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guilty love charlotte lamb

Category Romance Review: Guilty Love by Charlotte Lamb

Synopsis:

Nowhere to run.

Linzi York loved her husband — but Barty had changed. His rage and growing despair since the accident had taken a brutal toll. Linzi was trapped in a nightmare. And Ritchie Calhoun knew it.

Linzi and Ritchie’s relationship had always remained on a cool professional level — but now facades were beginning to crumble. Needs and desires they were powerless to deny tormented them…and it was Linzi who was paying the highest price.

Then a horrible tragedy shattered their lives — and Ritchie’s courage proved his love in a way that few men ever could…

GUILTY LOVE by CHARLOTTE LAMB

SPOILER & SENSITIVE CONTENT ALERT ⚠

The Book

Charlotte Lamb‘s Harlequin Presents romance Guilty Love is crazy and full of over-the-top drama. I loved every wild moment of it. As always, YMMV, although this sort of book is right up my alley.

Lamb always tried to outdo herself in her writings. Whenever I picked up one of her books, I was never certain whether it would be a 5-star keeper or a weird slog through the heroine’s life. This one is a 5-star book. But a word of warning: it handles a dark subject that may cause readers some discomfort.

The Characters

Linzi York is a married woman who has worked for Ritchie Calhoun for about a year. Her marriage is not a happy one. She’s been with her husband Barty for four years and loves him deeply. She’s always wanted a big family. But Barty was in a devastating accident that affected his brain cognition. And performance in the bedroom. He has become a changed man, full of rage and anger. The prospects of having that big happy family seem impossible now.

Ritchie and Linzi have a great working relationship. Unsurprisingly, Ritchie carries a torch for his married secretary and can sense something’s not right with her marriage.

Barty started drinking to overcome his chronic depression. He views himself as half a man and has violent outbursts that he seemingly can’t control.

The Plot

Like in her book A Frozen Fire, a Charlotte Lamb heroine finds herself trapped in a marriage. In the previous book, the heroine was married to a cheating louse. Here, Linzi is married to an abusive spouse. Both Lamb heroines are intensely loyal to their partners for some unfathomable reason. They are the for better or worse types; even it makes them self-inflicted martyrs.

Barty’s affliction has made him homicidal. He beats Linzi constantly. He even tries to rape her but can’t perform.

Linzi has to spend more time working as Ritchie has a big project to finish. The late hours make Barty jealous. One night when Linzi gets home, Barty flies into a jealous rage and begins to beat her. Then events take a strange and horrific turn. Ritchie shows up. Barty is killed. What did Ritchie do?

The police arrest Ritchie for Barty’s murder. Ritchie goes to prison for several years.

Upon his release, Ritchie comes back into Linzi’s life, seeking revenge. Altered by years of incarceration, the formerly nice beta-male boss is now a cruel, remorseless being.

For her part, Linzi wants nothing to do with the man who killed her husband. Ritchie won’t be thwarted. Revenge turns into passion. Then a shocking revelation changes everything.

Final Analysis of Guilty Love

I won’t analyze this book with a realistic outlook; that’s too depressing.

With Harlequin Presents–especially certain authors like Charlotte Lamb–you’re bound to have a crazy, emotional time. Lamb would tackle controversial issues like rape and abuse with a psychoanalytical intensity that was riveting. (Usually.)

At 190 pages, Guilty Love is too short to delve properly into the very serious issues of abuse, trauma, and repression. It’s fair to make an argument that the violence displayed here was for gratuitous reasons.

In a lesser author’s hands, this would be a failure. When Lamb pulled out all the stops, she made a dark premise work. Rather than dwell on grim reality, Lamb ramped up the melodrama. It does create a heck of a page-turner.

Guilty Love is a twisted tale of revenge and dark revelations. Full of continuous action with a quick-moving plot, it’s hard to look away. It had me hooked from the first and never let go.

