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Category Romance Review: Guilty Love by Charlotte Lamb

guilty love
Guilty Love, Charlotte Lamb, Harlequin, 1994, cover artist TBD

Harlequin Presents #1706

SPOILER & SENSITIVE CONTENT ALERT ⚠

5 Stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

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.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Guilty Love by Charlotte Lamb”

Category Romance Review: Marriage on the Rebound by Michelle Reid

marriage on the rebound
Marriage on the Rebound, Michelle Reid, Harlequin, 1997, cover artist TBD

Harlequin Presents #1973

VERY MILD SPOILERS 😉

4 Stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

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.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Marriage on the Rebound by Michelle Reid”

Category Romance Review: Hilltop Tryst by Betty Neels

hilltop tryst
Hilltop Tryst, Betty Neels, Harlequin, 1990, Will Davies cover art

Harlequin Romance #3071

VERY MILD SPOILERS 😉

3 Stars

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

Hilltop Tryst is a 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.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Hilltop Tryst by Betty Neels”

Category Romance Review: A> Loverboy by Judith Arnold

A> Loverboy
A> Loverboy
A> Loverboy, Judith Arnold, Harlequin, 1991, Cover Artist TBD

Harlequin American Romance #389

VERY MILD SPOILERS 😉

4 Stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

Published in 1991, Judith Arnold‘s ALoverboy is the final installment in the Harlequin American Romance line “A Century of Romance” series. There were ten books in the series, each one focusing on a decade in the 20th century. Even though they were published through a category romance line, all the books could be considered “historical” romances. All, that is, except ALoverboy, which is more like historical fantasy or speculative fiction. Take your pick. Because instead of taking place in 1991, it’s set at a fictional end of the decade, the end of the century, in fact.

The Future Past

A> Loverboy is a humorous 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.... Read more “Category Romance Review: A> Loverboy by Judith Arnold”

Category Romance Review: Tabitha in Moonlight by Betty Neels

tabitha in the moonlight
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.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Tabitha in Moonlight by Betty Neels”

Contemporary Romance Review: A Violation by Charlotte Lamb

A violation
A Violation, Charlotte Lamb, Worldwide (Harlequin), 1983, cover artist unknown

Spoiler Alert ⚠

3 Stars

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Reviewed by: Introvert Reader

A Romance That is Not a Romance

A Violation, a full-length novel by category author Charlotte Lamb, isn’t a straightforward romance, but somewhere more between women’s fiction and romantic fiction. Like so many of her works, the major themes are the philosophy of love and what are the defined roles of being a man and a woman, especially when it comes to amorous relationships.

In general, I think she was better restrained by the limitations of category romance as at times here she veers off into navel-gazing. Nevertheless, A Violation was a satisfactory read, not as good as the similarly-themed Stranger in the Night, but much better than a few of Lamb’s other Mills and 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.... Read more “Contemporary Romance Review: A Violation by Charlotte Lamb”

Category Romance Review: Yesterday’s Love by Marsha Manning

Yesterday's Love
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.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Yesterday’s Love by Marsha Manning”

Category Romance Review: Palace of the Peacocks by Violet Winspear

The Palace of the Peacocks, Violet Winspear, Harlequin, 1969, “Jh” cover art

Harlequin Romance #1318

3 1/2 stars

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

So, this book may be a bit of an oldie, as it was published in 1969 not post-1972, but I’m running short on reviews for this weekend, plus it’s a Violet Winspear–an author whose works I enjoy. This one was a nice read, besides.

The Plot

In Winspear’s Palace of the Peacocks the heroine Temple Lane is typical of so many of her vintage romance sisters: orphaned, industrious, faithful, and unworldly. When she flies out to Indonesia to meet up with her long-time fiancé, her life falls into shambles after she discovers his affair with a local girl. Without any funds and no way back home, she’s desperate to find employment. Temple disguises herself as a boy to gain entry on a ship. She’s bunked with stoic, one-eyed, Dutchman 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 and Ryk offers Temple a job transcribing old journals in his beautifully enchanting palace. Ryk also provides Temple with housing and a female servant.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Palace of the Peacocks by Violet Winspear”