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liar's moon heather graham

Category Romance Review: Liar’s Moon by Heather Graham

category romance
Liar's Moon by Heather Graham
Rating: three-stars
Published: 1987
Illustrator: Unknown
Imprint or Line: Candlelight Ecstasy Supreme #159
Published by: Dell
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 286
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: Liar’s Moon by Heather Graham

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

Liar’s Moon, a Dell Candlelight Ecstasy Supreme by Heather Graham is an overwrought foray into romantic suspense.

There’s intrigue, murder, and a long-ago love affair between a teenage girl and a much older, close family friend.

Events lead to a dramatic and happy conclusion in this so-so-category romance.

The Characters and the Set-Up

Tracy Kuger has come to New York for her father’s funeral. Who was her father? He was Jesse Kuger, Liar’s Moon’s version of The Beatle’s John Lennon. Only in Liar’s Moon, these Beatles consisted of Jesse, Leif, Tiger, and Sam, and they called themselves The Limelights.

(Incidentally, this was also the name of a string of nightclubs run by entrepreneur and Ecstasy kingpin Peter Gatien. The most (in)famous of the clubs was located in an old, converted church in Manhattan. Lots of memories for me from the mid-1990s! Today it’s a gym. Do techno dance clubs even exist anymore? I’m old, so I don’t know about these things.)

Tracy’s father was inexplicably killed, and his murderer was shot dead by police in a subsequently prompt fashion.

Tracy’s instincts tell her this was not the work of a mere maniacal fan.

Leif Johnson was Jesse’s best friend. Years before the book starts, a “sexually precocious” yet virginal Tracy threw herself at Leif, and he being the mature Rock Star that he was, just couldn’t say no to his BFF’s daughter.

Tragedy and circumstances forced Tracy into exile to Switzerland for seven years. The Tracy who returns from Europe to bury her father is now a thriving and (supposedly) independent businesswoman.

The Plot

The plot may be uncomfortable for readers who dislike significant age differences. Tracy was 17 years old when she “seduced” Leif, who was in his late 30s. But she came on to him, not the other way around! You can’t blame the guy, right?

Complicating matters is that Tracy became pregnant from the fling. As a result, her parents conspired to make Tracy believe her baby died at birth.

Then they shipped the baby off to Leif, who raised his son with his wife Celia, whom he deeply loved. The reader knows from the opening pages about Leif’s happy marriage, even as his dreams are haunted by images of an alluring Tracy in the moonlight.

Leif (with a name like Leif, you’d think he’d be a blond, but no, he’s a dark and hirsute stud) is concerned for Jesse’s children’s safety. He, too, suspects the killing was not an isolated incident. Jesse’s 20-year-old son Jamie is an up-and-coming musician whom Leif has taken under his wing.

And of course, there is Tracy (an independent woman, remember?), who does not need Leif’s role as her–ahem–guardian. But guard her he will, whether she likes it or not.

Leif and Tracy are still hot for one another, and passion rears its purple head. All the while, danger lurks as the pair search for clues to the mystery.

Someone had reason to murder Jesse, who wasn’t the saintly icon everyone painted him as being. Assembled together is a cast of assorted characters, with members of the old band, friends, and family forming a list of potential killers.

In the end, major revelations come to light, the bad guy’s identity is revealed, and he/she receives their punishment.

The lovers get their happy-ever-after ending.

However, the conclusion left me feeling like I’d been forced to swallow a pint of sour, curdled milk.

My Opinion

Liar’s Moon has “sort of” an icky plot with a big age gap between the main characters. But that wasn’t the icky part of it.

What skeeved me out was Leif’s role as the best friend of Tracy’s father. He was practically an uncle to Jesse’s kids.

Even worse is how Leif rides roughshod over Tracy. He confronts her with the truth about their “dead” baby in a sadistically cruel manner. Leif dismisses Tracy’s pain over the perceived loss, then forcefully demands Tracy be his wife.

Finally, Leif introduces Tracy to her own child as the boy’s new stepmother. A cheerful epilogue doesn’t make up for Leif’s atrocious behavior.