5 Stars

marriage on the rebound

Category Romance Review: Marriage on the Rebound by Michelle Reid

category romance
Marriage on the Rebound by Michelle Reid
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1997
Illustrator: Unknown
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Presents #1973
Published by: Harlequin
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 192
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: Amazon

Category Romance Review: Marriage on the Rebound by Michelle Reid

VERY MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

Michelle Reid’s Marriage on The Rebound is about keeping it all in the family. Shaan Saketa is unique for a Harlequin Presents circa 1998 heroine, as she’s of mixed ethnic heritage: English and Lebanese. Otherwise, she’s like most other female main characters found in the land of these category romances. Shaan is young (not yet 23), a virgin, and an orphan.

And it’s her wedding day. Unfortunately for Shaan, she’s about to be dumped at the altar.

The Plot

Shaan is in her wedding dress when her fiancé’s brother and former boss, Rafe Danvers, comes to her with a “Dear John” letter. Her husband-to-be, Piers, says he can’t marry her because he’s in love with another woman.

Shaan is dejected, and her family is certain that there’s more than meets the eyes to this abrupt breakup. Rafe, ever the responsible fellow, is determined to help Shaan save face. He steps in and urges her to marry him. In shock, Shaan goes through the motions.

Rafe gives Shaan no time to think as she whisks her off to Hong Kong. As a way to help Shaan get over her turmoil, Rafe puts her secretarial skills to work, makes her go on shopping sprees, and socialize with his friends.

Why is Rafe so concerned about Shaan’s emotional state? Although Shaan remains unaware, it’s no secret to the reader: he’s suffering from a huge case of unrequited love.

It turns out Rafe fell for Shaan at first sight when they had a meet-cute after she bumped into him, causing a big paper-spill. Unfortunately, Rafe could not act on his feelings, as he had to deal with business matters. His younger brother, who was always jealous of Rafe, moved in to romance her. When Rafe returned, Shaan and Piers were a devoted couple.

But Shaan has no idea about Rafe’s adoration for her. She’s under the misapprehension that Rafe didn’t think a mixed-race girl of lower-class status was good enough for his brother. Sparks fly, but at the same time, Shaan can’t help but appreciate Rafe’s strong, capable demeanor. And once she takes notice of his good looks, things take a turn for the sensual.

Over time, Shaan finds herself falling for Rafe, but can she trust him? And what about Piers? Are her feelings for him gone forever?

Marriage on the Rebound,
Marriage on the Rebound, Michelle Reid, Harlequin, 2019 reissue

Final Analysis of Marriage On the Rebound

Michelle Reid, along with Lynne Graham and Miranda Lee, was one of the better authors to come out from the Harlequin Presents line in the early 1990s. Marriage on the Rebound is an example of her fine writing skills. Reid excels at creating vividly erotic scenes.

I enjoy the torn-between-two-brothers trope for some reason, even though I can’t say the same when it’s two sisters and one man. Rafe is a wonderful hero, stoic yet vulnerable. I found the plot to be well-executed.

Although I wasn’t sure Shaan was as in love with Rafe as he was with her. She is clearly on the rebound, as the book’s title says. Certainly, there’s an attraction there. Is she truly in love? It’s up to the reader to determine, but one thing’s for certain, Rafe and Shaan are hot for each other.

I’d rate Michelle Reid’s Marriage on the Rebound a solid 4, as it does make for a satisfying read.

4 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
4
Characters
4
Writing
4
Chemistry
4
Fun Factor
4.5
Cover
4
Overall: 4.1

Synopsis:

Jilted at the altar!

Shaan Saketa has heard the words before but never thought they would apply to her. Humiliated and alone, she stands facing a thousand guests when her boss, ruthless tycoon Rafe Danvers, makes a shocking proposal. Suddenly she finds herself married to the wrong man and whisked away on a honeymoon!

Rafe has always suspected that there was more to his mousy secretary than meets the eye, and he’s right. But as he indulges in exquisite nights little does he know that Shaan is wondering just how ruthless he really is and just how far he went to have her in his bed! 

