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raptures rendezvous

Historical Romance Review: Rapture’s Rendezvous by Cassie Edwards

book review historical romance
Rapture's Rendezvous by Cassie Edwards
Rating: two-half-stars
Published: 1982
Illustrator: Unknown
Imprint or Line: Zebra Historical Romance
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Romance with Rape Element
Pages: 483
Format: Paperback, eBook
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooksOpen Library (BORROW FOR FREE)
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Rapture’s Rendezvous by Cassie Edwards

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

Rapture’s Rendezvous is not one of Cassie Edwards‘ bests.

First off, let me say that I am a Cassie Edwards fan. I love most of her books and hope one day to own all of them. Having said that, this book–a reprint of a book originally published in 1982–is not one of her best efforts.

cassie edwards 2nd
Rapture’s Rendezvous, Cassie Edwards, 1999 edition

The Plot

Maria Lazzaro and her twin brother Alberto are poor Italians dreaming of a better life in America. That is where their father, Giacomo, emigrated sometime earlier. Eventually, the twins are sent for and they travel on a ship in decrepit conditions to America. Once at sea, Maria and Alberto both lose their innocence. Maria gives hers willingly to the “hero” of the book, Michael Hopper.

Alberto loses his virginity in a far less pleasant way–more on that later.

Michael lies to Maria by telling her he is a buyer for a vintner in America. In actuality, he is a successful businessman investigating the cruel treatment of immigrant miners in one of the many business ventures of an individual named Nathan Hawkins. Why Michael is doing so himself instead of hiring someone isn’t fully explained.

After the ship docks in New York at Ellis Island, Michael and Maria part. They will find each other again in the future.

Maria and Alberto arrive in America thinking their father sent for them. They don’t realize until much later that they were actually sent for by Hawkins. Hawkins needs Alberto to work like his father in Hawkins’ dangerous, unsafe coal mine. Maria, Hawkins wants as his wife.

Brother and sister arrive in the Illinois town of Hawkinsville–also owned by Nathan Hawkins–to realize their lives have not changed for the better as they had hoped. Alberto goes to work alongside his father in the coal mine. Maria pines for Michael.

Maria and Michael find each other again and they have several intimate encounters. Later, Maria is forced to marry Hawkins after he threatens to deport her father and brother.

Eventually, Hawkins gets his comeuppance, Maria and Michael marry and they live happily ever after.

rapture's rendezvous cassie edwards new
Rapture’s Rendezvous, Cassie Edwards, 2011 edition

Sex

There’s a lot of sex, in Rapture’s Rendezvous though not terribly graphic. Or nice. As mentioned, Maria and Michael have several encounters. Michael also has sex with two other women–his secretary and a prostitute–while he and Maria are apart. There is some salaciousness.

Alberto is robbed and raped by a man/woman criminal duo on board the ship to America, which affects him later. Alberto also has incestuous feelings for Maria.

Maria is forced into a sex act by Hawkins after they are married.

Violence

Not much, but some. Alberto gets revenge on his rapist/robbers and hits both the man and woman.

There is also a fight scene in which Michael is assaulted and gets help from Alberto. Hawkins is eventually killed, and although he is shot, it is not graphically described.

Bottom Line on Rapture’s Rendezvous

As stated, Rapture’s Rendezvous is not one of Mrs. Edwards’ best books. The characters vacillate between whiny and barely likable. The “hero” isn’t really heroic, and the heroine, while being attractive physically, is less attractive because she is somewhat of a weak, whiny individual.

If one is interested in Cassie Edwards’ books, I recommend her “Savage” series. Those books are far better than wasting your time on this drivel.

Rating Report Card
Plot
2
Characters
2.5
Writing
2
Chemistry
3.5
Fun Factor
2
Cover
4
Overall: 2.7

Synopsis

A Woman’s Love
Maria Lazzaro was as ripe and as sweet as the full, juicy grapes that grew in her homeland’s vineyards. And as she boarded an immigrant ship for America, the olive-skinned, raven-haired beauty met the only man she could ever love. That night, with feverish desire, frantic passion, and wild, sensuous rapture, she gave herself to Michael in a moment she knew would bond them for eternity.

