The year is 1864. The Civil War is coming to an end, and more white migration west is going to soon affect Abigail Trent Monroe, her husband “Cheyenne” Zeke Monroe, and their seven children.
The more immediate threat to the Monroes comes in the form of Englishman Sir Edwin Tynes, their new neighbor.
While that is going on…
The Monroe Children’s Lives Take Major Turns
Wolf’s Blood, the Monroes’ oldest son, is seriously injured at the massacre at Sand Creek, becomes embittered, and joins his uncle, Swift Arrow, and the Sioux in fighting against white encroachment.
Daughter LeeAnn is kidnapped by Comanches and Zeke goes to rescue her.
Meanwhile, back in Colorado, the eldest Monroe daughter, Margaret becomes sexually involved with one of Tynes’ cowboys, who refuses to marry her.
After this, Margaret tries to disavow her Indian heritage and becomes a prostitute. Margaret later marries a man, Morgan Brown, a mulatto, who buys into the Monroe ranch to help the family get back on their feet financially.
On an even sadder note, the youngest daughter Lillian, whose health has always been fragile, passes away.
These events drive a major wedge between Zeke and Abbie.
Zeke’s Brother, Dan, Finds Love…Again
Zeke’s white half-brother, Dan, is back in the West and in the Army, but without his wife, Emily, and daughter, Jennifer, he’s starting to become attracted to Bonnie Beaker Lewis, whose husband was killed by Indians.
Later, Emily dies, giving Dan and Bonnie an opening to act on their feelings. Dan and Bonnie later marry.
As For Zeke and Abbie?
Zeke sleeps with Anna Gale, a former prostitute now boarding house owner, while he is debating whether to leave Abbie and his family due to all they have endured.
However, he and Abbie reconcile and they become a family again.
I’m repeating myself, but Ms. Bittner is exceptional at digging deep into the soft underbelly of the emotions of her characters, both good and bad. It’s an emotional roller coaster, but Ms. Bittner’s fans–of which I am one–know it’s worth it.
Not much to criticize here in Climb the Highest Mountain. I’d love to see the Monroes be happy, but I doubt that will happen.
Ms. Bittner’s love scenes are typically unimaginative.
One thing Ms. Bittner’s readers come to expect from her books is plenty of violence, and Climb the Highest Mountain certainly doesn’t disappoint in that regard. Assault, rape, shootings, killings, they’re all here.
Bottom Line on Climb the Highest Mountain
Frequent readers of Rosanne Bittner’s books know what they’re getting from her work. It’s all here in Climb the Highest Mountain (Savage Destiny SeriesBook #5): exceptional emotionalism, and rawness.
It’s not always happy, but it’s great nonetheless.
Rating Report Card
Ever since her gaze locked with Lone Eagle’s over a crimson campfire, young Abigail Trent knew her fate lay with the virile Cheyenne scout. She had married him, borne him children, and endured all the hardships of the rugged frontier. But even though so many years had passed, each night found the white squaw melded to her Indian mate, burning with the need to prove their passion again and again.
Now new troubles rose to challenge them: Homesteaders poured into the unmapped territory, determined to wrest the land from the forbidden lovers and their “heathen” people. Abbie and Lone Eagle had conquered greater threats than this, surviving bandits and outlaws, fevers and wounds. They would overcome this danger, too, as together they struggled for their own way of life and fiercely embraced their savage destiny.
The book begins in 1851 in France. The coming revolution forces Jules Dubonne, his wife Marie, their three children, sons Alexander and Dante, and daughter, Celeste, to leave France. They sail to a new home they believe will be free from war and violence, America.
They will soon discover the fallacy of that belief.
Tragedy strikes when a storm hits, throwing Dante overboard. He is taken in by a couple, Virginia and Gregory Wakefield, who desperately wants a son. Virginia has had four miscarriages. Dante, who believes his family is dead, is adopted by the Wakefields. He takes the name Dan Dubonne-Wakefield.
The rest of the Dubonne family make their way to their planned destination, Philadelphia.
At 16, Dan meets Abby Southerland and falls in love with her. Abby, however, doesn’t share his feelings.
Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, the other Dubonnes’ lives go on, albeit with a hole in their hearts for Dante. Daughter Celeste falls in love with a young man, Wesley Rainey, whom she later marries.
Meanwhile, Alexander meets Abby at a party. They soon become lovers.
What Alexander doesn’t know is that Abby is a Confederate spy. The information she receives from him and other Northerners is used against them in the Civil War. Alexander later finds out about Abby’s activities, thus creating a major rift between them.
