Tag Archives: hero almost dies

forbidden ecstasy popp

Historical Romance Review: Forbidden Ecstasy by Janelle Taylor

book review historical romance
Forbidden Ecstasy by Janelle Taylor
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1982
Illustrator: Unknown
Imprint or Line: Zebra Historical Romance
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Colonial Era Romance, Native American Romance, Romance with Rape Element, Forced Seduction
Pages: 494
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooksOpen Library (BORROW FOR FREE)
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Forbidden Ecstasy by Janelle Taylor

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Forbidden Ecstasy (“Ecstasy/Gray Eagle Series #3″) by Janelle Taylor.

The Plot

The heroine of the first four books, Alisha Williams, and her husband, Gray Eagle, the “hero,” have been officially married for four days. They have only spent two days together, however, as Gray Eagle has left Alisha to obtain supplies.

When Gray Eagle doesn’t return to her, Alisha wonders what happened.

What she doesn’t know is that Gray Eagle was shot and left for dead by her friend, Powchutu.

There are two reasons he did this:

  1. To punish Gray Eagle for his abhorrent behavior toward Alisha
  2. Powchutu is in love/lust with Alisha.

Alisha believes Powchutu’s lies about why Gray Eagle hasn’t returned, and they set off together.

On their trip, which culminates in St. Louis, Alisha and Powchutu will meet, or meet again, four people who will play a major role in their lives. They are:

  1. Joe Kenny, a white trapper
  2. Jamie O’Hara, a lodgings owne
  3. Mary O’Hara, a mute young woman and niece to Jamie O’Hara
  4. And, sadly, Jeffery Gordon, the evil ex-Army lieutenant who somehow survived the attack on Fort Pierre.

As time goes on, Jeffery blackmails Alisha, threatening great harm to her and Powchutu if she doesn’t marry him. Alisha hedges and Powchutu is killed by Jeffery’s henchmen.

Powchutu’s death pushes Alisha into marrying Jeffery, who makes her life hell on many levels. What neither knows is that Gray Eagle survived his shooting by Powchutu.

Gray Eagle comes to kill Jeffery, finds Alisha, and takes her back to the Oglala camp, subjecting her to more emotional, mental, physical, and sexual abuse along the way.

Despite all of this, by the end of the book, Gray Eagle and Alisha reconcile, as they discover that the bad things they thought about the other were not true. They decide to continue the ruse that Alisha is Shalee, make up with each other, and are happy.

For now, anyway…

The Upside

When Janelle Taylor is at her best, she ranks with Rosanne Bittner as one of my go-to authors. Mrs. Taylor’s style is lyrical and evocative. she brings her readers and me into the lives of her characters.

I felt as though I were watching the lives of the characters instead of just reading about them. Only the best authors can make me feel like that.

The Downside

While I understand Gray Eagle’s feelings about what he believes is Alisha’s betrayal of him, that doesn’t defend/excuse/justify the abuse he inflicts on her. “This kind of derails the Gray Eagle Redemption Tour” Mrs. Taylor was on in Defiant Ecstasy.

Much of the rancor between Alisha and Gray Eagle was due to a lack of trust and communication, which they haven’t had since the beginning.

Sex

Very little and not terribly exciting. Mrs. Taylor does have a few books which have some spice to them. The first three books in the “Ecstasy/Gray Eagle” series are not among them.

Violence

There is, however, a lot of violence. Assault, battery, attempted murder, murder, and rape. None of the violence is super graphic, but it’s there.

Bottom Line on Forbidden Ecstasy

The fact that Gray Eagle is still an unrepentant bastard and the “Stockholm Syndrome romance” between Gray Eagle and Alisha keeps me from giving Janelle Taylor’s Forbidden Ecstasy a five-star rating. 

4 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
4
Characters
4.5
Writing
4.5
Chemistry
3.5
Fun Factor
3.5
Cover
4.5
Overall: 4.1

Synopsis

ALISHA was silk and satin, honey and fire. Never before did the possession of a man fill Alisha with such excitement as when she held her handsome Indian lover in her arms. That she was a white woman living in the red man’s world did not matter. They had promised each other their hearts forever – nothing could keep them apart.

GRAY EAGLE was fierce and gentle, powerful and possessive. He would never forsake his bride of two moons; he would never let her go. But when Alisha awoke to dawn’s first light her bronze-skinned warrior was gone. Her lips were tender from his fiery kisses; her body throbbed from his fierce passion – and still she longed for him. Lost between two worlds, she was desperate and alone. Betrayed by her savage lover, she hungered for their forbidden love!

Forbidden Ecstasy by Janelle Taylor
CATEGORIES: , , , , , , , , ,

***

comanche bride merrit

Historical Romance Review: Comanche Bride by Emma Merritt

comanche bride emma merritt
Comanche Bride by Emma Merritt
Rating: three-stars
Published: 1989
Illustrator: Gregg Gulbronson
Imprint or Line: Zebra Lovegram
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Native American Romance, Historical Romance, Western Romance
Pages: 472
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Comanche Bride by Emma Merritt

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Comanche Bride, a standalone January Zebra Lovegram from 1989 by Emma Merritt.

The Plot

Comanche Bride starts at an undisclosed time–later stated as sometime after the Civil War–as a caravan is making its way from Chandlerville, Texas, to Mexico on a humanitarian mission. There is a cholera epidemic in Mexico. Seven people are in the caravan: six men and Dr. Zoe Ellen Randolph, the heroine.

They won’t make it to Mexico, however. The caravan is attacked by Comanche Indians, the six men are killed, and Zoe is captured.

She is taken to a Comanche village, where two men will fight for her. One of the men is Matt Chandler, the hero of the book (Matt is half-white and half-Comanche).

Matt wins the fight, but then he has to marry and make love to Zoe to seal his victory. Matt soon discovers that marrying Zoe has an added benefit: it helps him get revenge against Weber Fielding, a man Matt has a long history of bad blood with and also is Zoe’s fiance.

Soon after their marriage in the Comanche camp, Matt takes Zoe to Candelaria, Mexico, to complete her humanitarian mission there.

A near tragedy occurs when Zoe is bitten by a snake, falls, and hits her head, suffering a concussion.

Matt later takes her back to Chandlerville, Texas–named after his family–where she recovers. While there, Matt reconciles past issues with his stepmother, Dora, and grandfather, Uriah.

We also learn why Weber wants to marry Zoe. It’s not because he loves her. When Zoe tells Weber she won’t marry him, he doesn’t take it well.

In the end, Zoe kills Weber after his henchman shoots Matt in a violent confrontation. Matt recovers from his wounds, and he and Zoe have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

When Comanche Bride was published, romance publishers were beginning to veer away from the–to use a Victorian term: ”fresh out of the schoolroom”–heroines and toward different types of female leads. Zoe is one of them. She is 29, a doctor, and very independent. Both she and Matt are developed mature characters.

Downside

There isn’t a lot of hot passion or chemistry between Zoe and Matt. Having read several of Ms. Merritt’s books, I can say with some certainty that hot passion and chemistry between leads aren’t strengths of Ms. Merritt’s writing.

Sex

Three love scenes involving Zoe and Matt. They are mildly graphic.

Violence

Abduction, assault and battery, and multiple killings take place. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line On Comanche Bride

There are things to like about Emma Merritt’s Comanche Bride. But there are also enough negatives that bring the book’s final grade down.

