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climb the highest mountain

Historical Romance Review: Climb the Highest Mountain by Rosanne Bittner

Climb the Highest Mountain by Rosanne Bittner
Climb the Highest Mountain by F. Rosanne Bittner
Rating: five-stars
Published: 1985
Illustrator: Robert Sabin
Imprint or Line: Zebra Historical Romance
Book Series: Savage Destiny Series #5
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Family Saga, Historical Romance
Pages: 448
Format: Paperback, eBook
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Climb the Highest Mountain by Rosanne Bittner

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Climb the Highest Mountain, book #5 in the Savage Destiny series by Rosanne Bittner.

The Plot

The year is 1864. The Civil War is coming to an end, and more white migration west is going to soon affect Abigail Trent Monroe, her husband “Cheyenne” Zeke Monroe, and their seven children.

The more immediate threat to the Monroes comes in the form of Englishman Sir Edwin Tynes, their new neighbor.

While that is going on…

The Monroe Children’s Lives Take Major Turns

Wolf’s Blood, the Monroes’ oldest son, is seriously injured at the massacre at Sand Creek, becomes embittered, and joins his uncle, Swift Arrow, and the Sioux in fighting against white encroachment.

Daughter LeeAnn is kidnapped by Comanches and Zeke goes to rescue her.

Meanwhile, back in Colorado, the eldest Monroe daughter, Margaret becomes sexually involved with one of Tynes’ cowboys, who refuses to marry her.

After this, Margaret tries to disavow her Indian heritage and becomes a prostitute. Margaret later marries a man, Morgan Brown, a mulatto, who buys into the Monroe ranch to help the family get back on their feet financially.

On an even sadder note, the youngest daughter Lillian, whose health has always been fragile, passes away.

These events drive a major wedge between Zeke and Abbie.

Zeke’s Brother, Dan, Finds Love…Again

Zeke’s white half-brother, Dan, is back in the West and in the Army, but without his wife, Emily, and daughter, Jennifer, he’s starting to become attracted to Bonnie Beaker Lewis, whose husband was killed by Indians.

Later, Emily dies, giving Dan and Bonnie an opening to act on their feelings. Dan and Bonnie later marry.

As For Zeke and Abbie?

Zeke sleeps with Anna Gale, a former prostitute now boarding house owner, while he is debating whether to leave Abbie and his family due to all they have endured.

However, he and Abbie reconcile and they become a family again.

For now…

The Upside

I’m repeating myself, but Ms. Bittner is exceptional at digging deep into the soft underbelly of the emotions of her characters, both good and bad. It’s an emotional roller coaster, but Ms. Bittner’s fans–of which I am one–know it’s worth it.

The Downside

Not much to criticize here in Climb the Highest Mountain. I’d love to see the Monroes be happy, but I doubt that will happen.

Sex

Ms. Bittner’s love scenes are typically unimaginative.

Violence

One thing Ms. Bittner’s readers come to expect from her books is plenty of violence, and Climb the Highest Mountain certainly doesn’t disappoint in that regard. Assault, rape, shootings, killings, they’re all here.

Climb the Highest Mountain
Climb the Highest Mountain, Reprint

Bottom Line on Climb the Highest Mountain

Frequent readers of Rosanne Bittner’s books know what they’re getting from her work. It’s all here in Climb the Highest Mountain (Savage Destiny Series Book #5): exceptional emotionalism, and rawness.

It’s not always happy, but it’s great nonetheless. 

Rating Report Card
Plot
5
Characters
5
Writing
4.5
Chemistry
4.5
Fun Factor
5
Cover
4.5
Overall: 4.8

Synopsis

Ever since her gaze locked with Lone Eagle’s over a crimson campfire, young Abigail Trent knew her fate lay with the virile Cheyenne scout. She had married him, borne him children, and endured all the hardships of the rugged frontier. But even though so many years had passed, each night found the white squaw melded to her Indian mate, burning with the need to prove their passion again and again.

Now new troubles rose to challenge them: Homesteaders poured into the unmapped territory, determined to wrest the land from the forbidden lovers and their “heathen” people. Abbie and Lone Eagle had conquered greater threats than this, surviving bandits and outlaws, fevers and wounds. They would overcome this danger, too, as together they struggled for their own way of life and fiercely embraced their savage destiny.

Climb the Highest Mountain by Rosanne Bittner
embrace the wild land sabin

Historical Romance Review: Embrace the Wild Land by Rosanne Bittner

book review historical romance
Embrace the Wild Land by Rosanne Bittner
Rating: five-stars
Published: 1990
Illustrator: Robert Sabin
Imprint or Line: Zebra Historical Romance
Book Series: Savage Destiny #4
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Native American Romance, Western Romance
Pages: 446
Format: Paperback, eBook
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Embrace the Wild Land by Rosanne Bittner

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Embrace the Wild Land, book #4 in the “Savage Destiny series” by Rosanne Bittner.

