Tag: adultery

Dueling Historical Romance Review #2: Desperado Dream by Karen A. Bale

Desperado Dream sabin
Desperado Dream, Karen A. Bale, Zebra, 1990, Robert Sabin cover art

Dueling Review Introvert Reader and Blue Falcon #1

In this new segment, we have two reviewers offering their opinions on a single romance. Blue Falcon gives Karen A. Bale’s Desperado Dream a positive review and found the book emotionally captivating. Introvert Reader, on the other hand, explains her negative perspective of the historical romance in her review.

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

4 1/2 Stars

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

This review is of Desperado Dream, the sequel to The Forever Passion by Karen A. Bale.

The Story:

It is 11 years in publishing time, but only 1 year in book time as the relationship between Lisa Jordan Anderson and her husband, Eric Anderson, continues. The couple and their daughter, Raya, live on a ranch in Monterey, California. The relationship between Lisa and Eric was tumultuous in The Forever Passion, and nothing changes in this book. After Eric and Lisa’s brother, Tom, go to San Francisco on a legal matter, they become involved in rescuing a woman, Teresa Torres, who falls for Eric, and he becomes attracted to her too. Meanwhile, back at the Del Mar ranch, Lisa has been kidnapped by a bandido named Cruz Estacan, who has orders to kill her, Eric, and Eric’s grandfather as a means of retaking the land Cruz and his cohorts believe belongs to them.... Read more “Dueling Historical Romance Review #2: Desperado Dream by Karen A. Bale”

Dueling Historical Romance Review #1: Desperado Dream by Karen A. Bale

Desperado Dream sabin
Desperado Dream, Karen A. Bale, Zebra, 1990, Robert Sabin cover art

Dueling Review: Introvert Reader and Blue Falcon #1

In this new segment, we have two reviewers offering their opinions on a single romance. Here, Introvert Reader explains her negative perspective of Karen A. Bale’s historical romance, Desperado Dream. Blue Falcon, on the other hand, gave it a positive review and found the book emotionally captivating.

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

1 Star

Rating: 1 out of 5.

False Advertising

The huge failure of this Zebra Lovegram romance, Desperado’s Dream by Karen A. Bale, rests on the fact that nothing in the book description hinted this was book #2 in a series about a married couple, Eric & Lisa. Of course, Zebra book descriptions never accurately describe the plot, but I didn’t know that back then. If I had known that going into it, I never would have purchased this romance. But at the tender age of 12, I was dazzled by the Robert Sabin cover. Plus, the purported hero’s name, Cruz, reminded me of the daytime soap opera, “Santa Barbara,” its phenom super couple, Eden & Cruz, and the hunky star, A. Martinez, who played half of said super-couple.... Read more “Dueling Historical Romance Review #1: Desperado Dream by Karen A. Bale”

Category Romance Review: Forbidden Fantasy by Tiffany White

Forbidden Fantasy
Forbidden Fantasy, Tiffany White, Harlequin, 1991, cover artist unknown

Harlequin Temptation #367

4 Stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A Book Burned Forever in My Memory

I burnt the beans!

Whenever I hear of Forbidden Fantasy by Tiffany White, a category romance from the 1990s, that’s the first thought that pops into my head. Then I recall the sweet twist which the plot hinges upon. An Editor’s Choice pick for the Temptation line, Forbidden Fantasy was a book I enjoyed, sure enough, although I wouldn’t rank it as an all-time great, even if it is etched in my mind.

The Plot

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

Now Zoe’s got French friends and loves to shop in the city. On one of her forays, she realizes a handsome American man is stalking her. What starts as a flirtatious game turns into a sensual love affair. Grey is everything her husband wasn’t: a good listener who shares his feelings with Zoe and is eager to spend time with her.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Forbidden Fantasy by Tiffany White”

Historical Romance Review: Sapphire by Patricia Matthews

Sapphire, Patricia Matthews, Harlequin, 1989, Max Ginsburg cover art

3 stars

Rating: 3 out of 5.

In Patricia Matthews’ late-Victorian era set Sapphire, treasure hunting and separated lovers are the two driving plot points of this 1989 historical romance.

