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lord carews bride

Historical Romance Review: Lord Carew’s Bride by Mary Balogh

The heroine of Lord Carew’s Bride by Mary Balogh is a spinster who has put off romance but is searching for meaning in life. Through her chance encounter with the reclusive Lord Carew, she finds friendship, love, and self-discovery.

historical romance review
Lord Carew's Bride by Mary Balogh
Rating: four-half-stars
Published: 1995
Illustrator: Ted Sizemore
Imprint or Line: Signet Regency
Book Series: Stapleton-Downes #4
Published by: Signet
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 225
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooksOpen Library (BORROW FOR FREE)
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader

Historical Romance Review: Lord Carew’s Bride by Mary Balogh


The Book Backstory

I have a secret to confess about Mary Balogh. She’s an author I’ve always meant to read, but because I can only accomplish so little in life, her books would get pushed down in my TBR list. I own about twenty of her romances, but except to delight in a few covers I’ve never touched them.

One day I decided that it was as good as any to start. The reviews for Lord Carew’s Bride intrigued me. although I couldn’t find the title among my books. So instead of reading one of the romances I already owned, I ordered a copy of Lord Carews’ Bride. And I’m glad I did; the cover is darling!

It was then that I realized I already owned it; the story was part of a two-in-one volume with Dark Angel.

Now this means I have to get a copy of the original version of Dark Angel because my book-collecting OCD demands I must!

dark angel mary balogh

The Book

Lord Carew’s Bride by Mary Balogh was originally published as a 1995 Signet Regency romance. The story tells of Samantha Newman, an increasingly aging spinster (she’s in her mid-twenties!), searching for meaning and fulfillment in her life.

Through Samantha’s chance encounter with the reclusive Marquess of Carew, Balogh weaves a tale of friendship, love, and self-discovery.

The Plot

At 25 years old, Samantha St. Clair is almost on the shelf. But because she is beautiful, she is still courted by many gentlemen. Nevertheless, she is still troubled and unhappy due, in part, to past heartache.

During a stay in the country with her friends, Jennifer and Gabriel, Samantha takes a walk and stumbles upon the property of the reclusive Marquess of Carew. She meets an unassuming crippled man who is warm and amiable. Thinking he is a landscape designer, she builds a cordial friendship with him.

Only later does she discover that he is no mere gardener but is actually the wealthy marquess.

Back in London, Samantha is again threatened by the man who broke her heart years earlier when she was a fresh-faced debutant.

Lord Carew is also in London, and it is then the true identity of Samantha’s supposed landscaper friend is revealed. Lord Carew will always be Samatha’s confidant, and ally regardless of who he is. He offers sanctuary from the emotional drama and pledges to marry her.

Deciding that friendship is better than the heartache of love, Samantha accepts Carew’s marriage proposal.

Their marriage is one of convenience. Nevertheless, as they get to know each other, they realize that their feelings for each other transcend mere affection.

The relationship between Hartley Wade, Lord Carew, and Miss Newman unfolds gently, with tender moments like when she massages Carew’s injured hand.

Samantha acknowledges that what she feels for Carew is more than mere friendship; it’s love.

My Opinion

Lord Carew’s Bride is not an angsty, overly dramatic book with nail-biting cliffhangers at the end of each chapter. This a slow, character-study of romance. I’m not complaining! It was a real treat to experience.

One of the standout elements is how Balogh portrays the relationship between Samantha and Carew, her “landscaper” friend. The two characters are so different from each other on the surface, but as they spend time together their bond grows gradually and authentically.

These two protagonists genuinely like each other, and it’s s a joy to watch it unfold.

The case of mistaken identity allows for a unique dynamic between Samantha and Carews. When his true identity is revealed later on, it is handled in a most satisfying manner.

Another of this book’s strengths is how Balogh explores the issue of romantic relationships and contentment. Samantha’s journey from being unsatisfied with her life to finding happiness in friendship to true joy in marriage underscores this theme more deeply than one might expect in a 225-page romance.

Balogh has a real talent for bringing characters to life and exploring the complexities of love.

Steam Factor: Sweet Meets Warm

Obviously, this is a trad regency, so the steam factor isn’t going to be sizzling. The romantic relationship between Samantha and Carew grows gradually and authentically.

They find pleasure with each other in their marital bed, although it doesn’t start as a roaring fire of passion. There’s a moment where Carew thinks to himself of how delightful their nights together are, even if his new bride was still shy and unready to initiate love play.

Carew was confident time would change that as he was a patient lover. He could never force his bride into hedonistic sex for his own pleasure; instead, he sought reciprocity and mutual enjoyment.

The slow-burning romance between them heats ups and some sensitive readers might feel a pleasant tingle. Lord Carew’s Bride straddles the line between sweet and warm. Should we call the heat level swarm? Weet?

Let’s just keep it at “where sweet meets warm.”

Final Analysis of Lord Carew’s Bride

Lord Carew’s Bride is a charming love story with engaging writing. Balogh’s prose is quite, almost exquisite at times. The way she portrays the love between Lord Carew and Samantha is nothing short of delightful.

Lord Carew is the epitome of a wounded hero, and readers will root for him every step as he overcomes his physical limitations and finds love and happiness.

Despite a few less-than-perfect moments, this is certainly a book I’ll recall fondly. Certainly, if you’re looking for an engaging traditional Regency romance, Lord Carew’s Bride is a great place to start. I’d rank it as a must-read for fans of the genre.

Rating Report Card
Fun Factor
Overall: 4.4


Samantha Newman is getting older, but though she is beautiful and courted by a large number of gentlemen, she is restless and unhappy. While she is staying in the country with her friends Jennifer and Gabriel, she takes a walk alone and wanders onto the property of the reclusive Marquess of Carew. She meets him far from the house and mistakes him for a landscape designer. He is an ordinary-looking man and is half crippled. He is also friendly and unassuming, and Samantha soon relaxes into a warm friendship with him.

It is only much later, back in London, when she is again threatened by the man who broke her heart years ago during her come-out Season, that Samantha discovers who her friend really is. And this time she is tempted to settle for the contentment of friendship in order to escape the pain of love.

Lord Carew’s Bride by Mary Balogh
top-ten-bookish-people romance genre

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish People I’d Like to Meet

For this Top Ten Tuesday post, Jacqueline Diaz lists ten bookish people she’d like to meet. Almost all her choices are relevant to the books in the romance genre.

top-ten bookish people romance genre

It’s Top Ten Tuesday, where we post a list of 10 of our best/favorite/most important bookish-related items, depending on the week’s theme. Thank you to That Artsy Reader Girl for providing us with this feature and creative ideas.

“Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.”

top ten tuesday

10 Bookish People (Alive, Dead, or Fictional) I Would Like Meet

This Top Ten Tuesday theme is: “pick a previous topic that you missed or would like to re-do/update.” I missed posting on March 7 (and I almost missed posting today!). The topic that week was “10 Bookish People I’d Like To Meet,” which is my list for Tuesday March 21.

The subject was rather broad, and I chose people from different segments of the book industry, living, deceased, or fictional.

Because there are so many choices, this was a tough one.The bloggers section was particularly hard; there are so many people I would adore meeting in real life, but I was limited to just one person per category!

1. All-Around Bookish Renaissance Woman: Kathryn Le Veque

bookish people romance genre Kathryn Le Veque
Kathryn Le Veque

If I had to name one bookish person who inspires me, it would be Kathryn Le Veque. Her achievements are amazing–intimidating, even. LeVeque is an inspirational success story proving an author’s dreams can come true.

