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the present

Historical Romance Review: The Present by Johanna Lindsey

historical romance review
The Present by Johanna Lindsey
Rating: three-half-stars
Published: 1998
Illustrator: Unknown
Book Series: Malory & Anderson #6
Published by: Avon
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 352
Buy on: AmazonThriftBooks

Historical Romance Review: The Present by Johanna Lindsey

SPOILER FREE REVIEW 😊

The Book

Over 22 years and under two different publishers, Johanna Lindsey wrote 12 romances about the Malory & Anderson clans. These books were massive hits with her many fans, with some readers claiming them as favorites, especially Gentle Rogue. Her novel, The Present, is moderately short at just over 300 pages. It tells two parallel love stories set in different eras in England, portraying the Malory clan in the past and the “present.” No matter how time changes, the love lives of the family remain the same.

The Plot

It is Christmas time. The Malorys–wives, husbands, and children–assemble at Haverston, the family patriarch’s estate. Lord Jason Malory is a Marquis and father to Derek, the hero from Say You Love Me. Readers familiar with that novel should know the dark family secret. Derek is not a child of the legitimate union between his father and his wife. Jason had an affair with a mysterious woman, and Derek was the result of that. The mystery woman is Jason’s long-time maid, Molly.

Jason’s marriage was for convenience. It is an unhappy one, as he and his wife have lived apart for years. Jason has always been a stickler for propriety and forever covering up scandals. It was a struggle reigning in his two wild younger brothers, Anthony and James.

Out of blue, a package in Christmas wrapping appears. The Malorys open it to find a diary.

It details how the second Marquis of Haverston, Christopher, found love with a gypsy princess named Anastasia. Curious, the family reads the book aloud, discovering long-kept secrets.

The five couples from the previous installments have their roles in the book. Fortunately, my favorite Malory couples feature prominently throughout. There’s little focus on boring Roslynn and Kelsey and more on Uncle James, his wife Georgina, and niece Amy.

Derek, and his parents, Jason and Molly, are the main characters in the current timeline.

The Present tells of how the incongruous pairing between an English nobleman and a lovely gypsy came to be. It also details the romance between the mature quinquagenarian Jason and his forty-something beloved, Molly.

Christmas is a time of miracles. Indeed, it would be a miracle if Jason and Molly could openly declare their love for each other. A rigid class structure controls society.

Nevertheless, the past foretells the future, and love wins out in the end.

Final Analysis of The Present

If you’re unfamiliar with the Malory clan, I wouldn’t recommend The Present as your first foray into the series. You can skip the first two books, but reading Gentle Rogue, The Magic of You, and Say You Love Me is essential.

3.5 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
4
Characters
3.5
Writing
4
Chemistry
3
Fun Factor
3
Overall: 3.5

Synopsis

As the entire Malory family gathers at Haverston to celebrate the season, a mysterious present arrives anonymously. The gift is an old journal — a tender and tempestuous account of the love affair between the second Marquis, Christopher Malory, and a dark gypsy beauty named Anastasia, who seeks a love match with a non-gypsy in order to save herself from a prearranged marriage to a brute.

Though the dashing English lord Anastasia sets her sight upon burns for the exquisite, exotic miss, Christopher could never consent to wed such a lowborn lady. But miracles have been known to happen in this season of peace and giving and love, as two extraordinary people seperated by cicumstance of birth begin a passionate dance of will and wiles.

And in the miraculous blossoming of a glorious romance at a long ago Christmastime, there are wise and well-learned lessons that will enrich the hearts of the Malory descendants — and, indeed, of everyone who has ever dreamed.

The Present by Johanna Lindsey
seduced and betrayed

Category Romance Review: Seduced and Betrayed by Candace Schuler

category romance
Seduced and Betrayed by Candace Schuler
Rating: four-half-stars
Published: 1995
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Temptation #553
Book Series: Bachelor Arms #8; Hollywood Nights #2
Published by: Harlequin
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 224
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Category Romance Review: Seduced and Betrayed by Candace Schuler

SPOILER FREE REVIEW 🙂

The Book

This review is of Seduced and Betrayed, #8 in the Bachelor Arms” series, and book #2 of 3 in the series written by Candace Schuler. (Harlequin Temptation, September 1995).

The Plot

The book begins in 1970. A woman finds her boyfriend, naked, in bed with another woman, who is also naked. Their relationship isn’t the only thing that ends that night. 

