a gentler approach.

Thus unfolds a tender, emotional love story where Burke patiently woos Arielle–although he is a randy rascal. Her recovery takes time, and Burke is there to give her genuine support and understanding.

Meanwhile, a wicked villain has his eye on Arielle. Will Burke also be there to save her before it’s too late?

Read Night Fire and find out!

Final Analysis of Night Fire

I’ve read a handful of Catherine Coulter romances and disliked more than half of them. Night Fire was one of her bests due to the wonderful hero, Burke.

Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the final entry in her “Night Trilogy,” Night Storm, whose arrogantly condescending hale protagonist made me rethink my penchant for blonds. But that’s a review for another day.

Night Fire is a solid read for those who like to see a heroine recover from trauma and be healed by love.

4 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
4
Characters
4.5
Writing
4
Chemistry
3.5
Fun Factor
3.5
Cover
4
Overall: 3.9

Synopsis

ONLY HIS BURNING LOVE COULD SAVE HER.

Trapped into a loveless marriage, Arielle Leslie knew a life of shame and degregation. Even after the death of her brutal husband, she was unable to free herself from the shackles of humiliation. Only Burke Drummond’s love could save her . . . if she let it. But as his passion blazed, his patience wore thin . . . and Arielle risked a future as terrifying as her past.

Night Fire by Catherine Coulter
savage possession

Category Romance Review: Savage Possession by Margaret Pargeter

category romance
Savage Possession by Margaret Pargeter
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1980
Illustrator: Bob Kebic
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Presents #366
Published by: Harlequin
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 190
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonThriftBooks

Category Romance Review: Savage Possession by Margaret Pargeter

The Book

Margaret Pargeter’s Savage Possession begins like any ordinary Harlequin Presents series romance. The hero and heroine meet under unusual circumstances. Then the situation quickly gets heated.

The Characters and the Set-Up

In the case of Savage Possession, Melissa’s car is trapped in the snow. Along comes Ryan Trevelyan, to give her a lift.

She’s dressed in bulky winter clothes so he assumes she’s a boy. As they’re driving along in his car, he’s berating “him” for driving under such horrible circumstances. Then she takes off her cap.

Ryan thinks: “Oh no, she’s this unbelievably beautiful, green-eyed, redhead woman! How easily mistaken I was to think she was a boy [whom I was mildly attracted to] because she was wearing a hat and coat! Well, since she tricked me, I’ll force her to spend the night at my house even though there are plenty of other places in town where she can stay. That’ll teach her a lesson!”

I wondered to myself just where this book was going. It was not what I expected.

Melissa does not act like the HP caricature heroines are supposed to: swooning, selfless, kind to all, and eager to work hard to prove her worth. No, she’s a slothful freeloader with good, old-fashioned morals.

The Plot?

Home, Sweet Home

Melissa has returned home after spending years mooching off her wealthy socialite aunt. Auntie wanted to name Melissa her heir, but only if she marries the man of Auntie’s choosing. Not up for that, Melissa returns home to her family’s financially-troubled farm.

It’s out of the frying pan and into the fire for Melissa. Her parents are all too keen to pimp her out to their landlord as payment for past-due rents. Mom is 3 YEARS behind on the statements. The family hasn’t been evicted—yet.

Who is their patient, benevolent homeowner? Why Ryan Trevelyan, of course!

Mum and stepdad make not-so-subtle hints that Melissa should sell herself out to save the farm. Melissa is outraged and defiant. She may be a mooch, but she’s no whore!

Lazy Bones

Eventually, Melissa begs Ryan to give her mother and stepfather more time to keep the grange. She promises to work at the family store selling their farm goods.

Yet, despite her pleading, she refuses to actually do anything to help mum save her home.

Melissa doesn’t feel like going to work, you see. Instead, she spends her days with other men or relaxing. She’s utterly lazy, a committed slacker. I have never related to a heroine as much as this one! 😁

The only decent fellow in this whole story is Ryan Trevelyan, who–despite his sensible inclinations–keeps giving Melissa and her family chance after chance to make due on their past balances.

But did I mention that Melissa is:

L… A… Z… Y…

Final Analysis of Savage Possession

Ryan gets fed up with Melissa and sparks fly. Slowly a love evolves between these two very different people. Is it meant to last?

The underlying story in Margarate Pargeter’s Savage Possession doesn’t matter. The interactions between the complicated three-dimensional main characters make this a compelling read.

The writing isn’t overwrought. The sarcastic banter between the two mains is excellent.

By the end, Melissa grows as a character, realizing she needs to be a better person with drive and purpose. Ryan is to die for.

Looking forward to reading more of Pargeter’s work, as she was a Harlequin author with whose work I was unfamiliar.

4 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
4
Characters
4.5
Writing
4
Chemistry
3
Fun Factor
3.5
Overall: 3.8

Synopsis

The future held no bright prospects.

Melissa’s wealthy cousin Helen tried to pressure her into a loveless marriage, so Melissa fled back to her Cornish home.

There she found that the small market garden business leased by her mother and stepfather had declined during her six absent years. Now it was nearly bankrupt! Worse still, their landlord, the handsome, aggressive Ryan Trevelyan, was demanding the three years’ back rent—unless Melissa agreed to his despicable plan.

She found herself trapped between concern for her mother, and Ryan—a man who had set himself to run her life! 

Savage Possession by Margaret Pargeter
lion's lady morgan kane

Historical Romance Review: The Lion’s Lady by Julie Garwood

book review historical romance

The Book

The Lion’s Lady by Julie Garwood takes us to Regency Era England where we meet two firm-willed yet evenly matched partners in love. One is a lady of mystery from the former colonies raised among the Native people. The other is an English nobleman turned soldier and spy, now retiring from duty.

A disclaimer: I’m not a fan of tropes with nobility involved in espionage, especially during the Napoleonic era. It’s contrived, and spies in a romance don’t do it for me. I was never much into James Bond. So I braced myself to dislike this due to Lyon’s career. However, I was enchanted by the heroine and the chemistry between the main leads.

Plus, there’s not much official espionage, mostly the hero using his sleuthing skills to uncover the enigmatic lady’s past.

The Set-Up and the Characters

Alexander Michael Phillips, The Marquess of Lyonwood, is known to his intimates as Lyon. (What a cheesy, uber-macho name for a British nobleman–oh, it is cheesy! One thing I love about my romances is that they are ripe with the stench of Eau de Fromage.)

Lyon is a spy with an injured leg and a dashing scar. Lyon even looks like a lion (of course he does!) with his tanned skin, a mane of dark gold hair, and mysterious dark amber eyes.

The Lion’s Lady has another disliked trope of mine: the male protagonist vows never to get married again after losing his wife and child in childbirth. At least he’s not wallowing in mourning; he is bitter because his wife was unfaithful. The child was not his; the babe was his brother’s. Thus, he has serious trust issues when it comes to the fairer sex. 

The novel’s prologue starts in 1797 in the Black Hills of America. A Sioux tribe travels on. Among them are two Anglo females: a woman named Merry, who has married into the tribe, and her young daughter, Christina. The people call Christina a lioness for her golden hair and blue eyes, and fierce nature.

The shaman tells his people she is headed to a great destiny. Even though she is not one of their blood, they must take great care of this lioness.

the lions lady by Julie Garwood
The Lion’s Lady, Julie Garwood, Pocket Books

The Plot

After a brief look into Lyon’s tragic background, the story begins. Each chapter begins with excerpts from Christina’s mother’s diary from 1795 to 1796, detailing her life married Christina’s abusive father, Edward.

Christina’s mother escaped her turbulent marriage, although not before stealing a treasure from her husband.

Now Christina returns to her mother’s birth land and takes England by storm. The ton calls her Princess Christina, and she is ever under the watchful eye of her aunt, Countess Patricia. Stories float around as to her “true” identity. Precisely who is this mysterious Princess Christina?