At one point, Alexander and Dan/Dante face each other on the battlefield, bringing home the stark point of the Civil War was “Brother against Brother.”
Cherish Me, Embrace Me concludes as the Civil War ends. Dan marries Catherine Markland, Abby’s cousin, and Alexander and Abby marry. Dan learns the truth about his past.
Finally, a figure from Alexander’s past helps the Dubonne-Southerland-Wakefield triumvirate heal the wounds. They all can look forward to a bright future and several Happily Ever Afters.
Cherish Me, Embrace Me is Mrs. Sommerfield at her best with this Civil War drama. It’s a quality Zebra romance that is very emotional. The characters find themselves dealing with changes and heartache but come out the other side stronger.
Despite the emotions displayed, I feel Mrs. Sommerfield could have gone deeper into her character’s emotions than she did.
There are several love scenes focusing on the emotional aspect of lovemaking and far less on the esoterics of the act.
Most of the violence takes place “offscreen.” There are scenes of Jules having to kill two people who try to stop the Dubonnes from leaving France.
Bottom Line on Cherish Me, Embrace Me
Cherish Me, Embrace Me by Sylve F. Sommerfield was a wonderful, highly emotional book, but there was still the potential for more.
Rating Report Card
CHERISH ME Possess me. Never let me go. These fiery words of love lingered in Abby’s heart, although she knew it was wrong to want Alexander. She’d sworn she’d never surrender to the Yankees, that she’d never let them rule her plantation or her life. But once she felt the exquisite ecstasy of his demanding lips, she damned him, despised him, yet desired him like no other man she had ever known.
EMBRACE ME Caress me. Be mine forever. If only Alexander could convince the southern vixen that passion was more important than loyalty that together their love could conquer the war! No matter how hard she tried to fight him, he could feel her whole body respond to his touch. He would tease her with searing kisses, torture her with his flesh, make her cry out in rapture and torment.
Tender Savage starts in Wilmington, Delaware, in June 1862. The book spans from June 1862 to September 1863 during the American Civil War.
Part One of Tender Savage
The book begins with Erica Hanson and Mark Randall kissing passionately. The night won’t end happily for either, unfortunately. Mark and Erica’s father, Lars, a physician, are going to leave the next day to join the Union army.
Erica is being sent to New Ulm, Minnesota. She is to live with Lars’ sister, Britta, and her husband, Karl Ludwig, who owns a store there. However, Erica wants to marry Mark–or at least become his lover–before leaving for war. Mark refuses. This is the source of the conflict between them.
When Erica arrives in New Ulm, she meets Viper, a half-Lakota, half-white Indian. They share kisses and are attracted to each other.
Things look bleak as Viper and his fellow Lakota will soon be at war with the white citizens of New Ulm after promises from the government fail to materialize. During the uprising, Viper kidnaps Erica. He does so for two reasons. One is to keep her from being killed, and two, because he’s hot for her. It’s not so bad, as she is also hot for him. Erica and Viper become lovers and are married in the Lakota tradition.
Soon, however, hardships emerge. Viper’s aunt, plus an evil-other woman who is in lust with him, causes problems for Erica.
Part Two of Tender Savage
An even bigger problem will soon present itself in the form of Mark. He arranges a transfer to Minnesota to find Erica and marry her. Mark arrives in Minnesota, finds Erica with Viper, and arrests him. Viper must stand trial in a military tribunal, where he is tried and convicted.
After this, Viper asks Mark to marry Erica, which Mark agrees to. Erica and Mark marry, and he is sent back to Wilmington to rejoin the Union Army. Happiness and sadness soon follow as Erica discovers she is pregnant with Viper’s child. Meanwhile, Mark is seriously injured during the war, gets blinded, and becomes an invalid who needs constant care.
Back in Minnesota, Viper’s conviction is vacated. He leaves the state heading to Delaware to find Erica. Adopting the name “Etienne Bouchard” (his French grandfather’s name), Viper finagles his way into becoming Mark’s companion, which severely irritates Erica.
Soon after “Etienne’s” arrival, Erica gives birth to a son who looks exactly like Etienne. This creates a rift between Erica and Etienne on one side and Lars and Sarah Randall–Mark’s sister–, on the other. Poor, hapless Mark doesn’t know he’s not the child’s father.
In the end, Mark conveniently passes away. Erica and Viper go back to Minnesota–to a different part of the state. Lars and Sarah marry, and both couples have their Happily Ever After.
The backdrop of Tender Savage is the Minnesota Sioux Uprising of 1862, an actual occurrence. Mrs. Conn does a fairly good job melding her fictional characters with real people and events.