A USA Today bestselling author, an Amazon All-Star author, and a #1 bestsellier of medieval historical romance and contemporary romance, she has blazed a trail for others to follow.

Le Veque is a tour-de force leader in the industry. She pens unique novels, mostly medievals, and is the founder of several publishing houses, including Dragonblade Publishing.

bookish people romance genre the wolfe kathryn le veque

When Le Veque started out the big publishers rejected her manuscripts. They said her chosen genre not being considered “marketable enough.” Defiant and determined, Kathryn had vision and saw it through.

She uploaded her first novel for purchase on Amazon’s Kindle platform in May 2012. A year later, she was able to quit her day job to focus on her writing full-time. All thanks to the phenomenal success of her e-books.

She writes remarkable stories about knights, kings, and queens. History plays a starring role in her books, not merely a backdrop. Her stories are unique, emotional and deeply touching. Through her many novels and hard work Le Veque has earned the admiration of her peers and fans.

Publishers shut her out of mainstream because she didn’t adhere to the current trends. Kathryn proved them to be fools, self-publishing the books she wanted to to write–and read. She found a large and devoted audience eager to read her stories. On top of that, she built an indie publishing empire to help others succeed.

Who wouldn’t want to talk to a renaissance woman like Kathryn Le Veque?

2. Author (Deceased): Jackie Collins

bookish people romance genre jackie collins

Have you ever wished you could talk to a great writer whois no longer living? For me, that would be Jackie Collins. She was the brilliant, bold, and wildly successful author of over 30 novels that shocked and entertained readers worldwide.

Her career spanned from 1968 with The World Is Full of Married Men to her final work, The Santangelos in 2015. Her bestsellers detailed the glamorous and sordid lives of celebrities.

As actress Joan Collins’ younger sister, Jackie had access to the inner workings of the showbiz industry. She smashed through the conventions of polite society with her books. Collins penned raunchy romantic thrillers. Filled with crimes, sex, drugs, and rock & roll, they went beyond what other writers of her era would touch.

bookish people romance genre jackie collins

With over 500 million books sold, Collins was one of the most influential and fun icons of American literary history. Some of her acclaimed works include Chances, Lucky and Hollywood Wives.

Chatting with her would be a dream come true. What stories she could tell!

bookish people romance genre lucky jackie collins

3. Author (Living): Rebecca Brandewyne

bookish people romance genre rebecca brandewyne
Rebeca Brandewyne
Source: Wichita State University, The Shocker

Rebecca Brandewyne is a romance author who has not written in years. I would be delighted to sit down and see what she has been up to

When I started reading romances in the early to mid-1990s, Rebecca Brandewyne, along with Jude Deveraux and Johanna Lindsey, was one of my favorite authors. Her books were grandiose and epic. They began with a prologue and ended with a happy epilogue, and included a poem and cast of characters at the beginning of the book.

As Brandwyne’s health issues were one of the reasons behind her leaving the writing field, I would ask her how she is faring now. It would be fascinating to learn what she has been up to all these years. I’d want to talk about her works, her writing style, and her current ideas on the genre.

Finally, I would inquire about the two series she never completed. How she would have ended her fantasy trilogy of the Chronicles of Tintagel, which began in Passion Moon Rising?

Most importantly, what was to be the conclusion for her unfinished Highclyffe Hall trilogy? What was to happen with the “twins” Ransom and Rhodes Chandler, who were born in Across a Starlit Sea? And what of their parents and grandparents?

I would love to know the answers to those questions!

4. Book Blogger/ Reviewer: Nenia Campbell

bookish people I want to meet Nenia Campbell
Nenia Campbell
Source: Goodreads

Nenia Campbell is a multi-talented lady whose name can go in at least four other bookish categories. I chose her for the book blogger I’d want to meet.

Campbell has written books such as Fearscape and Horrorscape, dark (un)romances that feature villainous heroes. She runs Readasaurus Reviews, a blog where she posts book reviews. She is one of the top reviewers on Goodreads where she runs the Unapologetic Romance Readers group.

What’s cool about Nenia is she reads everything. Nonfiction, general fiction, and the entire spectrum of the romance genre. She reads sweet teen romances, bodice rippers, the latest contemporaries, vintage Harlequins, and bizarre treats like Mating with the Mantis!

 “I don’t typically like what’s popular because I don’t like what’s predictable or easy; I like books that are raw and difficult and dark and challenge me and the way that I see the world, even if it means heartbreak and tears and playing hours of Animal Crossing to get myself back into the happy zone.”

From Nenia’s Review for Damsel by Elana K. Arnold

Plus, Nenia is very prolific on social media. She discussws all things bookish and posts images ofholding many beautiful books and of herself in lovely colorful wigs.

Nenia seems like such a passionate and creative reader and book lover that I could glean so much from a conversation with her. I also adore her sense of fashion, so I’m sure our talks would be an enlightening and hair-raising experience!

5. Character from a Book: Hercule Poirot

As far as fictional bookish people I’d love to meet, it would be the egg-headed protagonist from Agatha Christie’s long-running mystery series. The elegantly dressed Belgian detective Hercule Poirot is a most fascinating character. He solved the mysteries of the Murder on The Orient Express, The ABC Murders and Death on the Nile, and many more.

Poirot is one of the most iconic crime-solvers in fiction, far more interesting to me than Sherlock Holmes. I’d like to pick his brain and learn some detective tips and tricks. And some fashion tips! Il est un homme très sophistiqué.

I would start the conversation by expressing admiration for Poirot’s skills and intellect and asking him to share the secrets of his success. His perspective on human psychology is pivotal to his investigations. How does he know what he knows? What techniques does he uses to solve murders?

I’d also ask him about the cases that were the most memorable or challenging for him. What is his opinion on the state of modern detective work? What advice he would give to aspiring detectives?

Then I’d dive into the details of his fashion sense, which is always so dapper. I’d love to hear his advice on how to look smart and stay stylish, as well as his thoughts on current trends in men’s clothing.

6. Cover Artist: Victor Gadino

victor gadino and apollo bookish people I want to meet
Victor Gadino and Apollo

If I could talk to any book cover artist, it would be Victor Gadino. He is one of the top romance novel cover artists of all time. Gadino has created hundreds of beautiful and sensual covers.

His amazing stepbacks make him one of Sweet Savage Flame’s favorite illustrators.

I would love to talk to him about his creative process and how he designs such beautiful and sensual covers.

Victor Gadino was born in New York in 1949. His big break in book illustration came in the late 1970s when he designed romantic-styled covers for gay fiction. Avon reissued Gordon Merrick’s backlist of books, for which Gadino did al the new artwork.

He was a designed covers for many years, but his rise to prominence in the genre came with Johanna Lindsey’s Prisoner of My Desire in 1991, making him a highly sought-after romance illustrator.

rafe gadino

He has also designed album covers for well-known performers, Broadway play posters, and collectibles for the Bradford Exchange and Franklin Mint. His work is in the homes of celebrities such as George Lucas and Clint Eastwood, as well as many famous New York City families.

A creator of sensual images, Victor Gadino is the artist I would be honored to meet. I’d be delighted to hear whatever he had to say and, if possible, to observe him at work on his paintings.