The Plot

Down on her luck, when Englishwoman Regina Paxton hears tales of treasure–jewels–in far-away India, she is immediately intrigued. She forms a strange association with burly, bearded Irishman Brian MacBride. Together, the two travel to India in search of treasure. Their journey is rough and arduous. But together, they make it. And what’s more, they actually find the jewels they were searching for.

Of course, the two bond in various ways, enjoying a quick romantic affair.

Regina and Brian separate, as Brian has never been the settling done type. Unfortunately, for Regina, she’s with a child, and settling down is exactly what she needs to do. So in comes along old what’s his name, Will, a nice, unassuming man, who Regina convinces herself will do. She marries him, all the while knowing she’s pregnant with Brian’s child. Indeed, it’s no surprise to her when her son is born with a red shock of hair.

Then Brian returns to Regina’s world, and the old feelings come rushing back.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Sapphire by Patricia Matthews”

Category Romance Review: Tangled Hearts by JoAnn Ross

tangled hearts
Tangled Hearts, JoAnn Ross, Harlequin, 1990, cover artist TBD

Harlequin Temptation #333

1 1/2 stars

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

I have to give it JoAnn Ross for her book Tangled Hearts, in that she tried to do something unique for a category romance novel. It’s just unfortunate for me that I didn’t like where she went with it.

The cover of this Halequin Temptation tells it all, pretty much. There’s a couple engaged in a sexy embrace while in the background is a black and white image of lone man.

The Plot

Alanna Cantrell got married to Mitch Cantrell six years ago. Their whirlwind courtship was passionate and thrilling. But soon afterward, terrorists captured Mitch, a journalist, who was taken hostage and presumed killed.

Over the years Alanna has picked up the pieces of her life. By the time the story opens, she’s seeing Jonas Harte, a staid, steady, predictable kind of guy, certainly not the type to gallivant off to war-torn countries for the thrill of reporting a story. Just as Alanna and Jonas are about to announce their engagement, who should turn up from the dead, but Mitch, Alanna’s husband?

Through flashbacks we are shown how Mitch and Alanna met and see their brief time together before his disappearance.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Tangled Hearts by JoAnn Ross”

Historical Romance Review: Siren Song by Roberta Gellis

Siren Song
Siren Song, Roberta Gellis, Playboy Press, 1980, cover artist TBD

4 Stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The first book in Roberta Gellis’s Medieval Song trilogy, Siren Song, takes us to 13th century England.

Lady Elizabeth

Lady Elizabeth is not a beauty, but she is intelligent, capable, and now heiress to vast lands, with her brothers and father recently deceased. Elizabeth is married to Mauger, a cruel, murderous lord who wishes for nothing more than to aggrandize himself by whatever means necessary. Mauger has the looks of an angel yet the disposition of a demon. There is no deed too vile for him, as he eagerly breaks every Commandment. It is no mere coincidence that Elizabeth’s brothers conveniently died, leaving her, and thus Mauger, quite wealthy.

Years ago, Elizabeth had been in love with Sir William of Marlowe, and he with her. But parental manipulations led to them being forced to wed others. Now, William is a widower with a daughter of soon-to-be marriageable age.

Mauger has eyes on Marlowe and seeks to wed his and Elizabeth’s eldest son, Aubrey, to William’s daughter, Alys. Once the two are married, Mauger has plans for William’s untimely demise.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Siren Song by Roberta Gellis”

Category Romance Review: Mansion for My Love by Robyn Donald

Mansion for My Love, Robyn Donald, Harlequin 1990, Len Goldberg cover art

“I carefully avoided telling you that I love you.”

MANSION FOR MY LOVE

Harlequin Presents #567

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

3 Stars

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Mansion for My Love: A Hard Book to Review

Robyn Donald, who authored romances primarily for the Harlequin Presents line, often wrote some of the most angst-filled books, with heroes so cruel, you’d swear they were the villains. Mansion for My Love is one of those books where you can’t believe what the supposed hero does to the heroine.