Final Analysis of The Book

Liar’s Moon was an angsty read, for sure. Regardless, the unheroic hero’s faults were too numerous to overlook. I mean, how could Graham name the main male character Leif and not make him blond? Unforgivable.

Still, Heather Graham is a solid author, even when writing for a restrictive category line. I can’t blame her for trying.

Liar’s Moon is an alright story that could have been better if the hero hadn’t been such a pompous and domineering jerk.

2.95 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
3.5
Characters
2.5
Writing
3
Chemistry
3
Fun Factor
2.5
Cover
4
Overall: 3.1

Synopsis:

She’d been a wild teenager willing to risk anything for revenge. But when she seduced Leif Johnston, she hadn’t counted on falling in love…hadn’t believed her family would intervene and sweep her off to Switzerland.

Seven years later, Tracy Kuger was a successful, independent woman. But her determination to find her father’s killer would carry her right back into New York’s deceiving limelight…into the treacherous bosom of her powerful family…into Leif’s lean, hungry arms. Passion and peril bound them together even as doubts and dangerous secrets tore them apart.

Tormented by the past, could Tracy face the truth and embrace the future—a love born under a liar’s moon?

LIAR’S MOON by HEATHER GRAHAM
The Perfect Marriage, Laurey Bright 1995 Diane Sivavec

Category Romance Review: A Perfect Marriage by Laurey Bright

The Book

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.

The Plot

Max and Celine have had a comfortable, friendly marriage for 12 years, however with no passion nor love. The two had been hurt prior to their marriage and agreed that a union based on friendship–not love–was best. Then things take a sharp left turn when the male protagonist “falls in love” with another woman, his co-worker. She’s much younger than he is of course. Max sleeps with her and then leaves his Celine.

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.

This was a difficult romance to stomach. The heroine is way too good for the “hero,” a pathetic man in the throes of a mid-life crisis.

Despite the fact that Bright tries to make Kate, the other woman, seem like a naïve, beautiful virgin who is as much a victim as Celine, she wasn’t. In my eyes, she was a manipulative beeyotch. Kate was no innocent schoolgirl. She’s an educated attorney who had no qualms about breaking up a marriage. She even dared to ask a pregnant Celine to let Max go.

Max never sufficiently redeems himself. It is only through Celine’s love and forgiveness that reconciliation is possible.

Final Analysis of A Perfect Marriage

A Perfect Marriage by Laurey Bright was an emotional roller-coaster. The author does a wonderful job showing how separation and divorce can affect not just the spouses, but the whole extended family.

Ultimately, as hard as this book was to handle at times, it deserves a positive rating because of how it portrays the healing power of love.

A Perfect Marriage was awarded the Romance Writer’s of America’s RITA Award for Best Long Contemporary Romance in 1996.

*(Laurey Bright is a pseudonym for Daphne Clair)

3 Stars


Synopsis

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…”

A PERFECT MARRIAGE by LAUREY BRIGHT
lovers and strangers

Category Romance Review: Lovers and Strangers (aka Hollywood Nights) by Candace Schuler

Lovers and Strangers, Candace Schuler, Harlequin, 1995, cover artist TBD

Harlequin Temptation #549

MILD SPOILERS 😉

5 Stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Reviewed by Blue Falcon

This review is of Lovers and Strangers, book #7 in the “Bachelor Arms” series by Candace Schuler. It’s a Harlequin Temptation from August 1995.

Series Overview

Like JoAnn Ross’ contributions to the “Bachelor Arms”  series, Ms. Schuler’s three books contain a mystery within a mystery. There is an overarching mystery that runs through all 11 books in the series. There is the mystery that is contained in Ms. Schuler’s books (Reviewer note: The versions of the three books I am reviewing are the ebook versions of the original books published from August-October 1995. It appears Ms. Schuler regained the rights to her work from Harlequin and republished the books in 2012/13 under a new series name: Hollywood Nights. Perhaps owing to that, supporting character names and the name of the building have been changed from the print version. However, the titles and the core Harlequin Temptation stories remain intact.)

