Madeline Harper’s The Jade Affair happens to be one of my top Harlequin Temptations due to its engaging reunited lovers’ plotline. The duo of Madeline Porter and Shannon Harper wrote historical romances as Anna James or Leigh Bristol and Gothic romances under the pen name of Elizabeth Habersham. They published several category romances for Harlequin by combing one first name and last name.
In this, The chemistry between the protagonists is fantastic as they play detectives to find some missing jade artifacts.
A Gem of a Romance
Clea and Reeve had been dated as teenagers and fallen deeply in love. But their relationship could never be as they were from different social classes. Clea’s family was part of the upper-crust echelons, while Reeve was a tough boy from the wrong side of the tracks. They ran off to be together, but Clea’s parents tracked them down. Through lies and manipulation, they were able to separate the couple for years.
This review is of Seduced and Betrayed, #8 in the “`Bachelor Arms” series, and book #2 of 3 in the series written by Candace Schuler. (Harlequin Temptation, September 1995).
The book begins in 1970. A woman finds her boyfriend, naked, in bed with another woman, who is also naked. Their relationship isn’t the only thing that ends that night.
Fast forward 25 years. Ezekiel “Zeke” Blackstone, 47, the book’s hero, is heading to a planning meeting for his daughter Cameron’s upcoming wedding. He is a famous actor turned producer/director and a major player in Hollywood. Zeke is nervous, however, because this meeting will bring him face-to-face with Ariel Cameron, 43, the heroine of the book, Cameron’s mother, and Zeke’s ex-wife. (They were the couple who broke up in the first paragraph!). Ariel, a successful actress turned model, has been estranged from Zeke for 25 years.
This review is for Never a Bride, book #4 in the “Bachelor Arms” series published in May 1995 by Harlequin Temptation and written by JoAnn Ross.
In the first 3 books in the series, Kate Hoffmann wrote about three male friends who find love. In the following 3 books in the series, written by JoAnn Ross, three female friends come together for one of the ladies’ weddings.
It’s Always a Mystery
The book begins on December 31, 1933. A party is taking place at the home of William Randolph Hearst. The night will end in tragedy, however, as femme fatale actress Alexandra Romanov is killed. Her husband, screenwriter Patrick Reardon, is arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced to death for her murder.
Fast forward 62 years to 1995 Los Angeles. We meet Caitlin Carrigan, 25, the heroine of the book, and an L.A. police officer. We also meet Sloan Wyndham, 31, the hero of the book and a Hollywood screenwriter. Caitlin and Sloan’s first meeting is memorable, and not in a good way.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Never a Bride by JoAnn Ross”
This 11 book continuity series takes place in/around the Los Angeles apartment complex the “Bachelor Arms”. Why there are only 11 books in the series instead of 12 is an unsolved mystery. The books are written by four different authors: books 1-3 are written by Kate Hoffmann; 4-6 by JoAnn Ross; 7-9 by Candace Schuler; and 10-11 by Judith Arnold. Although the series has four different authors, there is a subplot running through each book of the series.
Private Eyes…They’re Watching You
Bachelor Husband begins with Harry Truman “Tru” Hallihan, the hero of the book and a private investigator, working a case. He has been hired by multi-millionaire Simon Marshall to find out if his son-in-law, Hollywood producer Ellis Stone, is cheating on Marshall’s daughter, Marianne. Although Stone has had three after-hours meetings with a woman, Tru hasn’t found any really incriminating evidence. ... Read more “Category Romance Review: Bachelor Husband by Kate Hoffmann”
Dillon After Dark, Harlequin Temptation #362, is a cute, fun romance by Leandra Logan. Dillon Danvers is a laid-back California DJ who airs a talk/ music show where he discusses many topics: surfing, books, music, clubs, and lots of other fun subjects to delight in. Dr. Kristina Jordan is a psychologist and single mother with no time for relaxation. Together these two opposites could make for an exciting couple. However, Kristina needs major convincing to be part of it.
Kristina’s teenaged daughter, Julianne, is absolutely ga-ga over Dillon. His sexy voice makes her adolescent hormones run wild. She’s a frequent caller to his show, making herself seem older than her tender years while complaining about her overbearing mother. Julianne enters a poetry contest for the show and wins the grand prize: a date with Dillon! Her mother thinks this is all silly nonsense And is appalled by her daughter’s behavior. She’s merely fourteen, while Dillon is twice her age!
Whenever I hear of Forbidden Fantasy by Tiffany White, a category romance from the 1990s, that’s the first thought that pops into my head. Then I recall the sweet twist which the plot hinges upon. An Editor’s Choice pick for the Temptation line, Forbidden Fantasy was a book I enjoyed, sure enough, although I wouldn’t rank it as an all-time great, even if it is etched in my mind.
Zoe is in Paris trying to put as much distance between herself and a bad relationship–namely, her marriage to her ex-husband. He was a cop who spent too much time at work and too little with her, both physically and emotionally. So she left him behind and fled to Europe on a voyage of self-discovery.
I remember being so excited to read Candace Schuler’s Easy Lovin’ as I had read one fantastic romance by her already, Wildcat. To me, that story was amazing, with a fiery-tempered heroine and an equally passionate hero. So when this one arrived in the mail as part of my monthly subscription of Harlequin Temptations, I was disappointed to find it was a big old dud. The tone was completely the opposite of Schuler’s previous book.
