Tag Archives: dark romance

6 Harlequin Presents Villains

6 Horrifying Villainous Heroes in Harlequin Presents

6 Harlequin Presents Villains

Evil Heroes

Since Halloween is just around the corner, it’s time to take a look at the scary side of romance. No, not Gothic romances, although we’ll get to more soon. We’re talking about villainous heroes in romance novels.

The Harlequin Presents line was notorious for the cruelty some male protagonists could inflict upon their heroines. Most of these books are surprisingly well-written. Yet the horrific truth is that the hero could be the villain in a romance.

Villainous main characters were popular forty years ago, and they still continue to be popular with readers to this day. Why would anyone ever want to read romances where heroes are the bad guys?

shiny carved pumpkin and knife on halloween night

Well, why not? So long as we understand we’re reading fiction, at times, it’s hypnotizing to take a peek at the darkness that lurks beneath the human surface. To witness what sadistic torments twisted love can create.

And then, thankfully, close the pages on that romantic nightmare.

Harlequin Presents’ Villainous Male Main Characters

At Sweet Savage Flame, we’re equally about the Sweet… And the savage.

We’ve compiled a list of 6 villainous heroes from Harlequin Presents romances. We have placed them in order of publication. It would be near impossible to rank which male main character is the evilest.

Trick or Treat.

Andreas, Storm Centre

Only Charlotte Lamb could create such a despicable hero as Andreas and still make the story so hypnotizing! Storm Centre is a car wreck read.

6 villain heroes
Storm Centre, Charlotte Lamb

Burke, Mansion For My Love

Mansion For My Love was a hard book to review. I’ve both hated and loved many of Robyn Donalds Harlequin Presents.

villain hero romance Mansion For My Love, Robyn Donald3
Mansion For My Love, Robyn Donald

Nicholas, The Guarded Heart

Another cruel Robyn Donald hero! Now this book, The Guarded Heart I despised Nicholas so much. He was irredeemable!

villain hero romance The Guarded Heart, Robyn Donald
The Guarded Heart, Robyn Donald

Hugo, Shattered Dreams

Sally Wentworth created yet another hero who in a crazed, jealous lunatic. But the writing was compelling in Shattered Dreams!

villain hero romance
Shattered Dreams, Sally Wentworth

Jake, Indiscretion

Anne Mather usually wrote reliably entertaining books. Indiscretion was like a gory car crash I couldn’t look away from!

6 villain heroes 6
Indiscretion, Anne Mather

Mark, The Marriage War

And finally, here’s Charlotte Lamb with another detestable hero with The Marriage War. Even Lamb’s stellar writing couldn’t make the villain hero, Mark, likable.

6 villain heroes
The Marriage War, Charlotte Lamb

Your Opinion on Villain As the Hero in Romance

Do you think these villainous heroes are too cruel for love? What other heroes in romance could qualify as villains? Please, drop a comment, and let’s talk romance.

stormfire pino

Historical Romance Review: Stormfire by Christine Monson

historical romance review
Stormfire by Christine Monson
Rating: five-stars
Published: 1984
Illustrator: Pino
Published by: Avon
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Napoleonic Era Romance, Regency Era Romance
Pages: 568
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader

Historical Romance Review: Stormfire by Christine Monson


The Book

So, after a couple of decades of reading romance, in the early 2010s, I finally got around to Stormfire by the late Christine Monson.

Whew! They do not write them like this anymore. The ultimate in bodice-ripping, Stormfire, is a tale of two mentally unstable people and their violent, intense love. And it’s great!

The Most Controversial Bodice Ripper Ever?

The main attraction of Stormfire is its writing. If it were a poorly authored book, no one would still be talking about it 30-plus years after it was published.

The chapters each have titles such as “Silken Irons,” “Into Eden,” or “The Nadir.”

When Lady Catherine Elderly meets her captor, Sean Culhane, her first thoughts are of Milton’s poetry: 

“His form had not yet lost

All his original brightness, nor appeared

Less than Archangel ruined…” 


The prose is evocative and compelling, but not purple. We agonize over Catherine’s enslavement; we feel the angry passion between the lovers; we grieve Catherine’s loss and suffer from Sean’s torture.

How much misery can two people take?

There is an intense love/hate dynamic between the main characters that is the stuff of legends.

I wish writers of historical romances today wrote like this. Not necessarily the same plot lines, but with action and intensity that doesn’t delve into vulgarity.

To be honest, I wasn’t comfortable with a lot of things in the book. Regardless, Stormfire is enthralling. Even those who hate this book can’t say it’s boring.

The Plot

Sean Culhane kidnaps Catherine, the daughter of a British lord, seeking vengeance for wrongs committed against his people.

He keeps Catherine captive in his estate in Ireland, where he doesn’t hesitate to rape her before sending Catherine’s bloodied undergarments to her father.

While Catherine is an innocent pawn, she is not weak. She’s a fighter who will meet Sean’s cruelties with a will of iron.

You will not believe what these two go through, what they do to each other, or what they do to others. It’s incredible, but as I said, it’s Monson’s compelling skill at writing that makes this book so special.

His spirit, like the lonely, windswept sea, was ever-restless, ever-changing, sometimes howling down to savage the unyielding land, then caressing it with a lulling embrace, inevitably wearing away its resistance.

Then again, maybe I’m a sicko because I like the plot. Yes, it’s epic and melodramatic. There’s everything but the kitchen sink. That includes: kidnapping, rape, starvation, forced slavery, multiple marriages, miscarriage, insanity, beatings, brothers fighting for the same woman, incest, castration, forcible sodomy, murder…

So much happens here!

Perhaps it’s a bit too much in the last quarter, as Sean and Catherine needed some moments together introspecting rather than acting.

Final Analysis of Stormfire

There are many detractors of Christine Monson’s controversial bodice ripper. In its defense, I say this: Stormfire isn’t supposed to be a sweet romance. It’s an old-school historical romance novel, a bodice ripper, and I use the term with great affection.

It’s a fantasy.

A dark one, definitely. Then again, so too are the vampire, werewolf, bestiality, BDSM, step-dad/ stepbrother kink, and ménage fantasies of today. Books like Stormfire present a different kind of fantasy, where the most tremendous hate can transform into love.

Would this relationship work in real life? Probably not. That’s why it’s make-believe.

Stormfire is entertaining, emotional, and unforgettable. It falters a bit towards the end, so it’s not perfect.

This is not the best romance novel ever written, but for me, it’s up there.

5 Stars

Rating Report Card
Fun Factor
Overall: 4.7


Abducted on her way to boarding school, a terrified Catherine Enderly was brought from England to the coast of Ireland, the prisoner of the angry and powerful young Sean Culhane—a man sworn to vengeance against her family.

Frightened but defiant, the young countess met her captor with a strength that belied her fragile loveliness. But even as Sean vowed to have his revenge on Catherine, with each encounter he became more attracted to her. Her fiery innocence was a seduction that lured the passions of long smoldering hostility into a blazing inferno of desire.

Locked in a love-hate duel, he did not suspect that the captivating beauty who fought him with such tenacity was struggling desperately against her own awakened desires, and that his touch had become the burning reminder that the fierce hatred she felt for him had become an all-consuming love.


Download or Read Online at Book Vooks: Stormfire PDF Book by Christine Monson (1984)