A Man’s Lies
Though they would have to part once they reached America, handsome Michael Hopper couldn’t deny himself the enticing wench. He had to take advantage of her innocent allure. Branding her satin throat with kisses, he promised his devotion forever. Searing her silken skin with caresses, he vowed his undying love. No matter what, he had to have her. And no matter what, he would have to leave her…Rapture’s Rendezvous

Rapture’s Rendezvous by Cassie Edwards
CATEGORIES: , , , , , , , , ,

***

wild island sands

Historical Romance Review: Wild Island Sands by Sonya T. Pelton

historical romance review
Wild Island Sands by Sonya T. Pelton
Rating: one-star
Published: 1983
Illustrator: Unknown
Imprint or Line: Zebra Historical Romance
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 526
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Wild Island Sands by Sonya T. Pelton

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Wild Island Sands by Sonya T. Pelton, a Zebra historical romance.

The Plot

Wild Island Sands opens with an explanation of Greek mythology, as the heroine’s name is Pandora–Pandora St. Ives to use her full nomenclature. Pandora lives in Hawaii with her aunt and uncle. Her parents passed away earlier.

Pandora will do anything to prevent being pushed into a loveless marriage. As a result, she flees to San Francisco, to live with her cousin, Cara Kalee. In California Pandora gets into an accident. Luckily, the houseman for Rogan Thorn saves her in time.

Rogan, a shipping magnate, owns his family’s company, Thorn Navigation. Rogan and Pandora are immediately attracted to each other. But as in most romance novels, there are barriers to their happiness.

Those barriers are:

  • Pandora’s amnesia from her accident
  • Cara, one of Rogan’s former mistresses
  • Rogan’s other paramours
  • Walter Riddock, Rogan’s professional and personal arch-rival
  • And perhaps most importantly, Rogan’s health issue

Rogan kidnaps Pandora to prevent her from marrying Riddock and forces her to marry him.

Later, Pandora moves back to Hawaii. Rogan follows her. They ignore each other, argue, and have sex.

This same pattern follows them back to San Francisco, where Pandora gives birth to their daughter, and she and Rogan have their Happily Ever After.

The Upside

Well… I finished the book!

Beyond that…

The Downside

Like many of Ms. Pelton’s books, Wild Island Sands is a hot mess of tens of thousands of words–over 526 pages–yet saying absolutely nothing.

I felt no connection to either Pandora or Rogan, nor do they have any chemistry with each other. Ms. Pelton tries to manipulate her readers’ emotions with a storyline about how Rogan’s life is affected by his parents’ neglect but goes nowhere with this.

There is a mystery that is so poorly written that it doesn’t matter at all when it’s solved.

Characters are introduced, then abandoned, or brought in and written about but never go anywhere.

Sex

There are a few scenes, which like the rest of the book, are barely noticeable.

Violence

It is implied that Pandora killed a man. This is not true, but she has horrific flashbacks about the murder.

Bottom Line on Wild Island Sands

Sonya T. Pelton has written only one book that I liked: Dakota Flame.

Beyond that, everything I’ve read by her has been total dreck like Wild Island Sands. They’ve always been destined straight for the garbage bin after I’ve wasted days of my life reading them.

1 Star

Rating Report Card
Plot
1
Characters
1
Writing
1.5
Chemistry
2
Fun Factor
1
Cover
3
Overall: 1.6

***

CATEGORIES:, , , , , , ,

Synopsis

The sultry breezes tossed the island palms and caressed the aqua waves. And as beautiful, copper-haired Pandora walked the endless beach all she could think about was the handsome, arrogant sea captain, Rogan Thorn. His kiss was the first taste of desire she had ever known. Now she wanted Rogan with a feverish longing that scaled her heart and flames between her long silken limbs. But he was a wealthy, womanizing shipping tycoon, whose only love was the sea…

WINDSWEPT LOVE
Hawaii was a paradise of romance and love–but Rogan believed in neither. He was tired of conniving, clinging women who were only after his money. Then he met Pandora, the ravishing Hawaiian goddess whose eyes sparkled like sapphires, whose lips tasted like sweet cherries, whose body was made for pleasure. He thought that if he bedded her, he’d get her out of his mind–but once he took her innocence he was branded by the joys of rapture on the WILD ISLAND SANDS.

