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a naked flame ray olivere

Category Romance Review: A Naked Flame by Charlotte Lamb

category romance

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

Sad to report, but A Naked Flame has to be the worst Charlotte Lamb book I’ve read so far.

The Plot

Christie married Logan, a man 12 years her senior when she was only 18. They lived in California and she hoped to start a career in Hollywood, but her chauvinist husband wouldn’t allow it. Logan controlled her life totally and wanted children ASAP, but Christie wanted to wait.

They argued, he raped her, and she left and filed for divorce. The rape resulted in a child.

For five years Mommy and Daddy never see each other while sharing custody of their son. Now Christie is a hot movie star with a male “friend” whom she mercilessly cock-teases. The press hounds Christie so much that she moves to England with her son–-without telling her ex-husband. This obviously angers Logan and he and Christie fight it out for custody.

Drama ensues and Christie and Logan realize their feelings for each other still run hot.

My Opinion

It’s not the plot of A Naked Flame I object to; it’s the horrific execution.

Up until page 100, the hero and heroine interact twice, except for a brief flash-back into their marriage. It’s as if Charlotte Lamb wanted to write a longer book, but found she had almost maxed out her word count. So she just summarized all the interesting parts and drew out all the boring, mundane scenes of Christie going to lunch and parties with another guy.

The actual romance portion of this book is limited to two, maybe two and a half chapters. I wouldn’t have minded if the scenes with the other man were fun, or at least we saw the heroine’s personal journey to “enlightenment” or sumthin’…but no.

Final Analysis of A Naked Flame

Christie is a Cnidarian of the lowest order. (That’s a fancy word I learned for jellyfish. See, home-schooling works for parents and kids.)

As for the other man…why isn’t he ever named something strong like Wolf or Magnus? Instead, he’s named Sheldon or Arnie or Dilbert or in this case Ziggy!

So our major conflict in Charlotte Lamb’s A Naked Flame consists of a love triangle between the Sensitive-New-Age-Guy slacker type:

ziggy

And our manly hero Logan:

logan

Enough said.

What a pointless boring book with a wishy-washy, stupid heroine who wouldn’t know her butt crack from the Grand Canyon.

Uggh.

1 Star

Rating Report Card
Plot
1.5
Characters
1
Writing
1
Chemistry
1
Fun Factor
1
Cover
3
Overall: 1.4

Synopsis

This time Christie would stand up to him

Christie had been far too young and intoxicated with love when she and Logan had married. He’d wanted a family. She’d needed sometime to pursue her career.

After their painful breakup Christie had resented carrying Logan’s child. But now her son was even more vital to Christie’s happiness than her career as a famous film star had ever been. And she wouldn’t let Logan use lies and gossip to take Kit away from her.

Losing Logan’s love had almost destroyed Christie. She couldn’t bear to lose their son as well.

A NAKED FLAME by CHARLOTTE LAMB
the other woman

Category Romance Review: The Other Woman by Candace Schuler

Synopsis:

THE LATEST FROM THE TABLOIDS… SOAP STAR SNARES MOVIE MOGUL

Tara Charming-TV’s sexiest seductress and star of the new movie The Promise-has hooked her claws into Gage Kingston of the legendary moviemaking family. Insiders reveal the studio is irate that the movie’s behind schedule. . .all because the lovers spend more time in each other’s trailer than on the set!

Is this a match made in Hollywood heaven? A close friend reveals, “Gage vowed to avoid actresses ever since his ex-wife. It’s hard to believe he’s fallen for Tara. She’s got a reputation for doing whatever it takes to get ahead.” Of course, Tara has had her share of heartache, too. Pregnant at seventeen, she was left to cope on her own. But her track record proves she’s no pushover now.

Can these two tinsel-town heartbreakers possibly be in love–or is it mutual use and abuse? Turn to our inside story for the full scoop.

Hollywood Dynasty

THE OTHER WOMAN by CANDACE SCHULER

Reviewed by Blue Falcon

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book and Characters

This review is of The Other Woman by Candace Schuler, book #1 in the “Hollywood Dynasty” series. (Harlequin Temptation #451, July 1993).

Series overview: “Hollywood Dynasty” focuses on three siblings, children of a legendary Hollywood couple, as they make their names in the same industry that made their parents famous.

Heroine: Tara Channing, 25. Strawberry blonde hair, blue eyes. Actress.

Hero: Gage Kingston. 30. Dark brown hair, amber eyes. Cinematographer.