Plot

The book begins in Los Angeles, 1970. Two brothers, Eric Shannon, 24, and his younger brother Jack, 18, are arguing over plans for a screenplay they’re collaborating on. (A major Hollywood studio wants to buy their work but also wants to make major changes to it. Eric is for the changes, Jack against). That very same night, Eric Shannon died. His death was ruled a suicide. 

Fast forward 25 years. At Flynn’s bar, near the Bachelor Arms complex, Jack, now 43 and the book’s hero, is rescuing waitress Faith McCray, the heroine of the book, from an overly “friendly” patron. Faith is 24 and has brown hair and hazel eyes. She’s originally from Pine Hollow, Georgia, and has a lot of emotional baggage. Jack later hires Faith to clean his home, as she is moonlighting as a maid. 

Jack, who has black hair and brown eyes, is a former Army war correspondent who later reported from the “hotspots” of the world. He’s a Los Angeles native, and he, too, has a lot of emotional baggage. As they spend more time together, we learn more about them. Faith plans to become a doctor, obstetrician to be precise. She is also seriously attracted to Jack, and he to her. However, Jack tries to fight his attraction to Faith for multiple reasons. Eventually, they give in to their mutual attraction and become lovers. 

After they become lovers, Jack does everything he can to try to sabotage his relationship with Faith. (This is due to his history, which is explained).

In the end, Faith and Jack begin to let go of the guilt that has consumed both of them all of their lives. Jack finishes the screenplay he and Eric started–with a major assist from Faith–and they find their Happily Ever After. 

Upside

I imagine that at least one New Adult author has read Lovers and Strangers and was inspired to become an author. This is basically a New Adult book, even though one of the characters is well outside the age range for those books. 

I’ll start with Faith, as she is a young woman who comes from a difficult, traumatic family environment.  She eviscerates herself internally over something that happened to her as a teenager. However, despite this, she maintains an innocent quality and is open to loving and being loved. 

The same cannot be said for Jack, who has closed himself off, believing that he will be safe from all emotional pain if he never opens himself to someone. Speaking from personal experience, that is not the case. Isolation is not safety. It simply makes a person alone, bitter, and lonely. Jack feels that is what he deserves for what he has done and what has happened to him. It takes a special woman-Faith McCray-to show him that things can be different if he just allows a little opening for love to come in. In the end, Jack is not completely open, but he is more open than he was at the beginning of the book. 

Ms. Schuler did an excellent job making me as a reader feel like I was watching these two tortured souls find each other, and find love in the process. I rooted for both Faith and Jack and was very happy when he finally agreed to let her in.

Downside

I’m not a fan of “age-gap” romances and there is a significant one here (Faith is 24, Jack is 41). Even though I have personal experience with age-gap relationships, it’s uncomfortable for me to read them in books. It reminds me so much of Harlequin Presents and other books where there are age gaps. It feels like a father-daughter relationship, which feels creepy rather than loving.

Slightly nitpicky on my part, but I really don’t like the new e-book covers for these books. The original Harlequin Temptation covers truly suited them, capturing the emotion and excitement of the books. The new e-book covers…do not. 

Sex

Lovers and Strangers has one of the best love scenes I’ve read in a romance novel. In the first scene, Ms. Schuler does a tremendous job relating both the esoterics of the act and the feelings Faith and Jack have for each other. It’s both beautiful and sexy. It’s one of three love scenes in the book. 

Violence

No on-screen violence, but there are references to violence that Jack has witnessed in his life. 

Reviewer Note

There are also drug use references early on in the book. 

Bottom Line

I don’t have a favorite books list, but if I did–and I may start one–Candace Schuler’s Lovers and Strangers would definitely be on it!  Readers who love books about the transformational power of love will find lots to love here. 4.95 stars. (The half-point markdown is for changing some supporting character names and locations and the e-book cover. If I were reading the original Harlequin Temptation paperback version with the original cover, I would have given it 5 stars unequivocally). 

Tropes

Age gap. Angsty romance. Contemporary romance. Los Angeles.

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