Wild Island Sands by Sonya T. Pelton
lynne graham the italians wife

Category Romance Review: The Italian’s Wife by Lynne Graham

category romance

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

Lynne Graham’s The Italian’s Wife is unusual from her other books I’ve read in the past.

Holly Samson is the first Graham heroine I can recall who was not a virgin, and who’s borne another man’s child. The hero is typical of her heroes: dark-haired, ultra-masculine, ridiculously wealthy, smitten with the heroine, and of Greek Italian descent.

The Characters and the Set-Up

The Italian’s Wife opens with Rio–a 6′ 3″ gorgeous, super-nice-guy, and celebrity billionaire extraordinaire–walking in on his supermodel fiancée in flagrante delicto with another woman.

Not only is he enraged at the infidelity, but he’s also repulsed by his fiancée’s suggestion of a threesome. (Only in an HP!)

Poor Holly, meanwhile, is down on her luck. Her old-fashioned parents kicked out their pregnant daughter because she didn’t do the right thing (whatever that means). Her boyfriend, whom she only had sex with once and hated it (natch), wanted nothing to do with the baby or Holly. Mother and baby are all alone in this cruel world.

The Plot

The English Woman’s Hero

Holly is pushing her pram through the street of London, drowning in her sorrows. She’s homeless, jobless, and hungry. At the end of a rope, Holly decides she must hand over her son to Social Services Distraught at the enormity of her decision, Holly is lost in thought when she’s almost hit by Rio’s limo.

This occurs a mere hour after he walked in on his girlfriend having sex with someone else.

Ever the hero, Rio whisks Holly off to his luxurious penthouse. He is entranced by her loveliness and aghast that this young mother is in such dire straits.

Rio buys her designer clothes and gets a nanny for her baby. Soon after, he declares they must marry. Holly, like any princess from a fairy tale, falls in love with her princely benefactor. And Rio is besotted with his damsel-in-distress.

(This is where a rational person would consider maybe the guy is seriously rebounding after being cheated on by his once-future-wife. But don’t think about that stuff. Just go with the story.)

The Italian’s Wife

These HPs are crazy, silly fantasies. Sometimes I don’t know why I like them so much with weird tropes like this.

During a steamy love scene, Rio does all the work, giving, giving, and giving some more. Despite doing absolutely nothing but having orgasms, Rio notes that Holly’s the best sex he’s ever had because she enjoys it so much!

(Earth to Rio: maybe the fact that his former fiancée was a lesbian might have been a reason why she wasn’t that into it.)

When Holly asks what she can do to make it better he replies:

 “Just lie there. I’m in a very uncritical mood… And during the next couple of weeks, I intend to teach you everything I want you to knowbella mia.” 

I really don’t know what to say about that, other than I can accept many things in a romance novel that I’d never ever tolerate in real life!

My Opinion

Holly is your typical Lynne Graham heroine: beyond clueless and helpless. She doesn’t read The Daily Mail, so she is unaware of Rio’s stardom. (In HPlandia Greek billionaires are the equivalent of Korean Boy Bands regarding fame and fans.) As a result, Holly’s all agog at the crowd of paparazzi at their wedding.

She’s not an erudite intellectual. She doesn’t have hobbies. There is nothing of interest in Holly’s life outside of her baby and problems.

Even so, there’s something charming about The Italian’s Wife. It’s so dumb in a typical Lynne Graham way, that it veers into entertaining.

However, I dislike that Holly is so “gracious” to those who wronged her. She thinks: 

“That her parents could forgive her all the grief she had caused had been a tremendous comfort to Holly, as was her mother and father’s loving acceptance of their baby grandson.” 

Um, hello? Her parents kicked out their barely-out-of-her-teen-years daughter from their home. They didn’t give a rat’s ass about Holly and their baby grandchild. That was until Holly returned home and was married to a billionaire. Only then did they welcome her and the baby.

Uggh. I dislike that kind of martyrdom in a female main character. I like my heroines with claws.

Holly’s too sweet and nice. Then again Rio is just kind and generous as she is. So it all works out in the end.

Final Analysis of The Italian’s Wife

The Italian’s Wife was a nonsensical story, as many Lynne Graham romances are. For some reason, though, it clicked for me.

I’m a mercurial reader. If I’m in a bad mood, it negatively affects my reading. If I’m feeling mellow, then it’s all good!