The Plot

It is now 1861, and Abigail Trent Monroe and her husband, “Cheyenne” Zeke Monroe, and their seven children are living happily in what is now present-day Colorado. Which means something bad is going to happen. It does when the Monroes travel to an Army fort. A soldier tries to rape Abbie, and Zeke later kills him.

Meanwhile, Zeke’s white half-brother, Danny, goes back east to join the Confederacy in the Civil War. In another development, Winston Garvey, ex-U.S. Senator and “Evil White Man,” is trying to find out the name and whereabouts of his half-Indian son.

As troubles mount for Zeke, Abbie, the Cheyenne, and all Indian tribes, Danny is severely wounded during the Civil War. Garvey’s son, Charles, and some of Garvey’s men have a confrontation with Zeke, Abbie, and their family. The Monroes win the confrontation.

However, the elder Garvey puts the information together and realizes that the Monroes know about his other son. This leads to Garvey sending men to kidnap Abbie, who is later emotionally, mentally, physically, and sexually abused by Garvey and his henchmen.

As the book progresses, Zeke finds Danny, and one of his other half-brothers, Lance. (A third half-brother, Lenny, was killed in the Civil War.)

Zeke also makes some peace with his biological father. Zeke and his eldest son, Wolf’s Blood, deal out justice to Garvey and his men, and Zeke and Abbie re-find each other and, for a little while, are happy again.

The Upside

As always, Ms. Bittner draws tremendous pictures with her words. She brings me, as a reader, into the lives of the Monroe family. Ms. Bittner makes me see not words on a page, but real people, with real emotions.

The Downside

At times, Ms. Bittner’s writing is formulaic. I’ve already described this in earlier reviews.

Sex

The weakest part of Ms. Bittner’s writing is her love scenes, which are neither particularly sexy nor imaginative to me.

Violence

Ms. Bittner, however, has a great imagination for violence, and it definitely shows up in Embrace the Wild Land. As usual, there are multiple scenes of shooting, assault, sexual assault, and killing. Toward the end of the book, it’s especially graphic.

In Ms. Bittner’s world, the bad people always get their comeuppance. Unfortunately, not before seriously hurting the good people.

Bottom Line on Embrace the Wild Land

Embrace the Wild Land isn’t my favorite book by Rosanne Bittner, but it’s still darn good. 

Rating Report Card
Plot
5
Characters
5
Writing
5
Chemistry
3.5
Fun Factor
5
Cover
4.5
Overall: 4.7

Synopsis

Pioneers poured into the West; Civil War ravaged the East. But as upheaval racked the continent, the Cheyenne brave Lone Eagle and his courageous white woman Abigail Trent rediscovered their desire in the peaceful New Mexico territory. Their family grew with the years and it seemed that the troubles that had tormented them would never return to invade the ranch by the wide Arkansas River.

But the chaotic world burst in upon them, separating them again. Lone Eagle had to leave the ecstasy he found in Abigail’s arms for the horror of the white man’s war. Though fresh sorrows would always plague them, the Cheyenne warrior and his determined wife believed in their love. Though they were forced apart, they knew that somehow they would be reunited and free once more to share their chosen Savage Destiny.

Embrace the Wild Land by Rosanne Bittner
CATEGORIES: , , , , , , , ,

***

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: , , , , , , , , ,

***

defiant ecstasy janelle taylor

Historical Romance Review: Defiant Ecstasy by Janelle Taylor

book review historical romance

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Defiant Ecstasy Book #2 in the “Ecstasy/Gray Eagle” series by Janelle Taylor.

The Plot

Part One Defiant Ecstasy

Defiant Ecstasy begins by filling in details of what occurred at the end of the first book, Savage Ecstasy.

Then Gray Eagle, the “hero” of the series, shows up at Fort Pierre with 2,000 Indian warriors behind him. He has a demand for the denizens of Fort Pierre. They must release his white lover, Alisha Katrina Williams, to him, or he and his warriors will destroy the fort and everyone in it.

After some contentious debate, the Army decides to send Alisha back to Gray Eagle.

Gray Eagle and Alisha are both happy with the decision. Nevertheless, Gray Eagle orders his braves to destroy the fort, anyway, as payback for how the soldiers and others in the fort treated Alisha. For a while, they are happy.

Two events, however, happen to shatter their happiness.

The first: Gray Eagle’s “betrothed”, a Lakota woman named Chela, tries to kill Alisha. Gray Eagle stops this from occurring.

Part Two Defiant Ecstasy

What he can’t stop, at least immediately, is the second event. A Blackfoot woman concocts a ruse that Alisha isn’t really Alisha Williams, an English ex-pat, but Princess Shalee, a half-white, half-Blackfoot woman who was abducted years earlier. As part of the scheme, Alisha is taken out of the Lakota village and to a Blackfoot village to marry Shalee’s betrothed, a Blackfoot warrior named Brave Bear.