3 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
3
Characters
4
Writing
3
Chemistry
2.5
Fun Factor
2.5
Cover
4
Overall: 3.2

Synopsis:

SHE’D USE HIM TO ESCAPE
When stunning Dr. Zoe Randolph headed to Mexico to halt a cholera epidemic, she didn’t think twice about traversing Comanche territory… until a band of bloodthirsty savages attacked her caravan. The gorgeous physician was furious that her mission had been interrupted, but nothing compared to the rage she felt on meeting the barbaric warrior who made her his slave. Determined to return to civilization, the ivory-skinned blonde decided to make a woman’s ultimate sacrifice to gain her freedom–and never admit that deep down inside she burned to be loved by the handsome brute!

HE’D TAKE HER IN REVENGE
The virile half-breed Matt Chandler couldn’t help but admire the paleface prisoner who resisted her captors. One with such fire and spirit would surely be a lioness upon his sleeping mats. Then the Indian discovered that the wildcat was his most hated enemy’s fiancee, and he had all the more reason to ravish her. Matt planned the worst for Zoe… but when his hard-muscled body met her graceful curves, all thoughts of the past vanished, as he initiated her into love’s passionate secrets and made her his COMANCHE BRIDE.

Comanche Bride by Emma Merritt
Dangerous Obsession natasha peters

Historical Romance Review: Dangerous Obsession by Natasha Peters

Dangerous Obsession by Natasha Peters
Rating: five-stars
Published: 1978
Illustrator: Don Stivers
Book Series: Culhane Duo #2
Published by: Ace
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper
Pages: 630
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Dangerous Obsession by Natasha Peters

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

Dangerous Obsession is the sequel to Natasha Peters‘ first epic bodice ripper romance, Savage Surrender.

However, don’t feel you need to read one to be comfortable reading the other. The relationship between the two books is not revealed until midway through this 630-page epic.

The Set-Up

Like so many great bodice rippers of epic scope, Dangerous Obsession takes us through various years and continents. It spans twelve years in the life of Rhawnie, the blonde daughter of a gypsy and a Russian noblewoman.

American Seth Garrett has business to deal with in Russia. There, he will meet Rhawnie, and there begins a rocky love story that will span continents and years.

The Plot and the Characters

The Heroine, Rhawnie

Rhawnie is not a simpering, treacly-sweet girl or spunky, foot-stamping heroine. She lies for the hell of it: to strangers, to the people she loves, to herself! Rhawnie even lies on her (near) deathbed!

She is an unrepentant thief. Early on Rhawnie is caught stealing from an innkeeper and Seth, the hero, is forced to remove the purloined items hidden under her petticoats: a bottle of vodka, a wheel of cheese, a large loaf of bread, several sausages, a large knife, and a whole chicken!

When caught red-handed, she denies ever touching the stuff and accuses the innkeeper of framing her. In this, Rhawnie reminds me a bit of my daughter, [Note: she was 7 when I originally wrote this review] who lives by the motto: “Admit nothing, deny everything and make counter-accusations.”

Rhawnie is not a mere mortal. She is beautiful, a professional thief, a fortune-teller, a gambler, and card cheat, and a baroness.

Men duel and die over her. She is mistress to a king, a threat to a nobleman’s power, a world-famous singer, a saloon owner, the savior of an orphan, and a wronged woman.

Last and most of all, Rhawnie is the love object of two brothers, who are as opposite as day and night.

“You will travel far to find love, only to find that love has traveled with you.”

The Hero, Seth

The male protagonist, Seth Garrett, is a piece of work, and it took me a long time to warm up to him.

He’s no Sean Culhane or Duke Domenico, but he’s both cruel and vicious and unfeeling and cold. He wins the right to Rhawnie’s virginity in a card game but passes on the offer, as she is only 14 or 15. Her lecherous, older uncle then, in angry retaliation, beats and kicks Rhawnie while Seth just sort of stands there.

Then when her uncle rapes her a few pages later, Seth is too late to save her–even though he’s in the next room and can hear what’s going on!

He destroys any chance Rhawnie has for legitimacy in Paris society by publicly claiming her as his mistress.

And the evil Seth inflicts upon Rhawnie in Chapter 10 simply calls for a karmic justice that never occurs.

But…he does properly declare himself at the end (if that redemption/groveling arc matters to you). He gives himself completely to Rhawnie.

Seth is not perfect, but neither is Rhawnie, so together, they are perfect.

The Good and the Bad

Dangerous Obsession is written in the first person, but as Rhawnie is a great narrator, with so many wonderful quips and observations, this did not detract. There was an appropriate blend of action and introspection, but no excessive self-absorption of feeling too often found in modern romances.

However, the action does get a bit too much at the end. The book is a hefty door-stopper and Natasha Peters could have cut it 75 to 50 pages shorter.

Rhawnie and Seth embark on a search for Seth’s missing sister that takes them through the American west.

They get on TWO different boats that explode and sink into the river. Seth gets injured, and Rhawnie nurses him back to life. Rhawnie gets cholera, so Seth has to nurse her back to life (on a regiment of camphor, cannabis, and caviar, no less)!

They travel for months through the mountains and have many misadventures; she survives a great fire, gets kidnapped, gets addicted to laudanum, gets rescued…

And before you know it–whew! It’s over.

Final Analysis of Dangerous Obsession

Natasha Peters’ Dangerous Obsession was so close to perfect. It’s such a shame that, like so many bodice rippers, in the end, it falters under its own hefty weight.

Nevertheless, I’m rounding my initial 4.5-star rating up to a 5 solely on the basis of the heroine, Rhawnie, who is all kinds of awesome.

5 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
4.5
Characters
5
Writing
5
Chemistry
4.5
Fun Factor
4.5
Cover
4
Overall: 4.6

Synopsis:

She was daring and defiant; tender and wanton. She was child; she was woman. she was Rhawnie.

From a starving gypsy in Russia to an exotic demi-mondaine in Paris to a countess in Bavaria to a sensation in New York from a survivor in the western wilderness to a card shark in San Francisco — such were the heights and depths of existence for Rhawnie.

Her wit, her cunning, her beauty, the sensuous delights she performs to well protect her even as they cause her agony and shame. For deep in her soul is a love for a man, a man who has brought her only degradation and heartbreak.

Wherever she goes, whatever she does, Rhawnie cannot escape Seth Garrett. The constant ache for his arms, the ever present need for the fires of passion he alone can ignite, and his relentless pursuit of her have made her his prisoner. Across continents fleeing danger and death, Rhawnie runs…from this man…from herself…until she knows that with a love so powerful, a love so shameless, she can do nothing but surrender!

DANGEROUS OBSESSION by NATASHA PETERS
midnight fires carol finch

Historical Romance Review: Midnight Fires by Carol Finch

book review historical romance
Midnight Fires by Carol Finch
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1984
Illustrator: Walter Popp
Imprint or Line: Zebra Historical Romance
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Pirate Romance
Pages: 491
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Midnight Fires by Carol Finch

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Midnight Fires by Carol Finch.

The Plot

Part One of Midnight Fires

Midnight Fires begins in a tavern in Bristol, England, circa 1812. Among the citizens, there is Glenna Lombard. Glenna is the sister of Norina Shaw, wife of Lord Edwin Shaw, whom Glenna wanted to marry. As a result, Glenna feels a deep hatred for her sister, who is far more well-off than she is.