On some levels, Tender Savage tries to be like Nancy Henderson (Nan) Ryan’s excellent romance, Kathleen’s Surrender. Like that book, Tender Savage takes place in part during the Civil War and features a love triangle. That, however, is where the similarities end.
Mrs. Ryan had the ability to make me, as a reader, care about her characters and feel their emotions. Mrs. Conn–although she tries–sadlyTender Savage does not.
Tender Savage is the seventh book I’ve read by Phoebe Conn. Like the other six, Tender Savage lacks both emotional depth and character development.
I also had issues with the heroine and hero. Erica checks off the basic romance heroine boxes: she’s beautiful, young, sexy, and has a great body, but… That’s it. There really is no substance to her.
Viper is worse. Mrs. Conn would have been better served to name him “Etienne Bouchard” because Viper is basically a white Indian. Although she researched the uprising, it is clear that Mrs. Conn did none about the Lakota tribe.
There is almost nothing about Viper–besides living in a teepee and eating pemmican–that would identify him as a Native American. The only depth to his character is that we learn he has French ancestry.
There is very little romantic chemistry between Erica and Viper. The beginning of their relationship in no way indicates love; they are in lust with each other. Although Mrs. Conn tries at the end, she falls well short of creating the type of characters I can genuinely care about.
Also, I didn’t particularly appreciate that after he gained access to the Hanson home, Viper spent a great deal of time trying to have sex with Erica even though she was married to Mark.
I also didn’t buy the “Erica and Mark didn’t consummate their marriage; therefore, they weren’t legally married, and Viper’s actions were okay” excuse at the end of the book, either.
I will give Mrs. Conn credit for writing slightly better love scenes here than in her previous books, but that is damning with very faint praise.
Most of the violence takes place “off-screen.” However, there are “on-screen” scenes of assault and battery, and a slashing occurs.
Bottom Line On Tender Savage
There was the foundation for a good book in Tender Savage.
Unfortunately, Mrs. Conn was not the author to mine the gold that might have been there. Instead, the book ends up in “pewter territory.”
Rating Report Card
TOO FAST TO STOP When innocent Erica Hansen fled to Minnesota to escape the Civil War’s horrors, she had no idea she was stepping right into the middle of an Indian uprising. And until a painted, whooping brave swept her onto his stallion, she never guessed how unsafe her new home really was. The curvaceous blonde struggled against her captor’s grip, but the farther they rode from civilization, the wilder her response to him became. The passionate beauty knew she should bite, scratch and kick the warrior, but before she could think of the consequences, Erica began to caress, kiss and embrace him!
TOO FAR TO RETURN From the moment he beheld the golden-haired paleface, the Sioux fighter named Viper swore she’d never meet the white captives’ fate of torture and degradation. This was a woman created for the most ecstatic kinds of lovemaking … and the virile male would make sure he’d be the one to show her the myriad ways to enjoy pleasure. He promised himself he’d release her when the furor of the battle died down. But once the jet-haired Sioux trapped her in his arms, he realized a lifetime was too short to savor her ivory skin, to exult in her lavender scent, to take her time and again as her Tender Savage.
Rebel Vixencommences by diving right into the story.
As the Civil War rages throughout the United States, 21-year-old Savannah Russell is on a ship in the Caribbean, bringing food and medical supplies to her southern brethren, when she spots a body floating in the water. She urges the sailors to bring him aboard.
However, when they see the man’s Union buckle on his uniform, everyone but Savannah wants to throw the enemy back into the sea. Savannah is defiant and swears to help save the Yankee sailor, despite what anyone says, including her Uncle, who’s in charge.
Savannah takes the officer on land and brings him to an inn. With a doctor’s aid, she helps him recover, saving his injured arm from amputation. She is instantly attracted to the blond-haired Lt. Commander named Skyler Reade. He, in turn, falls madly for the woman who saved his life.
Upon a tropical beach, Savannah and Skyler exchange their words of love, promising to be together forever.
The Beginning: Betrayal
As they begin to make love, an explosion shatters the silence. In horror, Savannah realizes that the Union army has taken her Uncle’s ship. Skyler tells her that the ship was loaded with weapons and ammunition, not medicine and supplies, and as a Union soldier, he had a responsibility to report it.
He vows his love for Savannah as she sees that every man on board, including her uncle, is now a prisoner of war. Savannah lashes out at Skyler, reinjuring his arm, and flees in terror, declaring her eternal hatred.
