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Rangoon pino

Historical Romance Review: Rangoon by Christine Monson

book review historical romance
Rangoon by Christine Monson
Rating: three-half-stars
Published: 1985
Illustrator: Pino
Published by: Avon
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper
Pages: 464
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Rangoon by Christine Monson

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

Christine Monson‘s second book Rangoon significantly turns down the crazy factor from her previous romance Stormfire. That bodice ripper was legendary for the protagonists’ abusive revenge-based romance.

Rangoon still retains the sensitive writing that made Stormfire so haunting and memorable.

West Meets East

It’s the late 19th century. Boston-bred Lysistrata travels all the way across the world with her father, a doctor, to Burma to start a new life.

Nursing a broken heart from an ill-fated romance, Lysistrata tries valiantly to navigate her way through her new environment and its rigid class system.

She meets Richard “Ram” Harley, a half-Burmese, half-British man she can’t help but find attractive. Harley is a pirate who seduces married women and callously threatens to ruin Lysi when she discovers one of his illicit amours.

A name like Lysistrata should give a hint about the heroine’s independent, determined nature. At first, her feisty, “I’ll do it my way!” attitude tested my patience.

Over time I warmed up to her as the book evolved. She’s not the typical foot-stomping, face-slapping heroine (at least not when it comes to the hero) who was so common in old-school bodice rippers.

The Plot

Lysi is ever cognizant of her expected role in society but sticks to her convictions in an admirable and likable way.

Intrigued by Harley’s outsider status, Lysistrata pursues Ram–to her detriment.

For although their mutual desire results in a night of passion, Harley turns the tables on her, revealing a cruel nature that a veneer of civility had hidden.

When Harley is framed for a murder he did not commit, he assumes Lysi is behind the false accusations. Before he makes his getaway, he vows he will have revenge!

Lysi’s bold behavior made her numerous enemies. These unscrupulous foes collude to have her kidnapped and sold into slavery.

Revenge Turns to Passion

It’s no surprise when Harley purchases her for his own enjoyment. Now that he’s lost his life and status in the so-called civilized White society, he has nothing to lose. Harley takes her to his majestic jungle hideaway, where he will exact his vengeance.

Now going by the name Ram, he shows Lysi a darker side of his nature. For those readers who cannot stomach abuse, fear not.

Whereas in Stormfire, Monson had the hero imprison, torture, rape, and humiliate his heroine, in Rangoon Ram is not near as extreme in his cruelty. He does make Lysi his unwilling mistress.

Ram’s actions may blur the line on consent, although it’s clear Monson has written his behavior more as a “forced seduction” fantasy than a brutal violation.

“You’re practiced enough at rape,” she hissed. “It must be your only alternative to buying a bed partner.”
“But I only had to rape you a little,” he teased, “and of course, I will pay you if you prefer.”
“I prefer to be left alone!”
He laughed. “After last night, even you don’t believe that lie. Why not admit you enjoy what I do to you?”
“Go to hell.”

Despite Lysistrata’s defiance, she finds herself enchanted by Ram and his magical palace in the wilderness.

This middle portion of the story is the best part of the book as Ram and Lysi engage in a tug-and-pull power play. As a mixed-race corsair, Ram has always lived on the fringes, torn between two worlds that never truly accepted him. As a free-thinking woman, Lysistrata has been constrained by the dictates of society.

I could have read hundreds of pages more about their engrossing battle of wills.

The Faltering End

Alas, Lysistrata and Ram’s idyll in the Burmese jungle does come to an end. The false murder charges finally catch up with Ram, and he is arrested.

Now with Ram on trial, Lysistrata fights to save him from the hangman’s noose.

This is where Rangoon fell apart for me. No longer an engaging character-driven romance, the book turned into a dull courtroom drama that went on and on.

Plus, there were multiple side characters who added nothing to the story except for one charismatic fellow.

Final Analysis of Rangoon

Despite Christine Monson’s thoughtful writing, the lackluster conclusion of Rangoon caused my initial delight to wane.