MARRIAGE ON THE REBOUND by MICHELLE REID
hilltop tryst

Category Romance Review: Hilltop Tryst by Betty Neels

category romance
Hilltop Tryst by Betty Neels
Rating: three-stars
Published: 1990
Illustrator: Will Davies
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Romance #3071
Published by: Harlequin, Mills & Boon
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 192
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: Hilltop Tryst by Betty Neels

VERY MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

Hilltop Tryst is another sweet romance by the famous Betty Neels featuring–as always–a fair-haired doctor as a hero, although this time he’s British, not Dutch. Nor is the heroine a nurse. She’s the daughter of a local successful veterinarian and works with Dad.

The Set-Up

The title Hilltop Tryst makes it sound steamier than this book really is. It’s a very clean, closed-door Harlequin Romance, so no trysting here!

One morning, Beatrice is taking a walk with her dog, and she meets the hero, Dr. Oliver Latimer, a heart surgeon, along the way. Oliver’s a nice, stolid type. There’s a bit of trouble with another dog, and Oliver arranges to bring the pup to Beatrice’s father for a check-up.

Everything lines up making it seem as if Oliver’s interested in Beatrice. He’s kind to her, spends time with her family, and–in typical Betty Neels fashion–doesn’t make a move! When Beatrice’s father has a heart attack, they’re fortunate that Dr. Latimer is there to save the day.

Enter our other man, a more debonair and seemingly sophisticated vet. Have you known many vets? Most of them are really nice folks! But hardly dashing when compared to heart surgeons.

Sunnyvale’s Top Vet

The Plot

Anyway, this OM takes a liking to Beatrice as she to him. Oliver’s nice and all, but he’s so placid and just there. Unfortunately, Beatrice discovers that the OM has his sights set on taking over her father’s thriving business. Cozying up to Beatrice was simply part of his plan.

Ashamed, her heart in tatters, Beatrice turns to Oliver, who is there to save the day. He proposes a phony relationship with Beatrice and offers to take her on a Continental-speaking tour.

Along the way, Beatrice realizes she wasn’t really in love with Sam Losco, sleazy pet doc. She was just blinded by his flash. As Beatrice gets to know more of Oliver on their trip, she realizes it’s he whom she prefers.

There’s some bit of dull action before the two meet up again on that same hilltop. They declare their love for each other. Again, no trysting, but promises of marriage and forever are made.

hilltop tryst

Final Analysis of Hilltop Tryst

This was a charming Betty Neels romance, but not really very exciting. I was reading another Harlequin Romance at the same time as this (a Jessica Steele I’ll review later) and found that a saucy read more to my liking.

To my (not) surprise, reviews on sites rate Hilltop Tryst much higher than the other one I enjoyed. Oh, well, I like a little drama in my romances, even the sweet ones.

Hilltop Tryst, I’d mark as good, not great. Oliver gets points for being an animal lover, but not enough to change my overall sentiments.

3 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
3
Characters
3
Writing
3
Chemistry
2
Fun Factor
3
Cover
4
Overall: 3

Synopsis

A Dependable Man

When Beatrice’s world turned upside down, Oliver Latimer was on hand to pick up the pieces. There was something solid and reassuring about Oliver. Beatrice felt safe with him. But he wasn’t an easy person to get to know.

Accompanying him on a lecture tour to Europe convinced Beatrice that there was more to Dr. Latimer than she’d imagined. In fact, she came to believe he was the only man she could truly love. But Oliver kept his feelings hidden. What did he really think of her

HILLTOP TRYST by BETTY NEELS
A> Loverboy

Category Romance Review: A> Loverboy by Judith Arnold

category romance
A> Loverboy by Judith Arnold
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1991
Illustrator: Unknown
Imprint or Line: Harlequin American Romance #389
Book Series: A Century of American Romance #10
Published by: Harlequin
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 256
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: A> Loverboy  by Judith Arnold

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

Published in 1991, Judith Arnold‘s A> Loverboy is the final installment in the Harlequin American Romance line “A Century of American Romance” series. There were ten books in the series, each one focusing on a decade in the 20th century.