Kate Hightower is a prim and proper miss who’s always done what’s expected of her. Except now, she’s running away from her life, having left her fiance at the altar. She’s not sure what she wants, but it’s definitely a drastic change. So she goes to New Orleans to find herself.
What she finds is Jesse Vallerin. He’s a laid-back southern boy from the Big Easy. Jesse’s also a hairstylist who gives Kate a makeover when he cuts and dyes her hair from a mousy brown to a fiery auburn. He sports a diamond stud in his ear. He’s an atypical hero, going all against stereotypical macho convention.
Vicki Lewis Thompson’s Forever Mine, Valentine was my introduction to the now, sadly, defunct Harlequin Temptations line. The Temptation imprint launched in North America in March 1984. These books were far more sensual in nature than Harlequin’s other series, the Romance, Supperromance, and Presents lines. Temptations featured main characters from all walks of life, not just the rich. They took place anywhere, from small towns to big cities to tropical destinations.
The setting of Forever Mine, Valentine, is mostly in a shopping mall in Colorado, where St. Valentine, himself, is a character in the guise of Charlie Hartman, a sweet, seemingly doddering, old man.
Jill Amory left her old life behind to wander across the country on foot, with just a backpack. Including a stable dentist boyfriend. She paints windows for businesses to earn a little money and has a deadline set to travel all the States. Jill doesn’t quite know what she wants in life, but she knows it is not commitment.
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.
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”
Changing the Rules is a pleasant Harlequin Temptation from Gina Wilkins. Elise Webber and Dustin Chandler are two career-oriented people living in Georgia. He’s a high-powered attorney. She’s a news anchor for Atlanta’s top station. They’ve been dating for six months.
Dustin is not a marriage-minded type of man, nor is Elise looking for anything more than a short-term relationship. The pair have an active, satisfying sex life, and Elise has been diligent about taking her birth control pills. However, as Jurassic Park taught us, life always finds a way.
Elise’s pregnancy is a shock to both her and Dustin. Elise was the product of a single mother, who resented being a parent, so Elise never thought about having children herself. But now that she’s pregnant, Elise knows what she has to do. Elise graciously allows Dustin an “out.” While Dustin might not be a lifetime commitment kind of guy, he’s not an irresponsible deadbeat, either. He has just as much to do with the pregnancy as Elise does, and he vows to support her whether she chooses to keep the baby or give him/her up for adoption.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Changing the Rules by Gina Wilkins”
An article from February 11, 2021, by journalist Chris Lambie at saltwire.com addressesHow Harlequin Romances Got Spicier. A study of 500 books found the covers got sexier as time has passed, just as the stories have. This phenomenon is not limited to Harlequin, but Harleys are the biggest players in the romance market, and they’re the oldest ones around.
From the article:
“All this begs the question, why study Harlequin romance covers over the decades? ‘If you want to understand what straight women want over time, I think this is a really telling way of looking at it,”’ Fisher said. ‘There’s only a certain segment of women that would be interested in these books. But I think it’s really useful in terms of understanding women’s idealized fantasies about mating.‘”
I’m afraid I have to disagree with this sentiment. I know straight women, lesbians, gay men, and straight men who read romance. It is evident that it’s mostly straight women read heterosexual romances. However, we shouldn’t ignore almost 1/5 of male readers or the other out-lying groups. Approximately 50% of romance readers are between the ages of 18-45, so of course, there are those looking for something different from their mothers or grandmothers.... Read more “The Evolution of Romance at Harlequin”
Before erotic romance went mainstream and long before the Harlequin Blaze category line (now defunct) or the Dare line was Elaine K. Stirling’s Different Worlds. Published in 1991, this book had the first masturbation scene I had ever read in a conventional romance, where the heroine gets off thinking about the hero (this was several years before the often proclaimed “first mainstream romance to feature a masturbating heroine” in Robin Schone’s historical, Awaken My Love.) Come to think of it, many older bodice rippers weren’t afraid to have the heroine indulge in a little self-love, but as all sophisticated romance readers know, those horrid books don’t count (insert eye roll here.)
This was the first in a series of books in the Harlequin Temptation line, where four couples had to overcome some sort of separation/distance. Dawn and Michael meet in the jungles of Costa Rica. She’s an American scientist working in Central America, and he’s a businessman thousands of miles from his home in Canada. They’re not dumb kids falling for each other.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Different Worlds by Elaine K. Stirling”
Candace Schuler’s Harlequin Temptation #284 Wildcat was published in 1989. I cannot believe that 31 years have come and gone since I read it. I read this book as a preteen, and this drawn-out battle of wills between a tempestuous female and an ultra-macho rancher really appealed to me.
Stacey Richards was banished from her Texas home over a decade ago. Her wild, unruly ways were too much for her grandfather to handle. She was sent to Paris to learn how to become a lady. In the meantime, the ranch is capably looked after by Ben Oakes, a man whom the teenaged Stacey had the major hots for. Stacey returns home after grandpa’s death and is shocked by the demands of his will. For Stacey to inherit the property, she must marry Ben.
Beneath her sophisticated airs, Stacey is still a wild girl at heart and will not be dominated into marriage. Ben is no card-carrying feminist, and he tries his cave-man best to reign in Stacey’s wild temper. Will these two crazy kids ever admit to their mutual lusts and come to an agreement?... Read more “Category Romance Review: Wildcat by Candace Schuler”