The Plot

The Other Woman begins in Montana, on the set of a movie, “The Promise.” A love scene is being filmed featuring two of Hollywood’s top sex symbols, actress Tara Channing, the book’s heroine, and actor Pierce Kingston. Also in attendance is Pierce’s brother, cinematographer Gage Kingston, the hero.

Tara and Gage become lovers, but both are unwilling to share more than their bodies. They later learn, however, that passion without protection has consequences. Gage gets Tara pregnant, and they break up.

In the end, Tara and Gage realize they truly do love each other. Tara has her baby–a son–and gives up her acting career.

She and Gage marry and have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

The best part of The Other Woman for me by far is Tara. Depending on your point of view, she is blessed–or cursed with a Playboy Playmate’s looks and body. Looking like that, however, means that males–I can’t call them men–only view Tara as a sex object. She is, however, a woman of depth and character shaped by her life, which we learn about. Tara is a very easy heroine to like and root for.

Downside

Although Gage is not the actor in the family–his siblings are and were–he is a player here in three parts. In the first part of the book, he is a horn dog. During the second, he is Tara’s lover and an angry man. In the third part, he finally realizes he truly loves Tara and wants her for his wife and forever love. While I understood Gage’s reasons for being a jerk in the first two-thirds of the book, that doesn’t make it okay or him completely likable. Beyond Tara, there isn’t a whole lot of depth.

Sex

A few love scenes between Tara and Gage. They generate some heat, but not an inferno.

Violence

The only violence is “movie violence,” which is described in the book.

Bottom Line on The Other Woman

Readers who like to know what goes on behind the scenes of television and movies and were fans of early 1990s entertainment may find a lot to like here. Still, Candace Schuler’s The Other Woman and the “Hollywood Dynasty” series as a whole may not appeal to readers who don’t fall into those categories.

Locations: A movie set in Montana. Los Angeles, California.

Tropes: Actress. Cinematographer. Movie making

2.84 Stars

timeless love

Category Romance Review: Timeless Love by Judith Arnold

category romance

MILD SPOILERS😉

The Book and Characters

This review is of Timeless Love, book #11 and the final book in the “Bachelor Arms series. It is the second of two written by Judith Arnold, a pseudonym for Barbara Keiler. (Harlequin Temptation #565, published December 1995). 

Heroine: Hope Henley, 25. Black hair, brown eyes. Sales clerk in a retail store.

Hero: Morgan Delacourt, 30. Brown hair and eyes. Cartoonist. New millionaire. 

The Plot

At the beginning of the book, Morgan Delacourt is celebrating his newly minted millionaire status. That happiness, however, is short-lived as Morgan hits Hope Henley with his car. Although it wasn’t his fault, Morgan feels immense guilt as Hope is in a coma as a result of the accident. He vows to take care of Hope, pays her medical expenses, and lets her move in with him.

As they spend time together, we learn more about them, including Hope’s connection to the mystery that began in the first book in the series. They also fall in love with each other, although both try to fight it. 

In the end, the mystery of Bachelor Arms and Hope’s part in it are revealed. She and Morgan become lovers. They get married and have their Happily Ever After. 

Upside

Both Hope and Morgan are likable, developed characters. I liked the fact that Morgan took responsibility and cared for Hope even though he didn’t have to. He and Hope are very nice relatable characters who are the type of people I would love to know as real people. 

Downside

Slightly nitpicking, but at times Morgan was condescending towards Hope for her beliefs. I probably would be too, but it was still annoying. 

Sex

Two love scenes that are not graphic but fit in well with the rest of the book. 

Violence

Other than Morgan hitting Hope with his car, no violence. 

Bottom Line on Timeless Love

Readers who like a romance with a caring hero and sensitive heroine will find lots to like in Judith Duncan’s Timeless Love.

Tropes:  Contemporary romance, Hollywood, Light paranormal. 

Location: Los Angeles, Monterey, California

4 .55 Stars


Synopsis

A LIVING LEGEND…

Flights of fancy were not Hope Henley’s style. So why did she flee in terror after just one glance at the infamous mirror in Apartment 1-G–straight into the path of Morgan Delacourt’s car? Having just arrived in L.A., Hope reluctantly accepts Morgan’s generous offer of convalescence at his home. Suddenly she is believing in all sorts of crazy notions. Like destined, timeless love with sexy Morgan. But that couldn’t possibly be. Determined bachelor Morgan is tied to Hope by guilt, not by love. And the secret of Bachelor Arms isn’t connected to her. Or is it?