It was a disappointment that the incredible, thrilling highs of her first book were not reached here.

Monson’s characters are strong. Her sensitive skill at her craft was undeniable. However, the plotting was weak in Rangoon. 

It’s one of those romance novels I’m glad to have read but have no plans to ever revisit.

On to the next book.

3.74 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
3
Characters
4
Writing
4.5
Chemistry
4
Fun Factor
3
Cover
3
Overall: 3.6

Synopsis

WILLING PRISONER IN A PALACE OF DREAMS…
Rangoon. Lysistrata’s heart raced with excitement. A world away from Boston. A place where she could forget…

Rangoon—land of color and adventure—where, like an emerging butterfly, she would taste the exotic and dangerous life of the streets, and dance in the palaces of princes.

But one man made her want even more. Richard Harley’s dark and wicked eyes warned of danger…and hinted at pleasures beyond her wildest fantasies. Drawn, like a moth to the flame, by the lure of the East and the man who was its soul, Lysistrata traveled forbidden roads and journeyed deep into the heart of Burma. And in the secluded majesty of Richard Harley’s castle of erotic dreams, she could at last yield to the man whose passion possessed her, as they both surrendered to the obsession of their love.

RANGOON by CHRISTINE MONSON
The Lion Rock Sally Wentworth

Category Romance Review: The Lion Rock by Sally Wentworth

category romance
The Lion Rock by Sally Wentworth
Rating: three-stars
Published: 1983
Illustrator: Ralph Amatrudi
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Presents #662
Published by: Harlequin, Mills & Boon
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 191
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: The Lion Rock by Sally Wentworth

The Book

The Lion Rock by Sally Wentworth has an exotic setting, but plot-wise is your typical Harlequin Presents/Mills & Boon romance.

The Plot

Cordelia, a young British woman, visits her birthplace of Sri Lanka with her emotionally distant father. Her father has a heart attack, and Marcus Stone, an older, sophisticated gentleman, comes to her rescue.

They both experience a deep, instant attraction, but Marcus is cold and pushes her away for some mysterious reason. There’s a nasty other-woman who makes trouble and a younger guy who’s mad about the heroine. Cordelia dates him and makes him think she likes him even though she’s in love with Marcus.

Drama ensues. Some mild nookie. Happy ending.

the lion rock sally wentowrth

The Weird Stuff

This was a perfectly adequate book, not exciting, but worth a couple of hours of reading.

One thing I found funny was that Marcus kept pushing Cordelia away because he thought she was only wowed by his celebrity status. His claim to fame? He’s a writer of popular non-fiction books about history and global politics, not unlike Francis Fukuyama or Thomas Friedman. Fine, worldly men, true enough, but I hardly consider them glamorous sex symbols who seduce legions of 20-year-olds out of their panties.

Come Back to Me Sally Wentworth
Thomas Friedman, our hero?

(Or am I wrong, ladies?)

The other thing that stands out from this book is the–how do I put this?– less-than-gallant attitude depicted toward the Sri Lankan setting. I try to imagine how the brainstorming for this book went on:

Editors: Hullo, Sally, how was your holiday in Sri Lanka?

SW: I hated it. This place sucks; it’s too hot, the food is too spicy, the people are lazy, there are no hospitals, the native dances stink, the local guys are creepy. Ceylon, pardon, Sri Lanka, is lost without Europeans to guide it. But at least there are some nice Buddhist statues to take pictures of.

Editors: Great. Now you know our readers love those exotic settings, so we want you to set your new book there. Make it as authentic sounding as you can.

SW: Oh, I‘ll make it authentic all right. (Grumble!)

Yikes!

Final Analysis of The Lion Rock

The Lion Rock by Sally Wentworth was a ho-hum, kind of meh romance but a pleasant enough way to pass the time on a train ride. Despite the book’s odd points, I’ll give it a tepid thumbs up.

3 Stars

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

SYNOPSIS:

She was more than willing to surrender to love

Never before had Cordelia experienced such desire as she felt for Marcus Stone. And one sultry night in the exotic gardens of his Sri Lankan home, he revealed his own fierce passion for her.