Lyon is at a ball chaperoning his sister when he sets eyes upon the most beautiful woman ever: Christina. He and his friend both appreciate her loveliness and notice her haughty demeanor. They make a bet on who can win her charms first. Then, like Cinderella, this princess makes an early disappearance.

What follows is Lyon’s chase to discover more about this lady of intrigue. The hero in pursuit is smitten from the first, although he won’t admit it. Having been betrayed by love, this wounded Lyon is not seeking marriage, just a diverting affair. Using his young sister’s admiration for Christina as an excuse, he charms his way in and out of The Princess’ social life.

Christina is on a quest to uncover the secret her mother left behind. Then she finds she must marry within weeks to inherit. She decides Lyon will make the perfect husband.

Remember, the lioness is the great hunter, not the lion!

Mysteries unfold, and danger lurks as the two get closer to each other and the truth.

My Opinion

Christina was a darling heroine on a quest to right past wrongs. In someone else’s hands, one could have accused her of being “annoyingly spunky.” Instead, Garwood wrote her as a girl beyond her years in wisdom.

Lyon was authoritative, not overbearingly so, and equally fascinating as his mate.

“Your eyes have turned as black as a Crow’s,” she blurted out.

He didn’t even blink over her bizarre comment. “Not this time, Christina,” he said in a furious whisper. “Compliments won’t get me off balance again, my little temptress. I swear to God, if you ever again dismiss me so casually, I’m going to––”

“Oh, it wasn’t a compliment,” Christina interrupted, letting him see her irritation. “How presumptuous of you to think it was. The Crow is our enemy.”

the lion's lady julie garwood
The Lion’s Lady, Julie Garwood, Pocket Books, 2010

Final Analysis of The Lion’s Lady

The Lion’s Lady is a well-crafted, humorous adventure that fans of sensual period romances should appreciate on a pure enjoyment level. Don’t look for the reinvention of the wheel. This is just a solid love story between two great leads.

One quibble I had with The Lion’s Lady. It’s full of side characters you know are getting their own stories. I hate sequel baiting. This romance was written before every book was part of a series. Still, I wasn’t a fan.

Also annoying was that Christina’s evil aunt didn’t get her full just desserts. Garwood tends to the sweet side. I don’t know if it’s in her to create a genuinely vicious ending that would satisfy my bloodthirstiness.

Despite that, there’s much to enjoy here. I dithered over, giving this Regency romance 4 stars or 4-and-a-half. Either way, you slice it, it’s one I’ll look back on fondly.

4.15 Stars

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

Synopsis

1810. She has taken London society by storm. Christina Bennett… the ravishing beauty with the mysterious past. Rumor whispers she is a princess from a far-off kingdom on the continent. But only she holds the secret –until the night Lord Alexander Michael Phillips, Marquis of Lyonwood, steals a searching, sensuous kiss. A proud, arrogant nobleman with a pirate’s passions, he tastes the wild fire smoldering beneath Christina’s cool charm and swears to possess her before he is done…

But Lyon soon discovers that his dream of conquest will not be easily satisfied. The feisty and defiant Christina has no fear of him–or of any other man. She alone is master of her heart, mistress of her fortune. And though Lyon’s hungry caresses dizzy her senses though his fierce embrace arouses her desire… she will not surrender to his love. For if she does, she must also forsake at last her precious secret–and her promised destiny!

THE LION’S LADY by JULIE GARWOOD
dark fire

Category Romance Review: Dark Fire by Elizabeth Lowell

dark fire category romance
Dark Fire by Elizabeth Lowell
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1988
Illustrator: Unknown
Book Series: The McCalls #2
Published by: Silhouette
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 187
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: Amazon
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: Dark Fire by Elizabeth Lowell

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

Dark Fire by Elizabeth Lowell, a 1988 Silhouette Desire, takes us on a trek through the jungles of Peru.

The hero is Trace Rawlings, the ‘stache. He’s pictured on the cover as the apex of hirsute handsomeness: a full head of hair; a thick mustache; and a chest full of more hair than a bar of soap at a YMCA.

Cynthia McCall is going by Cindy Ryan, and she needs Trace’s help.

The Plot

In Dark Fire, Cindy’s father is Big Eddy McCall, a well-connected multi-millionaire (it’s the 1980s, and the billionaire craze was a decade away) who controls politicians and businessmen. Big Eddy wants one thing: to have plenty of grandchildren to expand his dynasty.

His daughter has no interest in marriage. Cindy isn’t willing to settle down yet and focuses more on her business. That’s okay. Big Eddy’s a modern kind of patriarch, and he’ll accept biological grandchildren on either side of the blanket.

Cindy’s involved in a boutique clothing company purchasing textiles from a Peruvian connection in Quito. The contact was associated with a shady emeralds dealer and went missing. Now Cindy’s business partner Susan has gone missing looking for said textiles contact.

Word has it that a powerful cartel boss named Raul has Cindy’s friend in his clutches. Cin hires Trace Rawlings to help guide her on her trip through the jungles as she searches for her friend.

The only catch is that Big Eddy McCall has gotten to Trace first and is paying him a whopping ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS A DAY (picture Dr. Evil with a finger curled at his lip) a day to keep an eye on Cin and make sure she’s safe.

The Conflict

Trace views Cindy as pampered, spoiled “princess” and repeatedly calls her this throughout the book. He is a macho kind of guy and doesn’t cotton to dainty city gals galivanting through the dangerous territory for specious reasons. Especially when they have their wealthy Daddies are paying him to babysit them.

Of course, there is adventure along the way in Dark Fire, bringing Cindy and Trace together against their wills. Trace doesn’t help Cindy as she struggles through the environment because he’d perversely prefer to watch her struggle for his enjoyment.

But Trace isn’t an absolute caveman, and the two start to bond over their pasts. Although Trace does have that virile body hair and facial hair, which has an allure of its own. I’ve only read a few Elizabeth Lowell romances, but she seems to have a type.

The two leads form a bond that turns from merely carnal into spiritual, and that’s when you believe that this isn’t just another love story but one that’s worth telling.

In the end, there are some twists revealed about her father, which aren’t so shocking, and don’t prevent our mains from getting together.

Final Analysis of Dark Fire

The lovemaking in Dark Fire was deep and purple and reached religious heights. At first, it irritated me, but then I realized that if Elizabeth Lowell was going to write a romance, it might be a romance that is one for the ages, not just a humdrum story of two strangers passing in the night.

This book was over the top with its overwrought mess, it should rate it a 3-star read, but I had to give it 4 stars for the ‘stache alone.

4.00

Rating Report Card
Plot
4
Characters
4
Writing
3.5
Chemistry
3.5
Fun Factor
4
Cover
4
Overall: 3.8

Synopsis

INTO THE WOODS

Cynthia’s father had insisted she hire a survival specialist for her Ecuadorian trip, and she’d reluctantly complied, only to find Trace Rawlings was everything she disliked in a man: ruthless, domineering, egotistical. Yet traveling through the treacherous South American rain forest, she found he was all the man she needed ….

Trace was no tour guide, particularly not for some pampered rich kid. But he could name his price, and he rarely said no to an opportunity. When Cynthia Ryan appeared on his doorstep, he knew he’d made the right decision. She was the exception to all his rules–especially the one about never falling in love.

DARK FIRE by ELIZABETH LOWELL
midnight fires carol finch

Historical Romance Review: Midnight Fires by Carol Finch

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Midnight Fires by Carol Finch.

The Plot

Part One of Midnight Fires

Midnight Fires begins in a tavern in Bristol, England, circa 1812. Among the citizens, there is Glenna Lombard. Glenna is the sister of Norina Shaw, wife of Lord Edwin Shaw, whom Glenna wanted to marry. As a result, Glenna feels a deep hatred for her sister, who is far more well-off than she is.

We later meet Danielle Shaw, the heroine and one of Norina and Edwin’s children. They also have a son, David. Edwin is pushing Danielle to marry Thomas Seward, the son of one of his business associates. When Thomas tries to take too many liberties with Danielle, she rejects and embarrasses him publicly.