Yes, it’s a cheesy-looking Zebra Heartfire with a bosomy-clinch cover and cornball title. It must be read to be fully appreciated.
The scope is grand, spanning years across the American North and South, with war, death, love, and birth. This “bodice-ripper lite” was so well written and emotional that it made me cry tears of sadness and joy.
Seriously, Rebel Vixen is one of the best books I’ve read.
Not surprising, as Dana Ransom’s Zebras are almost all among my favorites, along with the great Deana James and, to a lesser extent, Penelope Neri.
The Plot: The American Civil War
Savannah is the oldest daughter of three children. Her father was a casualty of war, her brother is off fighting, and now with her uncle imprisoned, she finds herself burdened as the head of the family with an enormity of responsibilities on her shoulders.
Unconventionally beautiful, she has no time for gaiety as the war rages on, destroying everything she ever knew. Saving Skyler was instinctive, as she deeply values human life. She has the weight of the world upon her, and despite her recalcitrance, Skyler is her one bright spot in the darkness.
A Man Without Purpose
Skyler Reade has no real purpose in life, bouncing aimlessly along from adventure to adventure. As the middle son of an upper-crust Philadelphia family, he’s sort of flitting along in life when the war starts.
His father is a respected doctor, his older brother is settled down with a family and fighting for the Union, and even Skyler’s wayward younger brother seems to be following in the family’s footsteps of pursuing a medical degree.
Skyler has a “girlfriend” at home, not someone he feels serious about–although she absolutely does about him–who encourages him to pursue politics. To be a politician, he’ll have to have some military experience. But Skyler was not keen on fighting a war he cared nothing about. So he entered the Navy because he thought he’d see little battle action at sea.
A Genuinely Nice Guy
Although Skyler is a drifter suffering from the middle-child syndrome, he seeks to be virtuous. The main characteristic I adore about Skyler is that he is nice. I mean genuinely nice: a decent, caring, empathetic human being.
Yes, he is a bit domineering at times, but if 19th-century women weren’t 3rd wave feminists, you damn sure can’t expect the men to have been. He is relentless in pursuing Savannah, vowing to make her love him again. Most times, he’s generous and kind. Even so, other times, he can be demanding.
However, spoiler warning here: there is one bodice ripper-type scene.
A “forced seduction” occurs after Savannah taunts Skyler and tells him of her many lovers–a lie–for which he is instantly regretful and never repeats.
Skyler is kind to Savannah despite her shrewishness. He pursues Savannah across the North and South, confident that nothing could ever shatter their love.
Then again, maybe there is.
A Sensitive Subject Matter
As this Rebel Vixen is set during the US Civil War, slavery is a large part of the plot. I can understand that the sensitivity on this topic repels a lot of modern romance readers from this era. However, there’s no sugar-coating it. Savannah’s family owns plantations, and as such, they own slaves.
As far as Savannah’s views on slavery, like the war, it’s complicated. Ever since she was a child, Savannah’s father has allowed one slave to be freed at her request on her birthday. Although Savannah herself questions the righteousness of slavery, she will not betray her family, her state, and “The Cause.”
On the other hand, Skyler is aghast at the practice. He finds purpose in life through two motivations: to reobtain Savannah’s love and trust and fight for his nation until slavery is eliminated.
I adore the conclusion of this book as it’s reminiscent of the end of John Jakes’s mini-series North and South Part I and the scene with Lesley Anne Downs and Patrick Swayze. It always makes me chuckle. What the hell, that series was so good, so it’s ok with me that Ransom borrowed a bit from that ending.
“Why me? Why would you want me?” she asked in bewildered frustration.
“You–you make everything else so unimportant… I’ve never had much direction in my life, nothing I wanted to devote myself to until you held my hand and sat with me when I prayed I would die. Just wanting to hear your voice made me fight to get through the hell of each day. I loved you before I even saw your face.”
Final Analysis of Rebel Vixen
Rebel Vixen is a book I go back to and enjoy every few years. For me, it’s an old friend with reliable characters who go through tragic circumstances but come out of it united and secure in their love for each other.
I truly hope author Dana Ransom (aka Nancy Gideon) regains her rights to this book from Kensington and is able to republish it in digital format. It would be a shame for this romance to remain a hidden gem for only lovers of old paperbacks to discover.
If you’re in the mood for an old-school romance that skirts with being un-PC but doesn’t have an over-the-top-Alpha hero you’d want to hit in the head with a frying pan, I can’t recommend a better read than Rebel Vixen.