While in the Blackfoot camp, Alisha begins having romantic feelings toward Brave Bear, who treats her with kindness that Gray Eagle doesn’t. Gray Eagle, however, refuses to give Alisha up and challenges Brave Bear for the right to marry her. Gray Eagle defeats Brave Bear–but, at Alisha’s urging, does not kill him.

As they prepare for their joining ceremony, Gray Eagle and Alisha are plagued with problems, most of which are self-inflicted.

Some of these issues are eventually resolved, and Alisha and Gray Eagle marry and are happy…

For now, anyway.

defiant ecstasy alt
Defiant Ecstasy, alt cover

The Upside

Mrs. Taylor’s evocative, flowing writing style is on display here, as she brought me into the world of Gray Eagle and Alisha. The characters are well-developed.

The Downside

Having already established Gray Eagle as an emotional/physical abuser/rapist, Mrs. Taylor spends much of Defiant Ecstasy trying to rehabilitate him.

For some, it might work. For me…not at all. While I don’t believe it is necessarily fair to judge someone solely by one action–or a series of actions–Gray Eagle shows no remorse for his behavior. In fact, he blames Alisha for what he has done to her! And Alisha, on occasion, agrees with him! Not good.

Sex

Very little in the way of love scenes, and those that do happen are typically mild and flowery in the Janelle Taylor style.

Violence

The sacking of Fort Pierre occurs “offscreen.” Gray Eagle and Brave Bear’s fight is only mildly graphic.

Bottom Line on Defiant Ecstasy

I am a fan of Janelle Taylor and her works. Defiant Ecstasy is a decent book. However, I totally repudiate her efforts to try to defend/excuse/justify Gray Eagle’s behavior.

3.85

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

Synopsis

The longer Alisha Williams remained at Fort Pierre, the more she hoped her redskinned lover would rescue her from the taunts and tirades of the white pioneers. They would never let her forget she had been the mistress of the infamous savage warrior, Gray Eagle. As if the auburn-haired beauty could forget! Each night, Alisha sweetly remembered Gray Eagle’s bold caresses, burning kisses, his blazing passion. Each day, she scanned the vast horizon in hopes her Oglala brave would recapture her.

Then one day, Alish saw hundreds of Indian warriors riding to the gates of Fort Pierre–and at their head was the fierce Gray Eagle. Though her most fervent prayers had been answered, Alisha’s heart skipped a beat: Would Gray Eagle destroy her–or make her destiny his own? 

Defiant Ecstasy by JANELLE TAYLOR
ride the free wind

Historical Romance Review: Ride the Free Wind by Rosanne Bittner

book review historical romance
Ride the Free Wind by F. Rosanne Bittner
Rating: five-stars
Published: 1984
Illustrator: Robert Sabin
Imprint or Line: Zebra Historical Romance
Book Series: Savage Destiny #2
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Native American Romance, Western Romance
Pages: 445
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonThriftBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Ride the Free Wind by Rosanne Bittner

The Book

This review is of Ride the Free Wind book #2 in the “Savage Destiny” series by Rosanne Bittner.

The Plot

Ride the Free Wind begins shortly after the first book in the saga, Sweet Prairie Passion, ended. Abigail “Abbie” Trent Monroe and her husband, “Cheyenne” Zeke Monroe, are traveling to find Zeke’s Cheyenne mother and three Cheyenne half-brothers.

Zeke also has three white half-brothers, one of whom is Danny Monroe. Danny and one of Zeke’s Indian brothers, Swift Arrow, will play pivotal roles as the series continues.

Three evil characters who will adversely affect Zeke, Abbie, their family, and the Cheyenne are introduced. They are:

  • Dancing Moon: An Arapaho Indian woman and Zeke’s former lover, Dancing Moon becomes intensely jealous when Zeke brings Abbie into the Cheyenne camp. This emotion leads to a series of attacks against both Zeke and Abbie. Zeke takes revenge on Dancing Moon but does not kill her, a decision he will come to rue as the series continues…
  • Winston Garvey: A U.S. Senator who lusts after money and power, Garvey aspires to become a war profiteer when the U.S. and Mexico go to war, among other plans.
  • Jonathan Mack: Garvey’s right-hand man. Mack hires Zeke to act as a scout for a dangerous expedition. Zeke doesn’t know Mack has stashed contraband in the wagons so HE can profit from the Mexican-American War.

As the story unfolds, Zeke and Danny discover each other’s existence.

Zeke and Abbie become parents of two children–a son, Little Rock, and a daughter, Blue Sky. The family, the Cheyenne, and the rest of the Native American tribes deal with sadness and anger as their ways of life are forever altered by the encroachment of white society.