Humiliated by her rejection, Thomas conspires with Glenna and an evil pirate, Colby Morgan, to kidnap Danielle.

Danielle is rescued from Morgan’s ship by Travis Radbourne, an American sea captain, who has his own reasons for wanting to get revenge on Morgan.

Travis has many dilemmas with Danielle, not the least of which is that he can’t take her back to England as they are at war with the U.S. As they spend time together, Danielle and Travis become attracted to each other.

In an attempt to end the attraction, Travis takes Danielle to his tobacco plantation in North Carolina and enrolls her in boarding school. There is a considerable age difference between the pair. Danielle is much younger at 16 than Travis’s 31 years.

These efforts fail to end their attraction for each other. Soon after, Danielle and Travis become lovers.

After their intimacy, Travis leaves, partially out of guilt and partially because of the differences in their ages.

Part Two of Midnight Fires

He continues to fight the British and ends up wounded in one fight. Danielle then nurses him back to health.

While Travis was away, Danielle became engaged to Blair Ramsey, a son of a North Carolina banker. Travis makes it clear he disapproves of Blair–his dislike is justified–and eventually succeeds in breaking up their engagement and marrying Danielle himself.

While in America, Danielle makes some enemies, and those enemies try to do Danielle harm. They don’t succeed. When the war ends, Travis plans to take Danielle back to England to her family.

A lot has changed in the four years she’s been away. Glenna has ensconced her daughter, Annice, into the good graces of the Shaws’. Annice is married to Thomas. Glenna’s financial situation has improved.

And no one knows about her evil scheme. Or so she thinks.

Glenna’s house of cards begins to fall when Danielle and Travis show up in London, followed by Morgan, who survived the destruction of his ship and is now out for revenge against Glenna and Danielle.

Morgan assaults Glenna, kidnaps Danielle, and shoots Travis.

Travis is nursed back to health by Seward, who takes him to the Shaw estate. Seward confesses his part in Danielle’s earlier kidnapping, and Edwin and Travis cross swords on many subjects, among them: the fact that Travis is an American, and his wish to take Danielle back to America rather than live in England.

Travis is able to rescue Danielle from Morgan’s clutches, killing Morgan in the process. He also wins over Edwin–grudgingly–and Danielle and Travis have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

Danielle and Travis are strong characters and they are well-matched, both strong, passionate people who occasionally cut each other to ribbons verbally, but also eventually realize they love each other.

Downside

Like so many 1980s romance novels, Midnight Fires is based on the trope of assuming facts not in evidence. Characters ruminate incessantly over what they think the other person is thinking and feeling, as opposed to knowing. All of this could have been avoided had Danielle and Travis actually TALKED WITH EACH OTHER!

Of course, had that happened, this book and probably hundreds of other books in the romance genre would not exist.

Sex

There are far more love scenes in Midnight Fires than there are typically in Ms. Finch’s books.

However, one thing remains: enough purple prose to make Minnesota’s sports teams proud.

Violence

Assault, battery, stabbings, shootings, and killings appear in the book. None of the violence is graphic.

Bottom Line On Midnight Fires

Midnight Fires is a typical Carol Finch book. It’s very good but lacks the dynamic qualities to make it great.

4 Stars


Synopsis:

Abducted from her beloved England, trapped aboard a pirate ship, and rescued by a handsome American captain, beautiful Danielle Shaw had had her fill of adventure! She should have been terrified when Captain Travis Radbourne informed her they were now in the midst of a war, but all she could think of was the way his tight black breeches clung to his muscled thighs and the way she would love to cling to his strong, broad chest…

When Travis saw the treasure he had pulled from the sea, he was stunned. From Dani’s wide emerald eyes to her smooth alabaster skin and silky golden tresses, she was alluring, enticing, and altogether irresistible. He longed to taste her full, red lips, caress her satiny curves, lose himself in her sweet, seductive embrace, and take her on a passionate journey to a summit ablaze with MIDNIGHT FIRES.

Midnight Fires by Carol Finch
texas-temptation-gina-robins-maybe-sivavec

Historical Romance Review: Texas Temptation by Gina Robins

book review historical romance
Texas Temptation by Gina Robins
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1989
Illustrator: Diane Sivavec
Imprint or Line: Zebra Lovegram
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Western Romance
Format: Paperback
Buy on: Amazon
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Texas Temptation by Gina Robins

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book and the Characters

This review is of Texas Temptation a standalone by Gina Robins (a pseudonym for author Connie Feddersen, aka Connie Finch) published by Zebra/Kensington, October 1989.

Heroine: Catlin Quinn, 22. Honey-blond hair, violet eyes. Becomes a newspaper reporter upon arrival in San Antonio.

Hero: Lucas “Doc” Murdock, 31. Black hair, brown eyes. Cowboy/rancher.Owner, Flying Spur ranch.

The Plot

Part 1

As the book begins, Catlin Quinn, the heroine, is arriving in San Antonio, Texas to live with her aunt, Martha Lewis. This is after her life in post-Civil War Louisiana becomes too hellish to bear.

When her stagecoach is robbed, Catlin seeks medical attention. Caitlin receives it from Lucas Murdock, the hero, whom she thinks is a doctor (he’s not). They are attracted to each other, but both try to fight it.

Eventually, Catlin and Lucas give in to their attraction and become lovers. However, Catlin is forced to leave Texas by a vengeful man, Dr. Emmet Blake, who tries to control both her and Lucas.

Part 2

Catlin flees Texas, disguises herself as a male, and joins Lucas’ cattle drive to Colorado. He soon realizes her disguise and exposes her. Soon, Catlin and Lucas are continuing their relationship, albeit not without a lot of tempestuous moments.

Meanwhile, another person, Jace Osborn, has also joined Lucas’ crew. His motives, however, are far less sanguine.

Part 3

Catlin returns to San Antonio to confront Emmet, which leads her into more trouble (Emmet is later killed).Later, after a few revelations, arguments, and lots of making love, Catlin and Lucas agree to marry and have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

Readers who know the “Carol Finch/Gina Robins” name know that they can expect a rom-com type of book, and that is certainly the case here in Texas Temptation. Catlin and Lucas are a high-spirited, well-matched couple with good chemistry that jumps off the pages.

Downside

If you’ve read one of Ms. Feddersen’s books under the “Carol Finch/Gina Robins” name and then read this one, you might feel like you’ve read this story before, it’s because you basically have.

Every one of the “Carol Finch/Gina Robins” books features the same premise. A beautiful, curvaceous, shapely, spirited heroine falls in love with a roguish hero. Lots of witty banter, dangerous situations, and love follows. It’s basically the same script in every book.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, I’d just like to see a little more variety sometimes.

Sex

As usual, Ms. Robins’ love scenes are full of purple prose where the characters are “seeking ultimate depths of intimacy” and more flowery language.

Violence

Assault, battery, and murder all take place in Texas Temptation. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line on Texas Temptation

Texas Temptation isn’t Ms. Robins’ best work, but it’s pretty good.

***

Location: San Antonio, Texas, post-Civil War.

Tropes: Displaced Southerners. Historical romance. Romantic comedy. Texas.

3.63 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
4
Characters
4.5
Writing
4
Chemistry
3
Fun Factor
3.5
Cover
4
Overall: 3.8

Synopsis:

SHE’D SWORN TO HATE ALL MEN

Men! They had brought pretty Catlin Quinn nothing but trouble, destroying her family, burning her plantation, and stealing her land. So when the distrusting beauty stumbled into Lucas “Doc” Murdoch, she wasn’t about to give him a friendly “hello.” She threatened him, insulted him, reviled him… but even as the golden-haired spitfire warned the cowboy away, her body was inflamed by his nearness. Her curves ached for his caress, her blood clamored for fulfillment-and her heart yearned for the wild rapture only he could give!