Rating Report Card
TENDER INNOCENCE When Savannah Russell spotted the lone survivor drifting among the shipwreck’s debris, nothing could have stopped her from rescuing him. Not even that she was sailing on a Confederate blockade runner while he wore the uniform of the Union Navy. As a spirited Southerner, she hated to help the enemy, but as a woman she could not let him die. So she nursed him herself, rejoicing as pain left his startling gray eyes and strength returned to his lean, muscular body. And before she had time to guard against the unwanted desire his gentle touch aroused in her, she had given her enemy more than her compassion …. she had given him her heart.
WANTON PASSION Skyler Reade felt more than gratitude for the raven-haired rebel who’d saved his life. Her courage had earned his boundless admiration; her beauty had sparked his limitless desire. She’d risked everything to help him and he knew that staying with her would only endanger them both. Still, he had to taste the beckoning sweetness of her lips, had to caress the ivory smoothness of her skin before he could leave her. Someday he would return to build a future with his seductive Savannah, but for tonight he could only give her the warmth of his embrace and the promise that she would always be his treasured, tantalizing REBEL VIXEN.
When lovely abolitionist Selene Sprague overheard secret Confederate strategy, the spiriited miss knew right then and there her duty was to inform the Union army. But as she galloped off into the inky night, cunning Rebel officer Wade Kinsolving reined in her horse and managed to lock Selene in his arms until she revealed her scheme. Refusing to admit to the pleasure of his embrace, the patriotic wench swore she’d undermine the traitor’s plans—even if it meant pretending ecstasy with each kiss they shared.
Captain Wade Kinsolving figured the gorgeous eavesdropper was up to no good, but since the sumptuous spy was so enticing, he’d punish her his own way. His bedroll would be her prison, his company would be her penance, and his caresses would be her torture. The arrogant Southerner gloried in ruining each of the willful girl’s tricks and, craving the challenge of changing the hatred in her eyes to rapture, decided he’d make her his forever, as his own foxy, sassy Yankee mistress.
This review is of Yankee Mistress a standalone from May 1989 by Ashley Snow, published by Zebra/Kensington as a Zebra Heartfire.
Yankee Mistress by Ashley Snow begins at an unspecified time during the Civil War. Selene Sprague, the heroine, is working in a tavern in Manassas, Virginia for her uncle, John Carpenter–both of her parents have passed. She overhears information about the Confederate war plans which will be helpful to the Union Army. Selene tries to get the plans to the Union forces but is stopped by Confederate Captain Wade Kinsolving, the hero of the book.
Wade later rapes Selene, who tries again to escape but is caught again by Wade.
After catching her again, Wade kidnaps Selene and takes her first to Norfolk, Virginia, and later to Barbados. (This is all to save his mission). He also marries Selene in a shipboard ceremony.
Selene and Wade are happy as a couple in Barbados. For a while, anyway. Their happiness ends when Simon Lazar, a contemporary of Selene’s from Virginia, arrives. Later, Lazar and Selene head to London. Wade soon arrives in London, and he and Selene reunite and have sex. He also achieves part of his mission, or so he thinks. Selene leaves London after being brutally assaulted by Lazar and killing him.
Selene returns to Virginia to search for Wade. Their first reunion doesn’t go well, but eventually, they reconcile.
In the end, Wade kills Lazar, who miraculously survived his attempted killing by Selene, and she and Wade have their Happily Ever After.
There is one good sex scene in the book. Beyond that…
Wade is a 2x rapist, an emotional, mental, and physical abuser. He is, to put it simply, a human piece of fecal matter.
While I can give Selene some credit for her strength in nursing the wounded and dead during the Civil War, and I can allow that she has little control over what happens to her due to the fact that she has no money, I can criticize her for her decision to fall in love with an individual who abuses her and treats her poorly throughout the book, which I found extraordinarily stupid. There is zero character development and no romance at all between Selene and Wade. None of the characters in the book are remotely likable.
As mentioned, there is one good sex scene. There are others, but they don’t approach a decent level.
As mentioned, Wade rapes Selene twice. She is also raped a third time by a peer of the realm. There are other scenes of assault, battery, wounded soldiers, and killings. The violence other than the rapes is not graphic.
Bottom Line on Yankee Mistress
I never thought I would read a book worse than Cassie Edwards’ dreadful, Eugenia’s Embrace. With Yankee Mistress, Ashley Snow has proven me sadly wrong.
Tropes: Civil War. Historical Romance. Rapist “Hero”.
