This review is of Colorado Jewel, a standalone by Cate Brandt. (Zebra Heartfire, April 1989).
Heroine: Magheen Fitzgerald. Red hair, emerald eyes.
Hero: Daniel Calcord. Black hair, blue eyes. Businessman/lawyer.
The book opens in Colorado, early September 1878. Daniel Calcord, the hero of the book and a businessman with his fingers in many pies, is heading toward one of his enterprises, a silver mine in the town of Leadville. His trip is delayed, however, as Daniel helps to rescue Magheen Fitzgerald, the heroine of the book, from a stagecoach accident. He nurses her back to health and they face many perils, one of which is their attraction to each other.
When one of Maggie’s brothers, Patrick, a priest, catches them in a compromising position, they are compelled to marry. Their engagement doesn’t go well.
Along with Anne Mather and Anne Hampson, Violet Winspear was one of the three original authors for the Harlequin Presents line when it launched in 1973. Her bestseller, The Honey is Bitter, was first published in 1967 by Mills & Boon. It had about 30 reprintings under Harlequin.
Characters & Plot
The Honey Is Bitter features a Greek hero named Paul. I swear, these classic Presents had about 5 or 6 names for heroes! Paul, Dominic, Nick/Nico, Alex, and Andre/Andreas. Plus, the plots were nonsensical, with an intimidating male running roughshod over the heroine, as occurs here.
Shannon’s Drake’s (aka Heather Graham) The King’s Pleasure is set amid the intense medieval backdrop of the Hundred Years’ War and the Black Death. It’s a solid romance in a historical age that always grips my attention.
Captive of The King
The story begins with a prologue. The heroine Danielle is hiding from her husband in an inn as he searches for her. He’s under the impression that she’s there to have a tryst with a fellow Frenchman. Her husband is a Scottish knight, Adrien MacLachlan, who’s pledged to the English King. Danielle is not there to have an assignation with another man. However, she is there against her husband and his King’s wishes.
Adrien confronts Danielle, and the two have a fiery argument that ends in them making love. They look back at the stormy past that preceded this encounter.
Sarina is a bodice ripper-lite written by Francine Rivers, the best-known and most successful author of Christian-centered or “inspirational” romances. This was written before Rivers became “born again,” however, she was still nominally Christian. Rivers has tried to distance herself from her first 11 books, dismissing them as: “BC (before Christ) books. They are all out of print now, are never to be reprinted, and are not recommended.” She purchased the rights to all those and will never allow them to be republished as she feels they don’t represent her faith today.
As a free speech proponent, I think it’s unfortunate that Rivers has deemed these books verboten. Furthermore, I disagree that their sexually explicit content dishonors Christianity.
If you’re familiar with your romance history, then you must know of this book, even if you haven’t read it. The cover is the infamous one designed by Robert McGinnis with the naked hero standing tall as the heroine kneels before him, her ample breasts pressed firmly against his–er…dongle.
Tender is the Storm was released in 1985 as Lindsey’s 10th consecutive bestseller. McGinnis’ artwork and Lindsey’s novels made for a powerhouse combination. Their first two covers were pleasing enough, but starting with 1980’s Fires of Winter, McGinnis would upend the romance industry. Before that, most clinch covers would show the heroine’s heaving bosoms while the hero remained fully clothed. Fires of Winter portrayed a fully naked hero, his legs bent and splayed open, with the heroine lying between his thighs.
Duncan’s Bride has an old-school plot, even by the standards of romances written in…1990. (That wasn’t a long time ago!) In Silhouette Intimate Moments #349 by Linda Howard, a 28-year-old beauty from New York City travels across the country to become the mail-order bride of a hero who’s damn lucky to get her.
Character & Plot
Madelyn, the shining star of this romance, is 28-years-old and has been working for her step-brother’s company for a couple of years. Although she’s hit a wall in her career, she’s secure in her identity. Madelyn is funny, outspoken, and friendly. She’s a lovely woman with no baggage.