HE VOWED HE’D NEVER LOVE AGAIN

After losing the first love of his life, rancher Lucas Murdoch knew he could never love another woman. The handsome rakehell had moved to San Antonio to blot out his bitter memories by taming broncs, driving cattle and bedding females. Then the hot-tempered Catlin Quinn fell into his arms and all of a sudden, Lucas could think of nothing else. Vowing to possess her body and soul, he pursued the luscious vixen, stealing kisses and snatching embraces, determined to learn all the secrets of his seductive Texas Temptation.

TEXAS TEMPTATION by GINA ROBINS

Historical Romance Review: The Silver Link by Patricia Potter

Synopsis:

Why would her heart not listen to reason?

Antonia Ramirez knew that the tall, blond American was not to be trusted. Hadn’t it been American soldiers who had killed her mother and left her father a cripple? Yet Tristan Hampton had awakened something deep inside her that would not be denied.

Since the moment he’d first laid eyes on Antonia, Tris Hampton had been lost. He was haunted by her dark beauty. She made him feel he’d finally found the completeness he’d spent a lifetime searching for. But her father clearly hated him, and someone wanted to see him dead. Of Antonia’s love, he was certain. The question of her loyalty was still to be answered.

THE SILVER LINK by PATRICIA POTTER

SPOILER FREE REVIEW 😊

The Book

Patricia Potter creates a wonderful Latina heroine in Antonia Ramirez in her Harlequin Historical The Silver Link. She falls in love with the Anglo-American Tristan Hampton. The two are from different worlds. Despite the great risks in front of them, they are united by a love stronger than any bond. As such, they share a link that never can be severed.

The Plot

Tristan Hampton is a military man from Virginia. He is on a mission to oversee Albuquerque’s stable transition from Mexican rule to American governance.

Antonia Ramirez is a beauty he must have. She is descended from noble, land-owning Spanish lineage. Her New Mexican roots go back generations. Her family–and more importantly her would-be husband, Ramon–are hostile to Tris, the Yanqui soldier.

When Antonia and Tristan first meet, it’s instant love. There will be many obstacles ahead before they can be together if that happens.

This was one of the first Harlequin Historicals I read. The Silver Link was a sweeping epic of two people from different societies. I enjoyed how Tris and Tonia would always find times to meet in secret. They would return to their mesa time again to share their passion.

Forbidden love is at its best here.

Here is a word of warning for those who dislike violence. The Silver Link is also quite gruesome and bloody. Tristan is shot, beaten, and has to save Antonia numerous times from attempted rape.

latina heroine
French Edition of The Silver Link

The Silver Link by Patricia Potter is packed with thrilling action. It’s also an outstanding love story.

Antonia is a rare Latina heroine, for the time. Her proud and resilient nature made her stand out. Tristan is an equally strong American hero. The Mexican-American War era is an intriguing period of transition and is a remarkable setting. Overall, it’s a hard book to forget.

4 Stars

Nebraska fires bruce emmett

Historical Romance Review: Nebraska Fire by Lauren Wilde

historical romance review

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book and Characters

This review is of Nebraska Fire by Lauren Wilde, a Zebra Lovegram romance.

The book starts with Elizabeth “Liza” Cameron, looking back on how she came west.

Backstory: Liza is an English immigrant, who sailed from England after her parents passed. Her brother, Dan, died on the trip to New York. Liza arrives in New York and meets a woman, Anne Garrett, and becomes friends with her. Anne accepted a job as a governess for the nephew of Alex Cameron, a rancher from Nebraska. Anne died in an accident. Before passing, she asked Liza to take her place.

Thus, as the book begins, Liza finds herself in Nebraska, where she meets Alex, the hero of the book.

Alex is NOT happy to see Liza, for several reasons. One, she’s younger than he expected. Two, he questions her qualifications to be a governess to his four-year-old nephew, Andy. And three, and most importantly, he’s attracted to her. Liza is also attracted to Alex).

The Plot

Peril soon finds Liza as she is abducted by Kiowa Indians. Alex rescues her and they become lovers. We also learn more about Alex’s history (his parents are deceased. His brother Rob, a ne’er do well, is also deceased. Rob’s wife, Marilee, Andy’s mother, left two years ago).

As they spend more time together, Liza and Alex fall in love. However, he doesn’t tell her that he loves her; this inability to say those three words will cause a rift between them. Liza leaves Alex, but this turns out to be a mistake as she is accosted by one of his former hands, who tries to rape and kill her.

Alex had fired the man after an earlier rape attempt against Liza and beat the man senselessly.

Liza is taken in by Rita, the owner of a brothel, and Liza discovers she is pregnant with Alex’s child. Liza will later give birth to a son.

Alex finds Liza, he tells her he loves her and their son, and they resolve their issues. There had been misconceptions to overcome. Alex left Liza a note stating that he was going to find someone to marry them and that he loved her. She didn’t see the note and thought he was leaving her. It was all a misunderstanding and lack of communication.

Alex and Liza marry and have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

Ms. Wilde is a very good atmospheric author; she made me feel as though I was watching her characters’ lives as opposed to simply reading a book. Liza and Alex are both well-developed characters; Liza is very likable.

Downside

Alex is a bit all over the place. He starts as an obnoxious boor, becomes nice at times, then is obnoxious again and is nice toward the end; these mood swings are jarring and not explained at all. It makes him a somewhat unlikeable character.

Sex

A few love scenes are short and rather rudimentary, a few are more expansive. Ms. Wilde is a practitioner of what I call “soft erotica”. Her writing wouldn’t be called erotica today, but for a mainstream mass-market romance novel, she writes some of her love scenes with enough pepper in the soup to be good.

Violence

Most of the violence takes place “off-screen”. However, there are scenes of assault, attempted rape, and battery. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line on Nebraska Fire

Nebraska Fire is not a flawless book, but it is good enough to warrant a 4-star grade. If Alex were a nicer, better hero, it might have crept into the 5-star range.

4 Stars


Synopsis:

RILED RANCHER

What had she done? And why had she ever thought it would work? Taking her best friend’s place as a tutor to Alex Cameron’s nephew had not been a good idea, not at all. And now, staring into the virile rancher’s smoldering steel-gray eyes proved Lisa Wentworth was right. He didn’t want her on his ranch, caring for the young boy. He wanted her gone and out of his coal-black hair. Yet when he held her against his strong muscular chest, his hands caressing her soft, full curves, she felt his hard, lean body tremble, and his warm lips on hers, telling her not to listen to his foolish words . . . but only to the wild beating of his heart that begged her never to leave him . . .

LUSTY LADY

Alex Cameron was absolutely shocked when he found a beautiful, delicate creature standing in the middle of the godforsaken prairie. And beautiful she was with hair that shone like the sun, dark violet eyes that blazed with passion, and a wide, sensuous mouth that was made for kissing. She was a lady, all right. First-class stuff. So what was she doing here? Was she running from the law? Or an irate husband? No matter. Lady or not, she spelled trouble, and he was sending her packing as soon as he could take her luscious body in his arms and lose himself in her sweet Nebraska Fire.

Nebraska Fire by LAUREN WILDE
could it be magic

Category Romance Review: Could It Be Magic by Gina Wilkins

category romance
Could It Be Magic by Gina Wilkins
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1989
Illustrator: TBD
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Temptation #283
Published by: Harlequin
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 229
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: Could It Be Magic by Gina Wilkins

SPOILER FREE REVIEW 😊

The Book

Gina WilkinsCould It Be Magic is a comfy yet romantic read. It’s a sensually-charged Harlequin Temptation from the early 1990s.

The Characters

Gwen DeClerck is a staid, young widow who had been married to a man twice her age.

When Jeremy Kane, a famous magician, moves next door, he turns her stable world upside down with excitement and passion.

The Setup

Gwen De Clerck owns a lovely house she shared with her deceased husband. She’s a little plump and considers herself homely, even though she’s not yet 30.

Suffice it to say that Gwen has a nice, settled existence and enjoys her work as a school teacher.

One day she notices a truck pulling into her next-door neighbor’s driveway and movers bringing in boxes.

And an assortment of strange creatures, including… a monkey?