The best thing about this circa 1978 quasi-bodice ripper is the Newport cigarettes ad in the middle of it:
Charlotte takes place during the American Civil War in New York City beginning in 1863 or 1864 (both dates are given). For a historical book, it’s historical, but for a romance, the romance is lacking.
This book is only 239 pages long, but the hero doesn’t make an entrance until page 144. And he is missing-in-action for most of it. The back blurb tells you the entire plot of this dreck.
The first 100 pages or so mainly focus on the heroine’s brother, Richard. He is a debauched reprobate who parties for days on alcohol and opium binges.
What else? Oh, he sleeps with a married actress and has a threesome with a teenage bargirl and her 33-year-old mother. Then he participates in the Draft Riots by beating up cops and burning down an orphanage for young Black children. Finally, he deflowers the new virgin maid. He’s an asshole but at least he did something.
The only reason I kept reading this dull book was to relish Richard’s eventual comeuppance. Which he got, but it wasn’t horrible enough.
As for romance? I wasn’t kidding when I said there was none.
Final Analysis of Charlotte
Forget about this one. I already have.
(PS) I searched the web and so far, I only see one copy of Charlotte by Amanda Hart Douglass for sale for $49.95. Whoever is selling it should pay YOU $49.95 to get it off their hands. Yes, it’s that bad of a book!
Lovely young Charlotte Bourne was the apple of her father’s eyes and a belle of New York society. The onset of the War Between the States introduced her to young Liam Brady, whom her dissolute brother Richard had hired to serve as his substitute in the Union Army. Liam and Charlotte fall deeply in love, but before they could marry, Charlotte had to come to terms with her turbulent feelings for the two other men in her life. The raging Civil War echoed the conflict in Charlotte’s heart…
Through the Storm by Beverly Jenkins is a romance about a former slave finding love during the American Civil War and Reconstruction Era with a man from a proud and established Louisiana family of Haitian descent.
I’ve only read one Beverly Jenkins romance, her first outing, Night Song, almost thirty years ago. I liked it but never picked up another book by this author and wanted to remedy that.
Through the Storm has gained high marks and positive reviews. For my part, I found it engaging, although I couldn’t help but think it needed tightening up in some areas.
The Set Up
Sable Fontaine is a slave of mixed European and African ancestry. At the beginning of Through the Storm, she is 29 years old when an elderly aunt reveals her bloodline secret. Sable is told that she is the descendent of African queens and two generations of slave owners.
Her current owner–and father–plans to sell her to a depraved man, known to be extremely brutal with slaves. Her aunt will not allow this.
Through the Storm begins as Sable’s master is doomed to a fiery death as his home burns with him inside. Knowing she has to forge a place for herself, she flees to find sanctuary. On her travels, she meets Harriet Tubman, who tells Sable she has been waiting for her. Tubman guides Sable to a contraband camp, a haven for refugee slaves.
Sable meets Union soldier Raimond LeVeq, who wastes no time letting Sable know of his attraction to her. He’s supposed to be suave and debonair, but sometimes he came off as trying too hard. Sable rebuffs his advancements, quickly figuring out his number.
She works at the camp, does errands and chores, helping the men with letters and other duties. Nevertheless, Raimond is a charmer, and Sable finds herself falling under his allure in time.
However, the evil man who purchased Sable looms on the horizon, forcing Sable to flee yet again, this time further North. Raimond is left with no word why. What could have been love turns into mistrust and contempt.
Sable finds herself face to face with Raimond later on, this time under different circumstances. He needs to find a wife. Raimond’s mother is convinced that Sable is the woman for him. So he reluctantly finds himself committed to the woman who almost broke his heart.
Sable and Raimond reconnect, learning to trust and care for one another again. Still, they have their struggles. Raimond comes on hard, but Sable is no pushover. Raimond has a mistress, although he quickly casts her aside. And danger still looms on the horizon, with the crazed villain determined to have Sable.
Final Analysis of Through the Storm
Beverly Jenkin’s Through the Storm is a slightly uneven romance filled with multiple tropes and a hefty dose of history. I really wanted to love this but found myself skimming through some parts.
Through the Storm certainly does not merit an unfavorable rating, as I enjoyed many elements, but some of the negatives overshadowed them. The pacing is a bit off, as many events occur in one section, then nothing happens in others. Also, I could have done without some of the info-dumping “As you know Bob” dialogue.
Sable is a fantastic heroine, filled with grit and competence. Raimond is an “Alpha,” and he comes on quite intense at times. Raimond is nowhere as smooth as he thinks he is. However, I’m pleased to note that the love scenes are well-done and erotic in a very 1990s fashion.