7. Cover Model: Fabio

If I could talk to any romance book cover model, it would be the great Fabio Lanzoni. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you the details about Fabio. After all, he’s the supermodel whose face and body have been launched millions of covers.

Plus, he’s also a romance writer himself (even if he had some help from ghostwriters.)

Being a successful cover model and the author, I’m sure he has a great deal of creative insight and inspiration to share.

Fabio’s unique perspective as a romance genre celebrity would provide a lot of fun stories and anecdotes.

The questions I’d ask Fabio would be simple: I’d ask him about his modeling experiences, his favorite covers, which artists he thinks painted him best.

Honestly, Fabio wouldn’t have to say much. At 60, he’s still fine. As I’m 45 now and not the 13-year-old girl who imagined him as the hero of numerous romances, it’s okay to appreciate that eye candy that is Fabio Lanzoni.

gideons fall ginsburg

I’m certain a chat with Fabio would spark the creative energy to follow my own dreams with renewed vigor.

And maybe he’d let me squeeze his biceps to get a feel those rock-hard muscles? Would that be wrong? Oh, well a girl can dream…

8. Bookstagrammer: Mary Lynne Nielsen

mary lynne nielsen bookish people
Mary Lynne Nielsen
Source: Romance Ruminations
  1. Bookstagrammer: Mary Lynne Nielsen

Mary Lynne Nielsen has been reading romance for 45 years and has a wealth of information about books and the business.

“I’ve been reading romance for a long time–over forty years. And over that time I’ve managed to produce a few pieces of writing of my own. Rather than having them scattered hither and yon, or not even available, I decided to create a centralized home for them. Hence, my ruminations on romance.

“I make no claims of expertise, wisdom, knowledge, or the like. But I do have, as so many readers do, a deep and abiding love of the often maligned genre of romance.”

-Mary Lynn Nielsen

A prolific bookstagrammer under the handle @emmelnie, she is one of many people whom I’d like to chat with in person. Social media is great for meeting lots of great folks. Unfortunately, because I am a slow typist with ADHD, I am unable to participate in lengthy debates.

Mary Lynne has written articles for blogs and magazines, posted educational videos about the genre, attended conventions, and spoken with/interviewed prominent figures in the industry, academics and fans alike.

Her website, Romance Ruminations is an excellent resource for readers.

I’d be delighted to meet at a coffee shop near a used book store and hear her thoughts on the evolution of the genre, her favorite books and authors, and her advice for aspiring writers and readers.

Basically, we would discuss everything there is possible about our romance and then go book shopping!

9. Publisher or Editor: Steven Zacharius, President & CEO at Kensington Publishing Corp

  1. Publisher or Editor: Steven Zacharius

As far as bookish people on the business side of the industry, I’d enjoy a sit-down with Steve Zacharius. He is the president and CEO of Kensington Books, the parent company of Zebra and Pinnacle. Kenisgton is a multi-million dollar family-run company founded in 1974 by Steve’s dad, Walter Zacharius.

With almost 30 years of experience in the company, Steve has led Kensington’s growth and expansion. I am curious to hear his thoughts on the industry and how he has kept Kensington relevant and successful for so long.

Steve is married with two kids and three grandkids. His son, Adam Zacharius, has also been working there since 2008.

Kensington is one of the last large, privately owned book publishers in the United States. It releases over 500 fiction and nonfiction titles each year.

I would ask him about the challenges that Kensington and the industry as a whole have faced, as well as his insights on the current state and future of the publishing industry.

I’d love to hear his thoughts about the potential death of the mass market paperback, as sales have dropped rapidly for that format in the past several years. E-books have usurped their position as the most convenient and cheapest way to read.

Although romance is genre that still thrives in MMP, trade and hardcover are rising in popularity, especially for the readers who love to display their books on shelves.

Might Kensington’s Zebra imprint also return its focus to dazzling cover art as it did when his father Walter was alive?

10. Podcaster: Andrea Martucci, of Shelf Love

There a several bookish people in podcasting I would appreciate having a chat with. To start , I’d talktot the staff of Shelf Love, particularly the woman-in-charge of it all: Andrea Martucci.

Shelf Love explores fictional stories of romantic love across media, time, and cultures. Their knowledge of romance novels and bodice rippers is vast, and I would enjoy discussing different genres of romance novels with them.

The podcast invites experts to share their knowledge and love for diverse genres and explore romantic love in romance novels, comic books, soap operas, romantic comedies, video games, oral stories, advertisements, and more.

Andrea has presented a paper at the Popular Culture Association and has released nearly 100 episodes since the podcast’s launch in 2019.

Andrea is familiar with so many facets of romance, not just in books, but throughout all pop culture. I’d be thrilled to converse with Andrea about anything and everything. I would ask her about her favorite romance books, her thoughts on different genres, and her insights on the role of love stories in popular culture. What are her favorite couples and love stories in other forms of entertainment?

I could pick her brain for hours. Metaphorically speaking, of course. I’m no zombie!

First episode of Shelf Love Podcast w/ Andrea Martucci

Your Opinion

What do you think of this week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme of “bookish people I want to meet”? Do you like Jacqueline’s list? Would you like to meet any of her choices?

What bookish people would you like to meet?

As always, please drop a comment and let’s talk romance.

waves of passion

Historical Romance Review: Waves of Passion by Casey Stuart

Blue Falcon reviews Waves of Passion by Casey Stuart, another subpar early-era Zebra historical. But at least it has a pretty cover!

book review historical romance
Waves of Passion by Casey Stuart
Rating: one-star
Published: 1984
Illustrator: TBD
Imprint or Line: Zebra Historical Romance
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Pirate Romance, Regency Era Romance
Pages: 449
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon

Historical Romance Review: Waves of Passion by Casey Stuart


The Book

This review is of Waves of Passion by Casey Stuart. It’s an early Zebra historical romance from 1980.

The Plot

Book #1 Predestination

Waves of Passion begins in Northampton, England, circa 1810. Alaina Deering, the heroine, is facing trial for murdering her father, John, a shipping and boating magnate.

Alaina is innocent. One of her father’s former employees is the real culprit. Not only had he embezzled from the firm, but he also tried to pursue Alaina. It is Alaina, however, who is convicted of his crimes. She is sentenced to die via hanging. In the nick of time, with the help of a family friend, she is able to escape from prison. Then she and her younger brother Russell set out to find their father’s killer–Edward Tate.can

Alaina’s first stop is the West Indies. There she meets Justin Chandler, our dashing hero. Justin is a privateer. He is captain of The Avenger and works out of the Carolinas. Because Justin is attracted to Alaina, he offers to help the siblings find Tate. Alaina, too, is attracted to Justin but fights it. She is emotionally scarred from the trauma she experienced and observed in prison.

As they sail to America, Alaina and Justin get closer and finally become lovers. They land in the Carolinas, where we learn about Justin’s life. Despite Justin’s profession, he comes from a well-to-do family. H—reasons for becoming a privateer are revealed.

waves of passion review
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Book#2 Happenings

We also learn about his relationship with his sister-in-law, Jessica York, who lusts after Justin and wants him in her arms again. Jessica is a conniver, quite willing to go to any length to get Alaina out of the picture.

Jessica’s not the only non-Alaina female lusting after Justin. So is teenager Maggie Todd, who also tries to destroy Alaina by accusing her of killing Jessica. After she comes close to being killed, Alaina is distraught when Justin betrays her.

