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my name is clary brown

Gothic Romance Review: My Name is Clary Brown by Charlotte Keppel

My Name is Clary Brown by Charlotte Keppel
Rating: five-stars
Published: 1976
Illustrator: Elaine Duillo, Charles Geer
Published by: Berkley, Random House
Genres: Gothic Romance, Historical Romance, Georgian Era Romance
Pages: 246
Format: Hardcover, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader

Gothic Romance Review: My Name is Clary Brown by Charlotte Keppel


The Book

My Name is Clary Brown by Charlotte Keppel was first published in 1976 under the title When I Say Goodbye, I’m Clary Brown. Charlotte Keppel, née Ursula Torday, also wrote romances and Gothics under the names Charity Blackstock–Lee Blackstock in the USA–and Paula Allardyce.

Unlike other Gothic romances, the cover of My Name is Clary Brown doesn’t feature a frightened heroine running from a dark manor, castle, or estate. I couldn’t obtain a copy of the original 1976 release. But all covers, including my 1978 Berkley Medallion issue with an Elaine Duillo-illustration, portray the heroine front and center, looking as strong as can be.

And so she should, for Clary is a woman of great fortitude and intelligence.

my name is clary brown geer
Random House, 1976, Charles Geer cover art

The Plot

Part One

It’s the mid-18th century in London, England. Clary “Diamond” Browne is an actress of little renown, working bit parts while performing under David Garrick. She’s honest with herself that she’ll never be a star, just a pretty face with the ability to memorize a few lines and turn on the waterworks.

Diamond is the mistress of an old man with whom she has an emotionless, strictly business relationship. In a moment of anger, she destroys it, telling her domineering “protector” precisely what she thinks of him: not much. Though she might depend upon him for her income, she deserves better. I loved the way she told him off. Alas, by doing so, Diamond seals her doom.

He counters that he’s tired of her and their arrangement is over. In retaliation for her cruel remarks, he conspires to have Diamond return to the village where she grew up as a poor outcast.

Clary had escaped her hometown in the boonies–aptly named Middleditch–in disgrace. She is part Rom, so her mixed heritage had marketed her as an outsider even though she had been born there. Her father was hanged for a minor crime. Then Clary was sent to live in a workhouse for homeless girls. If not for the generosity of a benefactress, Lady Caroline, Clary would have ended up on the streets.

clary brown UK Coronet version
UK Coronet version

Part Two

Now going by her stage name Diamond Browne, Clary returns to Middleditch to live in an elegant home much grander than the one in which she’d grown up.

The village is in worse condition than when she left. It is marked with eerieness and dread. The few friends Clary had in town have died under peculiar violent incidents. The poor-house burned down, killing some. Others passed from illnesses. And then some were murdered.

Her posh gowns, refined speech, and handsome manners fool the villagers for a while. However, as time goes on, it is evident that Diamond Browne really is old Clary Brown, the itinerant daughter of a gypsy thief. 

Diamond faces the soldier who ruined her life: Captain William Ringham. She had vowed revenge against the Capitan for convicting her starving father for stealing a rabbit. Now Diamond scoffs at his attempts at kindness. Who was he trying to fool?

Soon the dark forces seem to be directed at her and those close to her. Lady Caroline dies a gruesome death. The pastor of the old church is found crucified.

Two men offer her protection in distinct ways: Captain Ringham with his seeming concern and Lady Caroline’s widower with thinly-veiled insinuations.

Something preternatural element lurks in the woods. Who were the creatures that stalked the night? Could she be the next victim of a heinous murder? Was Ringham behind the evil occurrences in Middleditch? Of course, he must! Who else could it be…?

The conclusion sees the wicked baddies get their due comeuppance. And best of all, Clary finds genuine love with Captain Ringham, who is not the villain she had believed him to be.

Final Analysis of My Name is Clary Brown

Charlotte Keppel’s My Name is Clary Brown has a strong, creepy plot filled with enough mystery to keep one turning the pages to see what happens next. Still, the main appeal of this book is the characterization.

Diamond/ Clary was intelligent, outspoken, and refreshingly likable. The way Clary stands up for herself is thoroughly in keeping with her time period (the Georgian era). She is a great vintage romance heroine, for sure.