Even though they were published in a category romance contemporary category romance line, all the books could be considered “historical” romances.

All that is, except A>Loverboy, which is more like historical fantasy or speculative fiction. Take your pick.

Because instead of taking place in the actual 1990 when this book was published (1991), A> Loverboy is set at a fictional end of the decade, the end of a century, and the end of a millennium.

The Future Past

A> Loverboy is a funny romance about two coworkers falling in for each other in an unusual way. Before there was “You’ve Got Mail” with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, there was this book.

Lucy Beckwith is an uptight divorcee working in tech. You can tell I know nothing about computers because of the phrasing I use.

Back in the 1980s, Jim Kazan was a prodigy who’d hacked into the Pentagon. This brought him notoriety and put him on the covers of every major magazine.

Years later, he’s still working in computers, this time in the “new Silicon Valley” of Kansas. In this reality, “The Big Earthquake” finally hit California in the early part of the 1990s. The economy was disrupted, causing many businesses to move out of state.

Lucy doesn’t think much of Jim, except that he’s an egoist who lives off his hacker reputation.

The Future Present

One night Lucy starts getting mysterious messages on her work computer.

A> I crave your body.

Why would anyone crave her body? Lucy wonders. Her ex-husband hadn’t thought much of her shape. Her breasts were the size of lemons, for goodness sake!

A> I want you, Lucy Beckwith.

The messages continue. Rather than being disgusted, Lucy is intrigued. Who was this mysterious admirer?

A> Call me Loverboy.

The flirtatious glowing words on her screen bewilder Lucy.

It’s no surprise that the man behind the messages is the arrogant big-shot Lucy can’t stand, Jim Kazan. Jim tries his best to woo her online and in real life.

Lucy finds Jim’s confidence isn’t so off-putting once she gets to know him. And being desired by a secret admirer is working wonders on her own confidence.

The Future Future

Although the vision of the 1990s depicted herein has “not aged so well,” it’s worth assessing what Arnold’s ideas of a not-too-distant future (that has now passed) entailed. This aspect categorizes A> Loverboy as speculative fiction and romance.

Reading this American Harlequin was akin to watching movies from the ’80s that predicted hovercars and aliens by the year 2020.

I mean, yes, aliens are here hiding in plain sight, as lizard people are wont to do. But we were promised hovercars, too, dammit!

People in this book’s version of 1999 have to wear special lightweight jackets to block out harmful UVRs.

In our genuine “Current Year,” almost everybody wears no less than a minimum of SPF 30 sunblock when they go outdoors in summer. I remember when they sold SPF 5 in tubes, and anything over 10 marked was for only the palest or easily freckled skin. And it was always PABA-free! (Does any modern sunscreen contain that anymore?)

Arnold did get reality TV right. Or at least, programs like “The Bachelor” where people find “real love” in front of cameras and millions of viewers.

Another Element in This Futuristic Romance

There’s a subplot about a teenager named Dara Lynn, who believes that Jim is her father.

Her unmarried mom birthed Dara Lynn during an IVF pregnancy. Jim Kazan–supposedly–donated a specimen to a fertility clinic right before Dara Lynn’s mother sam. She’s connected the dots and set her hopes on Jim as her father.

That subplot is a minor one, however, taking backstage to the main love story.

Jim is a charming rogue, an Alpha nerd who is determined to get the woman he wants. He desires Lucy not only for her body but her brain as well.

What will happen when Lucy realizes the man who’s won her heart like a cyber Cyrano de Bergerac is really the smart-ass, genius whose superior airs and sexy smile drive her crazy?

Final Analysis of A> Loverboy

Despite A>Loverboy not accurately representing the 1990s, I really enjoyed this engaging funny romance.