We later meet Danielle Shaw, the heroine and one of Norina and Edwin’s children. They also have a son, David. Edwin is pushing Danielle to marry Thomas Seward, the son of one of his business associates. When Thomas tries to take too many liberties with Danielle, she rejects and embarrasses him publicly.

Humiliated by her rejection, Thomas conspires with Glenna and an evil pirate, Colby Morgan, to kidnap Danielle.

Danielle is rescued from Morgan’s ship by Travis Radbourne, an American sea captain, who has his own reasons for wanting to get revenge on Morgan.

Travis has many dilemmas with Danielle, not the least of which is that he can’t take her back to England as they are at war with the U.S. As they spend time together, Danielle and Travis become attracted to each other.

In an attempt to end the attraction, Travis takes Danielle to his tobacco plantation in North Carolina and enrolls her in boarding school. There is a considerable age difference between the pair. Danielle is much younger at 16 than Travis’s 31 years.

These efforts fail to end their attraction for each other. Soon after, Danielle and Travis become lovers.

After their intimacy, Travis leaves, partially out of guilt and partially because of the differences in their ages.

Part Two of Midnight Fires

He continues to fight the British and ends up wounded in one fight. Danielle then nurses him back to health.

While Travis was away, Danielle became engaged to Blair Ramsey, a son of a North Carolina banker. Travis makes it clear he disapproves of Blair–his dislike is justified–and eventually succeeds in breaking up their engagement and marrying Danielle himself.

While in America, Danielle makes some enemies, and those enemies try to do Danielle harm. They don’t succeed. When the war ends, Travis plans to take Danielle back to England to her family.

A lot has changed in the four years she’s been away. Glenna has ensconced her daughter, Annice, into the good graces of the Shaws’. Annice is married to Thomas. Glenna’s financial situation has improved.

And no one knows about her evil scheme. Or so she thinks.

Glenna’s house of cards begins to fall when Danielle and Travis show up in London, followed by Morgan, who survived the destruction of his ship and is now out for revenge against Glenna and Danielle.

Morgan assaults Glenna, kidnaps Danielle, and shoots Travis.

Travis is nursed back to health by Seward, who takes him to the Shaw estate. Seward confesses his part in Danielle’s earlier kidnapping, and Edwin and Travis cross swords on many subjects, among them: the fact that Travis is an American, and his wish to take Danielle back to America rather than live in England.

Travis is able to rescue Danielle from Morgan’s clutches, killing Morgan in the process. He also wins over Edwin–grudgingly–and Danielle and Travis have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

Danielle and Travis are strong characters and they are well-matched, both strong, passionate people who occasionally cut each other to ribbons verbally, but also eventually realize they love each other.

Downside

Like so many 1980s romance novels, Midnight Fires is based on the trope of assuming facts not in evidence. Characters ruminate incessantly over what they think the other person is thinking and feeling, as opposed to knowing. All of this could have been avoided had Danielle and Travis actually TALKED WITH EACH OTHER!

Of course, had that happened, this book and probably hundreds of other books in the romance genre would not exist.

Sex

There are far more love scenes in Midnight Fires than there are typically in Ms. Finch’s books.

However, one thing remains: enough purple prose to make Minnesota’s sports teams proud.

Violence

Assault, battery, stabbings, shootings, and killings appear in the book. None of the violence is graphic.

Bottom Line On Midnight Fires

Midnight Fires is a typical Carol Finch book. It’s very good but lacks the dynamic qualities to make it great.

Rating Report Card
Plot
3.5
Characters
3.5
Writing
4
Chemistry
3.5
Fun Factor
4
Cover
4
Overall: 3.8

Synopsis:

Abducted from her beloved England, trapped aboard a pirate ship, and rescued by a handsome American captain, beautiful Danielle Shaw had had her fill of adventure! She should have been terrified when Captain Travis Radbourne informed her they were now in the midst of a war, but all she could think of was the way his tight black breeches clung to his muscled thighs and the way she would love to cling to his strong, broad chest…

When Travis saw the treasure he had pulled from the sea, he was stunned. From Dani’s wide emerald eyes to her smooth alabaster skin and silky golden tresses, she was alluring, enticing, and altogether irresistible. He longed to taste her full, red lips, caress her satiny curves, lose himself in her sweet, seductive embrace, and take her on a passionate journey to a summit ablaze with MIDNIGHT FIRES.

Midnight Fires by Carol Finch

Historical Romance Review: The Silver Link by Patricia Potter

Synopsis:

Why would her heart not listen to reason?

Antonia Ramirez knew that the tall, blond American was not to be trusted. Hadn’t it been American soldiers who had killed her mother and left her father a cripple? Yet Tristan Hampton had awakened something deep inside her that would not be denied.

Since the moment he’d first laid eyes on Antonia, Tris Hampton had been lost. He was haunted by her dark beauty. She made him feel he’d finally found the completeness he’d spent a lifetime searching for. But her father clearly hated him, and someone wanted to see him dead. Of Antonia’s love, he was certain. The question of her loyalty was still to be answered.

THE SILVER LINK by PATRICIA POTTER

SPOILER FREE REVIEW 😊

The Book

Patricia Potter creates a wonderful Latina heroine in Antonia Ramirez in her Harlequin Historical The Silver Link. She falls in love with the Anglo-American Tristan Hampton. The two are from different worlds. Despite the great risks in front of them, they are united by a love stronger than any bond. As such, they share a link that never can be severed.

The Plot

Tristan Hampton is a military man from Virginia. He is on a mission to oversee Albuquerque’s stable transition from Mexican rule to American governance.

Antonia Ramirez is a beauty he must have. She is descended from noble, land-owning Spanish lineage. Her New Mexican roots go back generations. Her family–and more importantly her would-be husband, Ramon–are hostile to Tris, the Yanqui soldier.

When Antonia and Tristan first meet, it’s instant love. There will be many obstacles ahead before they can be together if that happens.

This was one of the first Harlequin Historicals I read. The Silver Link was a sweeping epic of two people from different societies. I enjoyed how Tris and Tonia would always find times to meet in secret. They would return to their mesa time again to share their passion.

Forbidden love is at its best here.

Here is a word of warning for those who dislike violence. The Silver Link is also quite gruesome and bloody. Tristan is shot, beaten, and has to save Antonia numerous times from attempted rape.

latina heroine
French Edition of The Silver Link

The Silver Link by Patricia Potter is packed with thrilling action. It’s also an outstanding love story.

Antonia is a rare Latina heroine, for the time. Her proud and resilient nature made her stand out. Tristan is an equally strong American hero. The Mexican-American War era is an intriguing period of transition and is a remarkable setting. Overall, it’s a hard book to forget.

4 Stars

Rebel Vixen

Historical Romance Review: Rebel Vixen by Dana Ransom

historical romance review
Rebel Vixen by Dana Ransom
Rating: five-stars
Published: 1987
Illustrator: TBD
Imprint or Line: Zebra Heartfire
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Civil War Romance, Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper
Pages: 445
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Rebel Vixen by Dana Ransom

MILD SPOILERS 😉

Love & Betrayal

The Beginning: Love

Rebel Vixen commences by diving right into the story.

As the Civil War rages throughout the United States, 21-year-old Savannah Russell is on a ship in the Caribbean bringing food and medical supplies to her Southern brethren when she spots a body floating in the water. She urges the sailors to bring him aboard.