Could the history of Bachelor Arms be about to repeat itself?

Timeless Love by Judith Arnold
lady in the mirror

Category Romance Review: The Lady in the Mirror by Judith Arnold

category romance

Lady in the Mirror by Judith Arnold
Rating: three-stars
Published: 1995
Illustrator: TBD
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Temptation #561
Book Series: Bachelor Arms #10
Published by: Harlequin
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 218
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooksOpen Library (BORROW FOR FREE)
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Category Romance Review: The Lady in the Mirror by Judith Arnold

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

This review is of The Lady in the Mirror, book #10 in the “Bachelor Arms series and the first of two books in the series written by Judith Arnold, a pseudonym for Barbara Keiler. (Harlequin Temptation #561, November 1995).

The Characters

Heroine: Jessica (Jessie) Gale, 27. Blonde hair. Blue eyes. Social worker and owner-operator of Rainbow House, a social service center for runaways.

Hero: Clint McCreary, 30. Black hair, gray eyes. Former New York City police officer. Recent law school graduate. Clint has a job with the Bronx County DA’s office when he goes back east. (Spoiler: He doesn’t).

The Plot

The Lady in the Mirror begins with John Clinton “Clint” McCreary, former NYC police officer and the book’s hero, having just arrived in Los Angeles from New York. He is in search of his missing half-sister, Diana.

The first person he meets in Los Angeles is Jessie Gale, the heroine. Jessie is a social worker who owns and runs a social services center for teenage runaways.

From the moment they meet, Clint and Jessie are attracted to each other, although they do have ideological differences.

In the end, Jessie and Clint become lovers. They rescue Diana without any drama or trauma.

Clint decides to stay out west, he marries Jessie, and they have their Happily Ever After. 

Upside

Powered by GIPHY

… Well…

Jessie and Clint are both fairly nice characters. 

Downside

Sadly, Jessie and Clint don’t get much beyond the “nice” category. They’re not the most interesting characters in the “Bachelor Arms” series, and I didn’t feel much emotional connection or passion from them.

The only real emotion in the book comes in Chapter 10, where Jessie and the reader learn about Clint’s past trauma. 

Sex

warm

The love scenes between Jessie and Clint are fairly mild. 

Violence

There is one scene of assault and battery. 

Bottom Line

The Lady in the Mirror by Judith Arnold is an about-average book. No more, no less.

Tropes: Ex-cop. Los Angeles. Runaway. Social Worker.

Location: Los Angeles, California.

Rating Report Card
Plot
3
Characters
2.5
Writing
2.5
Chemistry
2.5
Fun Factor
3
Cover
4
Overall: 2.9

Synopsis

Move over, Melrose Place!

Apartment for rent. One bedroom. Bachelor Arms. 555-1234. Come live and love in Los Angeles with the tenants of Bachelor Arms. Meet colorful neighbors you’ll bump into again and again.

When Blythe Fielding planned her wedding and asked her two best friends, Caitlin and Lily, to be bridesmaids, none of them knew a new romance was around the corner for each of them — not even the bride!

These entertaining, dramatic stories of friendship, mystery and love continue the exploits of the residents of Bachelor Arms and answer one very important question: Will Blythe ever get to walk down the aisle? Don’t miss the goings-on at Bachelor Arms.

The Lady in the Mirror by Judith Arnold
Sarina by Francine Rivers

Historical Romance Review: Sarina by Francine Rivers

historical romance review
Sarina by Francine Rivers
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1983
Illustrator: Morgan Kane
Published by: Jove
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Western Romance
Pages: 408
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Sarina by Francine Rivers

MILD SPOILERS AND CONTENT ALERT ⚠

The Book

Sarina is a bodice ripper-lite written by Francine Rivers, the best-known and most successful author of Christian-centered or “inspirational” romances. This romance is set in mid-19th century California, a time of radical changes.

Some Things We Don’t Talk About In Public

This book was written before Rivers became “born again.” However, she was nominally Christian at the time. Rivers has tried to distance herself from her first 11 books, including Sarina, dismissing them as:

“BC (before Christ) books. They are all out of print now, are never to be reprinted, and are not recommended.” 

FRANCINE RIVERS, regarding her first 11 romance novels

She purchased the rights to all those and will never allow them to be republished as she feels they don’t represent her faith today.

