Brooklyn-born artist Elaine Duillo, who, in her long and storied career, earned the well-deserved moniker of “The Queen of Romance Cover Art,” did it to me again! How many books have I purchased simply because I was dazzled by the hypnotic painted covers, only to find disappointment within the pages of those supposedly lurid novels?
The best thing about Emily Bradshaw’s Halfway to Paradise is its stunning jacket, which is an excellent representation of Duillo’s flair for making even the most mundane tale seem enticing. This one is done primarily in purple hues, with the heroine’s long blonde locks that flow down to her knees providing a bright complement to the hero’s dark-violet doublet.
Back in the day, an Elaine Duillo cover guaranteed you were reading a juicy bodice ripper. That was not the case with this book.
Why have I spent so much time in this review discussing Duillo’s talent rather than the content of this Halfway to Paradise? Because, lamentably, the book put me halfway to sleep.
When my cat destroyed the cover of my edition of Beloved Enemy, chewing it to shreds, I lamented the loss of the pretty cover, although I cared nothing for the book. To be frank, Beloved Enemy begins with an intriguing premise, but about 20 pages in, the annoying “insta-luv” trope rears its head, and everything goes downhill from there.
I’ve read Jane Feather books before; they’re the kind one loves or hates, and usually, I’ve enjoyed them. One positive about this was that it was originally published as a Zebra Heartfire in 1987, and compared to other Zebras, the writing is like Tolstoy.
Such a shame as I love English Civil War and Restoration Era romances filled with priggish Roundheads & debauched Cavaliers. Ginny Courtney is a war widow, her brother presumed dead, and her family fiercely loyal to the crown. At the same time, Alex Marshall is a Colonel in Cromwell’s Army, taking command of her family home as his army looks for fugitives.