So Alaina makes her way to Charleston, South Carolina. Here that she meets Edward again, and not on good terms. Edward kidnaps Alaina and Russell and forces her to marry him by threatening Russell’s life.

The scene then changes to New Orleans, where we learn more about Edward’s cruelty. Justin arrives and tries to earn Alaina’s forgiveness, which she doesn’t give easily.

By the end of Waves of Passion, Justin explains his actions, and Edward gets his comeuppance. Alaina and Justin marry and have their Happily Ever After.


The love scenes are so short that I question Justin’s stamina, if you know what I mean. And I think you do! They are also nothing close to erotic or interesting.

If you’re looking for heavy “Waves of Passion,” there aren’t any here. This is not a passionate ocean but a kiddie pool that’s been laid out in the summer sun.

casey stuart waves of passion warm heat

The Upside

Not much. Alaina has her good points, but…

The Downside

Alaina is an example of someone who can be smart in one area yet naive at best and dumb at worst in others.

During the book, Alaina:

  • She goes to a dangerous dockside to investigate her father’s death. The result: someone beats and nearly rapes her.
  • Alaina goes to the docks a second time with a man because “he seemed sincere” about knowing of Tate’s whereabouts. Once again, Alaina is beaten badly.
  • Runs off after she argues with Justin, and she rides a horse which throws her off. A nearby rattlesnake almost bites her, but Justin is able to kill the snake.

All of these are examples of Alaina getting into trouble because of her own poor judgment.

Alaina and Justin are both underdeveloped characters with shallow personalities. The same holds true for the other characters in Waves of Passion.


In addition to the many acts of violence against Alaina, Justin hits Alaina during an argument. A murder occurs, and some come close to death. Alaina almost dies after getting shot during Justin and Edward’s fatal last fight.

Bottom Line on Waves of Passion

From the first two books I’ve read by Casey Stuart, I know they are only good for a cure for insomnia and kindling for a fire. Save Waves of Passion for a cold winter day and use it to warm up the house.

Rating Report Card
Fun Factor
Overall: 1.4


Accused of killing her father, alluring Alaina’s only escape was to slip aboard a ship bound for America. Somehow she would find the real murderer and make him pay! Instead she found herself in the powerful arms of Captain Justin Chandler. She hated his arrogance but longed for his ardent kisses. She loathed his protectivenes more but sought the warmth of his embrace. She had no intention of falling in love with a pirate…never dreamed that her body would betray her heart…

Mesmerized by the brown-eyed beauty, unaware of her innocence, Justin caressed her luscious curves until there was no turning back from desire. He had been burnt once before by a woman’s rapture and was sure no one would ever possess him again, but he had no idea that fate would bring him a woman as tantalizing as Alaina. And once he stroked her golden curls and touched her creamy flesh, he was swept into the rolling surf of love — swept into the endless Waves of Passion.

Waves of Passion by Casey Stuart

Happy Spring & Vernal Equinox Spring 2023

We’re celebrating the arrival of Spring and the Vernal Equinox for 2023. Spring is a time to celebrate romance. So we are celebrating with some jokes to tickle your punny bone.

Spring Vernal Equinox 2023

Let’s Celebrate Spring’s Arrival

Welcome to the first day of Spring 2023, marked by the Vernal Equinox! Spring is our second favoriteseason after Autumn, so we love to celebrate its official arrival. 

We’ll discuss the special reasons we love this season. Plus, we’ve got some really terrible jokes to keep you in good spirits this Spring Day!

Vernal Equinox 2023

The Vernal Equinox

This year, the Vernal Equinox occurs on March 20th, the moment when the Sun crosses the celestial equator, making day and night almost equal in length. The word “vernal” comes from the Latin word “vernalis,” which means “of the spring.”

The Vernal Equinox is an astronomical occurrence that signals the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s a time when the sun appears to rise earlier in the morning and set later in the evening. This signals the arrival of longer days and shorter nights. 

The equal distribution of sunlight to both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres places all things in balance. After the Vernal Equinox, the Northern Hemisphere will tilt more towards the sun, causing longer days and warmer temperatures.

Celebrate spring Vernal Equinox 2023
Photo by Trung Nguyen on Pexels.com

When the Flowers Bloom

And warm temperatures mean the weather will be nice and placid. 

Except for March when it’s still cold. So it can still snow!

And April, when it rains all month long! T.S. Eliot was right about April being the cruelest month. The world seems to vibrate with unpredictable energies. In my experience, April is truly th wild card month, where anything and everything can happen. 

Finally, in the last days of April, the world turns into a kaleidoscope of greens and pinks and yellows and white hues.

May is truly beautiful. The most glorious flowers are in bloom, and things really warm up as we move closer to summer. In some parts of the country–or the world–May is summer!

celebrate spring 2023
Photo by Polina Kovaleva on Pexels.com

Spring Into Romance

Still, the nights get may get chilly enough to cuddle next to the one you love.

The arrival of spring is associated with the rebirth and renewal of life. Trees and plants begin to bloom with new leaves and flowers. The birds return from their winter migration. It also means humans start to get friskier as the weather gets more pleasant. 

The Spring sun really does wonders for the libido!

This burst of new life–i.e., the horniness–is what makes this season one of hope and optimism. 

Spring Jokes Vernal Equinox 2023
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Some Bad Jokes for Spring 2023

Let’s welcome the first day ofSpring this 2023 by taking a moment to appreciate the beauty of nature and the hope of new beginnings.

And now, what you’ve been waiting for! Here are some horrible jokes about Spring and Spring related stuff.

What do you call a bunch of rabbits hopping backward?

A receding hare-line.

Why do bees have sticky hair in the Spring? 

Because they use honeycombs!

What did the tree say to the flower? 

“What’s bud-in’?

What did the tree say to the Spring? 

What a re-leaf!

Why did the tomato turn red? 

Because it saw the salad dressing!

Why was the math book sad in Spring? 

Because it had too many problems.

Why was the computer cold in Spring? 

Because it left its Windows open.

Why did the chicken cross the playground? 

To get to the other slide!

Why did the duck cross the road? 

To get to the pond on the other side!

What did the flower say to the bee that wanted to pollinate it?

“I be-leaf in you!”.

What do you call a snowman in the springtime?

A puddle!

What do you get when you cross a snowman and a shark? 


Why did the gardener plant a light bulb? 

He wanted to grow a power plant!

Why did the gardener break up with his girlfriend? 

Because he found out she was a hoe.

free Reading log

Free Printable Reading Log and Planner for 2023

We’re offering a free printable reading planner/ log for your convenience to use in 2023 to keep track of your reading list.

Reading planner

New Season, New Turning of the Wheel of Time

It’s Spring, which in many religions and societies is also the new year. We’re a bit late for the New Year in January (or the Lunar New Year, for that matter), but it’s never too late for new resolutions.

We’re familiar with those goals. You could mightwant to get in good shape, spend more time with family, or go on a trip.

Whatever you do, it’s important to follow through on objectives and keep the momentum rolling.

Our resolution is trying to get more organized, And what better way to do that than with a reading/log planner? How about a free one?

Free 8-Page Reading Journal: Easy to Download and Print

We’ve made a free 8-page printable reading planner/ log. This may help you get organized–at least where reading is concerned. The first page is a cover, and the second is a 2023 calendar, so you need only to print them once. Then print worksheet pages 3 to 8 as many times as you need to have an entire journal you can use all year long.