As a free speech proponent, I think it’s unfortunate that Rivers has deemed these books verboten. Furthermore, I disagree that their sexually explicit content dishonors Christianity.

WARNING! I Talk Religion Here, Sort Of

A Non-Church Goer Goes to Church

I worked for a small company many years ago where the boss’s wife (BW) took a friendly liking to me. She was Evangelical, and I was a lapsed Catholic (My mother worked for this company, too & BW was close to her. So Mami told her about my “lack of faith,” which they both found disturbing.).

Long story short, I got hoodwinked into attending a two-day, one-night religious revival at a local hotel. Gathered to worship, there were hundreds of people. I’m Hispanic (Dominican heritage), and I’d say the racial makeup there was 80% European-American, 10% African-American, and 10% Mixed/Other. For two tedious days, I sat through mass, concerts, prayers, and a couple of conferences. It was charismatic-based: laying of hands, people speaking in tongues, collapsing, crying, etc.

I felt…uncomfortable. I had no patience for the ceremonial Catholic Mass as a child: Sit, rise, sit. Kneel, rise, consume the Eucharist. Kneel, sit, rise, kiss a stranger, sit. Rise, wait for twenty minutes while churchgoers socialize, go home, take off church clothes, and see if any good cartoons are on TV.

Mass had been dull but at least predictable. This was strange to me.

Sex and Religion

Anyway, the best part of that weekend (besides the rum cocktail I was able to sneak during a rare minute of solitude) was a panel given by a Black married couple who talked about the importance of sex in Christian matrimony. They did not speak obscenely but openly and honestly, and yes, biblically. The couple talked about how sacred sex is and how physical bonding reinforces spiritual bonding in a marriage. They spoke about the equal pleasure both men and women receive in sex and how it joins two people together just as much as faith and children and everything else that matters.

I sat fascinated. This spoke to me! Finally, something that had actual utility!

However, like George Costanza, I can sense discomfort in other people. I saw it in that audience through the awkward expressions and the fiddling of hands. Afterward, the couple asked if anyone had questions, which no one did. The session ended, and the room quickly emptied out. No one remained to chit-chat with the speakers–as was usual with these panels–except for me, who complimented them on a speech well done.

My Point, And I Do Have One

The point of that extemporaneous babbling–and there is a point–is from this non-adherent’s perspective, sex and Christianity do go hand in hand. It’s lamentable that Rivers views her “BC romances” through a lens of shame. She now writes works that, in my estimation, preach to the choir rather than spread the Word to “unbelievers,” for lack of a better term.

I am a believer. Although I’m not entirely sure about what.

Now, About the Book!

Sorry for all that. You know me and my meanderings. So, let’s focus on the plot of Sarina and my opinion of the book.

Sarina Azevedo-Cahill is the daughter of a Californio family who’ve lived in southern California for centuries. Her father, Dale Cahill, married into the Azevedo family to take control of those lands. The time is the 1850s, and new American settlers are moving into the newly-minted 31st state by the droves.

Sarina’s father, also known as El Señor, is a stern, cruel patriarch who gives his daughter no affection. Their ranch Vallecitas and his legacy are all he cares for. Sarina tries to be a dutiful daughter but finds herself butting heads with her father instead.

The hero is Lang Rossiter, the son of an Anglo family that runs the neighboring Val Verde ranch. Incidentally, El Señor would love to have the Rossiter lands, as they would combine with Vallecitas to form the greatest ranch in the area.

Sarina and Lang first meet while out riding alone. There is an instant attraction between the two. They arrange to meet again. However, when they are caught in a compromising position, Lang becomes furious with Sarina, accusing her of arranging a setup. Obviously (insert eye-roll here), she’s scheming with her father to snag Val Verde.

Lang’s enchantment with her turns into bitterness. He’s a big dick and becomes an even bigger dick before he gets nicer.

A Marriage Made Neither In Hell Nor In Heaven

So, their families force Sarina and Lang to marry. Sarina finds herself tied to a man who is attracted to her but resents her. Lang is at times incredibly cruel to Sarina, who fights back with a resilient will (until the end of the book, where both she and Lang get personality transplants).

Despite their rocky beginning, Sarina and Lang find unity through their passion and faith, which helps them through strife. During a sensually charged love scene, when they finally come together after those rough patches, the ever-dominant Lang places Sarina’s hands upon his body and tells her: 

“A woman has the real power…” 

And then they erotically wash each other before engaging in passionate love-making. 