A 3-star rating is an odd thing. It can represent such varied levels of opinions on personal enjoyment. There are average reads which make for a pleasant way to pass the time, but likely are stories you’ll forget and/or never desire to re-explore.

Then there are those books that get you right away and seem like a guaranteed 5-star experience, but then result in disappointment somehow and fall to a barely favorable rating or vice-versa.

Some books are objectively terrible (either in plot development or editing like grammar/spelling, etc.). Yet they provide so much guilty entertainment that you can’t possibly give them a negative review, even if you’re ashamed that your friends and followers will know you enjoy such trash.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Mansion for My Love by Robyn Donald”

Category Romance Review: Change of Life by Judith Arnold

change of life
Change of Life, Judith Arnold, Harlequin, 1990, cover artist TBD

Harlequin American Romance #362

2 1/2 stars

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Change of Life, a category romance by Judith Arnold, seems less a romance and more a story of a woman’s mid-life crisis and journey to self-discovery.

The Plot

Lila Chapin is a long-time married woman with several rambunctious young boys. While Daddy is the fun parent, she’s a stay-at-home mom who cooks, cleans, disciplines, and is attentive to everyone’s wants and needs. On her 40th birthday, when her husband, Ken, and their kids forget all about it, she decides it’s time for a change in her life. She packs up her things, takes her keys, withdraws some money from their bank account, and leaves.

She settles into a hotel and figures it’s time to take care of her wants and needs. She informs her bewildered husband that she’s taking one month off from being a wife and mother. Lila feels she’s been taken for granted, and without her around, her family will realize how much they rely on her for everything.

Ken, of course, isn’t amused. He insists Lila come home, but she’s not budging.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Change of Life by Judith Arnold”

Category Romance Review: A Frozen Fire by Charlotte Lamb

A Frozen Fire, Charlotte Lamb, Harlequin, 1980, cover artist TBD
Harlequin Presents #380

Paul was beautiful, Helen thought, gazing down at him. He would always be beautiful now.

A Frozen Fire
3 stars

Rating: 3 out of 5.

***Spoiler alert ***

Frozen Fire was one of the strangest Harlequin Presents I’ve ever read. It’s not Charlotte Lamb’s worst, by any means; actually it’s quite well-written and if it was a two-part story I would have loved it. But as it stands, the book focuses way too much on Helen’s relationship with her emotionally abusive husband and not with the hero.

The Plot

Helen has been married to Paul for many years and he’s cheated on her repeatedly. They’ve had to move various times whenever his affairs have caused too much trouble wherever they’re living. So here they are, yet again, in a new town with a new job for Paul, and Helen is sticking around, but she’s not sleeping with her husband. Still, she’s faithful to Paul even if he isn’t because she’s the kind of person who keeps her vows even though her husband doesn’t. Plus, he’s super, super hot.

That’s it.

The man treats her like crap, but he’s SO good-looking she won’t divorce him.... Read more “Category Romance Review: A Frozen Fire by Charlotte Lamb”

Category Romance Review: Stay Through the Night by Flora Kidd

Stay Through the Night, Flora Kidd, Harlequin, 1980, cover artist Bob Kebic
Harlequin Presents #344

“I’ve been looking for someone like you for a long time, a long, long time…”

Stay Through the NIght
3 1/2 stars

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Feeling lazy, (as always), so here’s a quick review of Stay Through the Night by Flora Kidd hacked together from my reading updates:

The Plot

Charlotte, a single, fiercely independent, and career-minded woman, never had her sights set on marriage, but she at least respects the institution. When she sees how her very married sister, Nancy, drapes herself all over multi-millionaire Burt Sharaton, she quite naturally believes they’re having an affair. Charlotte is disappointed and angered by her sister, as she cares for her brother-in-law, who’s a decent man.

Determined to put a stop to this madness, Charlotte confronts Burt. There’s no way she’s going to let Nancy sail across the world with Burt in his flashy white yacht.

However, Burt surprises Charlotte when he decides to settle for Nancy’s younger and unmarried sister instead. Charlotte’s plan backfires on her, as Burt all but takes her captive.