Ride the Free Wind

Upside

As usual, Ms. Bittner’s writing is exquisite. I never feel as if I’m reading a book she writes, but rather that I am watching the characters in front of me. I feel every one of their emotions, especially Zeke and Abbie’s. I feel their happiness, and I feel their pain. That is something only the truly great authors can engender in me.

I also like that Ms. Bittner writes Zeke as a totally human character. Unlike Gray Eagle, the “hero” of Janelle Taylor’s “Ecstasy/Gray Eagle” series and often written as omnipotent, Ms. Bittner doesn’t write Zeke that way.

During the course of the “Savage Destiny” series, Zeke is shot and injured and allowed to be human. This is great to see and makes Zeke an authentic character rather than a caricature.

Downside

In addition to what I wrote in my review of Sweet Prairie Passion, I can add another criticism of Ms. Bittner. At times, the “Savage Destiny” series is formulaic. The formula goes like this: Zeke and Abbie are happy. Zeke and Abbie are separated. Abbie and/or Zeke is attacked. Zeke finds the attackers and inflicts maximum pain on the malefactors before–usually–killing them. Lather, rinse, repeat. This is the same for Ride the Free Wind.

Sex

Ms. Bittner’s love scenes are very salty. This is not a compliment. Salt, to me, is a very basic spice. That also describes Ms. Bittner’s love scenes. Basic, at best.

Violence

Ms. Bittner’s scenes here, however, are far from basic. As usual, there are scenes of assault, rape, and various killings. When Zeke does it, it’s a little more graphic and creative.

ride the free wind

Bottom Line on Ride the Free Wind

I’m much more willing to forgive Ms. Bittner for the somewhat formulaic nature of some of her scenes in Ride the Free Wind due to how exceptional she is in other areas. Ms. Bittner’s books will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but those who like Native American romances will find lots to love in Rosanne Bittner’s books.

5 Stars

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

SYNOPSIS

Abandoning everything she had ever known, Abigail Trent left her family and chose her fate–to ride with Zeke Monroe, half-Cheyenne scout, into the unexplored west. Together they faced peril, until Zeke found his mother’s people and became Lone Eagle, turning his back on the white man’s world. To stay with him, Abigail must become Cheyenne too–even if it means death and warfare.

Ride the Free Wind by Rosanne Bittner

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tender savage phoebe conn

Historical Romance Review: Tender Savage by Phoebe Conn

tender savage phoebe conn
Tender Savage by Phoebe Conn
Rating: three-stars
Published: 1989
Illustrator: Pino
Imprint or Line: Zebra Lovegram
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Western Romance, Native American Romance
Pages: 480
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Tender Savage by Phoebe Conn

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Tender Savage, a standalone Zebra Lovegram by Phoebe Conn.

Tender Savage starts in Wilmington, Delaware, in June 1862. The book spans from June 1862 to September 1863 during the American Civil War.

The Plot

Part One of Tender Savage

The book begins with Erica Hanson and Mark Randall kissing passionately. The night won’t end happily for either, unfortunately. Mark and Erica’s father, Lars, a physician, are going to leave the next day to join the Union army.

Erica is being sent to New Ulm, Minnesota. She is to live with Lars’ sister, Britta, and her husband, Karl Ludwig, who owns a store there. However, Erica wants to marry Mark–or at least become his lover–before leaving for war. Mark refuses. This is the source of the conflict between them.

When Erica arrives in New Ulm, she meets Viper, a half-Lakota, half-white Indian. They share kisses and are attracted to each other.

Things look bleak as Viper and his fellow Lakota will soon be at war with the white citizens of New Ulm after promises from the government fail to materialize. During the uprising, Viper kidnaps Erica. He does so for two reasons. One is to keep her from being killed, and two, because he’s hot for her. It’s not so bad, as she is also hot for him. Erica and Viper become lovers and are married in the Lakota tradition.

Soon, however, hardships emerge. Viper’s aunt, plus an evil-other woman who is in lust with him, causes problems for Erica.

Part Two of Tender Savage

An even bigger problem will soon present itself in the form of Mark. He arranges a transfer to Minnesota to find Erica and marry her. Mark arrives in Minnesota, finds Erica with Viper, and arrests him. Viper must stand trial in a military tribunal, where he is tried and convicted.

After this, Viper asks Mark to marry Erica, which Mark agrees to. Erica and Mark marry, and he is sent back to Wilmington to rejoin the Union Army. Happiness and sadness soon follow as Erica discovers she is pregnant with Viper’s child. Meanwhile, Mark is seriously injured during the war, gets blinded, and becomes an invalid who needs constant care.

Back in Minnesota, Viper’s conviction is vacated. He leaves the state heading to Delaware to find Erica. Adopting the name “Etienne Bouchard” (his French grandfather’s name), Viper finagles his way into becoming Mark’s companion, which severely irritates Erica.