“A kind of baptism. Washing away the past and beginning again.”

Final Analysis of Sarina

Sarina is a wonderful romance. Lang and Sarina’s tale is of a love transformed from innocent sweetness to resentment to a lifelong bond affirmed in myriad ways.

The two stern heads of the different families receive nuanced characterization. Well represented here are the politics and contentiousness between the old Spanish families and the new Americans. (I do question the authenticity of the name Azevedo as a Spanish surname because I’ve always thought it was Portuguese, but that’s a minor quibble.)

Lang and Sarina’s faith helps fortify them during difficult times in the story. Religion is not hamfistedly inserted anywhere. It plays a historically accurate and natural part in their story, just as Sarina’s complicated relationship with her father does.

I do not understand why Rivers feels that her “BC” romance Sarina is a misrepresentation of Christianity. Actually, I think I do, but that would require a much more extended essay.

Suffice it to say, if you can get your hands on this hard-to-find book, give it a chance. It may surprise you as it did me. And that’s a good thing.

4 Stars

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

Synopsis:

Fiery Sarina Azevedo was a Californio, with a heart as wild and proud as the magnificent untamed land she loved. Yet her desire and her destiny were both denied her. Her first love was the land, Vallecitas, the magnificent ranch that was her birthright.

But fate had drawn her into the demanding arms of her father’s bitterest enemy, Lang Rossiter, the land-hungry Anglo whose touch set her smoldering passions aflame…

There was only one way Sarina could have them both: the land that was her legacy, and the man her body and soul cried out for…and though her father, el senor, would never forgive her, she would defy her very heritage to seize the happiness she knew love promised…

SARINA by FRANCINE RIVERS
lovers and strangers

Category Romance Review: Lovers and Strangers (aka Hollywood Nights) by Candace Schuler

Lovers and Strangers, Candace Schuler, Harlequin, 1995, cover artist TBD

Harlequin Temptation #549

MILD SPOILERS 😉

5 Stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Reviewed by Blue Falcon

This review is of Lovers and Strangers, book #7 in the “Bachelor Arms” series by Candace Schuler. It’s a Harlequin Temptation from August 1995.

Series Overview

Like JoAnn Ross’ contributions to the “Bachelor Arms”  series, Ms. Schuler’s three books contain a mystery within a mystery. There is an overarching mystery that runs through all 11 books in the series. There is the mystery that is contained in Ms. Schuler’s books (Reviewer note: The versions of the three books I am reviewing are the ebook versions of the original books published from August-October 1995. It appears Ms. Schuler regained the rights to her work from Harlequin and republished the books in 2012/13 under a new series name: Hollywood Nights. Perhaps owing to that, supporting character names and the name of the building have been changed from the print version. However, the titles and the core Harlequin Temptation stories remain intact.)

Plot

The book begins in Los Angeles, 1970. Two brothers, Eric Shannon, 24, and his younger brother Jack, 18, are arguing over plans for a screenplay they’re collaborating on. (A major Hollywood studio wants to buy their work but also wants to make major changes to it. Eric is for the changes, Jack against). That very same night, Eric Shannon died. His death was ruled a suicide. 

Fast forward 25 years. At Flynn’s bar, near the Bachelor Arms complex, Jack, now 43 and the book’s hero, is rescuing waitress Faith McCray, the heroine of the book, from an overly “friendly” patron. Faith is 24 and has brown hair and hazel eyes. She’s originally from Pine Hollow, Georgia, and has a lot of emotional baggage. Jack later hires Faith to clean his home, as she is moonlighting as a maid. 

Jack, who has black hair and brown eyes, is a former Army war correspondent who later reported from the “hotspots” of the world. He’s a Los Angeles native, and he, too, has a lot of emotional baggage. As they spend more time together, we learn more about them. Faith plans to become a doctor, obstetrician to be precise. She is also seriously attracted to Jack, and he to her. However, Jack tries to fight his attraction to Faith for multiple reasons. Eventually, they give in to their mutual attraction and become lovers. 

After they become lovers, Jack does everything he can to try to sabotage his relationship with Faith. (This is due to his history, which is explained).

In the end, Faith and Jack begin to let go of the guilt that has consumed both of them all of their lives. Jack finishes the screenplay he and Eric started–with a major assist from Faith–and they find their Happily Ever After. 