My Opinion

This sweet, little romance seems to have low ratings on book sites around the internet and I don’t share the opinion.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Stay Through the Night by Flora Kidd”

Contemporary Romance Review: Gypsy by Carole Mortimer

Gypsy, Carole Mortimer, Harlequin, 1985
Gypsy, Carole Mortimer, Harlequin, 1985, cover artist TBD

She had been his brothers wife, he hadn’t seen her for three years, and yet he had only to think of her to ache with an unrequited desire, knew that he ached with that desire even now.

GYPSY

3 stars

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I have a real love/hate situation with the contemporary romance, Gypsy. It’s got some concepts I adore and others, like adultery, that make me want to toss this book across the room.

Carole Mortimer is one of the few Harlequin authors who regularly features blond heroes (I prefer them to the “tall, dark” archetype), so I have tons of her books. Usually, I enjoy reading them.

The Plot

Here, the fair-haired “hero,” Lyon, is a real nasty piece of work. He’s an adulterous husband who refuses to divorce his wife because he feels he owes it to her to stick around. That made no sense to me. I had a hard time dealing with the adultery concept. For some reason, I can accept it in historicals, but in contemporaries, I don’t have much sympathy.

I couldn’t understand why Lyon’s wife didn’t divorce him.... Read more “Contemporary Romance Review: Gypsy by Carole Mortimer”

Historical Romance Review: Captive Angel by Deana James

Captive Angel
Captive Angel, Deana James, Zebra, 1988, Pino cover art

The frightened, pampered child-woman who had been deserted by her husband ten months ago was gone forever. In her place stood a self-confident, independent creature who would not hesitate to dare the devil.

CAPTIVE ANGEL

5 stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

*** Spoiler alert ***

An Unusual Romance

How do I begin to review this amazing, conflicting journey through a woman’s incredible 19th-century life? I have to tell it all, so this review is pure spoilers.

By all rights Captive Angel is the kind of romance I should have tossed into a blazing fire and gleefully cheered, “Burn, book, burn! Bad, bad book!”

Perhaps it helped that I knew exactly what I was getting into before I started. Plus, having read a few of Deana James’s books, I knew it couldn’t be that horrible. The cover even had a quote from Johanna Lindsey, stating: “Delightfully different, emotionally involving, and impossible to put down,” which is 100% true.

Captive Angel surpassed my expectations with probably one of the greatest romance heroines ever, paired with one of the most piggish, most oblivious, POS heroes I’ve ever come across in an old-school historical other than Regan Van Der Rhys from Fern Michaels’ Captive Series.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Captive Angel by Deana James”

Category Romance Review: Love Unspoken by Carole Mortimer

Love Unspoken, Carole Mortimer, Harlequin, 1983, Ray Olivere cover art

“You’ve forgotten how to be a woman!”

LOVE UNSPOKEN

Harlequin Presents #636

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

4 1/2 stars

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

It must be the change of seasons. Something in the air, because I can’t explain it, I really liked this one—almost loved it, actually, until the end. Carole Mortimer’s Love Unspoken is one of those infamously controversial Harlequin Presents where readers can’t stop talking about it, even though it’s not necessarily well-loved.

The Set Up

The book begins with the heroine, Julie, a jet-setting journalist, having just been released by terrorists who held her and her fellow flight-mates hostage. She’s a little bruised and reeling when her boyfriend, Steve, shows up with concern. Julie and Steve have been dating for six months—by her own admission, some of the happiest she’s ever spent—but Julie, a mature gal in her mid-twenties, just can’t make the jump from heavy petting to sex.

She likes keeping Steve on a firm leash while he pants for more from her, but she’s not giving him any biscuits! Steve knows Julie was involved with the Zack Reedman in the past; in fact, she had a year-long affair with him, so could it be old feelings for him that hold her back?... Read more “Category Romance Review: Love Unspoken by Carole Mortimer”

Historical Romance Review: Runaway Bride by Rosalyn Alsobrook

Runaway Bride, Rosalyn Alsobrook, Zebra, 1987, John Ennis cover art

1 star

Rating: 1 out of 5.