Soon after “Etienne’s” arrival, Erica gives birth to a son who looks exactly like Etienne. This creates a rift between Erica and Etienne on one side and Lars and Sarah Randall–Mark’s sister–, on the other. Poor, hapless Mark doesn’t know he’s not the child’s father.

In the end, Mark conveniently passes away. Erica and Viper go back to Minnesota–to a different part of the state. Lars and Sarah marry, and both couples have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

The backdrop of Tender Savage is the Minnesota Sioux Uprising of 1862, an actual occurrence. Mrs. Conn does a fairly good job melding her fictional characters with real people and events.

On some levels, Tender Savage tries to be like Nancy Henderson (Nan) Ryan’s excellent romance, Kathleen’s Surrender. Like that book, Tender Savage takes place in part during the Civil War and features a love triangle. That, however, is where the similarities end.

Downside

Mrs. Ryan had the ability to make me, as a reader, care about her characters and feel their emotions. Mrs. Conn–although she tries–sadlyTender Savage does not.

Tender Savage is the seventh book I’ve read by Phoebe Conn. Like the other six, Tender Savage lacks both emotional depth and character development.

I also had issues with the heroine and hero. Erica checks off the basic romance heroine boxes: she’s beautiful, young, sexy, and has a great body, but… That’s it. There really is no substance to her.

Viper is worse. Mrs. Conn would have been better served to name him “Etienne Bouchard” because Viper is basically a white Indian. Although she researched the uprising, it is clear that Mrs. Conn did none about the Lakota tribe.

There is almost nothing about Viper–besides living in a teepee and eating pemmican–that would identify him as a Native American. The only depth to his character is that we learn he has French ancestry.

There is very little romantic chemistry between Erica and Viper. The beginning of their relationship in no way indicates love; they are in lust with each other. Although Mrs. Conn tries at the end, she falls well short of creating the type of characters I can genuinely care about.

Also, I didn’t particularly appreciate that after he gained access to the Hanson home, Viper spent a great deal of time trying to have sex with Erica even though she was married to Mark.

I also didn’t buy the “Erica and Mark didn’t consummate their marriage; therefore, they weren’t legally married, and Viper’s actions were okay” excuse at the end of the book, either.

Sex

I will give Mrs. Conn credit for writing slightly better love scenes here than in her previous books, but that is damning with very faint praise.

Violence

Most of the violence takes place “off-screen.” However, there are “on-screen” scenes of assault and battery, and a slashing occurs.

Bottom Line On Tender Savage

There was the foundation for a good book in Tender Savage.

Unfortunately, Mrs. Conn was not the author to mine the gold that might have been there. Instead, the book ends up in “pewter territory.” 

3 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
3
Characters
2.5
Writing
3
Chemistry
3
Fun Factor
3
Cover
4
Overall: 3.1

Synopsis:

TOO FAST TO STOP
When innocent Erica Hansen fled to Minnesota to escape the Civil War’s horrors, she had no idea she was stepping right into the middle of an Indian uprising. And until a painted, whooping brave swept her onto his stallion, she never guessed how unsafe her new home really was. The curvaceous blonde struggled against her captor’s grip, but the farther they rode from civilization, the wilder her response to him became. The passionate beauty knew she should bite, scratch and kick the warrior, but before she could think of the consequences, Erica began to caress, kiss and embrace him!

TOO FAR TO RETURN
From the moment he beheld the golden-haired paleface, the Sioux fighter named Viper swore she’d never meet the white captives’ fate of torture and degradation. This was a woman created for the most ecstatic kinds of lovemaking … and the virile male would make sure he’d be the one to show her the myriad ways to enjoy pleasure. He promised himself he’d release her when the furor of the battle died down. But once the jet-haired Sioux trapped her in his arms, he realized a lifetime was too short to savor her ivory skin, to exult in her lavender scent, to take her time and again as her Tender Savage. 

TENDER SAVAGE by PHOEBE CONN
destinys-splendor drymon

Historical Romance Review: Destiny’s Splendor by Kathleen Drymon

historical romance review
Destiny's Splendor by Kathleen Drymon
Rating: three-half-stars
Published: 1988
Illustrator: Don Case
Imprint or Line: Zebra Lovegram
Book Series: Savage Splendor Series #2
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Native American Romance
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Destiny’s Splendor by Kathleen Drymon

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Plot

This review is of Destiny’s Splendor published in December 1988. This Zebra romance is book #2 in an unofficial Native American “series” by Kathleen Drymon. The series, in order, consists of:

  1. Savage Dawn – September 1984
  2. Destiny’s Splendor – December 1988
  3. Velvet Savage – September 1989
  4. Gentle Savage – February 1990
  5. Savage Heaven – February 1995

The Book

Destiny’s Splendor starts with two births. In a Blackfoot Indian village, chief Golden Eagle and his wife Singing Moon welcome a son, Star Hawk. In New Orleans, on a plantation, Dennis Coltin and his wife Hope welcome a daughter, Jessica Star. None are aware of what fate and destiny have in store for them.