Upside

I imagine that at least one New Adult author has read Lovers and Strangers and was inspired to become an author. This is basically a New Adult book, even though one of the characters is well outside the age range for those books. 

I’ll start with Faith, as she is a young woman who comes from a difficult, traumatic family environment.  She eviscerates herself internally over something that happened to her as a teenager. However, despite this, she maintains an innocent quality and is open to loving and being loved. 

The same cannot be said for Jack, who has closed himself off, believing that he will be safe from all emotional pain if he never opens himself to someone. Speaking from personal experience, that is not the case. Isolation is not safety. It simply makes a person alone, bitter, and lonely. Jack feels that is what he deserves for what he has done and what has happened to him. It takes a special woman-Faith McCray-to show him that things can be different if he just allows a little opening for love to come in. In the end, Jack is not completely open, but he is more open than he was at the beginning of the book. 

Ms. Schuler did an excellent job making me as a reader feel like I was watching these two tortured souls find each other, and find love in the process. I rooted for both Faith and Jack and was very happy when he finally agreed to let her in.

Downside

I’m not a fan of “age-gap” romances and there is a significant one here (Faith is 24, Jack is 41). Even though I have personal experience with age-gap relationships, it’s uncomfortable for me to read them in books. It reminds me so much of Harlequin Presents and other books where there are age gaps. It feels like a father-daughter relationship, which feels creepy rather than loving.

Slightly nitpicky on my part, but I really don’t like the new e-book covers for these books. The original Harlequin Temptation covers truly suited them, capturing the emotion and excitement of the books. The new e-book covers…do not. 

Sex

Lovers and Strangers has one of the best love scenes I’ve read in a romance novel. In the first scene, Ms. Schuler does a tremendous job relating both the esoterics of the act and the feelings Faith and Jack have for each other. It’s both beautiful and sexy. It’s one of three love scenes in the book. 

Violence

No on-screen violence, but there are references to violence that Jack has witnessed in his life. 

Reviewer Note

There are also drug use references early on in the book. 

Bottom Line

I don’t have a favorite books list, but if I did–and I may start one–Candace Schuler’s Lovers and Strangers would definitely be on it!  Readers who love books about the transformational power of love will find lots to love here. 4.95 stars. (The half-point markdown is for changing some supporting character names and locations and the e-book cover. If I were reading the original Harlequin Temptation paperback version with the original cover, I would have given it 5 stars unequivocally). 

Tropes

Age gap. Angsty romance. Contemporary romance. Los Angeles.

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Man in Control

Category Romance Review: Man in Control by Alice Morgan

The Book

If you watch Madonna’s “Material Girl” video, that pretty much sums up the plot of this category romance. Man in Control by Alice Morgan features a unique heroine. She’s an avaricious young woman who openly acknowledges that she’s looking to settle down with a man, not for love but for money.

This Dell Candlelight Ecstasy Supreme wasn’t fabulous or anything (few of them really were). However, the book was quirky enough to hold my interest, even if it could have been shortened by 100 pages.

The Plot

Samantha Thatcher has come to San Francisco to look for a rich sugar daddy to sink her red claws into. And why shouldn’t she? She’s young, beautiful, and poor, so a girl ought to know what’s in her best interest. Her aunt has lined up several prospective candidates for Sam to date.

On her way to her aunt’s, she gets a flat tire. A handsome red-haired trucker named Steele pulls over to fix her flat. He’s a charming fellow who takes an immediate interest in Sam. When he finds out why she is in town, he’s determined to show her that there’s more to a husband than what’s in his pants–er, wallet.

Sam has no patience for the arrogant trucker, who thinks he knows her better than she knows herself. Steele volunteers to show Sam a good time, that is, when she’s not busy going on dates with millionaire duds.

Steele takes her on picnics and drives her around in his beat-up old truck, openly pursuing Sam while she plays a flirtatious game with him. Sam is intrigued by this strange man, who has enough cash to take her to fine restaurants but can’t seem to assemble a decent wardrobe.

Just who is Steele, and what is he hiding?

Final Analysis of Man in Control

This was a funny, silly book, not exactly the best written, but it was amusing to see the openly- greedy Sam fall for Steele’s charming antics. I appreciate flawed main characters, so it was a nice change of pace to read a book about a spoiled heroine instead of a perfect Mary Sue.

Although the premise does wear a bit thin for a 300-page book, it’s an amusing way to spend a few hours.