Lucy was an authentic depiction of an insecure woman who flourished under some much-deserved adoration. Jim was a cute, witty hero.

Judith Arnold‘s humorous handling of this romance left me smiling.

Rating Report Card
Plot
4
Characters
4.5
Writing
4.5
Chemistry
4
Fun Factor
4.5
Cover
3.5
Overall: 4.2

Synopsis

“I crave your body.” Seeing this message on her computer screen, Lucy Beckwith wondered if she’d finally gone mad. It had to be a mistake; at the very least, someone’s idea of a bad joke.

“I want you, Lucy Beckwith.” Her admirer certainly knew who she was—but when Lucy asked for his identity, all he said was, “Call me Loverboy.”

“I dreamed you were in my bed. ” Erotic messages … homespun poetry… outrageous flattery—Lucy couldn’t help but fall for Loverboy’s brand of old-fashioned romance.

“My heart is yours.” Lucy couldn’t believe two people could fall in love when they’d never even seen each other. But at the dawn of the twenty-first century, anything is possible…

A> LOVERBOY by JUDITH ARNOLD
tabitha in the moonlight

Category Romance Review: Tabitha in Moonlight by Betty Neels

Tabitha in the Moonlight, Betty Neels, Harlequin, 1972, Bern Smith cover art

Harlequin Romance #1905

VERY MILD SPOILERS 😉

4 stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Heroine & the Hero

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

Tabitha in Moonlight is a Harlequin Romance about an efficient, capable nurse (aren’t they always in these books?) in an elderly men’s ward. She falls for the new temporary surgeon, the Dutch-born, Dr. Marius van Beek. Betty Neels wields the typical doctor-nurse romance into a Cinderella story, with Tabitha starring as the poor, down-trodden stepdaughter who gets no love from her wicked step-mother and step-sister.

Dr. van Beek plays the prince’s role, but fortunately, this Prince is far more astute than his fairy tale predecessor, not requiring a glass slipper to identify his true lady love.

When first we meet Tabitha, she is presiding over her ward, checking on patients in a pleasant, personal manner, going as far as taking care of one old gentleman’s cat. She’s no beauty, as Neels describes her, but with her lovely figure, wide smile, and fabulous hair that she keeps primly knotted up, the reader knows Tabitha is actually a swan in hiding.

The Plot

Tabitha lives in a little flat near work. She’s 25, practically on the shelf, and independent, but quite delf-deprecating. She doesn’t think much of her looks. It’s a shame a plain Jane like herself is the type the handsome new doctor would never be interested in. (sigh)

Years ago, Tabitha had lived with her father in their ancestral home, Chidlake. But upon his remarriage and her entrance into nursing school, she left home. Her father died, and by all rights, the family home should be hers. However, her father left it to his second wife, believing she would pass it on to his daughter. At a weekend visit to Chidlake, Tabitha is shocked to see Dr. van Beek in attendance, with her stepsister draped all over him.

Tabitha’s stepmother is a cruel woman, insulting Tabitha’s looks at every turn. Is it a wonder she feels so insecure when compared to her elegant step-sister?

But make no mistake, Marius is not a cad who chases woman after woman. If they’re drawn to him, it’s because he’s one of those confident, handsome men who excels at his profession. Women highly prize that type of man.

There are a few surprises in store for Tabby. Tabitha finds herself accompanying Marius and a patient on a trip on Marius’ boat and then to Holland. There are quite a few charming side characters in this vintage romance that add to the overall enjoyment.

Final Analysis of The Book

This is a sweet romance about a fairy tale coming to fruition in real life. Dr. van Beek was a great hero. Reserved, cool, but you knew what was going on in his mind, that he adored Tabitha. He’s actually a very nice hero, always praising Tabitha, and trying his best to instore confidence in her.

I could have done without Tabitha’s silly insecurities about her looks. She carried on as if she were a troll. I don’t know if it’s limited solely to books, but it seems so many young women are either woefully insecure about themselves or have too much-misplaced arrogance. Can’t there be a middle ground for self-adjusted women who value their true worth?