However, when they see the man’s Union buckle on his uniform, everyone but Savannah wants to throw the enemy back into the sea. Savannah is defiant and swears to help save the Yankee sailor, despite what anyone says, including her Uncle, who’s in charge.

Savannah takes the officer on land and brings him to an inn. With a doctor’s aid, she helps him recover, saving his injured arm from amputation. She is instantly attracted to the blond-haired Lt. Commander named Skyler Reade. He, in turn, falls madly for the woman who saved his life.

Upon a tropical beach, Savannah and Skyler exchange their words of love, promising to be together forever.

The Beginning: Betrayal

As they begin to make love, an explosion shatters the silence. In horror, Savannah realizes that the Union army has taken her Uncle’s ship. Skyler tells her that the ship was loaded with weapons and ammunition, not medicine and supplies, and as a Union soldier, he had a responsibility to report it.

He vows his love for Savannah, as she sees that every man on board, including her uncle, is now a prisoner of war. In a rage, Savannah strikes at Skyler, reinjuring his arm, and flees away in horror, declaring her eternal hatred.

The Book: Rebel Vixen

Thus begins one of my all-time favorite romance novels, Rebel Vixen by Dana Ransom (aka Nancy Gideon).

Yes, it’s a cheesy-looking Zebra Heartfire, with a bosomy-clinch cover and cornball title. It must be read to be fully appreciated.

The scope is grand, spanning years across the American North and South, with war, death, love, and birth. This “bodice-ripper lite” was so well written and emotional that it made me cry tears of sadness and joy.

Seriously, Rebel Vixen is one of the best books I’ve read.

Not surprising, as Dana Ransom’s Zebras are almost all among my favorites, along with the great Deana James and, to a lesser extent, Penelope Neri.

The Plot: The American Civil War

Savannah

Savannah is the oldest daughter of three children. Her father was a casualty of war, her brother is off fighting, and now with her uncle imprisoned, she finds herself burdened as the head of the family with an enormity of responsibilities on her shoulders.

Unconventionally beautiful, she has no time for gaiety as the war rages on, destroying everything she ever knew. Saving Skyler was instinctive, as she deeply values human life. She has the weight of the world upon her, and despite her recalcitrance, Skyler is her one bright spot in the darkness.

Skyler

A Man Without Purpose

Skyler Reade has no real purpose in life, bouncing aimlessly along from adventure to adventure. As the middle son of an upper-crust Philadelphia family, he’s sort of flitting along in life when the war starts.

His father is a respected doctor, his older brother is settled down with a family and fighting for the Union, and even Skyler’s wayward younger brother seems to be following in the family’s footsteps of pursuing a medical degree.

Skyler has a “girlfriend” at home, not someone he feels serious about–although she absolutely does about him–who encourages him to pursue politics. To be a politician, he’ll have to have some military experience. But as Skyler was not keen on fighting a war he cared nothing about, he entered the Navy because he thought he’d see little battle action at sea.

A Genuinely Nice Guy

Although Skyler is a drifter suffering from middle child syndrome, he seeks to be virtuous. The main characteristic I adore about Skyler is that he is a nice guy. A decent, caring, empathetic human being.

Yes, he is a bit domineering at times, but if 19th-century women weren’t 3rd wave feminists, you damn sure can’t expect the men to have been. He is relentless in his pursuit of Savannah, vowing to make her love him once again. Most times, he’s generous and kind. Even so, other times, he can be demanding.

However, spoiler warning here: there is one bodice ripper-type scene.

A “forced seduction” occurs after Savannah taunts Skyler and tells him of her many lovers–a lie–for which he is instantly regretful and never repeats.

Skyler is genuinely kind to Savannah despite her shrewishness. He pursues Savannah across the North and South, confident that there is nothing that could ever shatter their love.

Then again, maybe there is.

A Sensitive Subject Matter

As this Rebel Vixen is set during the US Civil War, slavery is a large part of the plot. I can understand that the sensitivity on this topic repels a lot of modern romance readers from this era. However, there’s no sugar-coating it. Savannah’s family owns plantations, and as such, they own slaves.

As far as Savannah’s views on slavery, like the war, it’s complicated. Ever since she was a child, Savannah’s father has allowed one slave to be freed at her request on her birthday. Although Savannah herself questions the righteousness of slavery, she will not betray her family, her state, and “The Cause.”

On the other hand, Skyler is aghast at the practice. He finds purpose in life through two motivations: to reobtain Savannah’s love and trust and fight for his nation until slavery is eliminated.

I adore the conclusion of this book as it’s reminiscent of the end of John Jakes’ mini-series North and South Part I and the scene with Lesley Anne Downs and Patrick Swayze. It always makes me chuckle. What the hell, that series was so good, so it’s ok with me that Ransom borrowed a bit from that ending.

“Why me? Why would you want me?” she asked in bewildered frustration.

“You–you make everything else so unimportant… I’ve never had much direction in my life, nothing I wanted to devote myself to until you held my hand and sat with me when I prayed I would die. Just wanting to hear your voice made me fight to get through the hell of each day. I loved you before I even saw your face.”

Final Analysis of Rebel Vixen

Rebel Vixen is a book I go back and enjoy every few years. For me, it’s an old friend with reliable characters who go through tragic circumstances but come out of it united and secure in their love for each other.

I truly hope author Dana Ransom (aka Nancy Gideon) regains her rights to this book from Kensington and is able to republish it in digital format. It would be a shame for this romance to remain a hidden gem, for only lovers of old paperbacks to discover.

If you’re in the mood for an old-skool romance read that skirts with being un-PC but doesn’t have an over-the-top-Alpha hero you’d want to hit in the head with a frying pan, I can’t recommend a better read than Rebel Vixen.

5 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
5
Characters
5
Writing
5
Chemistry
5
Fun Factor
5
Cover
4.5
Overall: 4.9

Synopsis:

TENDER INNOCENCE
When Savannah Russell spotted the lone survivor drifting among the shipwreck’s debris, nothing could have stopped her from rescuing him. Not even that she was sailing on a Confederate blockade runner while he wore the uniform of the Union Navy. As a spirited Southerner, she hated to help the enemy, but as a woman she could not let him die. So she nursed him herself, rejoicing as pain left his startling gray eyes and strength returned to his lean, muscular body. And before she had time to guard against the unwanted desire his gentle touch aroused in her, she had given her enemy more than her compassion …. she had given him her heart.

WANTON PASSION
Skyler Reade felt more than gratitude for the raven-haired rebel who’d saved his life. Her courage had earned his boundless admiration; her beauty had sparked his limitless desire. She’d risked everything to help him and he knew that staying with her would only endanger them both. Still, he had to taste the beckoning sweetness of her lips, had to caress the ivory smoothness of her skin before he could leave her. Someday he would return to build a future with his seductive Savannah, but for tonight he could only give her the warmth of his embrace and the promise that she would always be his treasured, tantalizing REBEL VIXEN.