I appreciated The Italian’s Wife for being an escapist fantasy about a woman-in-need swept off her feet by an amazing man.

A man who is beyond her wildest dreams and will cherish and love her forever and ever.

3.62

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

Synopsis

Will he take a stranger to be his wedded wife?

Abandoned by her boyfriend and family after the birth of her son, Holly Sansom collapses in the street. Rio Lombardi, M.D. of Lombardi Industries, comes to her rescue.

Rio insists that Holly stay at his luxurious home, and proceeds to lavish her and her baby with all that money can buy. But Rio’s emotions are caught off guard by Holly’s natural charm and indifference to his wealth. In fact, Holly would make a perfect wife…. 

The Italian’s Wife by Lynne Graham
the marriage war charlotte lamb

Category Romance Review: The Marriage War by Charlotte Lamb

the marriage war by charlotte lamb
The Marriage War by Charlotte Lamb
Rating: half-star
Published: 1997
Illustrator: TBD
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Presents #1913
Published by: Harlequin, Mills & Boon
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 186
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooksOpen Library (BORROW FOR FREE)
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: The Marriage War by Charlotte Lamb

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

The Marriage War by Charlotte Lamb may not have the absolute worst cruel hero in Harlequin Presents’ history, but he certainly ranks in the top twenty…maybe forty.

Okay, maybe the top 50. The HP line has at least a thousand crappy heroes in its 50 years of existence.

The Plot

Sancha is a stressed-out housewife with a handsome, workaholic husband named Mark. While she’s not yet middle-aged, she feels and looks her age, while Mark gets better each year like a fine vintage wine.

She is a stay-at-home mother responsible for cooking, cleaning, raising the children, and keeping her husband satisfied. She works hard on the first three. Lately, though, Sancha’s been neglecting her final “responsibility,” as her husband keeps telling her.

The twin beds in their bedroom don’t help. That became a habit when their twins were young, and Sancha had to wake up for midnight nursings and nappy changes. It had been Mark’s idea since he didn’t want his sleep disturbed by her movements.

Sancha and Mark have been married for six years. Well, if you’ve heard of the seven-year-itch, you know what happens next.

Mark has a charming secretary in the office. Capable, beautiful, attentive, and young.

Sancha starts receiving letters hinting that her husband is getting down and dirty with someone during his late-night work sessions. Is Mark having an affair with his secretary? Maybe. Maybe not. But it sure looks like he is when Sancha catches them out at a late-night dinner.

Sancha’s life crumbles around her. Even as it does, she decides, like any good woman from the lyrics of Country Music, to fight for her philandering man.

Romances with adultery are difficult enough to pull off. Combine that plot with a male protagonist–who, if classified by scientific terms, would be considered non-Newtonian fluid–you get a wall-banger that requires great force when tossed across the room.

It’ll be over my dead body,

So get out while you can!

‘Cause you ain’t woman enough to take my man.

LORETTA LYNN, “YOU AIN’T WOMAN ENOUGH”

Sancha gets a makeover and decides to be sexier, but now Mark thinks his wife is getting sexy for other men! Could things get any worse?

Spoiler: The Shocking Revelations

Perhaps Mark’s twisted conscience led him to do what he did. For he tells Sancha the shocking truth. He is the one behind all the letters Sancha received, not his secretary.

Apparently, Mark has a super good reason–to motivate his wife to get over herself to fight for their marriage (i.e., cater to all of Mark’s wants and needs).

In truth, he was only planning to have an affair. Nice guy, right?

Mark figured he could have his matronly wife tend to his children and home. Meanwhile, his carnal desires would be fulfilled by other women. Starting with his secretary, who was down for it.

Instead of shagging her right away, though, Mark decided first to torment his wife with anonymous letters to make her re-evaluate what was important: him!

It all works out for Mark, as Sancha gets her mojo back, and insecurity drives her to be the devoted, horny Stepford wife he knew she could be.

So Mark dumps the floozy of a secretary. In return, Sancha promises never again to get too overwhelmed by her many responsibilities. Mark will always come first. (Yeah, he seems like he’d be that type.)

“See that? How much I want you?”

“As much as you wanted her the other night?” she asked bitterly, and he shut his eyes, groaning, turning away.

