Each person has their own unique limit of what they can or cannot tolerate in fiction. However, despite its absolute requirement for a happy ending, the romance genre can still be filled with deal-breakers for readers looking for a pleasurable experience that takes them away from reality for a few hours.
Our Pet Peeves
Some of our negative book reviews at Sweet Savage Flame have focused on pet peeves for the reasons why we ultimately couldn’t enjoy our reading experiences.
In Nadine Crenshaw’s Captive Melody, there were two negative tropes that were deal breakers for Blue Falcon: a captive who experiences Stockholm syndrome for her captor and the hero seeking to inflict vengeance upon an innocent party. There are cruelties that characters experience that cannot be offset by writing skill or a conveniently happy ending.
As I’ve stated in several reviews, such as for Dana Ransom’s Love’s Glorious Gamble, I can’t enjoy a romance where the hero is still mourning the death of a previous love. While I prefer a heroine to be the hero’s only love, I can accept a rival for his affections, so long as she is alive. A flesh and blood woman will always pale to the perfection of a saintly ghost.... Read more “Pet Peeves and Deal Breakers in Romance”
What a rarity in the romance genre was Heart of the Falcon, a historical about lovers in ancient Egypt. Although Suzanne Robinson wrote Egyptian mystery novels under her given name, this is her sole romance set in this era. Most of her other romances took place during the Elizabethan, Medieval, or Victorian time periods.
Anqet is an orphan and her evil uncle lusts after her. To get her in his bed, he connives to steal her lands. Anqet may be an innocent all alone in the world, but she’s no push-over. This is a woman determined to gain them back. She will go to the Egyptian court and maneuver through a realm of politics and lust. Anqet is stunningly beautiful and perfect and maybe a teensy bit too good to be true.
Crescendo by Charlotte Lamb starts like a hazy dream. A beautiful girl stands at the cliffs, and a strange man, thinking she’s about to jump, runs to save her. She isn’t; she’s just admiring the savage beauty of her coastal home. There is an instant connection between the girl, Marina, and Gideon, the stranger, who is much older. Marina lives alone with her grandfather, plays the piano beautifully, and at night shares her thoughts with her best friends, two dolls. There are secrets hidden in this tale that slowly unravel to reveal a different story altogether.
Crescendo deals with an issue that has always puzzled me. Why are so many heroes in romances absolute horndog sluts? It’s not simply about being good in bed. A man doesn’t need to sleep with legions of women to know how to do this! He only needs to know a few, or just one, very well. There is a perceived allure of getting–and keeping—the one man that no other woman could keep.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Crescendo by Charlotte Lamb”
“Colleen had been in love with Erik Johansen for as long as she could remember. And now, in just forty-eight hours, her green-eyed Viking was getting married to another woman, a beautiful model–her own cousin… But when her cousin left him stranded at the altar, Colleen was there to pick up the pieces. She knew Erik had always thought of her as a little sister, but this night he needed her. And she had never stopped needing him. In one night of unforgettable passion, their lives were inextricably joined. But suddenly Colleen had a decision to make. Could Erik learn to return her love, or was she tied forever to a man she would never really possess?”
Rating: 3 out of 5.
***Spoiler alert ***
What a frustrating read was My Heart’s Undoing by Phyllis Halldorson. This one was definitely filled with lots of anguish.
To their friends, family and neighbors, Celine and Max Archer had a perfect marriage. Only the Archers knew they’d never been in love, and that nights of passion were few and far between. Still, both thought the other happy with the dry-eyed deal they’d made instead of vows…Until Max broke the bargain—by wanting more. And suddenly, after twelve peaceful years, the perfect marriage was over…But when Celine realized how much she loved her husband, was it too late to get him back? For unbeknownst to Max, they’d been blessed with a new beginning…”
Rating: 3 out of 5.
It’s difficult for me to give Laurey Bright’s* A Perfect Marriage a coherent review because it’s a romance novel that deals with adultery.
Max and Celine have had a comfortable, friendly marriage for 12 years, however with no passion nor love. The hero “falls in love” with another woman, sleeps with her, and then leaves his wife. But after a night of unexpected passion with Celine, Max gets his estranged wife pregnant. Finally, Max realizes, almost too late, that it’s his wife he’s loved all along.... Read more “Category Romance Review: A Perfect Marriage by Laurey Bright”
“Ruth was young, she was beautiful, she was ripe for love…but she was innocent, until Dominic invaded her island home, and her heart…Dominic was rich and powerful, bored and world-weary, fighting a temptation he had never before had to face…Indigo was the island, Indigo: Warm and colourful, and seductively romantic; drenched by the tropical sun and washed by the turquoise waters of the Caribbean… And in the aftermath of the storm, it cast its own spell…”
4 1/2 stars
Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Written in 1983, Anne Mather’s Stormspell was anachronistic even for its day. First, the big age difference that skirts legal lines: The heroine is 17, the hero is 33. Ruth was raised on a small Caribbean island by her elderly father and is so sheltered she makes your typical Harlequin Presents heroine look like a fusion of legendary romance sluts Skye O’Malley & Anita Blake!
Ruth rescues a stranger when he washes ashore after a shipwreck. A couple of stolen moments later, she’s in love and they consummate their relationship. Then Dominic–he’s the supposed hero of this book–drops the anvil: he’s engaged and has no intention of dumping his fiancée!... Read more “Contemporary Romance Review: Stormspell by Anne Mather”