REBEL VIXEN by DANA RANSOM
stranger in my arms george jones

Historical Romance Review: Stranger in My Arms by Louisa Rawlings

historical romance review
Stranger In My Arms by Louisa Rawlings
Rating: five-stars
Published: 1991
Illustrator: George H. Jones
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Historical #90
Book Series: Moncalvo Brothers #1
Published by: Harlequin
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper
Pages: 300
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Stranger in My Arms by Louisa Rawlings

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

There are older romances I enjoy out of pure nostalgia. I know they’re not perfect. Nevertheless, I like them. Stranger in My Arms by Louisa Rawlings is one of the rare flawless gems that gets better with every reread.

This romance set in France first caught my attention over thirty years ago. I love it as much today as I did back then.

Stranger In My Arms even earned the treasured seal of approval from Kathe Robin, the legendary book reviewer and editor of the now defunct Romantic Times Magazine.

Stranger in My Arms: My Favorite Historical Romance

A Harlequin Historical published in 1991, this book is 300 pages of tiny type-face, and there’s no room for it to lag.

Every character, no matter how minor–be he an innkeeper doting on guests; an avaricious villain intent upon deception; a mute orphaned boy; a mercury-addicted nobleman mourning the deaths and losses caused by the French Revolution; or a jealous camp-follower–every individual in this novel is imbued with vivid sense of realism and depth.

Stranger in My Arms is sublime perfection, from its whimsical opening:

If Charmiane de Viollet remembered the Reign of Terror at all, it was as a vision of Aunt Sophie running about shrieking, her fleshy bosoms popping from her bodice as she snatched wildly at the canary that had escaped its cage.

The rest of the story had been recited to Charmiane so often that it had assumed its own reality: the desperate flight from their townhouse in Paris—the carriage loaded with silver and luggage and oddments of furniture—the mad race for the Swiss border, the mobs and the looted carriage, Papa’s final fatal stroke. Very dramatic, very graphic, especially as Uncle Eugene told it, but strangely unengaging.

For Charmiane, the single emotion connected with that event would always be levity—the remembrance of those pink mounds bouncing absurdly against Sophie’s stays in delicious counterpoint to her squeaks and wails.

The Characters

Charmiane de Viollet is a 22-year-old widow from Switzerland who is returning to Paris with her exiled relatives. She never witnessed the horrors of the French Terror. Although her late husband was an abusive beast, she still displays the optimism of youth.

Her loyalty becomes torn between her devotion to her Ancien Regime family and her love for a parvenu upstart.

At times, she is an imperfect heroine, too trusting and too impetuous, but also generous, refined, and filled with joy.

Adam-Francois Bouchard, Baron Moncalvo, a Colonel–then eventually–a General) in Napoleon’s Grand Army, is the kind of hero I adore He’s blond, masculine, and handsome (but not pretty), a soldier, gruff, awkward with women, a bad dancer, loyal to his country, and a man of unrelenting honor.

I don’t usually like soft heroes and can tolerate “jerkiness” to a fairly extreme degree. However, it is the imperfect, all-too-human heroes who captivate me the most.

Then there is Adam’s twin brother, Noel-Victor, a mere corporal in the cavalry and a charming rake. But, while his looks match his twin’s, they are two different souls: one is filled with light and laughter, the other with darkness and dread.

The Plot

The first three chapters deal with Adam’s and Noel’s first meeting with Charmiane. The magical enchantment that follows at a ball attended by Napoleon himself is the stuff of dreams.

Charmiane’s eyes shine in devotion to her dashing hero, and they dance the hours away and later bask in the romantic afterglow of that one perfect night…

If you don’t fall in love with Charmiane and Adam within these first chapters, then this may not be the book for you. As I am a sentimental sap, I weep every single time I read this book.

Adam and Charmiane’s love story unfolds against the backdrop of Napoleon’s France. They struggle to be together as family, politics, war, and personal vendettas take over their lives.

All the Tropes I Adore in Romance

Stranger In My Arms is an exquisite treasure of a novel is filled with sensitive writing, passion, sadness, and love. And so much more.

The love letters: While Adam is off fighting, he writes to his cherished Charmiane, referring to her as his “Dear Helen.” In these correspondences, the yearning he feels for their long-distant love is palpable, as well as his disillusionment and horror in what seems a meaningless war.

There is the brother vs. brother trope, fighting each other for a woman’s love. I admit to a bit of hypocrisy in my reading. I hate love triangles involving the hero and two women, especially when siblings are involved. But the heroine who is torn between two brothers trope, when done well, then that’s one I can appreciate.

And if it’s between twin brothers, even more so. Here, this plot point is executed perfectly, for what we see is not always true.

There are even bodice ripper elements, so be warned if you’re not expecting that in a Harlequin Historical.

The Love Story

Adam is a leader of men, stoic and brave…

Yet, he is so filled with pain that even he is brought to tears. This man has reason to cry. Adam has no mommy issues, nor a woman who hurt him in the past.

There is no other woman, period. Only Charmiane.

What torments him is the awfulness of war: the meaningless deaths of his compatriots; the frozen and rotting flesh of his fellow soldiers’ corpses in the Russian snow; the depths of depravity; and the loss of his humanity that overwhelms him. He weeps for the loss of his soul.

Only Charmiane can bring it back to him.

My Opinion

As said, unlike many of my nostalgia loves, this book gets better with each reading. Every time I find something new to appreciate.

Most of my favorite historical romances are not set in the all-too-common Georgian-Regency-Victorian era of England. Rather they take place in during the Medieval Era or Renaissance. Or they are set in other times in nations like Spain, France, Russia, or the United States.

I enjoy Civil War romances in the American South and Napoleonic Era romances based in France with French protagonists. Those stories are so rare, and when they’re good, they’re excellent.

I suppose my tastes are an anomaly in this genre, and that’s why I read mostly older works.

Louisa Rawlings’ Stranger in My Arms is, for me, the culmination of a romance novel. I have never read one that I enjoyed more on a deep, emotional level.

Both the hero and heroine change and grow as they suffer and cope with loss. Adam and Charmiane learn to adapt to the new world around them and, in doing so, learn to love each other anew.

This isn’t an easy love; it’s a larger-than-life love set in the epic time of the great Napoleon Bonaparte, a man who could lead his men to the ends of the earth, despite his hubris and tragic downfall.

Final Analysis of Stranger in My Arms

Louisa Rawlings wrote a few books, and each one that I have read so far is wonderful. Stolen Spring is another of her fantastic books that I’ve reviewed. Ms. Rawlings, aka Ena Halliday, aka Sylvia Halliday, please write more! Your talents should be more widely known and revered!

There is a sequel to Stranger in My Arms, Wicked Stranger. While not as thrilling and emotional, it still features a great hero, the flip side to Adam’s melancholy and reserve.

Although Stranger in My Arms is 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.

I adore Adam and Charmiane’s beautiful affirmation of love:

He lifted his head and at last grinned down at her. “Now,” he said, “who am I?”

“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 is breathtaking.

Rating Report Card
Plot
5
Characters
5
Writing
5
Chemistry
5
Fun Factor
5
Cover
5
Overall: 5

Synopsis:

A SPLENDID PASSION …

He was every girl’s romantic dream: the handsome, brooding hero that Charmiane de Viollet had longed for, the man who would sweep her away from the endless tedium of life among the impoverished aristocrats who had lost their fortunes in the shadow of the guillotine. He was Adam Bouchard, Baron Montcalvo, a colonel in the cavalry, a favorite of Emperor Napoleon’s. In one reckless night of passion, Charmiane gave herself to him, body and soul.