“Oh, not again! Do we have to bring that up again? Forget Jacqui!”

“I can’t. Can you? Working with her every day, seeing her, being alone with her? You may not have slept with her–but you admit you almost did. Is she going to accept the end of the affair?”

Final Analysis of The Marriage War

I’ve mentioned before how Charlotte Lamb is one of my two most beloved authors in the Harlequin Presents line. I’ve given her more 5-star ratings than any other writer in that line. But she’s also written a lot of clunkers. This is one of them.

Oh, boy, did I hate this book!

Mark was a paramecium scum-sucker. Not worthy of the title of “man.” Cruel hero? More like absolute zero!

Sancha was not much better. She was a bland, reactive character and not too many rungs above her husband in the animal kingdom.

I love Charlotte Lamb’s writings, so I’ll forgive her for this hideous attempt at “romance.” Out of her 160-plus books published, there are bound to be bad ones. And sheesh, was this one ever that!

File The Marriage War under “suck-suckity-suck.”

(Note: the cover rating does not count toward the final score.)

Rating Report Card
Plot
0.5
Characters
0.5
Writing
1.5
Chemistry
0.5
Fun Factor
0.5
Cover
3.5
Overall: 1.2

Synopsis

Something worth fighting for!

Sancha’s first instinct was to burn the anonymous letter. Its malicious message couldn’t be true: Do you know where your husband will be tonight? Do you know who he’ll be with?

Sancha adored Mark now as much as when they were first married, even though family life meant that they were no longer so close. She’d never dreamed that her tough, handsome husband would fall into the arms of another woman!

The battle was on – though when Sancha confronted Mark, she discovered the physical attraction between them was as strong as ever. But she wouldn’t let herself be seduced by him…. Not yet!

The Marriage War by Charlotte Lamb
colorado jewel sate brandt

Historical Romance Review: Colorado Jewel by Cate Brandt

Synopsis:

Magheen Fitzgerald could have never predicted her fate the day she left her native Ireland for the shores of America. Blinded by tales of gold and great wealth, she believed that she’d reclaim her family’s fortune in a gold mine in Colorado. But when the stagecoach she was traveling in overturned in a storm, she was lucky to escape with her life. And now she was snowbound, trapped in a primitive shack with the most virile man she’d ever known. Despite the cold outside, Magheen felt a heat building in her like never before…

DANGEROUS SETTING

Daniel Calcord ventured to Colorado for a change of pace, for some excitement. But he got much more than he bargained for in the shapely form of the Irish beauty he had saved from a stagecoach wreck. As he nursed her back to health, Daniel couldn’t help himself from caressing her silky flesh, her sensuous curves. From the flash in her emerald eyes to the fiery light in her auburn hair, she enchanted him. It was only a matter of time before he would take her in his arms and make her his own…

COLORADO JEWEL 

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book and the Characters

This review is of Colorado Jewel, a standalone by Cate Brandt. (Zebra Heartfire, April 1989).

Heroine: Magheen Fitzgerald. Red hair, emerald eyes.

Hero: Daniel Calcord. Black hair, blue eyes. Businessman/lawyer.

The Plot

Colorado Jewel opens in Colorado, early September 1878. Daniel Calcord, the hero of the book and a businessman with his fingers in many pies, is heading toward one of his enterprises, a silver mine in the town of Leadville. His trip is delayed, however, as Daniel helps to rescue Magheen Fitzgerald, the heroine of the book, from a stagecoach accident. He nurses her back to health and they face many perils, one of which is their attraction to each other.

When one of Maggie’s brothers, Patrick, a priest, catches them in a compromising position, they are compelled to marry. Their engagement doesn’t go well.

Maggie and Daniel do eventually marry. Sexually, they’re compatible; in other ways, not so much. Things don’t improve when the workers in Leadville’s mines protest working conditions, leading to violence between the miners and the mine owners, with Maggie in the middle.

Later, Daniel’s mother, Mayse, shows up and causes problems for both Daniel and Maggie. Those problems endanger Maggie’s life.

In the end, Maggie and Daniel reconcile, have a child, and their Happily Ever After.

Upside

Aside from finishing the book… Maggie is a fairly nice character.

Downside

Daniel, who is a hot-and-cold blowing bastard.