Fast forward many years. Jessica, now 19, is in despair. Dennis and Hope were killed in a carriage accident–which really wasn’t one–a year ago, and Jessica has to deal with Dennis’ cousin, Edmond DeVaugn’s, guardianship. This will end when Jessica turns 21 or marries.

Edmond has been parading a group of lecherous men in front of her to force her to marry. Edmond wants Jessica to marry a man he can control, along with the Coltin fortune.

One day, Jessica meets Star Hawk, now 22. Star Hawk shows kindness and empathy to her, something she needs in her life.

However, in a turn of events, Star Hawk kidnaps Jessica and takes her to his village. They eventually marry and consummate their marriage.

Not everyone is happy about Jessica and Star Hawk’s marriage. Golden Eagle tries to talk Star Hawk out of marriage to her; this fails. Later, a Blackfoot woman, Spring Lilly, tries to kill Jessica; Star Hawk stops her. For a long while, Jessica–now named Silver Star–and Star Hawk are happy.

That happiness is soon threatened, however, as Jessica is kidnapped by two trappers and returned to New Orleans and Edmond’s evil clutches. He takes her to London to marry her off to a lecherous Earl. Star Hawk finds the trappers and makes them sorry for their actions. He then sets sail for England to find Jessica, who is pregnant.

Star Hawk stops Jessica’s planned marriage, kills DeVaughn, and returns to America with Jessica, just in time for her to deliver twins, a boy and a girl. Jessica and Star Hawk have their Happily Ever After. And the story will continue.

Upside

It is very rare to see two people so deeply in love as Jessica and Star Hawk are. From the moment they meet to their marriage to their separation, reunion, and birth of their children, Ms. Drymon lets their love for each other shine through. Jessica and Star Hawk are both, for the most part, likable characters.

Downside

Although Ms. Drymon tries very hard to skip past this, the fact is that Destiny’s Splendor is a Stockholm Syndrome romance. Star Hawk kidnapped Jessica. No matter the fact that they love each other, this is still a Stockholm Syndrome romance; which is a trope I loathe.

While I liked Jessica, she wasn’t my favorite type of heroine. She has no skills beyond knowing about plants for medicinal purposes. Having said that, though, two points need to be made:

Point #1

Although Ms. Drymon doesn’t specify the time setting of Destiny’s Splendor, there are references to “the colonies”, therefore, an inference can be made that the book is set during or before 1776. Women clearly didn’t have as many life choices as they do today.

Point #2

Jessica comes from a well-to-do family. Women from wealthy families weren’t supposed to have skills or intelligence that were made public. Her role was to look beautiful and become a wife and mother.

Mini Bottom Line

Although Jessica isn’t my favorite type of romance heroine, there are mitigating factors that I must acknowledge.

There isn’t any real depth or character development here, and though she falls deeply in love with him, I feel that most of Jessica’s love was out of gratitude to Star Hawk for showing her kindness, something she didn’t get from most males after her father died.

Sex

Most of the love scenes are very mild and filled with extremely purple prose.

Violence

Assault, battery, slashings, and one killing take place here. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line On Destiny’s Splendor

Kathleen Drymon’s Destiny’s Splendor probably isn’t as good a book as I’m making it sound. It also probably isn’t as bad a book as I’m making it sound.

My final grade would be just under 3.5 stars

3.45 Stars


Synopsis:

NO WAY OUT

Jessica Star Colton had nowhere to turn. At nineteen, she had two years before being free of the cruel guardian who intended to marry her off to the highest bidder and keep her fortune for himself. Jessica thought she would never escape this loveless fate… until the day she met Star Hawk in the forest. As the magnificent Indian warrior appeared from behind the dense trees, his dark eyes seemed to penetrate her very being, and his bronzed arms reached out to offer her comfort. There was something about him that made Jessica yearn to taste his kiss – it was as though she were meant for his embrace…

ONLY ONE CHOICE

Star Hawk knew Jessica was the woman of his dreams. They were fated for union from birth and he was not about to let the white beauty slip from his grasp. From the first moment he spotted her from afar, he knew of the heaven he would find in her caress. Her silver-blue eyes and silky red hair haunted him, obsessed him. Star Hawk wanted to take Jessica and claim her as his woman, even if that meant capturing her against her will. He knew that once their lips met in a searing kiss, all of their sleeping passions would awaken, and together they would join in Destiny’s Splendor.

DESTINY’S SPLENDOR by KATHLEEN DRYMON
Savage Rapture walter popp

Historical Romance Review: Savage Rapture by Sylvie F. Sommerfield

book review historical romance
Savage Rapture by Sylvie F. Sommerfield
Rating: four-half-stars
Published: 1982
Illustrator: Walter Popp
Imprint or Line: Zebra Historical Romance
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Native American Romance, Historical Romance, Western Romance
Pages: 542
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Savage Rapture by Sylvie F. Sommerfield

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Savage Rapture by Sylvie F. Sommerfield.