Gwen instinctively knows her life is going to change. She glimpses long, leggy women entering the house at all hours.

It figures. A playboy has moved next door!

But when she meets her neighbor, he’s unlike any man she’s ever met. Gwen doesn’t know what to think about him.

The Plot

Jeremy Kane is a superstar magician who’s a bit of an introvert despite his showmanship ways. He has tall, lithe redheads as his assistants, a far cry from Gwen’s brunette and curvy cuteness.

But any good magician would tell you the “eye candy” is a mere distraction from the trick. Plus, Jeremy’s not interested in his co-workers. He views them as young sisters.

The handsome showman is instantly smitten with Gwen and declares his intention to make her part of his life.

His pursuit of her takes him to every aspect of her life, from home to work.

There, Jeremy contrives to be Gwen’s winning prize in the “Teacher Must Kiss a Pig Contest.”

To Gwen’s shock, Jeremy shows up in a pig mask to claim his prize. He also performs a dazzling show for Gwen’s eager students.

Jeremy breaks down Gwen’s reserve. Her resolve leaves her, and she enters what she believes will be a brief fling.

Because there couldn’t possibly be anything more for a woman like her and a man like Jeremy?

The title of Could It Be Magic is based on the Barry Manilow song. Gwen hears the tune while driving and gets emotional as she realizes how deep her feelings for Jeremy run.

She wants more than a temporal romance. Is that even possible? It would take the magic of love to make their relationship last forever.

Final Analysis of Could It Be Magic

Jeremy doggedly goes after the woman he desires–as he knows he has a magical connection with her that transcends the material.

Modern-day readers may see his pursuit blur into “stalker-ish,” but it’s written without any nefarious, overly macho intentions.

Gwen’s recalcitrant attitude did get a bit frustrating, but she soon melts for Jeremy, so it’s good.

As I said, Gina Wilkin’s Could It Be Magic is a delightful romance novel worthy of a look.

4 Stars

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

Synopsis

Schoolteacher Gwen DeClerk was stable and reliable – and furious that those were the qualities her new neighbor, international showman Jeremy Kane, found most attractive. She didn’t want to be admired for her practicality. She wanted to be lusted after…the way she secretly craved Jeremy.

Gwen sensed a smoldering undercurrent between them, and she had a choice: remain a timid schoolmarm for the rest of her life or show Jeremy a side of her he had yet to discover. What could she lose? Miss Prim and Proper was about to become Ms. Hot and Heavy!

COULD IT BE MAGIC by GINA WILKINS

wish on the moon

Category Romance Review: Wish on the Moon by Sally Wentworth

MILD SPOILERS😉

The Book

Wish on the Moon by Sally Wentworth has gotten mixed to low reviews around the internet, but it’s a romance I fully enjoyed.

The Plot

The heroine of Wish on the Moon, Skye, is a plain-looking, sweet girl who goes out to a Caribbean island for her cousin Jodi’s wedding.

Skye has always been in Jodi’s shadow: not as pretty, not as popular, not as rich. Skye is mopey but likable because she’s imperfect. You get the idea. She’s a portrait painter, and Jodi wants her to paint a picture of her fiance.

The sparks fly for the heroine and the hero. Who’s the hero? The very man she’s to paint a portrait of. Thane is very handsome and from the upper-crust of society. And he’s engaged to marry Skye’s cousin, Jodi.

Thane seems antagonistic to Skye at first, and that’s because he’s fighting his feelings for her. He’s not ga-ga over Jodi, but he cared enough about her to consider her the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with. Thane is not a willing cheater. But along comes Skye with her gentleness, openness, and sporting no airs of superiority.

Jodi is instinctively aware of the attraction between the pair, although she finds it hard to accept, as Skye is so “beneath” her in every way. Jodi isn’t written as a perfect martyr. She’s not very nice, and other than her wealth and beauty. One wonders what Thane sees in her.

There is a scene towards the end when Jodi sees the portrait Skye painted. She flies into a rage and destroys it. So stunning was Skye’s work that it cried out her love for Thane.

Skye and Thane struggle with their attraction. Surprisingly, Skye is more willing to take a chance than Thane is. Perhaps that was to show Thane wasn’t written to be an utterly callous monster with no regard for other people’s feelings.

My Opinion

Nevertheless, love finds a way in Wish on the Moon. Even though Jodi tries to get revenge, it’s not enough to stop what must be.

This is an unusual romance because technically, the heroine is “the other woman.” She comes in and breaks up a seemingly happy engagement–and not just a random stranger’s but her cousin’s. This trope seems to be unliked around Harlequin-loving circles, and it’s easy to understand why.

If I put myself in Jodi’s shoes, I’d see she had every right to be upset with her cousin and fiance. But Harlequin Presents exist in a part of the universe where crazy topes are acceptable and, within the hands of a solid writer, can be emotional-wrenching reads you actually enjoy. Sally Wentworth was one of Harlequin’s talented writers who could handle this plot.

Final Analysis of Wish on the Moon

Perhaps if I had read Sally Wentworth’s Wish on the Moon from Jodi’s point of view, I would have felt differently toward the main couple and viewed them as antagonists, not as the protagonists they were. Even so, perspective can alter the way opinions are formed.

Plus, with Wentworth’s solid writing, she had me rooting for Thane and Skye. She’s written some crazy books in her day, but for the most part, Wentworth was in my top tier of writers from this imprint.

Obviously, holidays for this family will mean separate households! But such is the case in HP Romancelandia.

4 Stars


Synopsis:

She felt betrayed by fate…

From England, Skye Holman had traveled to the colorful Bahamas, happily anticipating her cousin Jodi’s wedding. But when she met Thane Tyson, the groom-to-be, she couldn’t deny the spark that ignited between them.

Resolutely, Skye convinced herself that she had nothing in common with Thane. She was an artist who valued tranquility—whereas Thane was a lawyer, driven by ambition. In fact, social-climbing Jodi would be perfect for him.

Yet Skye longed for Thane, even though she was reaching for the moon. And, despite her own pain, she would never deliberately hurt Jodi. 

WISH ON THE MOON by SALLY WENTWORTH
Skye O'Malley bertrice small

Historical Romance Review: Skye O’Malley by Bertrice Small

historical romance review
Skye O'Malley by Bertrice Small
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1980
Illustrator: Glenn Madison
Book Series: The O'Malley Saga #1
Published by: Ballantine
Genres: Erotic Romance, Harem Romance, Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Tudor Era Romance
Pages: 480
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Skye O’Malley by Bertrice Small

Spoiler Alert ⚠

Skye O’Malley: The Most Perfect Heroine Ever?

Oh, never, ever was there a lass as lovely as Bertrice Small‘s Skye O’Malley.

With raven locks, eyes as blue-green as the Kerry sea, tiny waist, impossibly long legs for such a wee girl, pert boobies, and a fantastical elastic vagina that bounces back to its teen glory no matter how many kids she births (she must’ve done her Kegels), Skye is the most beautiful, most desirable, most enchanting, the “bestest ever!”

The Plot

Any man who looks upon her nubile beauty will be inflicted with priapism.

The sole cure is a ticket of the old in and out of Skye’s mossy cavern of passion. Her weeping honey-oven. Her juicy love-grotto, as it were. Yup, only the cringiest, the purplest of euphemisms are here.

The vintage “Queen of Erotic Romance,” Bertrice Small takes us across the seas and nations to experience the highs and lows–but mostly orgasmic highs–of Skye’s life.

Women, be they the female pirate Grace O’Malley or the Queen of England herself, Queen Bee, are intimidated by her beauty and her fiery, passionate nature!

And men… Well, they all want to delve their pulsing lances into her moist, dewy petaled sheath.

But though Skye had learned the womanly arts she had not become a biddable female. Not Skye O’Malley!

Hero #1

Not one hero will do for our eponymous goddess of a heroine, Skye O’Malley. She’s too hot and needs a lot of thick hose to put out her fires!