But morning’s harsh light can dull even the brightest dream. When the night was over, would Charmiane wake to find …

a stranger in MY arms by LOUISA RAWLINGS
Sweet Savage love

Historical Romance Review: Sweet Savage Love by Rosemary Rogers

historical romance review
Sweet Savage Love by Rosemary Rogers
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1974
Illustrator: Unknown, H. Tom Hall
Book Series: Ginny & Steve #1, Morgan & Challenger Saga #1
Published by: Avon
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Western Romance
Pages: 636
Format: Paperback, eBook
Buy on: Amazon
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Sweet Savage Love by Rosemary Rogers

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

Sweet Savage Love, The (Other) Mother of Romance

Where to begin with this review? Sweet Savage Love by the great Rosemary Rogers is–along with Kathleen E. WoodiwissThe Flame and the Flower–the blockbuster historical that launched a new genre: the modern romance novel.

Published by Avon in 1974, this 700+ page doorstopper was a monumental game-changer in an era of social transformation. Sweet Savage Love showed readers that “good” women could have passionate sex with a hero outside of marriage and also have passionate sex with men other than the hero.

Of course, the hero was laying pipe across the United States and Mexico, the primary setting for Sweet Savage Love.

This is a true bodice ripper, featuring rape, forced seduction, abduction, cheating, adultery, multiple sex partners, a dominant, magnetic hero, and a heroine who stomps her feet in anger while her eyes flash in defiance.

sweet-savage-love-hall
Sweet Savage Love, Alternative Cover version, Avon, Tom Hall cover art

The Hero & The Heroine

Our heroine Virginia “Ginny” Brandon, is the half-French, half-American convent-raised daughter of a US Senator. She has fiery copper hair and flashing, slanted green eyes.

Ginny loves to dance like a gypsy, kicking her legs up in the air, her skirts swirling around her. You will hear this repeated constantly throughout the book.

Steve Morgan is this romance’s–ahem–hero. He is a darkly-tanned former Union soldier with deep blue eyes and black hair.

Rogers modeled him after Clint Eastwood, among others. I also got a Gregory Peck vibe from “Duel In the Sun” about Steve.

Imagine the most macho, virile man you possibly can. Picture ovulating women throwing themselves at his feet while low-T males shrink in self-awareness as that super-male confidently swaggers by.

That imaginary ideal isn’t fit to be a pimple sprouting hair on Steve Morgan’s muscular chest.

Steve is a soldier, a spy, a cowboy, and a Comanche ally. He’s a wealthy ranchero of mixed American and Spanish-Mexican descent. He is muy hombre, as we shall see.

Sweet Savage Love, Alternate Version, Troubador

The Epic Plot

Steve the Stud Meets Ginny the Dancing Gypsy

The lovely Virginia Brandon returns to the United States from France, where she had been raised in a convent. Her widowed father has remarried a gorgeous woman young woman. Much, much younger.

Ginny’s stepmother, Sonya, is quite familiar with Steve “The Stud” Morgan. They shared a passionate night together, where Steve practically raped her. Of course, Sonya enjoyed his illicit forced seduction. There are few women who haven’t fallen prey to Steve’s animal magnetism.

A scandal ensues from Sonya and Steve’s dalliance and Steve finds himself potentially facing the death penalty. He agrees to act as a spy in exchange for his life. It’s suspected that Senator Brandon is up to traitorous acts.

Senator Brandon has interests in Mexico, particularly with the controlling government of Emperor Maximillian. Steve–who is against the French–is charged with accompanying the Brandons across the country. He plans to draw them into a trap with the help of some Bandidos. The plot takes off from here.

Steve kidnaps Ginny, and though she fights him like a hellion, she–like all women with a pulse–falls for his ultra studliness. Circumstances find Ginny and Steve caught in a compromising situation and they are forced to marry.

But do you think marriage will stop Esteban Alvarado (Steve’s Spanish name) from being el tigere that he is? No way. He’s kissing broads in front of his new wife and banging other women on the side.

sweet savage love bodice ripper
Sweet Savage Love, Alternate Version, Troubador

Two Strong-Willed, Beautiful Idiots

The best part of the story is when Ginny and Steve are trekking through the Western wilderness. But Rogers doesn’t like her characters being happy. She throws everything imaginable at them.

The action takes us to Mexico, where Ginny and Steve are separated multiple times. There are lies, deceptions, and double-crosses. Mexican soldiers violate Ginny. A deranged doctor tortures Steve…and then some!

Ginny believes Steve is dead, so she becomes the willing mistress of a young señor.

When she finds out Steve is alive, she goes in search of him. Steve believes Ginny betrayed him, so he despises her, even as he lusts after her ravishing body. Lack of communication and big misunderstandings rule the day.

Oh, will these crazy kids just get over themselves and stay together forever?

My Opinion

Hablo Espanole?

One thing I recall about Sweet Savage Love is that much of the Spanish written was almost gibberish. This was a common occurrence in a lot of 1970s and 1980s romances, be they Harlequin Presents or bodice rippers. Rosemary Rogers’ good friend Shirlee Busbee had that same issue in her book While Passion Sleeps.

Spanish is, I think, the third most common language on Earth. It should have been easy for a former secretary like Rogers to get an English-to-Spanish dictionary and copy down a few words.

Ah, well, that’s a minor gripe.

rosemary rogers bodice ripper

Fast and Furious

The book is divided into sections and begins with a long prologue. It’s a hefty brick of a novel with words in tiny font. Thankfully, Rogers’ prose isn’t as purple and verbose as Woodiwiss’, so the pace is fast.

Still, Rogers has a penchant for repeating descriptions. Mentions of Ginny’s coppery hair and slanted green eyes and Steve’s lean, muscular figure seemed to be on every page. It got tedious.

Once the book got rolling, Sweet Savage Love was a gripping read. Rogers threw so much trauma at her characters; sometimes, I didn’t want to look!

This novel is not for the squeamish, sensitive reader. I first read this at 13, which I think was too young to truly appreciate the grand scope of this tawdry bodice ripper. Sweet Savage Love scared me. I couldn’t conceive heroes and heroines could act the way Ginny and Steve did.

It wasn’t until well into my twenties that I could handle that kind of behavior because my perspectives on romance novels had expanded to be open to new experiences.

sweet savage love rosemary rogers
Sweet Savage Love, Harlequin, 2014

Final Analysis of Sweet Savage Love

Sweet Savage Love is a seminal piece of fiction, a lusty saga all lovers of old-school romance should read.

I wouldn’t rank it the most incredible bodice ripper ever, however. Christine Monson’s Stormfire, Teresa Denys’ The Flesh and the Devil and The Silver Devil, and Anita Mills’ Lady of Fire are better written and engaging.

In my opinion, Rogers’ Wicked Loving Lies is her best book, with more sensitive characterization and deeper themes. It was just more fun than Sweet Savage Love.

The protagonists were wishy-washy and emotional, despite being adults. (At least Steve was a full-grown adult. I think Ginny was 16 or 17 in the beginning.) Steve was a slut. Ginny was a Mary Sue, too beautiful and desirable.

The immature duo couldn’t decide if they wanted to be together or not. The only thing these two could agree on was that they liked banging.

Even so, I enjoyed this overall. Ginny and Steve were larger-than-life people in a story that was larger-than-life.

Sweet Savage Love is an experience you won’t want to miss. It’s a thrilling co-progenitor of the modern romance genre.