The Plot

Part One of Savage Rapture

Savage Rapture begins with two lovers parting company. Michael Holliday, a white doctor, leaves his wife, Waterflower, and their son, Cade, 2, with her people, the Cheyenne Indians. They make a pact: that one day, Cade will go to Michael in the white world and then return to the Cheyenne and assist them with the knowledge he gains.

Fast forward 15 years. Michael summons Cade to Washington, D.C. to expand his knowledge. Among those he leaves behind is Snow Blossom, daughter of village chief Tekata and the book’s heroine, who is deeply in love with him.

While with his father, Cade gains knowledge, becomes a doctor, and falls in love with and becomes affianced to Lauren Brent, a local heiress. However, their relationship comes apart from their disparate views on what their lives will be like.

Cade returns to the Cheyenne, as does his father Michael, with Lauren in tow.

As Cade returns to the Cheyenne camp, he falls in love with and later marries Snow Blossom.

Part Two of Savage Rapture

Her brother, White Eagle, falls in love with a white woman, Rebecca Wade, and later marries her.

When Lauren arrives, she thinks she can break Snow Blossom and Cade up and reunite with him.

Once she realizes this isn’t going to happen, Lauren becomes deeply depressed. This depression is lifted once she matures a bit and falls in love with Running Wolf, a brave from another Cheyenne band. For a while, the three couples are happy.

However, major–literally–trouble is brewing. Army major John Chivington, a known Indian-hater backed by factions in the government, hires three trappers–one with his own agenda–to kidnap the three women to try to force the Cheyenne off their land.

Snow Blossom eventually makes her way back to Cade, but not before learning a secret about his past.

Chivington is defeated–temporarily.

Snow Blossom and Cade, Running Wolf and Lauren, and Rebecca and White Eagle all extend their lineages with children, and all the couples have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

This is the first book by Mrs. Sommerfield where she really made me care about the characters. All of the characters are fully developed, and there is a strong vein of family themes running through the book.

Downside

This is more of a personal thing for me, but Savage Rapture could have been a little spicier regarding the love scenes. The ending was a little disappointing. I would have liked to see Chivington and the other evil characters get a little more comeuppance.

Sex

Mrs. Sommerfield’s love scenes are all about purple prose and euphemisms. Heat level: about a 2 or 3.

Violence

Multiple killings, which are mostly done “offscreen.” Physical violence, threats of violence, but nothing really graphic.

Bottom Line on Savage Rapture

Savage Rapture, for me, is great but not a 5-star read. More like a 4.25 or 4.5-star book.

4.38 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
4.5
Characters
4.5
Writing
4.5
Chemistry
2.5
Fun Factor
4.5
Cover
4.5
Overall: 4.2

Synopsis:

CAPTIVE OF HIS PASSION
Beautiful Snow Blossom had waited years for Cade to return to the reservation. His warm smile and sparkling blue eyes had promised her a lifetime of fiery passion. Just the thought of their first lingering kiss made her ache with desire. Without her even knowing it she had become a…

CAPTIVE OF HIS LOVE
But as soon as the handsome half-breed rode into the Cheyenne camp, Snow Blossom knew that he had changed. He had lived in the white man’s world too long; he was in love with another. Yet when he held her in his arms all else ceased to matter. He had made her a prisoner of his passion – somehow she’d make him a captive of her heart.

Savage Rapture by Sylvie F. Sommerfield
dakota flame sonya t pelton zebra

Historical Romance Review: Dakota Flame by Sonya T. Pelton

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book – Dakota Flame

This review is of Dakota Flame, a standalone novel from July 1989 by Sonya T. Pelton. (Published by Zebra/Kensington).

The Plot

Part 1: Savage Journey

Dakota Flame begins in Mankato, Minnesota, in December 1862. Thirty-eight Lakota braves are executed for their attack on a white settlement. Among them is a brave named Red Hawk.

Later, his spirit pouch ends up with Audrey Tina (Audrina) Harris, 20, the heroine of the book. Audrina has red hair, green eyes, and honey-gold skin. The reason Audrina receives the pouch: unbeknownst to her, Audrina is half-Lakota.

Soon after getting the pouch, Audrina is nearly raped by soldier Joe Powell. She is saved from this indignity by Wild Hawk, the hero of the book. Wild Hawk has black hair and bronzed skin. Wild Hawk is chief to his band of Lakota, and Red Hawk’s son.

He wants the pouch, and as time goes on, he also wants Audrina. Wild Hawk kidnaps Audrina, and later her Aunt Katherine and Sadie Peterson, another white woman, and takes them to his village. As they travel, Audrina begins developing romantic feelings for Wild Hawk, as he does for her.

The trip is not entirely pleasant; two other Lakotas, a brave, Left Hand, and his sister, Tawena, hate all whites and have evil plans for the white women.