The daughter of an Irish laird/pirate named Dubhdara, Skye is secretly in love with Niall, a powerful lord’s son. Alas, she is too saucy a wench and will never do for Niall. So the powers that be connive to wed Skye to their son, dumb Dom.

Then our hero does something that shocks everyone. On Skye’s wedding night, Niall stuns the revelers when he interrupts the festivities, points his finger at Skye, and says, “I claim droit de seigneur of this woman!” Which is so goofy, and like the film “Braveheart,” ahistorical, but just go with it.

Afterward, Skye is left to live with Dom, who’s got a giant wang, but only teases Skye with it, as he never lasts long. Besides, it’s incestuous hook-ups with his sister, Claire, he prefers.

Occasionally, Dom brings Skye into their little dalliances, although Skye is unwilling. She bares Dom’s 2 sons before he’s paralyzed and then eventually dies.

Niall, in the meantime, was married off to frigid, crazed Darragh, whom he eventually casts aside. She enters a nunnery, and now he and Skye are free to marry.

Hero #2

Uh-uh-uh, not so fast.

Our independent Skye demands to expand her father’s shipping business, and wouldn’t you know it, she gets shipwrecked and loses her memory.

Skye ends up in Algiers to have yet another true love affair, this time with the Grand Whoremaster of Algiers, Khaled-El-Bey. In Bertrice Small’s corner of Romancelandia, Irish-Welsh-Scottish-English women from the Middle Ages to post-Enlightenment were drawn to harems like sharp nails to magnets (ouch, bad metaphor).

Skye becomes one of his earthly houris, but strictly for his personal use, and not only that but his top bitch, her poon so fine, even the biggest pimp in all of pimpdom has to put a ring on it.

Niall is this time married off to a Spanish girl. The sweet, innocent virgin Niall seduces and then marries turns out to be the opposite of wife #1. She’s an insatiable nympho who becomes a clandestine whore because even with Niall giving it to her three times a night, it’s not enough.

Yada, yada, yada, Skye O’Malley gives Khaled El-Bey a daughter, but he croaks due to harem machinations and jealousy.

Skye, who’s so awesome she can always depend on the kindness of strangers to help her out, leaves for England, even though she still has amnesia.

Hero #3

There she is pursued by yet another true love, Geoffrey.

The blond, green-eyed arrogant Lord Southwood bets that he can seduce the mysterious Skye, who spurns him, then entices him, and makes him fall for her until… she’s his!

Oh, and he’s married. Skye doesn’t care.

His wife dies and eventually, Skye marries Geoffrey and is blissfully happy. Until that is, her memory returns when she sees Niall almost killed and screams out his name. But again, they’re married to different people, so they can’t be together.

I hated Geoffrey and was glad when he kicked the bucket.

He blamed his first wife for being unable to bear sons and threw it in her face that’s why he abandoned her. His perfect Skye would have no trouble giving him sons, though. Her vag is pH balanced to accept only the most macho of y-alleles (and only a rare x-swimmer).

She bears Geoffrey two boys, one who dies with his father during the pox.

The Villain & the Honestly Nice Guy

After Geoffrey dies, Skye is left unprotected, as the wicked Queen Bess forces Skye to be her beloved Earl of Lessessester, er–any-who, Lord Robert Dudley’s plaything.

A little bestiality is hinted at as the awful Robert uses his servants as sex slaves to be used by his friends.

But not Skye. Skye, he will abuse her for his own purposes and not in a fun way. Dudley rapes Skye until he’s had his use of her, and she’s left traumatized.

After her awful arrangement with Dudley, Skye shies away from men–no, not really.

She gets involved in some smuggling and shipping with another Lord, Adam De Marisco, an Englishman.

For some reason, my favorite of Skye’s men was Adam, a nice, laughing guy with a beard who made sex pleasurable for Skye again (which, to be fair, wasn’t that difficult of a task). He was like a big teddy bear, with no arrogance, no baggage, just pure fun. Adam soothes Skye’s hurts and gives her passion without entanglements.

Why she didn’t end up with him in this book is beyond me. But he’ll make a return in the series, and I like what happened with him in All the Sweet Tomorrows.

Back to #1

Remember that lusty wife Niall had? Well, now, she’s near-death because she’s suffering from the pox (not the pox that killed Geoffrey, the other pox). 

Not Niall, though. He’s STD-free because that lucky guy gets to be this book’s hero. Due to that, having sex with a woman who’s had sex with hundreds of men doesn’t even make it hurt when he pees. Not even a weird itching!

All things fall into place, so Niall and Skye find their way back into each other’s arms. The dull, boring hero, Niall, gets his beautiful, perfect, sexual, rich, fecund, brilliant (yeah, that last one was a stretch) Skye O’Malley.

Final Analysis of Skye O’Malley

After bearing her assorted lovers and husbands (6 if you’re counting; it seems like more only because, to be fair, Skye does engage in a lot of sex) 5 children (with more kids to come), her figure–and her moist cavern of love–remain tiny and petite, unchanging despite age, births or time.

This book is a romp. Not meant to be taken deeply because if you do, you might experience heartbreak.

I am so glad I read Skye O’Malley when I was well into my twenties. If I had read this as a teen, my poor little heart wouldn’t have been able to take it.

One woman having that many men she all truly loved and in such a short amount of time (relatively), in a romance novel!

Thankfully, with maturity comes the ability to relax and not take everything so seriously, and Skye O’Malley is not a book to be taken seriously.

It’s so bad, yet so good, yet so bad… which is the best of qualities in an old bodice ripper.

I didn’t love Bertrice Small’s magnum opus Skye O’Malley, but I had a ball reading it. And that’s all that matters.

4 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
4
Characters
4
Writing
4
Chemistry
4.5
Fun Factor
4.5
Cover
5
Overall: 4.3

Synopsis:

There has never been a woman like luscious, raven-haired, hot-tempered Skye O’Malley. She is the courageous seafaring captain of her own mighty fleet, and intelligent enough to win a battle of wits with Queen Elizabeth herself. Follow along as Skye O’Malley is swept up in a journey filled with romance and passion that takes her from glittering Ireland, to lush Algeria, to the heart of London in pursuit of a unique and eternal love…

SKYE O’MALLEY by BERTRICE SMALL
Sweet Savage love

Historical Romance Review: Sweet Savage Love by Rosemary Rogers

historical romance review
Sweet Savage Love by Rosemary Rogers
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1974
Illustrator: Unknown, H. Tom Hall
Book Series: Ginny & Steve #1, Morgan & Challenger Saga #1
Published by: Avon
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Western Romance
Pages: 636
Format: Paperback, eBook
Buy on: Amazon
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Sweet Savage Love by Rosemary Rogers

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

Sweet Savage Love, The (Other) Mother of Romance

Where to begin with this review? Sweet Savage Love by the great Rosemary Rogers is–along with Kathleen E. WoodiwissThe Flame and the Flower–the blockbuster historical that launched a new genre: the modern romance novel.

Published by Avon in 1974, this 700+ page doorstopper was a monumental game-changer in an era of social transformation. Sweet Savage Love showed readers that “good” women could have passionate sex with a hero outside of marriage and also have passionate sex with men other than the hero.

Of course, the hero was laying pipe across the United States and Mexico, the primary setting for Sweet Savage Love.

This is a true bodice ripper, featuring rape, forced seduction, abduction, cheating, adultery, multiple sex partners, a dominant, magnetic hero, and a heroine who stomps her feet in anger while her eyes flash in defiance.

sweet-savage-love-hall
Sweet Savage Love, Alternative Cover version, Avon, Tom Hall cover art

The Hero & The Heroine

Our heroine Virginia “Ginny” Brandon, is the half-French, half-American convent-raised daughter of a US Senator. She has fiery copper hair and flashing, slanted green eyes.

Ginny loves to dance like a gypsy, kicking her legs up in the air, her skirts swirling around her. You will hear this repeated constantly throughout the book.

Steve Morgan is this romance’s–ahem–hero. He is a darkly-tanned former Union soldier with deep blue eyes and black hair.