Then suddenly he became remote and strangely reluctant to accept what she wanted to give. “Aren’t you willing to take a risk if you want something badly enough?” Cordelia had asked him.

Marcus had shown he was a risk-taker in other ways. But now he was clearly showing Cordelia that he didn’t want her.

THE LION ROCK by SALLY WENTWORTH
palace-of-the-peacock-violet-winspear-jh

Vintage Romance Review: Palace of the Peacocks by Violet Winspear

BOOK REVIEW vintage
Palace of the Peacocks by Violet Winspear
Rating: three-half-stars
Published: 1969
Illustrator: J h
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Romance #1318
Published by: Harlequin, Mills & Boon
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance, Vintage Romance
Pages: 188
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Vintage Romance Review: Palace of the Peacocks by Violet Winspear

The Book

Palace of the Peacocks may be a bit of an ultra-vintage oldie, as it was published in 1969, not post-1972. However, I’m running short on reviews for this weekend. Plus, this book is a Violet Winspear Harlequin Romance–an author whose works I enjoy.

This one was a nice read, sweet but filled with enough drama to add some zing.

palace of the peacocks

The Plot

In Winspear’s Palace of the Peacocks, the heroine Temple Lane is typical of many of her vintage romance sisters. She is orphaned, diligent, faithful, and unworldly.

She flies to Indonesia to meet up with her long-time fiancé, but her life falls into shambles after discovering his affair with a local girl. Without any funds to get back home, she’s desperate to find employment. Temple disguises herself as a boy to gain passage on a ship. She’s bunked with a stoic, one-eyed Dutchman named Ryk van Helden. (Winspear had a thing for maiming heroes, didn’t she? Blinding them, cutting off their limbs, etc.)

Eventually, Temple’s true identity is revealed. When Ryk hears of her plight, he offers Temple employment, transcribing old journals in his beautiful, enchanting jungle palace.

Ryk also provides Temple with room, board, and a female servant. The maid makes no bones about her resentment of Temple, as she has designs on Ryk herself.

As the weeks pass, Temple slowly falls under the combined spell of the romantic tale she’s working on and her seductive surroundings.

Not to mention, there is her cold yet dangerously attractive employer. Ryk treats Temple dismissively, acting superior to her in every way. Temple, though is no meek girl and meets his seeming disdain head-on with lots of spirit.

Final Analysis of Palace of the Peacocks

I really enjoyed Palace of the Peacocks, despite it containing my big romance pet peeve of the hero-in-mourning-for-his-dead-lover. Fortunately, Winspear doesn’t ever go into Ryk’s head; he’s written enigmatically until the very end.

That’s what I like: a man of mystery, albeit one the reader knows, deep down, he’s falling hard for his heroine—none of this psycho-analyzing the hero’s thoughts every two pages.

And, of course, there’s the extraordinary long-awaited declaration of love in the end!

Palace of the Peacocks is a satisfying romance with a jealous other woman, a charming locale, a heroine who gives as good as she gets, and a seemingly-aloof hero who falls madly for her.

3.75 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
4
Characters
4
Writing
4
Chemistry
2.5
Fun Factor
3.5
Cover
4
Overall: 3.7

Synopsis

Temple Lane had gone out to the Java Seas to marry her fiance, but all her plans fell through when she found someone else had taken her place. In her desperate endeavours to get away from the situation, she met the Dutchman Ryk van Helden -and promptly found she had jumped out of the frying pan into the fire! It was difficult enough being the only white girl for miles around – but the greater problem was how to cope with what she soon recognised as the devastating attraction of her new employer. True, he seemed to look on her as just another of the waifs and strays he was so fond of collecting – and Temple knew he had never forgotten the girl he had once loved, and lost -but nevertheless, he was a man of magnetic appeal, and even if he could remain impervious to the situation, could Temple?

PALACE OF THE PEACOCKS by VIOLET WINSPEAR