Darkness into Light by Carole Mortimer is one of those category romances you must read in a comfy chair, because you’ll want to settle down for the next couple of hours to enjoy the book in one sitting.
Danny is the head gardener of Sutherland Estates and has yet to meet her wealthy, reclusive boss. Then, late one night, while mowing the lawn to relax (because bubble baths are so physically draining!), his hunky nephew Pierce shows up, dressed in a sexy, revealing bathing suit. Being a bit of a flirt, Danny invites herself over for a swim, and the sparks quickly fly between these polar opposites. Pierce is almost 40 years old and is the severe, stuffed-shirt type, while Danny is barely 21 and wears her heart on her sleeve.
Change of Life, a category romance by Judith Arnold, seems less a romance and more a story of a woman’s mid-life crisis and journey to self-discovery.
Lila Chapin is a long-time married woman with several rambunctious young boys. While Daddy is the fun parent, she’s a stay-at-home mom who cooks, cleans, disciplines, and is attentive to everyone’s wants and needs. On her 40th birthday, when her husband, Ken, and their kids forget all about it, she decides it’s time for a change in her life. She packs up her things, takes her keys, withdraws some money from their bank account, and leaves.
She settles into a hotel and figures it’s time to take care of her wants and needs. She informs her bewildered husband that she’s taking one month off from being a wife and mother. Lila feels she’s been taken for granted, and without her around, her family will realize how much they rely on her for everything.
Frozen Fire was one of the strangest Harlequin Presents I’ve ever read. It’s not Charlotte Lamb’s worst, by any means; actually it’s quite well-written and if it was a two-part story I would have loved it. But as it stands, the book focuses way too much on Helen’s relationship with her emotionally abusive husband and not with the hero.
Helen has been married to Paul for many years and he’s cheated on her repeatedly. They’ve had to move various times whenever his affairs have caused too much trouble wherever they’re living. So here they are, yet again, in a new town with a new job for Paul, and Helen is sticking around, but she’s not sleeping with her husband. Still, she’s faithful to Paul even if he isn’t because she’s the kind of person who keeps her vows even though her husband doesn’t. Plus, he’s super, super hot.
Feeling lazy, (as always), so here’s a quick review of Stay Through the Night by Flora Kidd hacked together from my reading updates:
Charlotte, a single, fiercely independent, and career-minded woman, never had her sights set on marriage, but she at least respects the institution. When she sees how her very married sister, Nancy, drapes herself all over multi-millionaire Burt Sharaton, she quite naturally believes they’re having an affair. Charlotte is disappointed and angered by her sister, as she cares for her brother-in-law, who’s a decent man.
Determined to put a stop to this madness, Charlotte confronts Burt. There’s no way she’s going to let Nancy sail across the world with Burt in his flashy white yacht.
However, Burt surprises Charlotte when he decides to settle for Nancy’s younger and unmarried sister instead. Charlotte’s plan backfires on her, as Burt all but takes her captive.
“I’d sooner kiss a snake than you!” When Sophie had angrily insulted New Zealand hotelier Jon Roberts, she’d never expected him to respond with a wager. If he managed to wangle her cherished homestead motel away from her, he’d announced, he would claim a kiss as his prize… Sophie had no intention of losing out to arrogant Jon! Until a fateful mountain snowstorm trapped them both together — and all her best laid plans went awry… In the wintry wonderland of the mountains, Sophie — the icy snow queen — began to melt with Jon’s charms. But chilling winds from their past still blew between them… .”
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Spell of the Mountains by Rosalie Henaghan was the first “adult” romance I read. I had read some Carolyn B. Cooney and the like, but never a love story about adults.
I don’t know what the qualifications were 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; however 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.
They reveal a lot more to each other than they ever have before: not just 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 huge hangovers, in shock at what they’ve done.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Having Faith by Barbara Delinsky”
After writing my review for Emma Darcy’s Don’t Ask Me Now, I found out the sad news that she had passed away four months ago, on December 21, 2020, at the age of 80. Emma Darcy was a pseudonym for the husband-and-wife duo of Frank and Wendy Brennan.
Emma Darcy’s Life
Wendy was born in Dorrigo, New South Wales, Australia, on November 28, 1940. She was a bright student and achieved success in college. She was the first female computer programmer in the Southern Hemisphere.
