Tag: Harlequin

Category Romance Review: Different Worlds by Elaine K. Stirling

Different Worlds, Elaine K. Stirling, Harlequin, 1991, cover artist unknown
Harlequin Temptation #332
4 stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A Sexy Book

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.)

The Plot

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”

Category Romance Review: Temporary Wife by Roberta Leigh

Temporary Wife, Roberta Leigh, Harlequin, 1974, Doug Stivers cover art
Harlequin Presents #109

Emily [Lamb] might be a lamb by name, but she was certainly not one by nature. A wolf cub was nearer the mark.

TEMPORARY WIFE

4 1/2 stars

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Roberta Leigh’s Temporary Wife features a great heroine for a great book.

Luke Adams has everything: good looks, a plum job at an investment firm, and his boss/best friend’s wife as his mistress. Unfortunately, his boss’s nephew has caught wind of the affair and threatens to out the pair.

Luke’s mistress, Gina, wants to have her cake and eat it. Sure she’s married to an old man, but he’s rich, and in the meantime, she’s got Luke as her lover. Luke desperately wants to be open about the affair, but she keeps claiming her husband’s health is too weak to stand such a shock. So Gina comes up with the brilliant idea of arranging a marriage of inconvenience for her Luke–who truly does love her–with an old friend from school: plain, mousy Emily Lamb.

Emily is a magnificent heroine. One of the best I’ve read in a Harlequin Presents, no matter what decade.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Temporary Wife by Roberta Leigh”

Category Romance Review: Beware of the Stranger by Janet Dailey

Beware of the Stranger, Janet Dailey, Harlequin, 1978, cover artist TBD
Harlequin Presents #256
2 1/2 stars

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Beware of the Stranger by Janet Dailey was a real meh book. The best part of it was the 1970’s kitsch; the hero is introduced wearing a forest green blazer and plaid pants. The heroine’s wardrobe is full of plaid blouses and light-blue bell bottoms. Plenty of smoking, tossing those cigarettes down, and then engaging passionate make-out sessions.

As for the plot…

Well our plaid wearing hero shows up at the heroine’s newspaper job, claiming to work for her wealthy father who needs to see her immediately. He takes Samantha hundreds of miles away to a secluded island in the St. Lawrence River, never lets her off the island, and never lets her use the phone.

Samantha is a wily journalist with sharply-honed instincts, so it only takes her 100 pages of this 190+ page book to realize that she’s been kidnapped!

The hero’s a shady guy hiding the truth from her as his name changes every 42 pages or so. First he’s Owen, then he says he’s Chris, then he reveals he’s Jonas, then… It was like a Scooby-Doo mystery with a face reveal under the first face reveal loop that never ended.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Beware of the Stranger by Janet Dailey”

Historical Romance Review: Stranger in My Arms by Louisa Rawlings

Stranger in My Arms, Louisa Rawlings , Harlequin, 1991, cover artist TBD

Harlequin Historical #90

She gazed into eyes that held love and joy and laughter. The laughter that had always been in him—only needing her to bring it out. ‘Oh, my dearest,’ she answered, her heart swelling with wonder and gratitude for the beautiful man who bent above her. ‘You’re Love.’

STRANGER IN MY ARMS

5 Stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

My Absolute Favorite Historical Romance

There are many older romances I like out of pure nostalgia. When I re-read them, I know they’re not perfect, yet I enjoy them nevertheless. Stranger in My Arms by Louisa Rawlings first caught my attention over thirty years ago, and I love it more today than I did back then. It even earned the treasured seal of approval from Kathe Robin, the legendary book reviewer and editor of the now, sadly, defunct Romantic Times.

Although it’s a bit on the short side, this is the best romance novel, historical or otherwise, that I’ve ever read. I have re-read this book easily a dozen times in thirty years and am always stirred by its intensity.

A Harlequin Historical published in 1991, this book is 300 pages of tiny type-face, and there’s no room for it to lag.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Stranger in My Arms by Louisa Rawlings”

Category Romance Review: Wildcat by Candace Schuler

Wildcat, Candace Schuler,  Harlequin, 1989,
Wildcat, Candace Schuler, Harlequin, 1989, cover artist unknown

Harlequin Temptation #284

5 stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Candace Schuler’s Harlequin Temptation #284 Wildcat was published in 1989, and I cannot believe that 31 years have come and gone since I read it. I read this book when I was a preteen, so don’t be too harsh on me for liking this drawn-out battle of wills between a tempestuous female and an ultra-macho rancher.