That’s a minor quibble, as seeing Tabitha grow into her own and flourish under Marius’ kindness made this romance a delightful treasure.

ODRSO<br /> S@#SSPONSORED AD

A violation charlotte lamb

Contemporary Romance Review: A Violation by Charlotte Lamb

a violation charlotte lamb
A Violation by Charlotte Lamb
Rating: three-stars
Published: 1983
Illustrator: Unknown
Published by: Worldwide, Harlequin
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 313
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Contemporary Romance Review: A Violation by Charlotte Lamb

Spoiler Alert ⚠

The Book

A Violation, a full-length novel by category author Charlotte Lamb, isn’t a straightforward romance. It’s somewhere more between women’s fiction and romantic fiction.

Like so many of her works, it encompasses major themes. Here she emphasizes the philosophy of love and what are the roles of being a man and a woman, especially regarding amorous relationships. Charlotte Lamb addresses a difficult and taboo subject in romance: rape.

A Romance That is Not a Romance

In general, I think Lamb was better restrained by the limitations of category romance, as at times in A Violation she veers off into navel-gazing. Nevertheless, this was a satisfactory read.

I wouldn’t rank it as exemplary as the similarly-themed Stranger in the Night, but superior to a few of Lamb’s other Mills & Boon/ Harlequins that also dealt with sexual assault. (I am looking at you Dark Fever.)

Rape, especially a violent rape by a stranger who debases the heroine, leaving her life in tatters, isn’t the most comfortable backstory for a romance.

As stated, though, this isn’t strictly a romance novel, so if you’re looking for more than a “Happy For Now” ending, you might be disappointed.

The Plot

A Violation

Clare is a modern woman of her era (the early 1980s) with a successful career and a live-in boyfriend with whom she’s sexually active but not madly in love. One night a stranger breaks into her home and brutally violates her.

Understandably, the violation of Clare’s body, her home, and her sanctity turns everything upside down. Her friends, family, and co-workers all know of the horrible experience she’s faced.

The rape changes everything. Her relationship with her boyfriend is destroyed.

But not her life.

Clare deals with the trauma by focusing on the healing–not on the event itself. She goes to counseling to seek solace.

Instead of wrapping herself up in her victim status, Clare uses the tragic occurrence as a springboard to learn who she is and transform into a stronger person.

How a Tragedy Affects Everyone

Clare’s experience also causes a ripple in the lives of both her mother and her best friend, Pamela, an ultra-independent, career-minded model. And so it does too for Clare’s boss, Larry, who is there for her as she recovers from her shocking experience.

The friendship between Larry and Clare starts to morph into something more intense gradually.

Meanwhile, Pamela engages in a “will-they-or-won’t they romance” with her polar opposite, a traditional-minded guy named Joe.

Also, there is Clare’s mother, who is from a more conservative generation when it comes to sex and gender issues. She has to deal with comprehending the tragedy that has transformed her daughter.

Charlotte Lamb on Feminism and Romance

One facet of A Violation that fascinated me was the ever-present topic of second-wave feminism. This book was like a time capsule into an era where women did not have all the options that some today might take for granted.

The two burgeoning relationships form parallel stories about the battle of the sexes. Clare ponders whether Pamela could ever truly be content with a man like Joe:

Clare could hardly believe now that Pamela sat around yearning to do just that, daydreaming about making Joe’s breakfast before he went off to work, wondering aloud what sort of children they would have…It was pathetic, like hearing a free bird mewing to get inside a cage.

As for herself, Clare goes on a voyage of discovery as to what’s important in her life.

While shocked at her friend’s seeming change in attitude, Clare realizes that certain traditional values appeal to her. She won’t hold out for anything less.

Larry’s dogged pursuit intrigues her, but she is hesitant to engage in anything serious with the notorious womanizer that he is.