Wendy and Frank married in 1964, and after having children, Wendy chose to leave the workforce and stay home to raise them. Frank was a businessman and a pharmacist.
Both were lovers of reading and they decided to join forces to write books together. Frank and Wendy wrote several books which they submitted to Mills and Boon. The legendary editor, Jacqui Bianchi, aka bodice-ripper author Teresa Denys, accepted their submissions but asked for them to be tweaked a bit before publication. In 1983, the couple released their first book as Emma Darcy, the Mills, and Boon/ Harlequin Presents Twisting Shadows.
Emma Darcy‘s Don’t Ask Me Now is such an unusual Harlequin Presents. I had seen this love-triangle plot done similarly in the Temptation line, which was more sexually explicit, but to see it in HP was a bit surprising.
What’s the big deal? Well, this book features two heroes that the heroine sleeps with, although it’s not as tawdry as I’m making it out.
Many years ago, the heroine, Cathy, had a torrid love affair with Anthony Pryor-Jones of the Pryor-Joneses, part of Australia’s creme-de-la-creme. His family disapproved of her as he came from a wealthy heritage while Cathy was a nobody. Hero #1 was obsessed with her, and they had fantastic sex. But Cathy finally broke free of that toxic relationship and relocated to Sydney.
Years have passed, and Cathy’s made a new life for herself. She’s got a great friend and business partner, Tom. Tom, Hero #2, has always wanted Cathy, but he’s been friend-zoned for some time. Finally, when he thinks he’s breaking through her icy reserve, they bump into Anthony at a ball.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Don’t Ask Me Now by Emma Darcy”
Changing the Rules is a sweet 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, and 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”
The Lion Rock by Sally Wentworth has an exotic setting, but plot-wise is your typical Harlequin Presents/Mills-Boon.
Cordelia, a young British woman, visits her birthplace of Sri Lanka with her emotionally distant father. Her father has a heart attack, and Marcus Stone, an older, sophisticated gentleman, comes to her rescue. They both experience a deep, instant attraction, but Marcus is cold and pushes her away for some mysterious reason. There’s a nasty other-woman who makes trouble and a younger guy who’s mad about the heroine. Cordelia dates him and makes him think she likes him even though she’s in love with Marcus. Drama ensues. Some mild nookie. Happy ending.
The Weird Stuff
This was a perfectly adequate book, not exciting, but worth a couple of hours reading. One thing I found funny was that Marcus kept pushing Cordelia away because he thought she was only wowed by his celebrity status. His claim to fame? He’s a writer of popular non-fiction books about history and global politics, not unlike Francis Fukuyama or Thomas Friedman. Fine, worldly men, true enough, but I hardly consider them glamorous sex-symbols, who seduce legions of 20-year-olds out of their panties.... Read more “Category Romance Review: The Lion Rock by Sally Wentworth”
Wrong man…wrong time! An amulet sends Jana back six years… into deadly danger! Impulsively, she wishes for a second chance, before she met the rogue she impulsively married. To her shock, it works— and lands her in the arms of the same man, who’s using another name and involved in a scheme that might get them both killed.. Although she knows him intimately, he has no idea who she is. They have to learn about each other—fast—while staying alive. If they can!
2 1/2 stars
Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
The cover for One Husband Too Many looks a bit off, with the heroine posed as a seemingly shell-shocked bride marrying two Martina Navratilovas. Definitely a unique choice for a Harlequin cover.
As for the story? Well this book was written as if it were one of those rom-coms you’d watch on a Sunday afternoon while folding laundry.
I have a real love/hate situation with the contemporary romance, Gypsy. It’s got some concepts I adore and others, like adultery, that make me want to toss this book across the room.
Carole Mortimer is one of the few Harlequin authors who regularly features blond heroes (I prefer them to the “tall, dark” archetype), so I have tons of her books. Usually, I enjoy reading them.
Here, the fair-haired “hero,” Lyon, is a real nasty piece of work. He’s an adulterous husband who refuses to divorce his wife because he feels he owes it to her to stick around. That made no sense to me. I had a hard time dealing with the adultery concept. For some reason, I can accept it in historicals, but in contemporaries, I don’t have much sympathy.