Tag: arranged marriage

Historical Romance Review: Speak Only Love by Deana James (aka Mona D. Sizer)

3 1/2 Stars

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Another Great Romance

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.

Vivian doesn’t speak a word in the book, yet the love story unfolds and the two pawns in an evil man’s game soon form an intense bond that goes beyond words.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Speak Only Love by Deana James (aka Mona D. Sizer)”

Historical Romance Review: Fires of Winter by Roberta Gellis

firs of winter gellis
Fires of Winter, Roberta Gellis, Jove Books, 1987, Pino cover art

“I had a long row to hoe before I could plunge my spade into Mellusine’s earth and plant a seed there.”

FIRES OF WINTER

3 Stars

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Told through alternating first-person perspectives, Roberta Gellis’s Fires of Winter starts with a bang.

The Plot

In the first chapter, we experience young hero Bruno of Jernaeve’s life as his castle gets invaded. As an illegitimate child, he is overlooked and left uncared for. He and his sister must hide from the marauders. Later on, it switches to heroine Mellusine of Ulle’s more placid point of view as a child. Although I enjoyed the different perspectives, I found Bruno’s side more interesting than Mellusine’s.

As Bruno matures, he becomes a master in the arts of war. His success earns him Melusine, as a “spoil of war,” for Bruno to wed. Despite their differences, Mellusine and Bruno forge a strong relationship built on sexual attraction, companionship, and trust.

I loved the authentic earthiness Gellis imbued her works with. I don’t think I’ve ever read a romance where the heroine has to take a dump before. Here Melusine squats away without a care in front of the hero.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Fires of Winter by Roberta Gellis”

Historical Romance Review: Highland Velvet by Jude Deveraux

HIghland Velvet, Pocket Books, 1982, cover artist Harry Bennett

“You’ll regret that! Someday you’ll know that one drop of my blood is more precious than any angry feelings you carry!”

HIGHLAND VELVET
5 stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Plot

Forced into marriage to the English nobleman Stephen Montgomery, Scotswoman Brenna MacArran, the leader of her clan, vows to make his life miserable.

While Deveraux’s heroes in the Velvet Series had their bad moments, particularly Gavin, and to a lesser extent, Miles and Raine, in Highland Velvet, Stephen Montgomery was the stuff girlish dreams are made of.

Stephen was kind and loving to his sister-in-law, Judith, always taking her side whenever Gavin preferred his evil mistress. He stayed by her bedside during her painful miscarriage and supported her throughout.

When Stephen saw Bronwyn for the first time, he fell instantly in love with her. He worked his butt off to get the approval of the men in Bronwyn’s clan and had to fight that creepy Roger Chatworth for her hand in marriage, even though they were already betrothed. Heck, he even changed his last name so that her MacArran family name wouldn’t die out. And he was no wussy male, but a deadly soldier willing to work hard and rethink his value system when faced with contradictions.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Highland Velvet by Jude Deveraux”

Historical Romance Review: Winter’s Heat by Denise Domning

Winter’s Heat, Denise Domning, Topaz, 1993, John Ennis cover art

“It may be that you will find my manner too straightforward for your tastes, but, my lord, it is just that – my manner. Would that I die before I give up that part of me.”

WINTER’S HEAT
2 1/2 stars

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

A medieval romance that takes medieval life seriously is usually one I enjoy, but Denise Domning’s Winter’s Heat fell a bit flat for me.

Rowena is forced into marriage with Lord Rannulf of Graistan. After a quick consummation, Rannulf leaves Rowena at his castle to deal with his surly servants, evil sister-in-law, Maeve, and his young son.

After more than 30% into the book, I realized that the hero was nowhere to be found, and I was ok with that. I enjoyed reading about Rowena’s attempts to turn Rannulf’s pigsty into a livable home.

Unfortunately once Rannulf re-enters the picture, the book doesn’t get better. Rannulf mistrusts his capable wife and only believes Maeve’s ridiculous lies. This book reminded me of the worst of the worst of Johanna Lindsey’s romances, with the hero and heroine bickering for no real reason, refusing to engage in basic communication, and making lots of love even though they hate each other.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Winter’s Heat by Denise Domning”

Historical Romance Review: Defy Not the Heart by Johanna Lindsey

Defy Not the Heart, Johanna Lindsey, Avon, 1989, Elaine Duillo cover art, Fabio cover model
Defy Not the Heart, Johanna Lindsey, Avon, 1989, Elaine Duillo cover art, Fabio cover model

SPOILER ALERT

5 stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Johanna Lindsey: Romance Superstar

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. Often, I wanted to strangle the heroines for their stubbornness and TSTL tendencies.

Even so, I loved her plots involving kidnapping and forced marriages. They featured overbearing, handsome men who would treat their heroines like crap one minute, and then made passionate love to them and would brush their hair as after play. I ate Lindsey’s books up like candy and have the emotional cavities to prove it!... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Defy Not the Heart by Johanna Lindsey”

Historical Romance Review: The Innocent by Bertrice Small

the innocent
The Innocent, Bertrice Small, Ballantine, 1999, Elaine Duillo cover art

SPOILER FREE REVIEW 🙂

1 Star

Rating: 1 out of 5.

The Innocent, The Evil And The Boring

It was a bad sign that Bertrice Small’The Innocent features 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.

Ok, I lied when I said the reason behind the cover was the sole positive aspect of this book. The villainess, Isleen, is such a caricature of slutty evilness, she’s hysterical.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: The Innocent by Bertrice Small”