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Jennifer Wilde

Historical Romance Review: Love’s Fiery Jewel by Elaine Barbieri

book review historical romance
Love's Fiery Jewel by Elaine Barbieri
Rating: one-star
Published: 1982
Illustrator: TBD
Imprint or Line: Zebra Historical Romance
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper
Pages: 510
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Love’s Fiery Jewel by Elaine Barbieri

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

This review is of Love’s Fiery Jewel by Elaine Barbieri, a bodice ripper romance that Zebra books published in 1982.

The Plot

In 1775, an acting troupe called The American Company is boarding a ship, The Sally. The ship is captained by notorious privateer Damien Staith, the “hero” of Love’s Fiery Jewel, and is to sail from the Colonies to Jamaica.

Among those on the ship are actress Marian Greer and her daughter, Amethyst, the heroine. When the book begins, Amethyst is 9 and Damien is 26.

During the course of the book–which spans 510 pages and seven years–(keep in mind, she is 16 and Damien is 33), the hero does the following things to Amethyst:

Emotionally abuses her by belittling her, calling her derogatory names, and disregarding any of her wishes. Damien also threatens to kill two of her other suitors. He uses her love for her caretaker in Jamaica to blackmail her.

Mentally abuses her by letting her believe that he practices obeah, a form of black magic.

Physically abuses her by slapping Amethyst several times and shaking her so hard that she is bruised.

Sexually abuses her. Although Damien doesn’t rape Amethyst–big whoop–he does coerce her sexually, using his skills at sex and her desire against her. This is clearly a forced seduction trope, at best.

And yet, despite all of that, Amethyst falls in love with Damien! When she is finally free of him, she chooses to go back to him!

The Upside

Like most of Ms. Barbieri’s books, Love’s Fiery Jewel is well-written and emotionally deep.

The Downside

It’s rather appropriate that Damien Straith shares the name of the character from The Omen. The behavior of Damien in Love’s Fiery Jewel is just as horrifying as the character of the same name in the “Omen” movie franchise.

Amethyst, however, is not entirely blameless. She is very weak in regard to his actions. She constantly needs a man to take care of her–a weakness shared by many of the heroines in Ms. Barbieri’s books.

Sex

The sex scenes are mostly focused on the feeling of the act rather than the mechanics. They mostly focus on what the man doing to the woman.

Violence

In addition to the violence listed above, Damien beats up one of Amethyst’s suitors toward the end. Another man is seriously injured in an accident that Amethyst blames on Damien’s obeah.

At one point late in the book, Amethyst draws a gun on Damien and makes him leave her. If she had shot and killed the bastard, it would have made Love’s Fiery Jewel so much better!

Bottom Line on Love’s Fiery Jewel

Do you like books with heroines with zero pride or self-esteem? Women willing to allow themselves to be emotionally, mentally, physically, and sexually abused by the “men” who claim to love them? And then fall in love with said cretins?

If you do, chances are you’ll love Elaine Barbieri’s Love’s Fiery Jewel. For the rest of us, not so much.

Right after I finish posting this review, this “romance novel” is going into my trash bin.

.75 Stars (cover points don’t count)

Rating Report Card
Plot
0
Characters
0.5
Writing
3.5
Chemistry
0.5
Fun Factor
0
Cover
3.5
Overall: 1.3

Synopsis

THE SPARKLE OF PASSION glowed in Amethyst’s big violet eyes. She was on the verge of womanhood, ripe for love, and no one knew it better than Captain Damien Straith. He was intoxicated by her rare beauty. Her sensual innocence and fiery temper made her more alluring than any woman he had ever known. With just one fierce, long, lingering kiss he could possess her forever. Somehow he’d have to make her his own…

THE GLITTER OF DESIRE shone like a diamond in Damien’s piercing gray eyes. And each time Amethyst met his gaze her pulse quickened and she ached with desire. She wanted the handsome captain to bring her to the heights of rapturous pleasure, but what if she gave him her love and he cast her aside? Delirious with longing, yet afraid to give her heart, she hated the power he had over her body — and vowed never to give him her love! 