The printables feature spaces for setting goals, logging your daily reading progress, and tracking books you’ve read.

What’s more, our reading planner and log are entirely free to download and print. In order to get it, all you have to do is click the download button to access the PDF. You can print the sheets as many times as you need, making it perfect for those who want to monitor their progress.

Whether you’re a voracious reader or trying to read more, our reading planner and the log is the perfect tool to help you achieve your reading goals. It’s easy to use, customizable to your preferences, and, best of all, completely free!

Click on the link below to download a free 8-page PDF reading planner kit. Print as many sheets as needed.

FREE 8-Page Reading Planner Kit

Happy Reading in 2023

This free printable planner lets you create your specialized reading journal. Use them for your reading lists and notes, and take notes on your progress.

So why not give it a try? Download our reading planner/reading log, and start tracking your reading progress to make 2023 a year full of new and exciting reading adventures.

We’ll be offering more printables and freebies in 2023. Happy reading!

a reader's dilemma

To DNF or Finish the Book? A Reader’s Dilemma

Not sure if you should abandon or finish your current read? We’ll give you tips on how to decide with this guide on the reader’s dilemma: DNF or finish the book.

a reader's dilemma

Reading Is Fun (But Sometimes It’s Not)

To finish a book or not to finish, that is the question. When you invest time reading a book, and it just doesn’t gel, do you keep marching toward the end, hoping it will get better? Or are you a definitive reader who decides if a book doesn’t spark your interest at 20%, it’s time to DNF?

For some readers, DNF–short for “did not finish”–is an issue that causes anxiety, like anxiety about a person sitting next to you on a train, even if plenty of other seats are available. These book lovers feel a duty to finish every one they start.

For others, it’s as natural as tossing a used tissue into a bin. There are dozens, hundreds–or even more–works on deck in their TBR list (“to-be-read”). So for them, it’s on to the next book.

What kind of reader are you? How do you evaluate when to DNF a book? Is a DNF novel worth reviewing? And if it is, do you give it a rating? Should that DNF count toward an annual total for those who keep track of the number of books they read each year?

It’s a topic worth discussing.

Finish the Book

Finish Reading

Every reader has their criteria for finishing a book, and there are moments that, for whatever reason, call for DNF-ing. But most of the time, we commit ourselves to finish what we started and hope that, somewhere in those countless pages of text, we’ll discover something valuable and enjoyable.

Say No to Always Finish (To Learn How to Always Finish)

cats and books

I was always a ride-until-I-die reader. I had a policy of completing every book I started–even if it took me years. Then something happened; I began to read less. Instead of being a much-anticipated treat, books felt like heavy weights upon my ankles as I marched through the sand.

Reading fiction is supposed to be an enjoyable hobby, a delightful escape from the drudgery of the real world’s problems–not an act of drudgery itself.

So I stopped reading altogether. That was worse than not reading.

How did I get my reading mojo back? I stopped following the latest trends and only read what I knew I would like: the genres, subgenres, and tropes that had always brought me joy. I re-read old favorites and didn’t let myself feel guilty for not constantly opening up to new experiences.

Say Yes To Finish (This Makes the Good Books So Much Better)

cats and books

The need to finish a read is understandable. I always felt if I paid for a book and brought it into my library, I had a duty to know its contents. Even more so, if one is writing reviews, continue until finished.

Who knows? It may surprise you with a pleasant twist.

But if not, you can give that soporific novel an honest review: 2 stars or 1.

And if your “read” list is marked with more tallies in the lower ratings, take comfort in being fair about most writing being crap. Sturgeon’s Law applies, always.

However, this does underscore that when a book is good to you, it’s beyond that: you love it! It’s one of your favorites.

Devotees of a particular author or series may choose to finish a book out of a sense of obligation. For readers in this position, the best option is to take a break and return to the book later to see if the interest still remains.

Do Not Finish Reading


When a book’s lost your interest, is it time to put the work down and call it a day?

This is a decision that all readers face at some point during their journey with a book. From the chronic reader’s point of view, it can be incredibly disheartening to give up on a book that you expected to like but now find yourself struggling to even get through the first chapter.

Maybe One Day, Maybe Never

cats and books

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this reader’s dilemma, but a few tips can help get you through it.

A good rule of thumb is to read at least the first 50 pages, and if it doesn’t grab your attention, put the book aside. Maybe you’ll finish it one day, or maybe it’s a DNF. But don’t torture yourself with a book you dislike.

Push Through Pain: Finish or Die

cats and books

If you’re reading for school or work (or blog), you will probably want to try to push through and see the book through to the end. In this case, you may want to take a few breaks while reading. Maybe listen to classical music or the sound of rain or white noise.

Try skimming or speed reading. This may be easier to do with hard copies when you can see a book from a larger perspective and flip through filler pages. Then again, other people can maneuver easier with an e-book, with larger fonts and scrolling. So if a book doesn’t excite you, but you have this incredible skill, skim, or speed read. You may not absorb every minute detail, but you get the gist of it, and that’s all you need.

Quitters Always Win: DNF the Book

cats and books

Don’t feel any self-imposed guilt about your decision to DNF a book. Remember that everyone’s experience of literature is unique. Even if you might have enjoyed the book if you had given it more time, it makes sense to move on when you’re not interested anymore. Life’s too short, and millions of other stories are waiting to be told.

Another thing to consider is the context in which you are reading. Is it for leisure and relaxation? Then it’s okay to DNF and move on to something that catches your attention more. So what if everyone else loves it? Do you want to be like the cool kids and do what the cool kids do?

Ultimately, the decision to DNF or finish a book should come down to a reader’s sincere feelings. Do you genuinely want to continue? Is it worth finishing? If the answers are “no,” then DNF the book. There’s no shame in that! Out in the world is an abundance of excellent reading material, and no one should ever feel obligated to finish a lousy read simply because it’s at hand.

Review, Rate, or Forget Unto Oblivion?

cats and books

When it comes to reviews and ratings, it depends.

Are you rating and reviewing on social media or just for your personal records? It is best to stick with a system that allows for some flexibility. Those who use a rating system may want to allow for a gray area between the halfway and full marks. Those who write reviews could emphasize the pros and cons they experienced without assigning a numerical rating.

I adored the first installment in Laurie McBain‘s Dominick family trilogy, Moonstruck Madness. The second entry was a chore to finish, but I did finish it. But the last book in the series was too boring for words to complete.

Dark Before the Rising Sun

I broke one of my reading rules for Dark Before the Rising Sun. Even though I DNFed it, I posted a review. I did not complete the entirety of the 500-paged snoozer. I read half and skimmed to the end. That was a fair compromise.

I don’t “hard” DNF too many books; most of my unfinished books I still consider partly read, waiting to be picked up another day. Now, if I read at least 50% through and am just done, I check out the ending. Then I can rate and review with a clean conscience.

Ultimately to Finish or DNF Is an Individual Choice

cats and books

The decision to finish or DNF must be based on the individual’s reading habits and needs. There is no single correct answer, and each decision should be respected. People read for different reasons, and depending on the book, some may take longer to finish than others.

No matter what, readers should remember the reading process should be an enjoyable, rewarding experience — and sometimes finishing a book isn’t always the best strategy. Happy reading!

Your Opinion

cats and books

Are you a stick-it-through-until-the-very-end type of reader? Or do you decide within the first chapter if the book is to your liking and put it away if it’s not?