On the other hand, Gideon “Reese” Duncan carries a 5-piece set of Samsonite luggage packed full of bricks. He’s a divorced rancher in Montana who decides it’s time to settle down with a new wife. Years ago, his first marriage ended in disaster when his gorgeous ex left him, bored of life in the country. Reese was forced to sell his family lands and lay off the workers to liquidate his assets which were split 50-50.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Duncan’s Bride by Linda Howard”
Speak Only Love is yet another Deana James treat. This Zebra romance takes us to Regency Era England and the story of tumultuous love between two uniquely original characters.
Vivian Marleigh is a mute heiress who cannot speak ever since she witnessed the tragic death of her mother. She is forced into marriage with a young, hard-drinking viscount, Piers Larne. The marriage was arranged by the viscounts’ wicked father, the Earl.
Piers is not happy about this union, but what can he do? He feels powerless in his life, with no agency. His daddy pulls the strings, and like a puppet, Piers must dance to his control. Piers is a dissolute mess, spending most of his time drinking and recovering from gunshot wounds or the many injuries he receives. For besides being the wastrel son of a nobleman, our hero is also a smuggler.
Ruth Langan‘s Highland Heather is the sequel to her previous Scottish romance, Highland Barbarian. I liked this Harlequin Historical much more than its predecessor. Why? I enjoyed the conflict between the hero and the heroine and the English setting, plus introducing Queen Elizabeth I to a story always makes things interesting.
Brenna MacAlpin is the middle MacAlpin sister, whose elder sister Meredith went and married her beloved Highlander. Brenna is now the leader of their Scots clan. However, it’s not easy going for her as she has enemies, namely the English. Moreover, Brenna does not have the same fierce disposition as her elder sister. Brenna is more even-tempered, dare I say, more lady-like. Her men are blindly loyal to her, regardless, but leading is no easy task.
“Nothing has changed,” Fiona said in desperation. “Jonathan is my son.“
Fiona had had five years to think about her youthful folly–five years to remember Logan Sutherland’s treatment of her. Now, a whim of fate had brought them together again, and he laid claim to the son he hadn’t known existed.
Well, for Jonathan’s sake she would marry this cool, calculating stranger as he demanded. But she would never be his wife!
SPOILER FREE REVIEW 😊
Rating: 2 out of 5.
Bride at Whangatapuincludes the hallmark of almost every one of Robyn Donald’s books. It intimately details the natural environment of New Zealand. Whether her books were set on a sheep station, on a yacht in the Pacific, or just a tropical backdrop, you could see the bright green grass, feel the ocean spray on your face or smell the hibiscus blossoms (which don’t even have much a scent, do they?).
In Anne Mather‘s The Waterfalls of the Moon (I love the old Harlequin Presents titles), the teenaged heroine is in pursuit of a much older man, but the hero’s not taking the San-Quentin tail so easily.
I can’t say many of Anne Mather’s works number among my all-time favorites, but, for the most part, I had a good time reading them. She could make unlikeable heroines that were somehow fascinating, and Ruth is one of them. She’s a spoiled teen, rich beyond reason, bored, and chases after Patrick with a cold calculation.
All you have to do is change record players to iPhones (although record players have made a huge comeback) and there’s no difference between this shallow youth’s mega-rich lifestyle and that of the pampered princesses of Bravo & MTV reality TV. She parties, she lunches, she shops, she dates…casually. As this is a 1970’s era Harlequin, Ruth is not sexually experienced.
In Kristin James’ (aka Candace Camp) The Yankee, Andrew Stone is a former Union soldier now living in Texas. He’s a stodgy fellow, not well-liked by the local folks, and has a bad reputation. He had an unhappy marriage and now has a young daughter he has to raise by himself.
Miss Margaret Carlisle is a spinster who cares for her orphaned younger siblings. She’s not exactly the most charming person in the world either, although she has reasons not to be.
Together, Andrew and Margaret decide upon a marriage of convenience, as Andrew needs a mother for his daughter, and Margaret wants not to be dependent upon her cruel aunt’s charity.