A Discussion Worth Having

Larry: The Pill’s liberated women. Sex is no longer a dangerous pleasure. They have it on demand without fear of consequences, just like a man.

Clare: Except women aren’t men, either physically or mentally, and they tend to get emotionally involved with anyone they make love with. How is it going to get around that and your ‘Brave New World?’

Larry: I didn’t make the rules. I’m just reporting what I’ve noticed going on. When I was 20 there were two sorts of girls: those who did it, and those you have to marry if you talk them into it and they got pregnant. That no longer applies.

Clare: It strikes me that for all this talk about liberating women, it was men who got liberated, they no longer have to pay for sex–either money or marriage.

Larry: It was women who demanded equality and liberation–now they’ve got it all they do is complain.

Clare: I suppose it’s OK for women who get the exciting job–top executives and big companies, models like Pamela, actresses.

But what about all the women slaving away at boring jobs and offices and factories, who wish to God they could afford to stay home and run the house and cook the dinner?

My mother never worked, her generation didn’t unless they had no other option. When I got back from work it was me who cooked some dinner. It didn’t matter how tired I was…

Larry: That was your own fault! Don’t whine to me about letting him use you as an unpaid servant. You have a tongue in your head, you should have told him straight that it wasn’t on; if he couldn’t go fifty-fifty with you, you could hit the road and not come back.

Clare: I did. In the end, I did.

Can a Happy for Now Ending Be a True Romance?

Larry is Clare’s friend, yes. But slowly, he begins to be something else. Something much more meaningful.

Yet Clare is not a woman to be taken lightly. She now knows what she wants in life and expects no less.

“I love you,” he whispered…

“You can’t be in love with me. It isn’t possible…You only want me because I refused you. I’m sure that if I gave in yesterday and let you seduce me you wouldn’t have asked me to marry you today.”

“You could be right,” he replied equably. “You presented a challenge I have to overcome somehow…I want to kiss you until you–“

“Until I submit to you! …That’s what this is all about, isn’t it? Domination and submission you dominate and I submit. I refuse to play that game. I’m not going to marry you. When I marry–if I marry–it won’t be someone powerful and domineering like you. I’ll marry someone with whom I’m equal.”

“But we are equals, first,” he argued. “Haven’t you noticed you’re almost as tall as I am and you’re strongly armed as well as strong-willed?”

His mouth curved ruefully and he touched the plaster on his forehead. “You proved in no uncertain way that you refuse to be dominated…That you’re reckless, don’t give a damn for convention and you like to have your own way as much as I like to have mine.”

Final Analysis of A Violation

At the end of A Violation, Charlotte Lamb leaves Clare and Larry’s status ambiguous. There is no definitive yes to marriage. Even so, that’s okay. Things are happy.

For, oddly enough, the frightening, life-altering experience Clare has gone through enabled her to find her true self. And in knowing herself, Clare knows what she wants in a lifetime partnership.

To be equals to a man, yet complementary; two pieces of one whole part.

A Violation is not a book I “enjoyed” experiencing. It was uncomfortable, yet also invigorating. It succeeds as a story of a woman’s self-discovery. As a romance, I’m not sure where it fits.

If you can handle the sensitive subject matter, I think it’s worth a read.

3 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
3.5
Characters
4
Writing
4
Chemistry
2.5
Fun Factor
3
Cover
2.5
Overall: 3.3

Synopsis

Yesterday's Love

Category Romance Review: Yesterday’s Love by Marsha Manning

Yesterday's Love
Yesterday’s Love, Marsha Manning, Magnum Books, 1969, cover artist unknown

#4286 Magnum Books Easy Eye

Spoiler-free review 🙂

5 Stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnum Books

Yesterday’s Love is a moving romance with a rather mysterious background. It’s part of the Magnum Books imprint of Prestige Books, Inc., a small New York paperback publisher active during the mid to late 1970s. The novel was originally published as a hardcover by Mills & Boon in 1969, under the title Yesterday’s Lover. But the copyright page of this edition doesn’t say when it was published. Nor can I find this info anywhere else.