Please, drop a comment, and let’s talk romance.

top ten tuesday to be read list spring 2023

Top Ten Tuesday: Our Spring 2023 To-Be-Read List

We’re listing ten books on our to-be-read list for Spring 2023 for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme.

top ten tuesday to be read list spring 2023

Top Ten Tuesday

It’s Top Ten Tuesday, where depending on the week’s theme, we post a list of 10 of our best/favorite/most important bookish-related items.

Thank you to That Artsy Reader Girl for providing us with this feature and for the creative ideas.

“Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.”

That Artsy Reader Girl

Ten Books on My Spring 2023 TBR List

This week’s theme for Top Ten Tuesday is “Spring 2023 Books to Read.”

We had to tweak this list a bit, as we always try to do things as far ahead as possible. So rather than this list consisting of books-to-be-read, they are books-to-be-reviewed. Introvert Reader has read almost all the books listed below, so look out for these ten reviews in the upcoming months.

1. Historical Bodice Ripper: The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss

flame and flower

Doomed to a life of unending toil, Heather Simmons fears for her innocence — until a shocking, desperate act forces her to flee… and to seek refuge in the arms of a virile and dangerous stranger.

A lusty adventurer married to the sea, Captain Brandon Birmingham courts scorn and peril when he abducts the beautiful fugitive from the tumultuous London dockside. But no power on Earth can compel him to relinquish his exquisite prize. For he is determined to make the sapphire-eyed lovely his woman… and to carry her off to far, uncharted realms of sensuous, passionate love.


2. Traditional Regency: Lord Carew’s Bride by Mary Balogh

lord carews bride

Samantha Newman is getting older, but though she is beautiful and courted by a large number of gentlemen, she is restless and unhappy. While she is staying in the country with her friends Jennifer and Gabriel, she takes a walk alone and wanders onto the property of the reclusive Marquess of Carew.

She meets him far from the house and mistakes him for a landscape designer. He is an ordinary-looking man and is half crippled. He is also friendly and unassuming, and Samantha soon relaxes into a warm friendship with him.

It is only much later, back in London, when she is again threatened by the man who broke her heart years ago during her come-out Season, that Samantha discovers who her friend really is. And this time she is tempted to settle for the contentment of friendship in order to escape the pain of love.

Lord Carew’s Bride by Mary Balogh

3. Harlequin Historical: Sun Woman by Lindsay McKenna

sun woman mckenna


Desperate to save the last of her family, Kuchana had become a scout for the

army. To the young Apache, the return of her people to the reservation seemed the only way to ensure their continued survival. Her chosen path was not an easy one, but the promise of a future with Gib McCoy gave her the will to complete her journey.

Lieutenant Gib McCoy had known his share of women, but the pampered eastern ladies of his past paled next to Kuchana’s ethereal beauty. Her courage drew him to her like a moth to the flame. He could not protect her from the jealousy and prejudice that surrounded them, but he knew he would not rest until she was in his arms forever.


4. Silhouette Desire: Wrong Address Right Place by Lass Small

Wrong Address, Right Place tadiello


Linda Parsons was excited about her first business trip–and a shambles of a bed-and-breakfast place wasn’t going to dampen her spirit. Especially since ruggedly sexy innkeeper Mitch Roads seemed determined to make her stay enjoyable. There was certainly nothing wrong with this perfect specimen of a man, and his all-too-personal kisses soon drove all professional matters out of Linda’s mind.

Mitch knew Linda had come to the wrong address, but she was too beautiful to turn away. He’d play host and win her heart. But Mitch quickly learned that Linda despised liars. If she found out about his charade, would she check out–for good? Or could he convince her to make a lifetime reservation?

Wrong Address Right Place by Lass Small

5. Harlequin Temptation: Two Can Play by Emma Jane Spenser

Two-Can-Play emma jane spenser

They were playing a dangerous game

Private Investigator Natalie Tracy specialized in finding what was lost–missing kids, family heirlooms–so a treasure hunt piqued her curiosity. She’d been hired to unravel the clues hidden in the pages of The Quest. Her first step was to track down the elusive author, Alexander Garrick. That’s when she learned a new set of rules….

Rule #1: Despite her attraction to Alex, she couldn’t trust him.

Rule #2: She only had three weeks to solve the riddle, but her future happiness depended on it.

Rule #3: In a game where winner takes all, the stakes became her life!

Two Can Play by Emma Jane Spenser

6. Silhouette Intimate Moments: Paintbox Morning by Kathleen Eagle

Spring 2023 TBR list


Miguel Hidalgo had been left for dead by the minions of De Colores’s evil dictator, but he was very much alive—and determined to exact revenge and return his country to freedom. But even a man of Miguel’s determination and talents couldn’t accomplish that alone. He needed Veronica Harper.

Ronnie had flown into De Colores on a mission of mercy only to find herself hijacked at gunpoint, forced to fly the handsomest man she’d ever seen to safety. Soon guns were no longer necessary because once Ronnie heard Miguel’s story, she was eager to help him rescue his island home and even more eager to spend the future by his side.

Paintbox Morning by Kathleen Eagle

7. Harlequin Presents: The Shining of Love by Emma Darcy


Dedicated to her husband and their work at a rural Australian outback clinic, Suzanne had rejected the temptation Leith Carew had offered.

But he’d taken away her inner peace, just as she’d taken his. And when their paths crossed again, the longing that coursed through Suzanne’s body could no longer be denied. Except this time, Leigh was not free…

The Shining of Love by Emma Darcy

8. Paranormal/Science Fiction/Futuristic Romance: Passion Moon Rising by Rebecca Brandewyne

passion moon rising duillo

Ileana – The cherished princess of a brave and noble land. Violet-eyed, silver-haired, she was graced with beauty, pride and passion … born with a great gift and a rare destiny.Cain – A warrior prince who denied the danger that could destroy him. He lived by his courage and his instincts, and from the moment he gazed on Ileana, he knew nothing would vanquish his desire.

In each other’s arms, they shared a rich and wondrous love that brought them to exquisite ecstasy. But in a fierce and fiery clash of wills, their union was torn by betrayal and mistrust. Now, as their kingdoms are plunged into the terror of war, they must take up the only weapon that can save their world … the power that blazes in the blackest of nights – the gleaming sword of love!

Passion Moon Rising by Rebecca Brandewyne

9. Western Historical Romance: Temptation’s Trail by Dana Ransom

temptations trail ennis

When Amanda Duncan headed West to find her missing brother, she knew she was a little out of her element. Her privileged upbringing in a fancy boarding school hadn’t prepared her for the perils of frontier Texas. So, she made a plan-all she had to do was hire a hero. But when legendary gunslinger Harmon Bass showed up, he wasn’t what she expected at all. True, he was gorgeous beyond belief, but he was also unarmed! What kind of hero didn’t carry a gun?