I’d rate this bodice ripper between 4 and 4.5 stars. Although it’s not without flaws, I’d say it does merit a high mark.

4.24 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
4
Characters
4
Writing
4.5
Chemistry
4.5
Fun Factor
4.5
Cover
3.5
Overall: 4.2

Synopsis:

A tale of human emotion that lays bare the heights and depths of love, passion and desire in old and new worlds…as we follow Virginia Brandon, beautiful, impudent and innocent, from the glittering ballrooms of Paris to the sensuality of life in New Orleans to the splendor of intrigue-filled Mexico.

A tale of unending passion, never to be forgotten…the story of Virginia’s love for Steven Morgan, a love so powerful that she will risk anything for him…even her life.

SWEET SAVAGE LOVE by ROSEMARY ROGERS
speak only love deana james

Historical Romance Review: Speak Only Love by Deana James

historical romance review
Speak Only Love by Deana James
Rating: three-half-stars
Published: 1991
Illustrator: Unknown
Imprint or Line: Zebra Historical Romance
Book Series: Regency Duo #1
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Regency Era Romance
Pages: 448
Format: Paperback
Buy on: Amazon
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Speak Only Love by Deana James

The Book

Speak Only Love is yet another Deana James treat. This Zebra romance takes us to Regency Era England and the story of tumultuous love between two uniquely original characters.

The Characters and Plot

Vivian Marleigh is a mute heiress who cannot speak ever since she witnessed the tragic death of her mother. She is forced into marriage with a young, hard-drinking viscount, Piers Larne. The marriage was arranged by the viscounts’ wicked father, the Earl.

Piers is not happy about this union, but what can he do? He feels powerless in his life, with no agency. His daddy pulls the strings, and like a puppet, Piers must dance to his control.

Piers is a dissolute mess, spending most of his time drinking and recovering from gunshot wounds or the many injuries he receives. For besides being the wastrel son of a nobleman, our hero is also a smuggler.

Vivian doesn’t speak a word in the book, yet the love story unfolds and the two pawns in an evil man’s game soon form an intense bond that goes beyond words.

The heroines in James’ book always have a delicate sense of strength, a fortitude that makes them mightier than the hero in many ways. Vivian is no different, her persona grows into one with a powerful voice, even though she cannot physically speak.

speak only love deana james
Speak Only Love, Deana James, Zebra, cover artist unknown

Another Great Romance by Deana James

Though at first both parties in Speak Only Love are wary of each other, neither of them wanting to be part of this unlikely union, slowly they begin to understand one another. Without words, together Piers and Vivian form an unexpected bond.

They face many harrowing experiences, as Piers’ smuggling activities catch up with him. Vivian, who doesn’t have a physical voice, is an amazing, resilient character. With her abiding strength, Piers can face whatever challenges lie ahead.

Final Analysis of Speak Only Love

Speak Only Love might not be Deana James’ best novel I’ve read so far, but it certainly was a compelling read. I do prefer Deana James’ western and medieval romances to her Regency & Victorian Era novels. Even so, she has yet to disappoint me in any of her books.

I really appreciated the way James wrote her heroines. They go through hell and back but always retain their dignity. Good stuff.

3.62


Synopsis

the perfect couple

Category Romance: The Perfect Couple by Maura Seger

maura seger category romance
The Perfect Couple by Maura Seger
Rating: two-stars
Published: 1997
Illustrator: Unknown
Imprint or Line: Silhouette Intimate Moments #775
Published by: Silhouette
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 250
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance: The Perfect Couple by Maura Seger

SPOILER FREE REVIEW 😊

The Book

The Perfect Couple by Maura Seger, a Silhouette Intimate Moments series romance, was perfectly… boring. The setup was in this category romance was actually great. Where it faltered was in the execution.

The Plot

Shane and Brenna have been together as a supposedly perfect couple for some time now. But they are two disparate people with distinct wants and needs.

The story flips back through different times in Shane and Brenna’s relationship, the memorable points, the highs, and the lows.

However, the love story was treacly-sweet. If I liked that sort of white-bread perfection, I’d read Nicholas Sparks, the gag-master extraordinaire.

Despite their shared passion, Shane and Brenna’s intrinsic differences threaten their love. Brenna is a down-to-earth type who likes her life carefully planned out. She wants a long-term relationship but no children. Meanwhile, Shane lives on the edge and wants a family.

Then tragedy strikes when Shane’s plane crashes in the snowy mountains. He is presumed dead.

Brenna hopes for the best and looks back on their time together, wondering if they were too dissimilar to be together or if love is enough to overcome all their obstacles, even death.

Shane does his valiant best to get back to Brenna before dying. Even if he’s on death’s doorstep, he vows to see her one more time.

Wil Shane make it back to Brenna? And if he does, can they make it as a less-than-perfect couple?

Final Analysis of The Perfect Couple

Maura Seger attempted to create something unique with The Perfect Couple. This was a tale of a couple in two different and parallel stages of their relationship.

But the problems keeping them apart were mundane. There was never any doubt that Shane would make it back to Brenna.

In the end, you know that they would make compromises to make their union last. The Perfect Couple was an okay Silhouette romance, but nothing exceptional.

2 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
3
Characters
2.5
Writing
2.5
Chemistry
2.5
Fun Factor
1.5
Cover
3.5
Overall: 2.6

Synopsis

Will they ever have a chance to say “I love you”?

THEIR FUTURE HANGS IN THE BALANCE….First the argument ripped Shane Dutton and Brenna O’Hare apart. Now a plane crash has stranded Shane in the Alaskan wilderness. Miles apart, all they can do is wait. And hope. And remember…

THEIR PAST IS ALL THEY HAVE…Shane wanted children—Brenna didn’t. Brenna wanted a man who never took risks—Shane did. But they also wanted each other—so badly that their differences hadn’t mattered. Not at first…Reflecting on what went wrong—and right—Shane and Brenna reach the same conclusion. But will they ever get the chance to say “I love you”?

THE PERFECT COUPLE by MAURA SEGER
stormfire pino

Historical Romance Review: Stormfire by Christine Monson

historical romance review
Stormfire by Christine Monson
Rating: five-stars
Published: 1984
Illustrator: Pino
Published by: Avon
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Napoleonic Era Romance, Regency Era Romance
Pages: 568
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Stormfire by Christine Monson

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

So, after a couple of decades of reading romance, in the early 2010s, I finally got around to Stormfire by the late Christine Monson.

Whew! They do not write them like this anymore. The ultimate in bodice-ripping, Stormfire, is a tale of two mentally unstable people and their violent, intense love. And it’s great!

The Most Controversial Bodice Ripper Ever?

The main attraction of Stormfire is its writing. If it were a poorly authored book, no one would still be talking about it 30-plus years after it was published.

The chapters each have titles such as “Silken Irons,” “Into Eden,” or “The Nadir.”

When Lady Catherine Elderly meets her captor, Sean Culhane, her first thoughts are of Milton’s poetry: 

“His form had not yet lost

All his original brightness, nor appeared

Less than Archangel ruined…” 

PARADISE LOST, JOHN MILTON

The prose is evocative and compelling, but not purple. We agonize over Catherine’s enslavement; we feel the angry passion between the lovers; we grieve Catherine’s loss and suffer from Sean’s torture.

How much misery can two people take?