Captain Ringham, the hero, was a pure gentleman. He doesn’t show up much too often, as this is Clary’s story to tell. But whenever she required support, he was there for her.

As this is a 1970s Gothic, the steam factor is not relevant here, as it never goes beyond sweet yet passionate kisses. Nevertheless, the connection between the hero and heroine is palpable.

My Name is Clary Brown is a fantastic romantic read for Halloween.

Rating Report Card
Fun Factor
Overall: 4.6



Miss Diamond Brown was the toast of the London stage. She had jewels and fine satins to caress her tawny skin, everything a woman could want–except the urgent warmth of a man’s passion…

For the thousandth time, Diamond searched the mirror and found there the gypsy orphan girl who had fled to London only six years before. But had she escaped? Was she now free to love the man whose dark eyes had burned into her soul on that never forgotten night…

texas fire

Historical Romance Review: Texas Fire by Caroline Bourne

Texas Fire is the sequel to Caroline Bourne’s previous Zebra Lovegram romance, Texas Conquest. While better than its predecessor, that’s not saying much.

book review historical romance
Texas Fire by Caroline Bourne
Rating: two-half-stars
Published: 1989
Illustrator: Melissa Duillo-Gallo
Imprint or Line: Zebra Lovegram
Book Series: Texas Duo #2
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Western Romance
Pages: 498
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooksOpen Library (BORROW FOR FREE)
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon

Historical Romance Review: Texas Fire by Caroline Bourne


The Book

This review is of Texas Fire by Caroline Bourne. This western romance, published by Zebra/Kensington in March 1989, is the sequel to her book Texas Conquest.

Heroine: Laureli Cade, 23, Auburn hair, blue eyes. Heiress to the Wildwood ranch empire.

Hero: Court McKennon, 35. Black hair. Gray eyes. Former detective at Scotland Yard, later Texas Rancher.

Locations: London, England. Brazoria, Texas. 1850-1967.

The Plot

Part I

Texas Fire begins in London in 1850 and will span 17 years. A woman is raped and, while trying to escape her attacker, she falls and suffers serious injuries. This will set the tone for the rest of the book.

The scene then shifts to Brazoria, Texas, where Laureli Cade, the heroine, lives on a sprawling ranch. Laureli is the only member of her immediate family in Texas right now. Her father, Matthew, and mother, Mariah (the hero and heroine of Texas Conquest), are in Europe, and Laureli’s younger brother, Timothy, is at West Point.

As she is introduced, Laureli is trying to catch a wild stallion. She will come into contact with two Englishmen. One is Court McKennon, the hero of the book, who arrives with a woman who Laureli erroneously believes is his wife. The other is Wynn Garrett, a man with many secrets.

Laureli and Court clash, but they are also very attracted to each other.

They become lovers. Soon, there is a dark cloud hanging over their relationship: Garrett. In particular, Laureli and Court’s disparate views of him. Lies and deception soon tear the lovers apart, making Court depart from Texas.

Part II

After leaving Laureli and Texas behind, Court goes to San Francisco, then to London. We learn a bit about Court’s family, including his high-in-the-instep relatives.

He then decides to return to Texas and Laureli. They marry and start a family. However, their happiness is threatened by a vengeful man who wants to harm them both.

Part III

In the end, the threat is neutralized.

Laureli and Court become parents. They have their Happily Ever After.


Laureli and Court are a well-matched couple, and the love between them is written in a very genuine way.


Ms. Bourne tries very hard to write an emotional book but doesn’t quite get there. Among the issues preventing this: Laureli and Court aren’t well-developed or particularly interesting characters; the supporting characters are in a similar vein. Ditto for the storylines.


A few love scenes between Laureli and Court, which don’t generate a lot of heat.

Ms. Bourne is more focused on the emotional aspects of lovemaking and not the act itself.

warm heat


Assault, attempted rape, battery, shootings, and killings all take place during Texas Fire. None of the violence is graphic.

Bottom Line on Texas Fire

Caroline Bourne’s Texas Fire generates all the heat of one lit match.

It’s a better book than her previous outing, Texas Conquest, but that’s not a particularly high bar to get over.

Tropes: Enemies-to-lovers. Historical romance. Texas.

Rating Report Card
Fun Factor
Overall: 2.9

Note: Cover points don’t count!