Rugged half-breed Harmon Bass needed a job that paid well and disguised his true mission. What ha got was an irritating and irresistible trail partner who could not ride, shoot or keep quiet! Yet with every move she made, he wanted her more! Maybe it was Amanda’s sheer pluck…or unexpected courage…or the way her beautiful brown eyes glowed with sensual fire. Here was a woman to tempt and torment him-the woman he’d been waiting for all of his life. Now, as he and the feisty eastern beauty crossed a wilderness dogged by crooked lawmen and avenging outlaws, Harm only prayed they lived long enough to calm the love that waited at the end of…TEMPTATION’S TRAIL

Temptation’s Trail by Dana Ransom

10. Harlequin Super Romance/ Full-Length Contemporary: The Hellion by LaVyrle Spencer


RACHEL. The image of elegance, social standing, and beauty, she had barely recovered from her husband’s death when the wildest, most passionate flame of her youth stepped into her life, once again…

TOMMY LEE. The all-time hellraiser of Russellville, Alabama, he had three marriages behind him and a string of fast cars and women. The townsfolk said he’d never change. But Rachel knew differently…

One they were high school sweethearts, too young and reckless to handle the consequences of their love. Now, twenty-four years later, Tommy Lee could still excite Rachel like no other man. Maybe this time, they could make it work. In spite of his wild reputation…the local gossip…or Rachel’s questioning heart.

The Hellion by LaVyrle Spencer

That’s Ten Weeks of Spring Reading

Overall, this Spring will be a season of romance and adventure as we dive into our top ten book picks. We can’t wait to review all these fantastic romance novels and share our opinions with you.

Thanks again to That Artsy Reader Girl for organizing Top Ten Tuesday and giving us fun ideas each week!

Your Opinion

What books are on your Spring TBR list? Or is it more like a pile than a list? What do you think of our to-be-read list for Spring 2023?

As always, please drop a comment, and let’s talk romance.

years james griffin

Covers of the Week #94: Couples in Bed

It’s Daylight Savings Time for many countries worldwide, meaning less sleep than usual. This edition of Covers of the Week focuses on couples in bed–trying to get some much-needed sleep, of course!

couples in bed

Daylight Savings Time, Spring Ahead!

It’s Daylight Savings Time again, and not the good DST in Autumn, where we get an extra hour of sleep. It’s time to Spring ahead and set our clocks forward by one hour– thus losing an hour of sleep. For some, this is a huge source of frustration, as that lost hour of sleep is hard to regain.

Why do we have Daylight Savings time, anyway? It’s to make better use of daylight, particularly concerning matters such as farming, school, and work. In other words, we alter time to work with modern civilization. (Life would be so much easier if we were house cats who sleep 18 hours a day no matter the time or amount of sunlight.)

Theme: Couples in Bed

In honor of that lost hour of sleep, we’re showing off romance covers where the hero and heroines lie together in bed. No, they aren’t telling each other fibs. These covers depict couples on their beds, looking as much in need of a nap as some nookie.

Here’s an interesting side note. Because so many romance covers from the last two decades feature couples in bed, we figured it would be a simple task to find images that fit this theme, taking no longer than a few minutes. It took a bit longer than that!

Certainly, there were many “boudoir” clinches. However, few retro romances feature couples simply lying down. Usually, the pair are in sensual poses: straddling, embracing, et cetera.

The majority of twentieth-century romances have covers that are set outside. If indoors, the couples were rarely prone but upright. Add this to the many contrasting aspects that distinguish old-school romances from modern-day novels.

The Covers

For the week of Monday, March 13, 2023, to Sunday, March 19, 2023, our Covers of the Week theme features couples in their beds, lying down, and about to get down to important business: sleep.

Theme Covers (from Left to Right, Top to Bottom)

  • After Hours, Gina Wilkins, Harlequin, 1990, Dan Crouse cover art
  • Enchanted, Elizabeth Lowell, Avon, 1994, Victor Gadino cover art
  • Love, Remember Me, Bertrice Small, Ballantine, 1994, Elaine Duillo cover art
  • Years, LaVyrle Spencer, Jove, 1986, James Griffin cover art
years james griffin
Years by LaVyrleSpencer, James Griffin original cover art

Your Opinion

What do you think of this week’s theme of couples in bed? Do any of the covers stand out to you as a favorite?

Do you have a recommendation for a future Covers of the Week theme? Let us know, and we’ll try it out.

As always, please drop a comment, and let’s talk romance.

the judas kiss will davies

Category Romance Review: The Judas Kiss by Sally Wentworth

The Judas Kiss by Sally Wentworth is a legendary Harlequin Presents. It’s a twisted tale of revenge, deceit, lies, and passion sure to thrill readers.

category romance
The Judas Kiss by Sally Wentworth
Rating: five-stars
Published: 1981
Illustrator: Will Davies
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Presents #480
Published by: Harlequin, Mills & Boon
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 188
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader

Category Romance Review: The Judas Kiss by Sally Wentworth


The Book

Sally Wentworth’s The Judas Kiss has to rank in my top ten Harlequin Presents because it’s just so epic on so many levels. Nothing is as exhilarating and satisfying as a cray-cray-crazy old-school romance that fires on all cylinders and is filled with riveting twists and turns, deception and revenge. This has a heroine with a vicious will of steel and a hero who turns from kind to cruel to kind–in the end.

At 188 pages, The Judas Kiss is a little book that packs a wallop. It spans over four years and takes the heroine from a sweet, happy-go-lucky girl deeply in love to a hardened ex-criminal who gets plastic surgery to seek vengeance on the man who wronged her—the very man she once loved.

It’s like a Spanish telenovela, La Dama de Rosas, starring Jeanette Rodriquez and Carlos Mata! Boy, that takes me back!

la dama de rosas
La Dama de Rosas, RCTV Internacional

The Plot

Lynette and Beric

Lynette Maxwell is a young British stewardess who meets and falls in love with Beric Dane, a handsome pilot with no baggage. At only 19, Lyn is gaga for Beric, who is young for a hero of this Harley era–he’s only 29.

She’s a virgin and wants to take their relationship to the next level. Beric demurs, claiming to respect and love her too much to take her so casually. Lyn’s the kind of girl a man waits to marry before bedding her, and Lyn, in her haze of love, agrees.

On a return flight to the UK, she gets hauled in for questioning because a container of white powder was found in her bag inside her teddy bear. She is imprisoned, desperately afraid, and wonders how this could have happened.

She accuses Beric of planting the drugs on her after she realizes he was the one person who had access to her purse since they deplaned.

In response, Beric informs the police that she is making up stories to implicate him and abandons her. Lyn is convicted of the crime and goes to prison for three years. Lyn’s parents want nothing to do with her, and her great-aunt is the only person on the outside to support her.

Lynette’s Revenge, Part One

Prison turns Lyn from a sweet, trusting person to a woman embittered by deceit who lives only for vengeance. Fortunately, prison is just the place to meet hardened criminals who know a thing or two about revenge.

When Lyn gets out of the slammer, her face is reconstructed via the finest plastic surgery. She changes her hairline, chin, and nose, and her eyes are pulled further apart. Then she dyes her hair blonde. Viola! Lyn is now Nettie Lewis.

She tracks down Beric in Singapore and gets a job there teaching kids. She stays at the hotel where Beric and his flight crew stay for layovers and then starts to cozy up to some of the stewardesses, who introduce her to Beric. Beric is intrigued by her and pursues her with vigor. She rejects his advances, which spurs his further. He wants “Nettie” with a furious passion.

judas kiss mills and boon
The Judas Kiss, Mills & Boon

Lynette’s Revenge, Part Two

Lyn’s plans change when she realizes how deeply he falls for her. She decides that instead of planting drugs on him–which could potentially put her in danger– it would be better to make him fall in love with her and destroy him in another way.