While I enjoyed many of the old Zebra Lovegram and Heartfire lines, what I disliked about some of them is that when they were bad, they were awful, either boring or just freaking bizarre.

Rosalyn Alsobrook’s Runaway Bride was about Katherine, a pregnant woman who left her drunk, abusive husband. She’s on her own in the wilderness, when the hero, Jason comes upon her naked in a water pond. Jason, a rancher, takes her in and helps her heal. Katherine eventually finds love with this new man, who is a fundamentally decent guy, and was even willing to be a father to her child.

Katherine’s abusive husband finds her and begs for forgiveness. I didn’t care how sorry he was. In my eyes, the husband could never redeem himself. He beat her so awfully while she was pregnant that was black and blue and forced to flee in fear for her life and her child’s safety.

The book was written to keep you guessing up until the end who she would choose. The heroine genuinely thought that besides beating the hell out her, her husband was a good man.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Runaway Bride by Rosalyn Alsobrook”

Category Romance Review: A Perfect Marriage by Laurey Bright

The Perfect Marriage, Laurey Bright, Silhouette, 1995, cover artist unknown
Silhouette Intimate Moments #621

From the back of the book:

“Broken Vows

To their friends, family and neighbors, Celine and Max Archer had a perfect marriage. Only the Archers knew they’d never been in love, and that nights of passion were few and far between. Still, both thought the other happy with the dry-eyed deal they’d made instead of vows…Until Max broke the bargain—by wanting more. And suddenly, after twelve peaceful years, the perfect marriage was over…But when Celine realized how much she loved her husband, was it too late to get him back? For unbeknownst to Max, they’d been blessed with a new beginning…”

3 stars

Rating: 3 out of 5.

It’s difficult for me to give Laurey Bright’s* A Perfect Marriage a coherent review because it’s a romance novel that deals with adultery.

Max and Celine have had a comfortable, friendly marriage for 12 years, however with no passion nor love. The hero “falls in love” with another woman, sleeps with her, and then leaves his wife. But after a night of unexpected passion with Celine, Max gets his estranged wife pregnant. Finally, Max realizes, almost too late, that it’s his wife he’s loved all along.... Read more “Category Romance Review: A Perfect Marriage by Laurey Bright”

Historical Romance Review: Terms of Surrender by Mollie Ashton

Terms of Surrender, Mollie Ashton, Harlequin, 1990, cover artist TBD

Harlequin Historical #46

From the back of the book:

Lover…or Deceiver?
Julie Farroux had escaped the guillotine by marrying a withered old man who desired her only for her inheritance. Their loveless union had left her believing her heart was as shriveled as his, until she found the warmth of desire in the arms of a handsome stranger. In the glittering city that was Napoleon’s Paris, deception and greed were a way of life. Sebastian Ramlin had made a devil’s bargain with Julie’s husband … to seduce Julie — and give her husband an heir. But he never planned to fall in love with her. Could he find the courage to reveal his treachery … and risk losing the woman he loved? 

4 stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Mollie Ashton’s Terms of Surrender was my first Harlequin Historical, and it got me hooked on the series for a long time! It’s a wonderful gem of a book. Don’t believe me? Just read the seal of approval by historical fiction/romance legend Roberta Gellis on the cover.

The book takes place in the post-French Revolution/Napoleonic Era, one of my favorite time periods.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Terms of Surrender by Mollie Ashton”

Historical Romance Review: Texas Tempest by Deana James

Texas Tempest, Deana James, Zebra, 1986, Pino cover art

His own sexuality he recognized as propinquity, tenderness, caring, the beauty, and gentleness of a woman’s body. The infliction of pain, even pseudo-pain, excited him not at all.

TEXAS TEMPEST

4 stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

***Spoiler alert***

Zebra’s Texas Tempest features yet another great, steel-willed Deana James heroine. James has written many resilient heroines before, such as in the seafaring antebellum romance, Captive Angel, and the medieval romance, Lovespell.

The Heroine

The prologue begins with Eugenia Leahy getting beaten by her no-good drunkard of a husband, Cormac. When he goes after her daughter, that’s when mama bear springs into action, grabs a firearm, and shoots him, paralyzing the abuser for life!