Rogers modeled him after Clint Eastwood, among others. I also got a Gregory Peck vibe from “Duel In the Sun” about Steve.

Imagine the most macho, virile man you possibly can. Picture ovulating women throwing themselves at his feet while low-T males shrink in self-awareness as that super-male confidently swaggers by.

That imaginary ideal isn’t fit to be a pimple sprouting hair on Steve Morgan’s muscular chest.

Steve is a soldier, a spy, a cowboy, and a Comanche ally. He’s a wealthy ranchero of mixed American and Spanish-Mexican descent. He is muy hombre, as we shall see.

Sweet Savage Love, Alternate Version, Troubador

The Epic Plot

Steve the Stud Meets Ginny the Dancing Gypsy

The lovely Virginia Brandon returns to the United States from France, where she had been raised in a convent. Her widowed father has remarried a gorgeous woman young woman. Much, much younger.

Ginny’s stepmother, Sonya, is quite familiar with Steve “The Stud” Morgan. They shared a passionate night together, where Steve practically raped her. Of course, Sonya enjoyed his illicit forced seduction. There are few women who haven’t fallen prey to Steve’s animal magnetism.

A scandal ensues from Sonya and Steve’s dalliance and Steve finds himself potentially facing the death penalty. He agrees to act as a spy in exchange for his life. It’s suspected that Senator Brandon is up to traitorous acts.

Senator Brandon has interests in Mexico, particularly with the controlling government of Emperor Maximillian. Steve–who is against the French–is charged with accompanying the Brandons across the country. He plans to draw them into a trap with the help of some Bandidos. The plot takes off from here.

Steve kidnaps Ginny, and though she fights him like a hellion, she–like all women with a pulse–falls for his ultra studliness. Circumstances find Ginny and Steve caught in a compromising situation and they are forced to marry.

But do you think marriage will stop Esteban Alvarado (Steve’s Spanish name) from being el tigere that he is? No way. He’s kissing broads in front of his new wife and banging other women on the side.

sweet savage love bodice ripper
Sweet Savage Love, Alternate Version, Troubador

Two Strong-Willed, Beautiful Idiots

The best part of the story is when Ginny and Steve are trekking through the Western wilderness. But Rogers doesn’t like her characters being happy. She throws everything imaginable at them.

The action takes us to Mexico, where Ginny and Steve are separated multiple times. There are lies, deceptions, and double-crosses. Mexican soldiers violate Ginny. A deranged doctor tortures Steve…and then some!

Ginny believes Steve is dead, so she becomes the willing mistress of a young señor.

When she finds out Steve is alive, she goes in search of him. Steve believes Ginny betrayed him, so he despises her, even as he lusts after her ravishing body. Lack of communication and big misunderstandings rule the day.

Oh, will these crazy kids just get over themselves and stay together forever?

My Opinion

Hablo Espanole?

One thing I recall about Sweet Savage Love is that much of the Spanish written was almost gibberish. This was a common occurrence in a lot of 1970s and 1980s romances, be they Harlequin Presents or bodice rippers. Rosemary Rogers’ good friend Shirlee Busbee had that same issue in her book While Passion Sleeps.

Spanish is, I think, the third most common language on Earth. It should have been easy for a former secretary like Rogers to get an English-to-Spanish dictionary and copy down a few words.

Ah, well, that’s a minor gripe.

rosemary rogers bodice ripper

Fast and Furious

The book is divided into sections and begins with a long prologue. It’s a hefty brick of a novel with words in tiny font. Thankfully, Rogers’ prose isn’t as purple and verbose as Woodiwiss’, so the pace is fast.

Still, Rogers has a penchant for repeating descriptions. Mentions of Ginny’s coppery hair and slanted green eyes and Steve’s lean, muscular figure seemed to be on every page. It got tedious.

Once the book got rolling, Sweet Savage Love was a gripping read. Rogers threw so much trauma at her characters; sometimes, I didn’t want to look!

This novel is not for the squeamish, sensitive reader. I first read this at 13, which I think was too young to truly appreciate the grand scope of this tawdry bodice ripper. Sweet Savage Love scared me. I couldn’t conceive heroes and heroines could act the way Ginny and Steve did.

It wasn’t until well into my twenties that I could handle that kind of behavior because my perspectives on romance novels had expanded to be open to new experiences.

sweet savage love rosemary rogers
Sweet Savage Love, Harlequin, 2014

Final Analysis of Sweet Savage Love

Sweet Savage Love is a seminal piece of fiction, a lusty saga all lovers of old-school romance should read.

I wouldn’t rank it the most incredible bodice ripper ever, however. Christine Monson’s Stormfire, Teresa Denys’ The Flesh and the Devil and The Silver Devil, and Anita Mills’ Lady of Fire are better written and engaging.

In my opinion, Rogers’ Wicked Loving Lies is her best book, with more sensitive characterization and deeper themes. It was just more fun than Sweet Savage Love.

The protagonists were wishy-washy and emotional, despite being adults. (At least Steve was a full-grown adult. I think Ginny was 16 or 17 in the beginning.) Steve was a slut. Ginny was a Mary Sue, too beautiful and desirable.

The immature duo couldn’t decide if they wanted to be together or not. The only thing these two could agree on was that they liked banging.

Even so, I enjoyed this overall. Ginny and Steve were larger-than-life people in a story that was larger-than-life.

Sweet Savage Love is an experience you won’t want to miss. It’s a thrilling co-progenitor of the modern romance genre.

I’d rate this bodice ripper between 4 and 4.5 stars. Although it’s not without flaws, I’d say it does merit a high mark.

4.24 Stars

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

Synopsis:

A tale of human emotion that lays bare the heights and depths of love, passion and desire in old and new worlds…as we follow Virginia Brandon, beautiful, impudent and innocent, from the glittering ballrooms of Paris to the sensuality of life in New Orleans to the splendor of intrigue-filled Mexico.

A tale of unending passion, never to be forgotten…the story of Virginia’s love for Steven Morgan, a love so powerful that she will risk anything for him…even her life.

SWEET SAVAGE LOVE by ROSEMARY ROGERS
Angel In Scarlet duillo

Historical Romance Review: Angel in Scarlet by Jennifer Wilde

Synopsis:

Angela Howard was the toast of London — a breathtaking vision every woman envied and every man longed to possess. Few would have dreamed this violet-eyed beauty was the precocious child of a country schoolmaster… the feisty girl who had spurned Lord Clinton Meredith, the “fairy tale prince”, to surrender her innocence to Hugh Bradford, his illegitimate brother… the young woman who had come to London with nothing but a broken heart — and a fierce determination to survive.

Now she was a celebrated actress; immortalized on canvas by Gainsborough; adored by Jamie Lambert, the playwright who made her his star; desired by the golden-haired lord obsessed with making her his lady… and still tormented with longing for the man who had branded her very soul with his passion, and who has now returned to reawaken past splendors of a love he means to reclaim….

ANGEL IN SCARLET by JENNIFER WILDE

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book – Angel In Scarlet

Jennifer Wilde, aka Mr. Thomas E. Huff, wrote a few bodice rippers before writing romances that weren’t bodice rippers but not quite traditional romances either.

Angel In Scarlet isn’t a bodice ripper. It’s a Georgian-Era chick-lit. This is a hard one to categorize. It’s not just a romance, but more of a heroine’s journey through life and her relationships with several men she meets along the way.

The Plot

Angel in Scarlet begins when our heroine Angela Howard is a child. At twelve years old, she meets Hugh, the man who will haunt her for her entire life. They have a strange first meeting: she’s a peeping Tom trying to catch an eyeful of some action, when Hugh, who’s 16, discovers her then gives her a spanking as a discipline!

Angela grows up with her cruel sisters and mother. Poor Angie, she’s so unattractive with her rich, chestnut hair, violet-gray eyes, and enormous boobies. Who would ever love her?