Part II: Precious Fire

Not everyone will make it to Wild Hawk’s village. Katherine is killed by Left Hand. Later, Audrina and Wild Hawk become lovers. While this is going on, Sadie begins having romantic feelings toward Wild Hawk’s younger cousin, Fox Dreamer.

Part III: Savage Angel

As they make their way to Wild Hawk’s home village, Audrina finds herself in a dilemma: on the one hand, she’s falling in love with Wild Hawk; on the other, she wants to live a white person’s life. Meanwhile, Left Hand and Tawena have joined up with Powell to get Audrina and Sadie. Later, LeftHand rapes Sadie, and Powell semi-abducts Audrina (she went willingly with Powell after he lied to her about her father appearing).

Part IV: Lost Embrace

Upon learning of Audrina’s departure, Wild Hawk comes to the realization that he does, in fact, love her, and sets out to find her. Powell is killed, but this doesn’t free Audrina; instead, she becomes the captive of Left Hand.

In the end, the following things occur: Left Hand, Powell, and Tawena are all killed. Wild Hawk finds and rescues Audrina, they reconcile their differences and acknowledge that they love each other. Audrina does meet her father, Frank Harris, who is also half-Indian. Audrina and Wild Hawk have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

Dakota Flame is the best book I’ve read by Ms. Pelton so far (out of the 7 I’ve read. More on that later). Audrina is a fairly likable character. The love scenes are good for a mainstream historical romance novel from 1989.

Downside

Dakota Flame contains two tropes I really dislike, maybe to the point of hating. Those tropes are captor/captive and Simpering Sara.

Wild Hawk kidnaps Audrina, and during the course of the book, he is cruel at times to her. Despite this, Audrina is hot for his form and is willing to forgive his behavior toward her.

Although I liked Audrina, she is at times royally stupid, an example of this is her going with Powell, even though he nearly raped her earlier because he’s white. Audrina’s thinking-or not thinking: “Hey, he’s white. Even though he nearly raped me, he can be trusted because, you know, he’s white!”

She is also a bit whiny, spending much of the book yearning for the white world yet acknowledging she’s in love with a man who can’t live there. There is no character depth or development.

The book is told from the following perspectives: Audrina. Katherine. Powell. Sadie. Tawena. Left Hand. Who’s missing from this list? Wild Hawk. Only in the last third of the book does Ms. Pelton allows Wild Hawk to speak in his own voice and express his own thoughts. The books I like best are those where both the hero and heroine get equal or near equal time to do this.

Sex

As mentioned, the love scenes are quite good for a mainstream historical romance novel from 1989. The scenes in Dakota Flame don’t approach erotica, but they are on par with the love scenes from Cassie Edwards’ many Native American romances.

Violence

Assault, attempted rape, battery, and killings all take place here. The rape scene is mildly graphic.

Bottom Line on Dakota Flame

I mentioned earlier that Dakota Flame is my favorite book authored by Ms. Pelton. Considering that she has written such “classics” as Passion’s Paradise, that’s not exactly a high bar to get over. It is also a milestone, as Dakota Flame is the first book by Ms. Pelton to get more than a 2-star rating from me, but just barely.

***

Tropes: American Upper Midwest. Captor/captive. Half -Native-American Heroine. Historical Romance. Native American Hero.

Location: Mankato, Minnesota. South Dakota.

Time Frame: Late 1862-1863.

2.52 Stars


Synopsis:

Because enchantingly lovely Audrina Harris knew that she was destined to play a major role in the tribal life of the Dakota people, it came as no surprise when Chief Wild Hawk rode into the Minnesota River Valley town and captured her, swinging her up behind him on his powerful black stallion.

Audrina felt the sharp stirring of rapture the moment her eyes met his, but the feisty, independent young beauty was determined not to be his captive. She would fulfill her destiny freely, or not at all. But the farther westward they traveled, the more she became a slave to Wild Hawk’s searing kisses and the sweet strength of his powerful bronze arms. And the more she realized how easy it would be to leave the white world behind for a lifetime of scorching love with her passionate Indian warrior.

BEGUILED INTO LOVE
Deeply saddened and angered by his father’s death at the white man’s hands, all Chief Wild Hawk wanted was to lead his tribe to peace and to obey the call of his dream vision: to capture the beautiful young girl who possessed the sacred talisman of the Dakota people. But Audrina Harris proved to be more than the paleface slave he’d bargained for. She had spirit and fire and a mind of her own–and the loveliest body he had ever seen.

When his lips first touched her luscious flesh, he knew that it was more than tribal destiny and a length of frayed rope that bound her to him. He knew he could not live without her warm breath in his ear, the fiery touch of her soft curves beneath his hands, and the raging passion that soon ignited into a fierce DAKOTA FLAME.

DAKOTA FLAME by SONYA T. PELTON