The Plot

Stacey Richards was banished from her Texas home over a decade ago, as 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.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Wildcat by Candace Schuler”

Historical Romance Review: To Touch the Sun by Barbara Leigh

To Touch the Sun, Barbara Leigh, Harlequin, 1991, Judy York cover art

Harlequin Historical #98

From the back of the book:

Beloved Captive…To be a knight, chivalrous in deed and courageous in battle, was all that Drue had ever wished for. Dubbed Sir Drue, she had sworn to serve her king and seek revenge against her enemy, Connaught. She had vowed to slay the treacherous knight, yet one look into the depths of his fire-blue eyes and she knew she could never kill him… Though she had captured him fairly on the field of battle, it was Drue who was completely in his power, and she shuddered to think what the proud Connaught would do when he discovered that the ‘lad’ who had defeated him was nothing more than a woman.

4 stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

***Spoiler alert***

To Touch the Sun is an older Harlequin Historical by Barbara Leigh. This is the unique tale about a woman in Medieval England who is raised alongside her brother as a boy and eventually becomes a knight. Not just any knight, but one of the most virtuous, valiant, and admired knights in the kingdom.

The Plot

Druanna takes on the persona of Dru to such a great extent that even her brother almost forgets her true identity.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: To Touch the Sun by Barbara Leigh”

Category Romance Review: Simply Irresistible by Miranda Lee

Simply Irresisitible, Miranda Lee, Harlequin, 1993, cover artist unknown
The Australians

From the back of the book:

Ross Everton was the sexiest single guy the Outback had to offer! The most eligible man at the annual Bachelors’ and Spinsters’ Ball, the handsome rancher knew WHO he wanted – and he wanted her NOW!

Vivien Roberts thought she was a streetwise Sydney girl, but dancing in Ross’s arms made it hard to be sensible – and after tonight they might never meet again…

But neither would forget their one night together: Vivien was expecting Ross’s baby. Irresistible sexual attraction was one thing…being married was quite another!

4 1/2 stars

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Australians was a special short run of Harlequin books featuring sexy heroes from the Outback. If you have never read a Harlequin Presents, then maybe this isn’t your style of book, but I loved it! Simply Irresistible by Miranda Lee had everything: sex, humor, and romance.

Vivien gets cruelly dumped by her boyfriend and three days later ends up in the arms of the very sexy Ross Everton at the Bachelor and Spinster’s Ball. They have an amazingly intense one-night stand, then go their separate ways.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Simply Irresistible by Miranda Lee”

Category Romance Review: A Naked Flame by Charlotte Lamb

A Naked Flame, Charlotte Lamb, Harlequin, 1984, Ray Olivere cover art

Harlequin Presents #747

1 star

Rating: 1 out of 5.

***Spoiler alert ***

Sad to report, but A Naked Flame has to be the worst Charlotte Lamb book I’ve read so far.

Christie married Logan, a man 12 years her senior, when she was only 18. She lived in California hoping to start a career in Hollywood, but her chauvinist husband wouldn’t allow it. He controlled her life totally and wanted children ASAP, but Christie wanted to wait. They argued, he raped her, she left and filed for divorce. The rape resulted in a child. For five years Mommy and Daddy never see each other while sharing custody of their son. Now Christie is a hot movie star with a male “friend” whom she mercilessly teases. The press hounds Christie so much so she moves to England with her son–-without telling her ex-husband. This obviously angers Logan and he and Christie fight it out for custody.

It’s not the plot that I object to; it’s the horrific execution. Up until page 100, the hero and heroine interact twice, except for a brief flash-back into their marriage. It’s as if Charlotte Lamb wanted to write a longer book, found she had almost maxed out her word count so just summarized all the interesting parts and drew out all the boring, mundane scenes of Christie going to lunch and parties with other guy.... Read more “Category Romance Review: A Naked Flame by Charlotte Lamb”

Category Romance Review: Palace of the Peacocks by Violet Winspear

The Palace of the Peacocks, Violet Winspear, Harlequin, 1969, cover artist to be determined
Harlequin Romance #1318
3 1/2 stars

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

So, this book may be a bit of an oldie, as it was published in 1969 not post-1972, but I’m running short on reviews for this weekend, plus it’s a Violet Winspear–an author whose works I enjoy. This one was a nice read, besides.

