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Tag: friends to lovers

Category Romance Review: Hilltop Tryst by Betty Neels

hilltop tryst
Hilltop Tryst, Betty Neels, Harlequin, 1990, Will Davies cover art

Harlequin Romance #3071

VERY MILD SPOILERS 😉

3 Stars

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

Hilltop Tryst is a sweet romance by the famous Betty Neels featuring–as always–a fair-haired doctor as a hero, although this time he’s British, not Dutch. Nor is the heroine a nurse. She’s the daughter of a local successful veterinarian and works with Dad.

The Set-Up

The title Hilltop Tryst makes it sound steamier than this book really is. It’s a very clean, closed-door Harlequin Romance, so no trysting here!

One morning, Beatrice is taking a walk with her dog, and she meets the hero, Dr. Oliver Latimer, a heart surgeon, along the way. Oliver’s a nice, stolid type. There’s a bit of trouble with another dog and Oliver arranges to bring the pup to Beatrice’s father for a check-up.

Everything lines up making it seem as if Oliver’s interested in Beatrice. He’s kind to her, spends time with her family, and in typical Betty Neels fashion, doesn’t make a move! When Beatrice’s father has a heart attack, they’re fortunate that Dr. Latimer is there to save the day.

Enter our other man, a more debonair and seemingly sophisticated vet.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Hilltop Tryst by Betty Neels”

Category Romance Review: Stranger in the Night by Charlotte Lamb

stranger in the night
Stranger in the Night, Charlotte Lamb, Harlequin, 1980, William Biddle cover art

HARLEQUIN PRESENTS #417

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

5 stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

The Plot

Charlotte Lamb’Stranger in the Night deals with a sensitive topic she’s approached several times: rape. No, it does not employ the controversial trope of “dubious consent” found in many Harlequins from the 1970s and 1980s. This is a healing love story about a traumatic assault that upended a woman’s life and almost destroyed her ability to find a romantic relationship.

On the surface, the set-up of Stranger in the Night might share some commonalities with Emma Darcy’s Don’t Ask Me Now, which had an actual love triangle plot. Here, the heroine Clare is living a good life as a successful actress. She has a male friend Macey, a writer and producer whom she keeps at bay, however much he adores her.

Macey is also a nice guy, one of the most gentle and understanding heroes in an old-school Harlequin Presents. Not a “beta” male, mind you, but a decent man whose aura commands respect. He’s supportive, assertive–not domineering–, and quite sexy to boot.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Stranger in the Night by Charlotte Lamb”

Contemporary Romance Review: A Violation by Charlotte Lamb

A violation
A Violation, Charlotte Lamb, Worldwide (Harlequin), 1983, cover artist unknown

Spoiler Alert ⚠

3 Stars

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Reviewed by: Introvert Reader

A Romance That is Not a Romance

A Violation, a full-length novel by category author Charlotte Lamb, isn’t a straightforward romance, but somewhere more between women’s fiction and romantic fiction. Like so many of her works, the major themes are the philosophy of love and what are the defined roles of being a man and a woman, especially when it comes to amorous relationships.

In general, I think she was better restrained by the limitations of category romance as at times here she veers off into navel-gazing. Nevertheless, A Violation was a satisfactory read, not as good as the similarly-themed Stranger in the Night, but much better than a few of Lamb’s other Mills and Boon/ Harlequins that also dealt with sexual assault (I am looking at you Dark Fever).

Rape, especially a violent rape by a stranger who debases the heroine, leaving her life in tatters, isn’t the most comfortable backstory for a romance. As stated, though, this isn’t strictly a romance novel, so if you’re looking for more than a “Happy For Now” ending, you might be disappointed.... Read more “Contemporary Romance Review: A Violation by Charlotte Lamb”

Historical Romance Review: The Heir by Johanna Lindsey

2 stars

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Was this tepid, dull romance actually penned by Johanna Lindsey? The Heir was Lindsey’s first book where I noticed a weird change. Previously, if there was a Lindsey I didn’t like, it was due to a meandering plot or excessive fighting between the leads. There is friendship for sure in this one, but romantic isn’t what I’d call the relationship between Duncan and Sabrina.

The Plot: Friends to Lovers

Duncan, a Highland Scot, is the newly made heir to an English Marquess. Everyone in the county is eager to meet this young laird–er lord–especially the unmarried ladies. Our heroine Sabrina, however, has no designs on Duncan. She’s plump, plain, and orphaned. Sabrina’s not anyone’s ideal candidate for a wife. Certainly not for an heir to a Marquessate.

One of the ladies with eyes on Duncan is the beautiful Miss Ophelia. Ophelia desperately wants to be a Marchioness. She will connive to do whatever it takes to move up the social ladder.

When Duncan and Sabrina meet, there are no sparks. They are cordial to one another, though. A friendship forms between the two outsiders.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: The Heir by Johanna Lindsey”

Category Romance Review: Having Faith by Barbara Delinsky

having faith
Having Faith, Barabra Delinsky, Harlequin, 1990, cover artist TBD

Harlequin Temptation #297

VERY MILD SPOILERS 😉

2 1/2 stars

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

I don’t know the qualifications for getting the Harlequin Temptation Award of Excellence, but I wasn’t impressed with Barbara Delinsky’s Having Faith. I think the award was merely a way for editors to play favorites with authors without having to pay them more. That’s just me being cynical.

The Plot

Faith and Sawyer are divorce lawyers on opposite sides of the same nasty case. (Oh my, freaking divorce lawyers in a romance novel!) They’ve been good friends for many years. Both went through rough divorces, and they have a very amicable platonic relationship. For over 15 years, they’ve been friends with no sexual attraction. Then one night, they get rip-roaring drunk and have “oopsie” sex.

The pair reveal a lot more to each other than they ever have before—not only that they’re compatible in the bedroom but also that they’re both jerks. The two of them make fun of their exes: Sawyer complaining how his ex-wife’s boobs sagged, Faith, talking about how her husband was a dud in the sack. They drink some more and have more sex, then wake up with massive hangovers, in shock at what they’ve done.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Having Faith by Barbara Delinsky”

Category Romance Review: Four Dollars and Fifty-One Cents by Lass Small

Four Dollars and Fifty One Cents
Four Dollars and Fifty-One Cents, Lass Small, Silhouette, 1991,
Four Dollars and Fifty-One Cents, Lass Small, Silhouette, 1991, cover artist unknown

From the Back of the Book:

GOING ONCE, GOING TWICE…The truth was, Jan Folger had never really given Junior Busby a second thought–even though he’d lived next door to her for about a million years. But her charity group was holding a bachelor auction. They needed one more eligible man to put on the block…and she supposed Junior would just have to do. Then the local paper went and ran a photo of the fully grown Junior–wearing jeans and a five o’clock shadow–and suddenly it seemed like every woman in Byford, Indiana, wanted to know him better–a whole lot better. And Jan was starting to wonder if maybe she hadn’t overlooked a hot property right there in her own neighborhood …

Silhouette Desire #613

SPOILER-FREE REVIEW 😊

5 Stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Book

Lass Small’s Four Dollar and Fifty-One Cents–what a great title–is one of the best Silhouette Desires I’ve ever read. It’s a funny romance, passionate, sexy, and did I mention funny?

The Plot

Jan needs a bachelor to auction off for a local charity. Her harmless friend and neighbor Junior should do.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Four Dollars and Fifty-One Cents by Lass Small”