First, he wants Maggie. Then, he doesn’t want her. This goes on for the entire book. He talks at Maggie, not with her, which creates almost all of their issues. Daniel is self-centered, egotistical, condescending, demeaning, and insulting to her. He accuses her of things that are not true. By the way, he never apologizes. There is no actual romance or character development, and the storylines, such as they are, zip back and forth without actually reaching a destination.

Sex

A few love scenes between Maggie and Daniel that don’t generate a lot of heat.

Violence

Assault, battery and one shooting take place “off-screen.”

Bottom Line for Colorado Jewel

Maggie is a nice heroine. She definitely needed an actual hero. She’s the only thing saving Colorado Jewel from a lower than 1-star rating.

Location: Leadville, Colorado. 1878-1880.

Tropes: Historical romance, Zebra Heartfire.

1.11 Stars

Contemporary Romance Review: Sometimes a Stranger by Angela Alexie

Sometimes A Stranger, Angela Alexie, Pocket Books/ Richard Gallen, 1981, cover artist TBD

Gallen Contemporary Romance #43801-8

SPOILER FREE REVIEW 😊

4 1/2 Stars

Reviewed by Mary Anne Landers

A Category Romance on Steroids

Like big, dramatic contemporary romances set in glamorous, exciting milieus? With dynamic characters and lots of plot? Then I recommend Sometimes a Stranger by Angela Alexie.

It was originally published in 1981 as part of the Richard Gallen imprint from Pocket Books, a division of Simon & Schuster. The edition I read came from Paradise Press, a reprint house, in 1990. Can’t say I care much for the cover graphics of my copy. But the text itself—wow!

It does something unusual for a contemporary romance of any generation. Typically stories in this genre take place in “the eternal present.” There are no dates as in historical romances. It’s assumed that what’s going on can happen when the work is first published and any time thereafter.

Trouble is, the present ISN’T eternal. Things change. I imagine some readers (not including me) get put off when vintage-contemporary romances employ the fashions, pop culture, technology, and social attitudes of their times.

That’s not an issue here. Except for a few flashbacks, Alexie’s Sometimes a Stranger starts in 1970 and ends in 1979. With tweaks, it could take place nowadays. But in retrospect, the author was smart to lock the story into its timeframe.

Sometimes A Stranger, Angela Alexie, Paradise Press, 1990 edition, cover artist unknown

Greeks Bearing Gifts

Andrea Carswell, an American travel journalist, goes to Athens to write about the splendors of Greece. And promptly falls in love with one. Alexander Deklos, the playboy heir of a powerful family in the shipping business. His uncle Spyros Demitriades runs the far-flung enterprise, Delphi, Limited. Alex is too busy having fun to take part in it.

He falls in love with Andrea as quickly as she does with him. Which throws a wrench into the plans of his mother, Olympia Deklos, to marry him to another child of a wealthy Greek family, Athena Lampos. Olympia’s marriage was arranged by her parents. Isn’t that good enough for Alex?

Well, no. He won’t give up Andrea for anything. But he does give up his carefree lifestyle. Alex becomes a major player on Team Delphi. Both choices come with consequences.

Life In the Fast Lane

Then stuff happens. Lots of stuff! To avoid spoilers, that’s as far as my summary will go. But here’s a hint. The plot covers jealousy, business intrigue, workaholism, medical crises, disaster, family feuds, secrets, revenge. Plus, a theme forbidden in today’s romance fiction. Infidelity.

But these disparate themes all work together to enrich the main one, the love between Andrea and Alex. It’s central to the story even when their relationship hits the rocks. Which it does with a force that can be measured on the Richter scale! 

The author employs multiple points of view. But the most frequent POV character is Andrea. A woman who deeply feels every emotion. Which the author conveys with great sensitivity.

And Alex? He’s an alpha hero, all right. He displays that millennia-old failing of his fellow countrymen, hubris. He’s always right, even when he’s wrong!

Though the heroine remains sympathetic throughout the story, the hero is all over the good-bad spectrum. A paragon and a ruthless businessman. A family man and a libertine. A dream lover and a total ass. 

Yet these extremes and everything in between are all phases of the same man. Such is the author’s skill that I can believe Alex as every one of them. And all are fascinating. Even when he’s at his worst, I understand why Andrea still loves him. 