The villain is a rather hateful beast, and I relished his comeuppance.
I appreciated that Through the Storm was no wallpaper romance. It was a genuine historical–or at least, one where historical events mattered.
All in all, I’m glad I read this one, but I think there are other romances by Jenkins that will be more suited to my tastes.
Rating Report Card
Sable, a slave on the run to escape the cruel man she’s been sold to is forced to betray the charming Union officer Raimond LeVeq, who had romanced her and championed her.
Brought together again by fate and an arranged marriage, she must try and win the trust of LeVeq–the man she truly loves.
This review is of Sunset Temptation, a standalone novel by Jane Toombs (Zebra/Kensington Heartfire, June 1989).
Heroine: Jennara Gray, 29, Brown hair, green-amber eyes. Healer.
Hero: Bramwell Sumner, 34. Brown hair and eyes. Attorney.
The book begins at an unspecified time in Minnesota. Jennara Gray, the hero of the book, has just been confronted by Philadelphia lawyer Bramwell Sumner, the hero. Bramwell’s stepbrother, Ronald Claridge, and Jennara’s sister, Susanna, have run off together. Jennara and Bramwell make an uneasy alliance to bring the couple back. Easier said than done.
As they travel to try to find Susanna and Ronald, Jennara and Bramwell meet a Datoka boy named Cub, encounter various perils and become lovers.
Jennara and Bramwell eventually find Susanna and Ronald in Missouri, but also find more peril. In the end, Susanna and Ronald marry, as do Jennara and Bramwell. The latter couple has a baby together and both couples find their Happily Ever After.
My record of finishing every book I paid for with my own money remains intact.
Sunset Temptation is a BORING book. I’ll explain further.
Jennara and Bramwell are not strong enough characters to be leading a romance novel (they aren’t strong enough characters to be supporting players either). This is especially given the fact that Jennara, Bramwell, or both are in every scene in this nearly 400 page book. There is little character depth or development.
The supporting characters only exist as foils for Jennara and Bramwell to play off of. Perhaps realizing that her characters aren’t particularly interesting, Ms. Toombs or her editors try to add juice to the book by placing the characters in various perilous situations. This, too, fails miserably, as these scenes are no more interesting than the ones that precede them.
A handful of love scenes involving Jennara and Bramwell, which are just as colorless as the rest of the book is.
Assault, attempted rape, battery, killing, and rape all occur in Sunset Temptation. The violence is not graphic.
Sunset Temptation probably isn’t as bad a book as I’m making it out to be. However, the stultifying boredom I felt reading it means no positive grade from me. 1.11 stars.
INTERFERING TENDERFOOT If she weren’t so committed to healing, frontier doctor Jennara Gray would’ve killed that arrogant easterner Bramwell Sumner. The single-minded man had stormed into her home, accused her of trying to swindle his rich stepbrother, and was now about to go riding off into the sunset — right in the middle of a Sioux uprising. Jennara told the handsome blockhead she’d accompany him just to save his stubborn hide… and she’d never admit it was really because of the hot, intense desire the good-looking male made her feel!
OVERBEARING SHE-CAT No woman had ever fooled Bramwell Sumner, and that tall, outspoken Jennara Gray would be no exception. Despite her commitment to frontier doctoring, her genuine love for her patients and her caring hazel eyes, the cynical Philadelphia lawyer was convinced she was only a gold digger. Then for the first time ever his lust overrode his logic and Bramwell forgot all about his hunt for his stepbrother. All he wanted to search was Jennara ‘s silken slender body and claim her beneath the star-studded sky.
Kathleen’s Surrender by Nancy Henderson Ryan–known better these days as Nan Ryan–is without question one of the best, most emotional romance novels I’ve ever read.
This review is based on the Zebra print version of the book published back in 1983.
As the book opens, we meet the Beauregard family of Natchez-on-the-Hill, Mississippi. Patriarch Louis Antoine, Matriarch Abigail Howard Beauregard, and the heroine of the book, their only child, daughter Kathleen Diana Beauregard.
At the start, Kathleen is a starry-eyed 15-year-old who loves her Southern Belle life. She soon meets a handsome, wealthy man named Dawson Blakely and falls quickly and fully in love with him. They fall in love and want to get married.
However, Louis is vehemently against their relationship, although he and Abigail are nice to Dawson. Louis’ objection: Dawson’s ancestry isn’t as blue-blooded as the Beauregards’ is; Dawson’s ancestors are rather notorious people.
Louis tells Dawson they can’t marry, and Dawson loves Kathleen enough to let her go without telling her that her father is the one who’s trying to keep them apart. They do have an intimate encounter before they part, which results in Kathleen’s pregnancy.