The author, Marsha Manning, was a pen name of Hettie Grimstead. Or was Hettie Grimstead a pen name of Marsha Manning? If you know, drop me a line.

An Impossible Situation

Here’s the setup. Kerry Talbot, a London office worker for a large corporation, is in love with Philip Ingram, her boss. And he’s in love with her. The situation presents an obvious problem. But wait, there’s more. He’s married. An issue that troubles her far more than him.

What other people think of her doesn’t matter to Kerry, but what she thinks of herself does. Philip says he’ll seek a divorce. But promises aren’t good enough. Until he’s actually free, she determines to distance herself from him. Thus she accepts a transfer to Stockholm.

And what a new life awaits her! Kerry works in big business but lives in an apartment house full of offbeat, creative Bohemian types. Including painter Len Sandeman, who does her portrait and falls in love with her. But the feeling isn’t mutual. Len is a skillful painter, but as a lover, he’s a lout. One with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer.

In contrast, there’s the refined Axel Von Fersen. Kind and considerate, he’s every inch a gentleman. But he’s also Kerry’s boss and has a fiancée. He tries to hide his feelings, but eventually, it becomes clear he loves Kerry. The situation largely parallels the one she left behind.

But not entirely. Axel isn’t Philip. For once, a man can and will put Kerry’s happiness above his own. Can he persuade her to love him and forget Philip?

My Reactions

There’s more, but in order to avoid spoilers, I’ll stop here. Yesterday’s Love presents the heroine’s dilemma with skill, grace, and depth. There’s plenty of romantic drama, and all of it seems natural and real, without exaggeration or contrivance. The story remains engaging from beginning to end.

The author conveys well the emotions of the characters. The point of view is strictly limited to Kerry, but we can tell what the others are thinking and feeling. Even the minor characters come to life convincingly and memorably.

Equally compelling are the exterior descriptions. The settings, mostly in Stockholm and the Swedish island of Gotland, seem vividly real.

I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone in the mood for an emo romance. It’s available at the major websites that sell used books.

Reviewed by: Mary Anne Landers

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
jinxed

Category Romance Review: Jinxed by Day LeClaire

Jinxed, Day Leclaire, Harlequin, 1990, cover artist to be determined

Harlequin Romance #3028

4 1/2 stars

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Day LeClaire’s Jinxed has the honor of being the third romance I read. I recall my first four romances so vividly since they arrived free of charge in a package on my doorstep when I was about 12. There were 4 Harlequin Romances: Game Plan, Arafura Pirate, Spell Of The Mountains, and Jinxed. Jinxed was the best of the bunch.

The Plot

The character of Stephen was the precursor of what would be my favorite type of hero: blond, blue-eyed, with an icy demeanor and stuffed shirt attitude, who, because of the burdens put upon by his family, took life way too seriously, and just needed some wonderful, outrageous woman who would make him loosen up and have some excitement.

The heroine Kit was a total klutz. But she was also was intelligent, great at her job, lots of fun, and loved by her nieces and nephews. I so adored her character because I, too, was quite clumsy (who am I kidding, was??) and she was the most relatable heroine I’d come across so far.

Kit worked for Stephen at his toy company in the development department where she’d create lots of amusing games for kids and an occasional messy explosion.

I remember Kit getting into an accident after accident, ruining both her clothes and her boss’s white silk shirt. Fortunately, Stephen was such an anal-retentive type that he had a closet filled with backup white shirts in his office, plus a shower in case he got dirty on the job. (As this was a mild Harlequin Romance he never got dirty doing the dirty!) But then Kit ruined his backup shirts as well. That shameless hussy Kit just wanted to see him shirtless! 🙂

Final Analysis of Jinxed

Jinxed was so funny, and sweet; a real screwball romp. This book must have been fairly popular because I see it was eventually retold in manga form! I’m upping my rating on this one because I’m sure I’d enjoy it today as much as I did back then.