There is an intense love/hate dynamic between the main characters that is the stuff of legends.

I wish writers of historical romances today wrote like this. Not necessarily the same plot lines, but with action and intensity that doesn’t delve into vulgarity.

To be honest, I wasn’t comfortable with a lot of things in the book. Regardless, Stormfire is enthralling. Even those who hate this book can’t say it’s boring.

The Plot

Sean Culhane kidnaps Catherine, the daughter of a British lord, seeking vengeance for wrongs committed against his people.

He keeps Catherine captive in his estate in Ireland, where he doesn’t hesitate to rape her before sending Catherine’s bloodied undergarments to her father.

While Catherine is an innocent pawn, she is not weak. She’s a fighter who will meet Sean’s cruelties with a will of iron.

You will not believe what these two go through, what they do to each other, or what they do to others. It’s incredible, but as I said, it’s Monson’s compelling skill at writing that makes this book so special.

His spirit, like the lonely, windswept sea, was ever-restless, ever-changing, sometimes howling down to savage the unyielding land, then caressing it with a lulling embrace, inevitably wearing away its resistance.

Then again, maybe I’m a sicko because I like the plot. Yes, it’s epic and melodramatic. There’s everything but the kitchen sink. That includes: kidnapping, rape, starvation, forced slavery, multiple marriages, miscarriage, insanity, beatings, brothers fighting for the same woman, incest, castration, forcible sodomy, murder…

So much happens here!

Perhaps it’s a bit too much in the last quarter, as Sean and Catherine needed some moments together introspecting rather than acting.

Final Analysis of Stormfire

There are many detractors of Christine Monson’s controversial bodice ripper. In its defense, I say this: Stormfire isn’t supposed to be a sweet romance. It’s an old-school historical romance novel, a bodice ripper, and I use the term with great affection.

It’s a fantasy.

A dark one, definitely. Then again, so too are the vampire, werewolf, bestiality, BDSM, step-dad/ stepbrother kink, and ménage fantasies of today. Books like Stormfire present a different kind of fantasy, where the most tremendous hate can transform into love.

Would this relationship work in real life? Probably not. That’s why it’s make-believe.

Stormfire is entertaining, emotional, and unforgettable. It falters a bit towards the end, so it’s not perfect.

This is not the best romance novel ever written, but for me, it’s up there.

5 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
4.5
Characters
5
Writing
5
Chemistry
4
Fun Factor
4.5
Cover
5
Overall: 4.7

Synopsis

Abducted on her way to boarding school, a terrified Catherine Enderly was brought from England to the coast of Ireland, the prisoner of the angry and powerful young Sean Culhane—a man sworn to vengeance against her family.

Frightened but defiant, the young countess met her captor with a strength that belied her fragile loveliness. But even as Sean vowed to have his revenge on Catherine, with each encounter he became more attracted to her. Her fiery innocence was a seduction that lured the passions of long smoldering hostility into a blazing inferno of desire.

Locked in a love-hate duel, he did not suspect that the captivating beauty who fought him with such tenacity was struggling desperately against her own awakened desires, and that his touch had become the burning reminder that the fierce hatred she felt for him had become an all-consuming love.

STORMFIRE by CHRISTINE MONSON

Download or Read Online at Book Vooks: Stormfire PDF Book by Christine Monson (1984)

heart so wild

Historical Romance Review: A Heart So Wild by Johanna Lindsey

historical romance review
A Heart So Wild by Johanna Lindsey
Rating: four-half-stars
Published: 1986
Illustrator: Robert McGinnis
Book Series: Stratton Family #1
Published by: Avon
Genres: Historical Romance, Western Romance
Pages: 368
Format: eBook, Paperback, Hardcover
Buy on: AmazonThriftBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: A Heart So Wild by Johanna Lindsey

VERY MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

I just realized I had Johanna Lindsey‘s western romance A Heart So Wild on my Kindle. Since I hadn’t read it in 25 years, I figured why not give it a re-read?

And you know what? I loved this book more the second time around than the first.

The Plot

Why did I enjoy A Heart So Wild that much?

  • Heroine & hero “meet” when the heroine, Courtney, is getting sexually assaulted by an outlaw. What does the hero do? He sees a man messing with a woman and right away shoots the bad guy dead.
  • Enigmatic hero with a mysterious and tragic past.
  • The heroine needs a gunslinger to guide her through hostile Indian territory to find her missing father.
  • The hero, Chandos, fights, beats, and kills men who try to kidnap or try to rape the heroine.
  • A snakebite where the heroine sucks the blood out of the hero’s wound for an hour (!), and then he gets sick, revealing more in his fever dreams than he would if he was fine.
  • Quick love scenes that express passion, aren’t too purple in prose, and don’t go on for endless pages.

This western trek romance takes us through the deserts and wilderness as Courtney and Chandos travel to find her long-lost father. A Heart So Wild is more of a character-driven than a plot-driven romance, which is fine by me.

I’m so glad I gave this one a reread, as it made me remember why for such a long time, Johanna Lindsey was my favorite author: she’s easy to read. Sometimes reading is a chore, and it shouldn’t be if it’s a hobby I supposedly love.

The Characters

Courtney is a pleasant enough type. She grows on you as the story develops. And Chandos is just… Well, he’s the kind of hero that made Lindsey sell tens of millions of books.

He’s a hard nut to crack, but once Chandos falls, he falls hard and forever. Still, he retains that stubborn arrogance that was a trademark of the heroes in the first half of Lindey’s career.

“You’re my woman, cateyes. You’ve been my woman since I first laid eyes on you.”

That didn’t satisfy her. “Say it!”

He grinned and jerked her down onto his lap, where she sat stiffly, waiting, until at last he said, “I love you. Is that what you want to hear? I love you so much I’ve got no direction without you.”

“Oh, Chandos.” She melted against him, wrapping her arms around his neck. “I love—”

“Uh-uh.” He stopped her. “You better think real carefully before you say anything, cateyes, because if you give me your love, I’m not going to let you take it back. I can’t keep worrying about whether or not I can make you happy. I’ll try my best but there isn’t going to be any changing your mind later. Do you understand what I’m saying? If you’re going to be my woman, there’s no way in hell I’ll ever let you go.”

Final Analysis of A Heart So Wild

Chandos is a wonderful Lindsey hero. Courtney is a likable, strong-willed heroine. Together they make for a sizzling combination.

Johanna Lindsey would revisit Courtney and Chandos in All I Need Is You, which tells the tale of their bounty-hunter daughter. That book was okay.

A Heart So Wild is one of Lindsey’s best, of which there are many!

Rating Report Card
Plot
5
Characters
5
Writing
4
Chemistry
4.5
Fun Factor
4.5
Cover
4.5
Overall: 4.6

Synopsis:

Courtney Harte is certain her missing father is a alive, lost somewhere deep in Indian territory. But she needs a guide to lead her safely through this dangerous, unfamiliar country, someone as wild and unpredictable as the land itself. And that man is the gunslinger they call Chandos.

Courtney fears this enigmatic loner whose dark secrets torture his soul, yet whose eyes, bluer than the frontier sky, enflame the innocent, determined lady with wanton desires. But on the treacherous path they have chosen they have no one to trust but each other–as shared perils to their lives and hearts unleash turbulent, unbridled, passions that only love can tame.

A HEART SO WILD by JOHANNA LINDSEY
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