To avoid losing face, Kathleen marries a doctor named Hunter Alexander to give their child–a son named Scott–a father.
Dawson, meanwhile, goes to Europe to drown his sorrows over losing Kathleen in drink and women.
As time goes on–the book encompasses 10 years–Kathleen realizes she’s not in love with Hunter and freezes him out–emotionally and sexually. Dawson eventually returns to America while Kathleen realizes that she and Dawson still love each other. They become involved again.
Hunter sees them kissing and decides, when the Civil War begins, to join the Confederate Army, ostensibly to die in combat to avoid living with a broken heart, knowing that Kathleen will never love him the way she loves Dawson. Dawson also does his part for the Confederacy, acting as a blockade runner on one of his many ships.
As the war goes on, Kathleen later realizes she does love Hunter and goes to the frontlines of the war in Vicksburg to be with him-they make love. On the way back to Natchez, Kathleen and her servant are set upon by Union soldiers, one of whom tries to rape her. That is prevented by Dawson, who is shot and seriously wounded in the process.
Then Kathleen decides she wants to be with Dawson again. She finds out later that Hunter is listed as a casualty of the war and decides to go ahead and marry Dawson.
Things don’t end there, but I won’t reveal all of what happens.
While you might think that Kathleen is a flighty and self-centered five-letter-word-for-female-dog flipping back and forth between her husband and her lover, it’s a lot more complicated than that.
Ms. Ryan does a tremendous job exploring and describing the emotions Kathleen, Hunter, and Dawson are going through. None of the three are villains, nor are they trying to deliberately hurt each other. They’re just three people caught in a love triangle that none of them want, but they also can’t get out of easily.
I felt each of their joys and sorrows, and it is an emotional rollercoaster that touched every one of my emotions.
There are some sex scenes, and although they are multiple pages long, they are not overly graphic.
Since the latter half of the book takes place in the Civil War, there is some violence. Most of it is not graphically described, except for the scene in which Dawson shoots and kills Kathleen’s attempted rapist. That is graphically described.
Final Analysis of Kathleen’s Surrender
One of the most important things that a book–or tv show or movie–has to do to get and keep my attention is to make me care about the people I’m watching/reading about. Ms. Ryan does exactly that. She made me care about Kathleen, Hunter, and Dawson, and it was incredible to read this book.
Kathleen’s Surrender by Nan Ryan is one of my favorite novels ever.
BTW, on Amazon, where I first posted this review, Ms. Ryan wrote to me to tell me that she appreciated my review!
Rating Report Card
PROMISE OF LOVE “I know that you will fall madly, helplessly in love with me,” dashing Dawson Blakely murmured in Kathleen’s delicate ear. Though she knew it was wrong to encourage the gambler’s attentions, the curvaceous beauty couldn’t keep her heart from racing nor stop the blush that spread from her velvety cheeks to her full, heaving bosom.
DREAM OF DESIRE The innocent young woman tried not to feel the virile man’s hard body next to her soft skin; she knew she ought to slap away the strong hands encircling her tiny waist. But she had always wondered what it was like to fall in love. Without a second thought, she yielded to the magic of passion’s splendor and swooned to the ecstasy of KATHLEEN’S SURRENDER
In Kristin James’ (aka Candace Camp) The Yankee, Andrew Stone is a former Union soldier now living in Texas. He’s a stodgy fellow, not well-liked by the local folks, and has a bad reputation. He had an unhappy marriage and now has a young daughter he has to raise by himself.
Miss Margaret Carlisle is a spinster who cares for her orphaned younger siblings. She’s not exactly the most charming person in the world either, although she has reasons not to be.
Together, Andrew and Margaret decide upon a marriage of convenience, as Andrew needs a mother for his daughter, and Margaret wants not to be dependent upon her cruel aunt’s charity.
I recollect that Andrew was a very cold man, and it took a lot of time for his heart to warm up to his efficient, capable bride. His heart had been pretty much torn to pieces by his ex-wife. With Margaret being who she is, it slowly heals, while she learns there’s more to Andrew than his gruff veneer. The kids in the book were cute, too.
Final Analysis of The Yankee
I gave The Yankee a three-star rating because it’s one of those Harlequin Historicals I read long ago, I don’t remember every detail of the plot, but I do recall feeling satisfied with the love story, although it wasn’t a book I wanted to read over and over again.
It was a nice story of two people who needed one another coming together, and that’s pretty much all I have to say about The Yankee.