We then flash forward 10-15 years later, and Eugenia is running her ranch and doing a great job at it! Tough, cold, and stern, Eugenia is known as “The Diamondback,” as deadly as her namesake. But she is still a woman in a world dominated by men, so she needs some muscle to enforce her rules. Enter the mysterious MacPherson, a gunslinger who saves Eugenia’s life and is just the man for the job.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Texas Tempest by Deana James”

Category Romance Review: Temporary Wife by Roberta Leigh

Temporary Wife, Roberta Leigh, Harlequin, 1974, Doug Stivers cover art
Harlequin Presents #109

Emily [Lamb] might be a lamb by name, but she was certainly not one by nature. A wolf cub was nearer the mark.

TEMPORARY WIFE

4 1/2 stars

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Roberta Leigh’s Temporary Wife features a great heroine for a great book.

Luke Adams has everything: good looks, a plum job at an investment firm, and his boss/best friend’s wife as his mistress. Unfortunately, his boss’s nephew has caught wind of the affair and threatens to out the pair.

Luke’s mistress, Gina, wants to have her cake and eat it. Sure she’s married to an old man, but he’s rich, and in the meantime, she’s got Luke as her lover. Luke desperately wants to be open about the affair, but she keeps claiming her husband’s health is too weak to stand such a shock. So Gina comes up with the brilliant idea of arranging a marriage of inconvenience for her Luke–who truly does love her–with an old friend from school: plain, mousy Emily Lamb.

Emily is a magnificent heroine. One of the best I’ve read in a Harlequin Presents, no matter what decade.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Temporary Wife by Roberta Leigh”

Historical Book Review: Moment of Desire by Rachel Cosgrove Payes

From the back of the book:

Beautiful, spirited young Mellie Wilton thought the handsome Earl of Henning was going to rescue her from her degrading life in London and take her to his wealthy estate in Kent because he wanted her for his wife. When he tricked her into marrying his son so that he would have an heir to his fortune, Mellie became enraged. Tormented by a husband who could never love her, yet consumed with desire for the man who had deceived her, Mellie was filled with a burning need for fulfillment and revenge.

Moment of Desire, Rachel Cosgrove Payes, Playboy Press, 1978, Gina D’Achille cover art

5 stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

An Anti-Heroine?

After a couple of decades of reading romance, I can’t say I’ve encountered too many heroines like Melusina Wilton and that’s a damn shame.

Moment of Desire by Rachel Cosgrave Payes might be an aberration, both for her (I wasn’t fond of the other Cosgrove Payes book I read) and the historical romance genre. It was published by Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Press, which churned out bodice-ripping romances and schlocky sci-fi well into the seventies and early eighties, part of the golden era of pulpy trash.... Read more “Historical Book Review: Moment of Desire by Rachel Cosgrove Payes”

Historical Book Review: Tender Warrior by Fern Michaels

4 stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

***Spoiler alert***

The Plot (with Spoilers)

Mark this down as one of those books where the hero first catches sight of the heroine bathing.

Ruy and Mirjana are from two different cultures: she is a princess from Al-Andalus, while Ruy is a knight for the kingdom of Castile y Leon. She will become his captive, but will he become the captive of her heart? For despite their great disparities, the pair quickly bond and engage in a forbidden romance.

No matter the obstacles that fall in their way, the betrayals, lies, and tragedies, they still love each other. Ruy’s and Mirjana’s relationship is intense & steadfast.

For that reason, let me get this right out of the way: the ending is not a conventional one. Even so, I was satisfied with the conclusion because there is no denying Ruy and Mirjana desperately love each other and will do their best to succeed.

Despite the unorthodox-yet-still-happily-ever-after ending there is no denying Ruy de Bivar’s and Mirjana’s deep and abiding affection for the other. You know they will make it through together until their deaths.

***SPOILER ALERT*** Besides, Ruy did wed Jimena, ward of the King of Castile, so this is historically accurate.... Read more “Historical Book Review: Tender Warrior by Fern Michaels”