She goes through ups and downs. Angela carves her way into society, falls in love, and has her heart broken. She then moves to London to make it big as an actress. She gets married and is widowed, her heart gets broken once more.

Three men vie for Angela’s love: Hugh Bradford, the bastard son of a nobleman, whose passion for Angela is surpassed only by his desire for legitimacy & a title. There’s the arrogant womanizer, Lord Clinton Meredith, Hugh’s half-brother, who is more than what he seems. And last, the famous playwright, James “Jamie” Lambert, has a tumultuous professional and personal career with Angela.

Highlight to View Spoilers Below

In the end, Angela picked the last man I thought she should be with. It broke the rules to end up with the guy she did, but that’s what Mr. Huff was good at, breaking the rules. I can’t forget how shocked I was at the end of Love Me, Marietta.

So it was the “right” choice because the man she loved could never be content with just loving her.

(Highlight the white area below to read spoilers.)

Past the age of thirty, a person shouldn’t blame their parents for their shortcomings, yet Hugh had a rough childhood, so I couldn’t fault him. His life was so difficult, and he had nothing except his dreams. They were absolutely shattered at the end. He got what he wanted, but it wasn’t worth it without Angela.

Still, I felt bad for him. I guess that’s the mark of a good writer if you can make your “villain” sympathetic. He was single-minded and wrong, but Angela was so harsh because he wanted to get his fortune. Finished! Angela, you broke that man’s heart! He was cruel and misguided, but he loved you. After what happened to Clinton, she had every right to be. Clinton was not the man for her, but I loved him. He was so sweet (plus a blond) and got teary-eyed when he made his exit.

As for Jamie, he was a great character, but Angela lived with him for years and never realized she loved him until they were through. Certainly not the kind of epic love you’d expect in a romance. I wish Hugh hadn’t turned into a jerk for her to have to make that decision.

The scene where Jamie revealed his true feelings for Angela was fantastic, and if it had been more of those, I don’t think I’d feel as conflicted.

Let’s Get It On

Wilde never met a word that wasn’t a friend. Adverbs, adjectives, subjective clauses, it’s all there, and then some! One particular passage struck out to me as ridiculously cartoony:

We ate slowly, looking at each other the whole while, silent, anticipating, savoring the sensations building, mounting inside. Utterly enthralled I watched him eat chicken, his strong white teeth tearing the flesh apart, and it was thrilling, tantalizing. I observed the way his neck muscles worked when he swallowed his wine, and that was thrilling, too and I watched with fascination as his large brown hand reached out, fingers wrapping around a fuzzy golden-pink peach, clutching it. He took up a knife and carefully peeled the peach and divided it into sections and ate them one by one, his brown eyes devouring me as he did so. The tip of his tongue slipped out and slowly licked the peach juice from his lips…

ANGEL IN SCARLET

I think this was supposed to be a sensually-tinged scene like the one out of the film “Barry Lyndon.” As for me, I was reminded of the “3rd Rock From the Sun” Thanksgiving episode where Harry and Vicki have leftover foreplay, eating turkey legs and dipping their fingers in gravy. Then Harry puts a turkey carcass on his head, and the loving begins.

“3rd Rock From the Sun,” Carsey Werner Company/NBC

Final Analysis of Angel in Scarlet

This was the story of the rise of actress Angela Howard and her (not too many) loves.

At 600 pages long, Jennifer Wilde’s Angel in Scarlet runs a tad overlong. That might have been due to Wilde’s penchant for purple prose, clothes porn, and food porn. Sex porn? Nah, Wilde uses a stream of consciousness perspective and euphemisms for love scenes. Hardly porn.

Mr. Wilde could have cut out 100 pages of description. I didn’t need to know the details of every outfit worn by every character in every scene.

Although I enjoyed it, I’m not 100% certain Angela made the right decision in the end.

I wanted to hate this, but something about Huff’s writing pulled me in. Yes, it’s as purple as grape jelly and full of run-on sentences, but for some reason, I can tolerate it more than Kathleen Woodiwiss‘ prose. The tension of not knowing who Angela was going to choose and the resulting emotions when she did are feelings I won’t forget.

3.88 stars

marriage on the rebound

Category Romance Review: Marriage on the Rebound by Michelle Reid

category romance
Marriage on the Rebound by Michelle Reid
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1997
Illustrator: Unknown
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Presents #1973
Published by: Harlequin
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 192
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: Amazon

Category Romance Review: Marriage on the Rebound by Michelle Reid

VERY MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

Michelle Reid’s Marriage on The Rebound is about keeping it all in the family. Shaan Saketa is unique for a Harlequin Presents circa 1998 heroine, as she’s of mixed ethnic heritage: English and Lebanese. Otherwise, she’s like most other female main characters found in the land of these category romances. Shaan is young (not yet 23), a virgin, and an orphan.

And it’s her wedding day. Unfortunately for Shaan, she’s about to be dumped at the altar.

The Plot

Shaan is in her wedding dress when her fiancé’s brother and former boss, Rafe Danvers, comes to her with a “Dear John” letter. Her husband-to-be, Piers, says he can’t marry her because he’s in love with another woman.

Shaan is dejected, and her family is certain that there’s more than meets the eyes to this abrupt breakup. Rafe, ever the responsible fellow, is determined to help Shaan save face. He steps in and urges her to marry him. In shock, Shaan goes through the motions.

Rafe gives Shaan no time to think as she whisks her off to Hong Kong. As a way to help Shaan get over her turmoil, Rafe puts her secretarial skills to work, makes her go on shopping sprees, and socialize with his friends.

Why is Rafe so concerned about Shaan’s emotional state? Although Shaan remains unaware, it’s no secret to the reader: he’s suffering from a huge case of unrequited love.

It turns out Rafe fell for Shaan at first sight when they had a meet-cute after she bumped into him, causing a big paper-spill. Unfortunately, Rafe could not act on his feelings, as he had to deal with business matters. His younger brother, who was always jealous of Rafe, moved in to romance her. When Rafe returned, Shaan and Piers were a devoted couple.

But Shaan has no idea about Rafe’s adoration for her. She’s under the misapprehension that Rafe didn’t think a mixed-race girl of lower-class status was good enough for his brother. Sparks fly, but at the same time, Shaan can’t help but appreciate Rafe’s strong, capable demeanor. And once she takes notice of his good looks, things take a turn for the sensual.

Over time, Shaan finds herself falling for Rafe, but can she trust him? And what about Piers? Are her feelings for him gone forever?

Marriage on the Rebound,
Marriage on the Rebound, Michelle Reid, Harlequin, 2019 reissue

Final Analysis of Marriage On the Rebound

Michelle Reid, along with Lynne Graham and Miranda Lee, was one of the better authors to come out from the Harlequin Presents line in the early 1990s. Marriage on the Rebound is an example of her fine writing skills. Reid excels at creating vividly erotic scenes.

I enjoy the torn-between-two-brothers trope for some reason, even though I can’t say the same when it’s two sisters and one man. Rafe is a wonderful hero, stoic yet vulnerable. I found the plot to be well-executed.

Although I wasn’t sure Shaan was as in love with Rafe as he was with her. She is clearly on the rebound, as the book’s title says. Certainly, there’s an attraction there. Is she truly in love? It’s up to the reader to determine, but one thing’s for certain, Rafe and Shaan are hot for each other.

I’d rate Michelle Reid’s Marriage on the Rebound a solid 4, as it does make for a satisfying read.

4 Stars

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

Synopsis:

Jilted at the altar!

Shaan Saketa has heard the words before but never thought they would apply to her. Humiliated and alone, she stands facing a thousand guests when her boss, ruthless tycoon Rafe Danvers, makes a shocking proposal. Suddenly she finds herself married to the wrong man and whisked away on a honeymoon!

Rafe has always suspected that there was more to his mousy secretary than meets the eye, and he’s right. But as he indulges in exquisite nights little does he know that Shaan is wondering just how ruthless he really is and just how far he went to have her in his bed! 

MARRIAGE ON THE REBOUND by MICHELLE REID