She repeatedly shoots him down until she worries she may have overplayed her hand. But Beric comes back with a wedding proposal. Unlike before, when Beric wanted to wait until marriage to have sex with Lyn, now Beric wants to smash hard with Nettie. But our cool girl Lyn plays him like Georgia Johhny bowed his fiddle in a contest against the Devil.

They get married surrounded by his warm family, who are delighted that, at last, Beric has found happiness.

Lyn’s complicated plan began before the wedding when she flew out to their honeymoon destination with a tour group to set the trap. Then she took a flight back to get married.

On their honeymoon, Lyn leaves some clues making it seem she’s come to a mysterious, bloody end. She plants a bracelet in the hotel and messes up their room to look like it has been ransacked. Then she slips back with her previous tour group and wears a brunette wig. She watches from the fringes as Beric’s world crumbles around him.

Finally, she hightails it back to England to resume her life as Lyn. She even lets her natural hair color grow out.

Beric’s Revenge

Many months later, Lyn is now a slight attendant again. Although she has to fly regularly, Lyn is always careful not to book with Beric’s airline.

However, she gets recognized by one of his crew and comes face to face with Beric again. Beric pretends he doesn’t recognize her, but we know he does.

Now, it’s his turn for payback. He stalks her and pretty much kidnaps her when he gets her alone in a cottage. The gig is up! This is not the kind and gentle Beric she had known nor the eager fiance dazzled by new love.

This Beric is enraged, betrayed, and wants answers. And he wants that honeymoon night she never gave him.

Lyn is truly frightened–at first. But in the end, defiance reigns in her heart. Beric is no victim but the evildoer who put her in prison.

Beric realizes Lyn is genuinely innocent and sincerely believes he set her up. It was her outrage at this injustice that propelled her to seek revenge. His love for her makes him see the errors of his ways, and Beric vows to find who set her up.

With a little bit of sleuthing, they soon discover the true culprit. They find that she is living in her own personal hell as life has not gone well.

Lyn decides the guilty party has been punished already by Karma. She has had her fill of revenge and is not pleased with herself, knowing how she hurt Beric in her hunt for his blood.

But Beric–who is really a wonderful hero–forgives her. This enables Lyn to let the past anger and hurt fade away.

She and Beric turn to one another, and their Harley hell becomes heaven.

Final Analysis of The Judas Kiss

The Judas Kiss is freaking fantastic! This book deserves to be remembered in the annals of Romancelandia’s hall of fame. It has such an audacious plot, with a heroine who is cruel and single-minded in her pursuit of vengeance,

Beric is fantastic. He’s a really decent guy who’s shattered by Lyn’s actions. In his hurt, he is also cruel, seeking retaliation for Lyn’s treachery. But ultimately, his decency compels him to go in a different direction.

Oh, this was such fun! What a shame The Judas Kiss is not available in e-book format. If Dorren Hornsblow’s (Sally Wentworth’s real name) family controls the rights to this, hopefully, they’ll correct that error one day.

If you’ve never read this, what whacktastic excitement you’ve missed out on! Go on, search your favorite UBS, and get this one. Even if you hate it, The Judas Kiss can’t fail to thrill!

Rating Report Card
Fun Factor
Overall: 4.9


The man she’d loved had ruined her life

“I didn’t do it!” Lyn had protested, horrified, when accused of drug smuggling. But no one–customs officials or jury–had believed her. And then she discovered that her pilot boyfriend, Beric, had deliberately set her up! Her blind, trusting love rapidly turned to hate.

After three years in prison, she was determined to be revenged on Beric. So she worked out a complicated plan to get back into his life without his knowing who she was. And it worked.

But not quite in the way that Lyn had intended…

The Judas Kiss by Sally Wentworth
tazia's torment

Historical Romance Review: Tazia’s Torment by Sylvie F. Sommerfield

Tazia’s Torment by Sylvie F. Sommerfield, an early Zebra bodice ripper, has some good qualities, but overall, that’s all the book has.

book review historical romance
Tazia's Torment Rating: three-stars
Published: 1980
Illustrator: TBD
Imprint or Line: Zebra Historical Romance
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Forced Seduction
Pages: 495
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon

Historical Romance Review: Tazia’s Torment by Sylvie F. Sommerfield


The Book

This review is of Tazia’s Torment, a 1980 Zebra historical romance by Sylvie F. Sommerfield.

The Plot

One Night, four men–Garrett Flye, Louis Plummer, and brothers Delmond “Del” LaCroix and Cameron “Kirk” LaCroix, the “hero” of the book–go to a restaurant to watch a performance given by a dancer. The dancer in question is Elena Maria Constancia Fantasia de Montega–to use her full nomenclature. She is known as “Tazia” for short and is the book’s heroine.

Unknown to the men, Tazia and the four men share a tragic history. One of the four men listed above killed Tazia’s brother, Manolo, and Tazia is determined to find out which one and punish him.

Tazia and Kirk marry, but after four months, they separate due to their secrets. Tazia returns to her home, Casa del Sol, in California. There, she faces more sadness and shock. By virtue of their marriage and the archaic, sexist laws of the 1800s, Kirk– her estranged husband– owns Tazia’s family home now.

This leads to another rift between the couple. The arrival of Tazia and Kirk’s daughter, Mercy, mends the rift.

Two of the other men arrive at Casa del Sol and find happiness.

The fourth man, however, is lurking to destroy the happiness of the other three. As part of that process, he kidnaps Tazia and Mercy. The wife of one of the other men loses her life. Kirk and company rescue Tazia and Mercy, both of whom are unharmed. And ultimately, they solve the mystery of Manolo’s death. Subsequently, the killer is disposed of.

And there is a Happily Ever After for the three couples, although not in a linear way.

tazia's toment
Tazia’s Torment, ReIssue, Zebra, 1985 cover artist TBD

The Upside

Tazia’s Torment is, in a way, a book that would establish Mrs. Sommerfield’s writing style. It has a bit of emotion, some depth to her characters, and special attention placed on her supporting characters.

The Downside

Mrs. Sommerfield didn’t delve as deep into her characters as I would have liked to see. I felt there was more SHE COULD HAVE REVEALED ABOUT THEM.

The early tone of the book is patronizing to Tazia. This is due to the attitude of the male characters: “We need to save Tazia because we know things she doesn’t.”

Finally, the ending of the book is very weak sauce. I thought the storyline of one of the men falling in “instaluv” with and marrying his deceased wife’s sister was creepy.


There are a few sex scenes. These are not really descriptive in any way, nor are they terribly romantic.

Steam Level: As Senora Elena Maria Constancia Fantasia de Montega de LaCroix might say: “La pasión es tan tibia como el agua del baño del bebé.”

(The passion is as lukewarm as a baby’s bathwater).


Tazia is raped several times. Del is shot. In the end, the good guys kill the villain.

The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line on Tazia’s Torment

Sylvie F. Sommerfield’s California-set bodice ripper Tazia’s Torment is not a bad book. However, it is not as good as it could have been.

Rating Report Card
Fun Factor
Overall: 3



Beautiful and tempestuous Fantasia de Montega aroused passion in every man who was fortunate enough to see her dance. And though many tried, none could learn where this mysterious and unapproachable beauty came from, or why she disappeared after every show.

But no one who beheld her could have guessed her dark secret—her mission of revenge—or the cruel trick of fate that would make her unwittingly fall in love with the very man she had vowed to kill….

Tazia’s Torment by Sylvie F. Sommerfield