The Plot

In Winspear’s Palace of the Peacocks the heroine Temple Lane is typical of so many of her vintage romance sisters: orphaned, industrious, faithful, and unworldly. When she flies out to Indonesia to meet up with her long-time fiancé, her life falls into shambles after she discovers his affair with a local girl. Without any funds and no way back home, she’s desperate to find employment. Temple disguises herself as a boy to gain entry on a ship. She’s bunked with stoic, one-eyed, Dutchman Ryk van Helden (Winspear had a thing for maiming heroes, didn’t she? Blinding them, cutting off their limbs, etc.,).

Eventually, Temple’s true identity is revealed and Ryk offers Temple a job transcribing old journals in his beautifully enchanting palace. Ryk also provides Temple with housing and a female servant.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Palace of the Peacocks by Violet Winspear”

Category Romance Review: Jinxed by Day LeClaire

Jinxed, Day Leclaire, Harlequin, 1990, cover artist to be determined

Harlequin Romance #3028

4 1/2 stars

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Day LeClaire’s Jinxed has the honor of being the third romance I read. I recall my first four romances so vividly, since they arrived free of charge in package on my doorstep when I was about 12. There were 4 Harlequin Romances: Game Plan, Arafura Pirate, Spell Of The Mountains and Jinxed. Jinxed was the best of the bunch.

The character of Stephen was the precursor of what would be my favorite type of hero: blond, blue eyed, with an icy demeanor and stuffed shirt attitude, who, because of the burdens put upon by his family, took life way too seriously, and just needed some wonderful, outrageous woman who would make him loosen up and have some excitement.

The heroine Kit was a total klutz. But she was also was intelligent, great at her job, lots of fun, and loved by her nieces and nephews. I so adored her character because I, too, was quite clumsy (who am I kidding, was??) and she was the most relatable heroine I’d come across so far.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Jinxed by Day LeClaire”

Category Romance Review: Elegant Barbarian by Catherine Spencer

Elegant Barbarian, Catherine Spencer, Harlequin, 1993, cover artist to be determined
Harlequin Presents #1682
5 stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I don’t know why I liked this nice, little Harlequin Presents so much. I guess it was just a case of reading the unexpected at the right time.

In the aptly titled Elegant Barbarian by Catherine Spencer our heroine, Laura, needs a break from it all and is vacationing at her grandmother’s beach house in Canada. Things there would be fine if it weren’t for her grumpy neighbor, a barbarian of a man who lives off the ocean shellfish, washes with pink soap, and smokes Cuban cigars.

The hero pretty much keeps to himself, but still, he and Laura clash several times. Then a cute baby seal washes ashore and the two have to care for the baby together and they bond because of it.

Despite his gruff outer shell, the hero, Jackson, seems much more of a cultured man than he initially appears.

This book would have been better suited for the Romance line rather than the Presents, as the drama is mostly based on internal hurts rather than from outside sources. Jackson spent several years in prison as he was falsely imprisoned for embezzlement and has a difficult time trusting people.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Elegant Barbarian by Catherine Spencer”

Category Romance Review: Fantasy by Emma Darcy

Fantasy, Emma Darcy , Harlequin, 1985, Len Goldberg cover art

Harlequin Presents #840

5 stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Plot

Fantasy is a great oldie by Emma Darcy. The story opens with the heroine, Eve, a fashion model, anxious to arrive home and see her fiancé. She gets the shock of her life when she catches him in bed with another man and is crushed! Despondent, Eve tries to drown herself in the ocean, but the hero is there to save her.

He also gives her a nice boost to the old self esteem to show her that, no matter what her fiancé thinks, she’s still a desirable woman. 🙂

Later again, they meet and it’s revealed that the hero is an important businessman whose company is releasing a perfume called Fantasy. He’s in charge of the ad campaign and naturally demands Eve to be the face of Fantasy. He’s in charge of a beach photo shoot where the heroine is supposed to pose erotically with a creepy male model. She keeps freezing up, so the hero comes in and takes his place. The heat is off the charts and Eve can’t deny her attraction anymore or dismiss it as just a momentary lapse into madness.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Fantasy by Emma Darcy”