3 Stars


Synopsis

Samantha Thatcher was seeing red! The very thought of the redheaded knight-of-the-road who’d fixed her flat tire still filled her with fury He was a brute! A beast!

Beautiful Sam had come to San Francisco with a single purpose: to many a millionaire. Her aunt Margaret had lined up three likely prospects. Spoiled, outspoken, outrageously opinionated, Sam always managed to have her own way. But the handsome hunk of a trucker was insolently indifferent to what Sam said. Her breathless response to his kisses contradicted her every word, from the battered seat of a wrecked pickup to the plush banquettes of the best restaurants in town, Steele Whitfield pursued her. Rich man, poor man, high roller or hick–who was he? And how long could she resist him… a man she couldn’t manipulate… a man in control?

MAN IN CONTROL BY ALICE MORGAN
sweet fire pino

Historical Romance Review: Sweet Fire by Jo Goodman

historical romance review
Sweet Fire by Jo Goodman
Rating: four-half-stars
Published: 1991
Illustrator: Pino
Imprint or Line: Zebra Lovegram
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 480
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Sweet Fire by Jo Goodman

VERY MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

Sweet Fire by Jo Goodman is an action-packed romance filled with the requisite passion you’d look for in a Zebra Heartfire, but also adventure, murder mystery, and drama.

The Plot

Part One

Nathan and Brigham are former Australian prisoners & best frenemies. They now residein San Francisco, California.

The pair are competing for the hand of Miss Lydia Chadwick. She’s a wealthy heiress, pretty enough, but she pales in comparison to her more sophisticated and only slightly older young stepmother.

Of course, stepmom is the wicked type, and she’s secretly sexing it up with Brig.

Lydia is a woman of social conscience. She tries to help orphans and prostitutes better their lot in lives. Unfortunately, Lydia’s charity work gets dangerous when a killer is on the loose, murdering women on the streets.

The mystery was no mystery to me, as it’s telegraphed early on who the killer was. But I went with it, anyway, knowing the love story was the real centerpiece of this book.

Lydia lets Nathan and Brigham know she’s onto their game and is having none of it! She knows their flattery and claims of affection are false. She wants nothing to do with either of those fortune-seekers.

For Nathan, it’s not so false at all.

Part Two

Nathan is a devil, however. When circumstances lead to Lydia getting injured, it results in amnesia.

Nathan takes advantage of the situation, whisks Lydia far away, and marries her.

With Lydia’s wall of reserve removed, they embark on a passionate honeymoon.

One steamy love scene follows another as Nathan tries to cement a solid foundation if–or more likely, when–Lydia’s memory returns.

It does return, and so does the danger that lurked around her. Who can Lydia trust? Who can she love?

Final Analysis of Sweet Fire

There are multiple threads woven throughout Sweet Fire. Jo Goodman skillfully created a vast tapestry of characters that I cared about. Events led to a thrilling and satisfying conclusion.

I’ve read Jo Goodman’s Sweet Fire twice so far. While the second time around wasn’t as exhilarating as the first, I still had a fun time. The 13-year-old me loved this book, while her 35-year-old counterpart enjoyed it very much.

Instead of rating this 5 stars as I would have when I first read it, I’m settling on a 4.5 rating for Sweet Fire.

4.5 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
4.5
Characters
4.5
Writing
4.5
Chemistry
4.5
Fun Factor
4.5
Cover
4
Overall: 4.4

Synopsis

SHE LONGED TO LOVE HIM
Told all her life that she was plain, Lydia Chadwick knew no man would come courting because of her looks. So it was with some suspicion that the shy, sweet San Francisco heiress woke one morning with a tall, dark, dangerously handsome husband she couldn’t recall marrying. Lydia had lost her memory, and was desperate to discover if there was truly a love to remember. For as she looked at Nathan Hunter’s lean, muscular frame, she longed to abandon herself to the sensual stranger, and believe—if only for a little while—that the possessive passion in his smoky gray eyes was really for her.

HE ACHED TO HAVE HER
Business and pleasure weren’t supposed to mix, but in this case Nathan Hunter was willing to make an exception. After all, it was in his best interests to keep his new bride’s mind off the secrets of her past. Making sure she didn’t remember her hatred for him turned out to be the easy part, as he initiated the innocent Lydia to womanhood. Not so easy was keeping sight of his own goals as Lydia’s sweet surrender wove a seductive spell around Nathan’s heart, arousing emotions he had thought forever buried…

SWEET FIRE by JO GOODMAN