I recollect that Andrew was a very cold man, and it took a lot of time for his heart to warm up to his efficient, capable bride. His heart had been pretty much torn to pieces by his ex-wife. With Margaret being who she is, it slowly heals, while she learns there’s more to Andrew than his gruff veneer.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: The Yankee by Kristin James”
What a frustrating read was My Heart’s Undoing by Phyllis Halldorson. This one was definitely filled with lots of anguish.
Two People In Love…Not Necessarily With Each Other
Colleen had been in love with Erik for years. However, as she stood in her more beautiful cousin’s shadow, Erik had no interest in her. They had briefly dated in the past, but Erik dumped her when he met her much more sophisticated (read: slutty) cousin, Brett. Erik and Brett become the town’s hottest couple, and soon they’re engaged to be married.
Despite the disinterest, Colleen hangs on like an attached puppy, Erik’s friend, to the end. When Brett calls off their wedding at the last minute for a promising modeling career across the country, Colleen is there to help Erik pick up the pieces.
He gets drunk, and they fall into bed together. Naturally, Colleen is a virgin and–naturally—gets pregnant.
The Australians was a special short run of Harlequin books featuring sexy heroes from the Outback. If you have never read Harlequin Presents, then maybe this isn’t your style of book, but I loved it! Simply Irresistible by Miranda Lee had everything: sex, humor, and romance.
For a while–except for maybe Jude Deveraux–there was no other mass-market romance author in the 1980s to 1990s whose prolific writing achieved such commercial success than Johanna Lindsey. Lindsey reached #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list with Defy Not the Heart.
During this time period, Lindsey was at her peak, and in a span of 10 to 15 years, put out book after book (with the best covers ever!), that, for but a few exceptions, were all fun reads or even rank among my most beloved romances.
For sure, they were not always the best written, often rambling on about unimportant characters and telling more than showing. Usually, I wanted to strangle the heroines for their stubbornness and TSTL tendencies.
It was a bad sign that Bertrice Small’s The Innocentfeatures one of her dullest romance covers ever. The lone positive was that it was designed as one last created by legendary artist Elaine Duillo for her dear friend Bertrice.
Taking a break from Small’s usual romances where the heroine is captured by some salacious sultan and enslaved in his harem, The Innocent is a rather ho-hum medieval. The heroine is a former nun named Eleonore, who goes by the ridiculous name Elf. Elf is a paragon of virtue, saintliness, and sweetness and is totally dull. She is made to marry Ranulf, an equally boring character who patiently introduces Elf to the arts of love.
There’s an evil villain, a hired killer, who falls in love with Elf for her purity and goodness, but all I could wonder was WHY? She, like most Small heroines, is perfect beyond belief.
I first read this book eons ago, when Johanna Lindsey was the greatest writer on earth. At 12 years old, what did I know? I recall anxiously walking to Woolworth’s daily in November 1990, freaking out for her latest release. Boy, did I annoy the clerks by repeatedly asking when it was coming in!
The day I saw the clerk stocking the shelves, I grabbed the first book from the top of the box, not caring that it had a tiny slit in the cover. I was a bit disheartened, because for a Duillo–Fabio–Lindsey cover, save for Georgina’s lovely rose-trimmed gown, to me, it was ugly. With its drab green tones and bird-bats flying in front of a huge moon, I was less than impressed. When I saw the cover for Lindsey’s next book, Once a Princess, I was disappointed in the artwork. No more Fabio (although he’d make a comeback for a few more Lindseys). Plus, Once a Princess had a step-back cover with flowery font on the front.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Gentle Rogue by Johanna Lindsey”
Across a Starlit Sea was a tempestuous romance written by Rebecca Brandewyne. This was a sequel to one of my all-time beloved love stories, Upon a Moon-Dark Moor, and this was one of the rare Brandewyne novels with Warner Books that was not illustrated by Elaine Duillo. Instead, her daughter Melissa Duillo-Gallo painted the cover.
The Cornish coast setting made for a dark, gothic feel to this historical romance. I enjoyed the first-person narrative in both books as the heroines told their life stories from youth to their first love to true love to married life with children and into old age. Expect to see here Brandewyne’s standard purple-prose writing and in-depth descriptions of history.