Love’s Fiery Jewel by Elaine Barbieri
the honey is bitter

Category Romance Review: The Honey Is Bitter by Violet Winspear

category romance
The Honey Is Bitter by Violet Winspear
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1967
Illustrator: Don Sinclair
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Presents #6
Book Series: Stephanos #1
Published by: Harlequin, Mills & Boon
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance, Vintage Romance
Pages: 190
Format: Paperback, eBook, Hardcover
Buy on: Amazon
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: The Honey Is Bitter by Violet Winspear

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

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 and Boon.

The books had about 30 reprintings under Harlequin and the first in her Stephanos series.

the honey is bitter violet winspear
Mills & Boon, 1967 edition

The Plot

Part One of The Honey Is Bitter

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.

This book’s Paul is a Greek tycoon who blackmails Domini into marriage. How? By holding over her head that her brother embezzled funds from Paul’s company.

Why does he want a young British girl like Domini? Because Paul is Greek, and his pride demands vengeance this way! Although she is outraged by Paul’s demands, Domini acquiesces fairly easily. Nor does she turn to anyone for help.

On their wedding night, Domini runs out into the darkness and is swept into the sea. Whether that was a genuine attempt to end her life is left up to the reader. Soon, after a bit of coaxing, Domini falls into Paul’s arms and into his bed.

And that’s the end of chapter one! Quite a lot of action. With more drama to come.

the honey is bitter violet winspear
Mills & Boon 1974 Edition

Part Two of The Honey Is Bitter

Paul is much older, and one wonders what–besides the obvious–he sees in Domini.

Domini is hard to like because she’s so caustic, so… bitter. It’s understandable, though. No woman wants to be forced into marriage with a handsome, sensual, magnetic, powerful, wealthy man who desires her above all women. (Except as an escapist fantasy, naturally. 😉)

Paul whisks Domini to his Grecian villa. Despite her discontent, Domini cannot deny Paul’s allure. While she swaps verbal barbs with him during the day, they communicate on a carnal level at night.

Then the man Domini had fancied herself in love with comes back into her life, demanding she leaves Paul. Tragedy strikes. Will Domini leave Paul forever? Or is it too late and her heart already his?

the honey is bitter
The Honey Is Bitter, Violet Winspear, Harlequin, 1984 re-issue

Final Analysis of The Honey Is Bitter

For an older Presents, The Honey Is Bitter was deeply sensual even though the love scenes were behind closed doors. Paul employs forced seduction with Domini, so readers who dislike that trope are warned.

This vintage romance stars a cruel hero and prickly heroine. Paul is inscrutable yet domineering; Domini is determined yet ill-tempered. Together, they make a passionate pairing.

This was a fascinating tale that had me hooked from the first. But then I have a soft spot for dark, somewhat offensive romances, especially with solid writing. Violet Winspear provides just that.

I can see why The Honey Is Bitter was a Harlequin sensation in its day.

Rating Report Card
Plot
4
Characters
4
Writing
4.5
Chemistry
4
Fun Factor
4
Cover
4.5
Overall: 4.2

Synopsis

“Keep your love. Did I ever ask for it?”

Paul’s voice rang out. His face was a taut sculpture, chiseled out of stone-as she felt certain his heart was.

“No,” Domini threw at him, “but you’re not quite so inhuman as to enjoy for very long the companionship of a wife who hates you!”

THE HONEY IS BITTER by VIOLET WINSPEAR
stay through the night kebic

Category Romance Review: Stay Through the Night by Flora Kidd

Synopsis:

“I warned you from the start,”

Burt Sharaton said. “You had no right to come between Nancy and me.”

But putting an end to her sister Nancy’s affair with him was a responsibility Charlotte had just had to take on. She’d told him her sister refused to cruise with him on his yacht, the White Cockatoo.

Unfortunately, her plan hadn’t worked and Charlotte was caught in a trap of her own making. For Burt was determined that if he couldn’t have Nancy, he would take Charlotte instead!

STAY THROUGH THE NIGHT by FLORA KIDD

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

Stay Through the Night

The Book

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

In Stay Through the Night, Charlotte is a single, fiercely independent, and career-minded woman, who never had her sights set on marriage, although 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 in her sister. Moreover, she’s angry on behalf of her 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.

Stay Through the Night, Flora Kidd, Mills & Boon, 1980, cover artist unknown