The settings are numerous. Mainly Athens, the Aegean island of Mykonos, London, and New York. These places seem real; reading about them is the next best thing to being there. But in a profound sense, the story unfolds in the hearts and minds of the main characters. Which IMHO is where any story should.

Dutch edition of Sometimes a Stranger, Zo Dichtbij en Toch Ver Weg (So Close and Yet Far Away), Phoenix, 1982, Franco Accornero cover art (front & back cover)

Nearly Perfect

Sometimes a Stranger does almost everything right. Almost? Yes. A few aspects could be better. 

The cast of characters is large, and some of their names sound similar to those of others. And can be in the wrong form given the characters’ ethnicities. For example, Alexander should be Alexandros. I know, that’s just a picky little detail.

More serious is this. A major plot thread, the heroine’s career, is handled poorly. Early on, Andrea gets into writing novels. But success comes too easily. And with a minimum of drama. That’s one of only two aspects of this book with insufficient drama.

The other is her family. Wisely, the author gives them less attention than Alex’s relatives. But they don’t warrant even that. They’re just not that interesting. And in the case of Noah Truesdale, Andrea’s grandfather, it’s hard to believe a powerful newspaper magnate can be such a nice guy. Though I must admit my idea of a man in his position was formed by watching “Citizen Kane”!

Alex’s kinfolk and their interactions make for fascinating reading. Andrea’s don’t. One of these families is dysfunctional. Guess which one.

But don’t let that stop you from reading this novel. And how I wish someone in Hollywood would buy it from a used-book website, find it as enthralling as I do, and turn it into a movie!

forever mine valentine crouse

Category Romance Review: Forever Mine, Valentine by Vicki Lewis Thompson

category romance
Forever Mine, Valentine by Vicki Lewis Thompson
Rating: four-half-stars
Published: February 1990
Illustrator: Daniel Crouse
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Temptation #288
Book Series: Mine Valentine Series #2
Published by: Harlequin
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 224
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: Forever Mine, Valentine by Vicki Lewis Thompson

MILD SPOILERS ⚠

The Book

Vicki Lewis Thompson‘s Forever Mine, Valentine, Booke #2 in her “Mine Valentine” duology was my introduction to the now, sadly, defunct Harlequin Temptations line.

The Temptation imprint launched in North America in March 1984. These books were far more sensual in nature than Harlequin’s other series, the Romance, Supperromance, and Presents lines. Temptations featured main characters from all walks of life, not just the rich. They took place anywhere, from small towns to big cities to tropical destinations.

The setting of Forever Mine, Valentine, is mainly in a shopping mall in Colorado, where St. Valentine himself is a character in the guise of Charlie Hartmann, a sweet, seemingly doddering old man.

The Plot

Jill Amory left her old life behind–including a stable dentist boyfriend–to wander across the country on foot with just a backpack. She paints windows for businesses to earn a little money and has a deadline to travel through all the States. Jill doesn’t quite know what she wants in life, but she knows it’s not commitment.

Spencer Jegger owns a successful sporting goods store in the mall. He’s athletic, attractive, and friendly to all, including Charlie, who insists that Valentine’s Day miracles are in store for Spence.

Charlie tells a disbelieving Spence that he and Jill are destined to be lovers for life. While Spence doesn’t trust the old man’s predictions, he is interested in Jill.

Spence hires Jill to paint the windows of his store, and in the meantime, he and Jill form a playful relationship with sexual tension bursting through the surface.

Jill is hesitant about getting close to Spence. He’s an incredibly good-looking man and makes his interest in her known. Jill’s mind is not on settling down, not even for a short while for a love affair. She’s aiming to roam, to search for something, some purpose in life.

I didn’t understand Jill’s hesitancy towards commitment to Spence and was glad when she decided she knew where her true home was.

Charlie is a cute character, doing everything he can to get Spence and Jill together. The two are destined for each other, he fervently declares. Isn’t it Valentine’s season? Doesn’t Jill’s surname, “Amory,” has the word love in it?

That’s more than a mere coincidence. It’s a sign from the heavens above that they’re meant to be!

Charlie also has a cute flirtation with an elderly mall walker, a lady who wouldn’t mind cuddling up to the supposed St. Valentine.