From the moment the arrogant Englishman had arrived at her ranch with a very pregnant woman in tow, he had made Laureli Cade’s blood boil. Not denying his desertion of his wife and baby, the handsome rogue had taken Laureli in his arms and given her the most passionate kiss she had ever known. Outraged, she had ordered the blackguard off her land, hoping never to see him again… But as he stood before her now, she could not forget the way he had caressed her body with his eyes, and the warmth of that kiss he had brazenly taken from her. And she wondered what it would be like to be loved by him, or if she should send this virile stranger away, leaving her to long for him forever….

For the past seven years Court McKerinon had never once abandoned his mission to hunt down the man who had brutally raped his sister. Until he saw Laureli Cade. She was a goddess, with hair like a sunset on a summer day and lips as pink as roses in first bloom. And he had not forgotten the taste of her sweet mouth nor this fiery creature’s anger when she had pushed him away. Cherishing that memory, all he wanted was to relive it once more, to take from her again and again…

Texas Fire by Caroline Bourne
bachelor husband

Category Romance Review: Bachelor Husband by Kate Hoffmann

Bachelor Husband
Bachelor Husband, Kate Hoffmann, Harlequin, 1995, Cover Artist unknown

Harlequin Temptation #525


4 1/2 Stars

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

This review is of Bachelor Husband, book #1 of 11 in the Bachelor Arms” Harlequin Temptation series from February 1995 by Kate Hoffmann.

“Bachelor Arms” Series Overview

This 11 book continuity series takes place in/around the Los Angeles apartment complex the “Bachelor Arms”. Why there are only 11 books in the series instead of 12 is an unsolved mystery. The books are written by four different authors: books 1-3 are written by Kate Hoffmann;  4-6 by JoAnn Ross; 7-9 by Candace Schuler; and 10-11 by Judith Arnold. Although the series has four different authors, there is a subplot running through each book of the series. 

Private Eyes…They’re Watching You

Bachelor Husband begins with Harry Truman “Tru” Hallihan, the hero of the book and a private investigator, working a case. He has been hired by multi-millionaire Simon Marshall to find out if his son-in-law, Hollywood producer Ellis Stone, is cheating on Marshall’s daughter, Marianne. Although Stone has had three after-hours meetings with a woman, Tru hasn’t found any really incriminating evidence. 

Later that night, at a poker game, Tru bets his friends he can discover the true identity of radio sex therapist Dr. Carly Lovelace and bring her to the weekly poker game. If Tru succeeds, his friends will cure his current financial anemia.


Tru easily discovers the real name of “Dr. Carly Lovelace”; she is really Dr. Caroline Leighton, the heroine of the book, and the woman Stone was meeting with. When Tru asks her to come to his poker game, she at first refuses but agrees when he agrees to help her out of a jam she’s in. (Caroline has an offer to take her radio show to television, but she needs a husband; Caroline is divorced. Tru agrees to play the role of “Lance Lovelace”, “Carly’s” paragon-of-virtue husband at a party Caroline is attending). Another reason for Tru’s agreeing: he’s very attracted to Caroline.

Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid

Tru is less happy to play Lance when Caroline micromanages his actions. Caroline is unhappy about having to spend significant amounts of time with Tru, as she is also attracted to him, but trying to fight it. Caroline and Tru stop fighting their attraction to each other and become lovers.

She’s Gone

After their intimate encounter, Caroline discovers Tru’s current job. She breaks up with him after jumping to a conclusion.

Method of Modern Love

Realizing he can’t live without her, Tru confesses his love for Caroline at the taping of her television show. They reconcile and have their Happily Ever After.


There’s a lot to like here. Caroline and Tru are the same age: 35. They both have doctorates, although Tru doesn’t use his. They’re both professionals. Caroline and Tru are a well-matched couple with good chemistry between them. 


Not much to complain about from my end of the world, although Caroline’s at times controlling personality-which Ms. Hoffman explains the reasons for in the book- may not appeal to all readers. 


One love scene that takes place during Caroline’s radio show, which is fairly hot but not super erotic. 


No physical violence.

Bottom Line

With Bachelor Husband, Kate Hoffmann gets the “Bachelor Arms” series off to a good start. It’s not a perfect book, but it is certainly in the “good-to-very-good” category.

Reviewed by Blue Falcon