A Brief Memory About Forever Mine, Valentine

Forever Mine, Valentine by Vicki Lewis Thompson left quite a mark on my impressionable younger self. This romance introduced my young mind to real love-making in books. I’d read sex scenes before in V.C. Andrews’ Flowers in the Attic and Stephen King’s Carrie. But they were brief and not as detailed as what I read in this one!

My goodness, I was such a dorky, nerdy bookworm back then. I passed this book around to my friends, spreading the salacious content around in school until one day, I got in trouble with my social studies teacher.

She took the book away from me in class one day and made a big scene, which was humiliating, although fortunately, that was the worst of it.

Well, except for the fact that it earned me a reputation for years as “that girl who reads the sex books.”

After a while, I learned not to care about what others thought and held my head high and proud whenever I held a clinch-cover romance, and someone teased me about it.

Never be ashamed of the genre!

Final Analysis of Forever Mine, Valentine

Forever Mine, Valentine was a sequel to Vicki Lewis Thompson’s 1989 Be Mine, Valentine, where Charlie had previously wielded Cupid’s bow and arrow to great success. Yes, the angels from above sent the old scamp down to spread love among mortals!

I loved that aspect of the Temptation line. There was so much variety; the books could have any crazy plot or simple, mundane ones. Temptations told all kinds of stories; the only qualifier was they had to be sexually steamy enough for a new era of romance readers.

This Temptation romance had a hefty dose of humor and lots of steamy love scenes making it an engaging Valentine’s Day treat.

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

Synopsis

Hartman strikes again!

Old Charlie Hartman was out of his mind! To insist that Spence Jegger would marry the first woman he saw on Valentine’s Day was pure madness, given Spence’s opinion of marriage. And an aging vagabond playing St. Valentine was a bit much for even a friend like Spence to accept. Until Charlie pointed out Spence’s “intended,” Jill Amory.

All Jill wanted, however, was to finish painting Valentine messages on the windows of Jegger Outfitters and be on her way. She had a deadline to meet…on the other side of the country. Now all of a sudden two crazy men – one of them the tempting Mr. Jegger himself – seemed determined to influence her schedule…and her heart.

FOREVER MINE, VALENTINE

Category Romance Review: Fantasy by Emma Darcy

historical romance review
Fantasy by Emma Darcy
Rating: five-stars
Published: 1985
Illustrator: Len Goldberg
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Presents #840
Published by: Harlequin, Mills & Boon
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 192
Format: Paperback, eBook
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: Fantasy by Emma Darcy

The Book

Harlequin Presents #840, Fantasy, is a great oldie by Emma Darcy.

The Plot

Fantasy opens with the heroine, Eve, a fashion model, anxious to arrive home and see her fiancé.

Our heroine gets the shock of her life when she catches her boyfriend cheating. She finds him in bed with another man and her heart is crushed!

Despondent, Eve tries to drown herself in the ocean. Luckily the hero is there to save her life.

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

After their one-night stand, Eve figures she’ll never see the stranger again. How wrong she is.

When they meet again, we discover that the hero is a big-shot businessman whose company is releasing a perfume called Fantasy. He’s running a major ad campaign and naturally demands Eve to be the face of Fantasy.

The hero is in charge of the beach photo shoot. Eve is supposed to pose on the sandy shores with a creepy male model in erotic embraces. 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.

Final Analysis of Fantasy

I’ve read Fantasy one a couple of times, and it’s such a sweet, cheesy read. I don’t care if the plot is a little unbelievable.

This is just the kind of story a Harlequin Presents should be all about. It’s some sexy little fantasy that makes you smile and not want to throttle the douchey hero for being a dominant ass.

Lucky for us readers, the hero is a dream! Eve’s fantasy becomes reality in the end.

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

Synopsis

HAD SHE DREAMED HIM UP — THIS MAN, THIS FANTASY?

Her fiance’s betrayal and her frenzied flight to a secluded beach near Sydney had been for Eve a nightmare — until the moment a stranger held her in his arms and revealed a lotus land where love was possible …

For a while Eve gave herself up to the joy of loving and being loved for herself and not as the money-making image her fiance had devised with his camera.

She wanted the fantasy to go on forever. Surely to stay would be like trying to prolong a dream …

Fantasy by Emma Darcy
CATEGORIES: , , , , , , , , ,

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