Fast forward 25 years. Ezekiel “Zeke” Blackstone, 47, the book’s hero, is heading to a planning meeting for his daughter Cameron’s upcoming wedding. He is a famous actor turned producer/director and a major player in Hollywood.

Zeke is nervous, however, because this meeting will bring him face-to-face with Ariel Cameron, 43, the heroine of the book, Cameron’s mother, and Zeke’s ex-wife. (They were the couple who broke up in the first paragraph!). Ariel, a successful actress turned model, has been estranged from Zeke for 25 years.

As Zeke takes an apartment–ironically the same one he lived in before at the “Bachelor Arms”–we learn how he and Ariel met, became lovers, married, and the circumstances that led to their divorce. We also learn that despite all that has happened between them, Ariel and Zeke are still very attracted to each other. They later act on their attraction and become lovers again. For a while, Ariel and Zeke are happy again.

However, Ariel soon finds a reason to doubt Zeke again. In the end, however, Ariel and Zeke commit to each other and their love and find their Happily Ever After. 

Upside

Ariel and Zeke are both strong characters, both as younger people and as the mature adults they are in the primary setting for Seduced and Betrayed. They are fairly well-developed and interesting people.

Ms. Schuler is very good at getting me, as a reader, into her characters’ minds and their emotions. So much so that even during the lovemaking scenes between Ariel and Zeke, I felt like I was there with them, not as a voyeur but as part of them. 

Downside

One of the drawbacks to the category romance format is that certain things can get short shrift because of the relatively short nature of the books (around 200 to 300 pages). In Seduced and Betrayed, this crops up in Ariel’s relationship with her mother, Constance, who controls Ariel’s career. Constance’s reasons for doing so and why Ariel allows it are hinted at but never truly explained.

Given that this relationship had major implications for the early days of Ariel and Zeke’s marriage, this was a rather large miss. 

Sex

Several love scenes between Ariel and Zeke. They’re not quite as good as in Lovers and Strangers, but they’re good nonetheless.  

Violence

Ariel throws several objects at Zeke, who also kicks in a door. 

Bottom Line for Seduced and Betrayed

Seduced and Betrayed is a very good book, with one issue keeping it just below the great category.

* * *

Hero: Zeke Blackstone. Actor/producer/director. Black hair, brown eyes.

Heroine: Ariel Cameron. Actress/model. Golden blonde hair, blue eyes. 

Tropes: Actor. Actress. Contemporary romance. Harlequin Temptation. Hollywood. Reunited. Second chance.

4.49 Stars

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

Synopsis

In 1970, Zeke Blackstone was a smokin’ hot 22-year old bad boy actor staring in his first Hollywood movie. His co-star was 18-year-old Ariel Cameron, America’s TV sweetheart. Their instant chemistry—both on and off the screen—culminated in a whirlwind affair that came crashing down one night in the tragic aftermath of a wild party at the Wilshire Arms.

Now, twenty-five years later, Zeke is still smokin’ hot with a well-earned reputation as both a ladies’ man and a leading man. Ariel is one of the most respected actresses in America. Neither has willingly been in the same room together since their divorce was final.

But their beloved daughter is getting married and all she asks of her estranged parents is that they make nice for the wedding. Thrown together for the wedding festivities, the attraction between Zeke and Ariel reignites and all the old feelings come rushing back, stronger than ever.

Can they work through the hurt and betrayals of the past to make it to their happy ending?

Seduced and Betrayed by Candace Schuler

Category Romance Review: Ready, Willing and Abel by Nancy Martin

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

Ready, Willing and Abel was my first foray into the Silhouette Desire line. Nancy Martin penned a ridiculous, sexy romp that made me fall in love with the series. Featuring an Indiana Jones-like hero and a button-downed heroine working in fast-paced Washington DC, this story was not based at all in reality. It was so over-the-top and silly; I adored it.

The Hero

Abel Fletcher has just come back from a recent archaeological expedition. He carries with him a sacred totem that supposedly is imbued with magical powers. Namely the power to make a person fall madly in love after touching it and gazing upon a special someone. The charm is supposed to work both ways, but Abel believes it’s all nonsense. That is until he falls madly in love at first sight with Samantha Wyatt.

He first sees Samantha at a softball game, swinging away at a pitch, her skirts and hair swirling around her. Abel stares dumbfounded at her as she runs the bases. The love-struck fool stands there as she slams into him, and they roll onto the ground, creating the scene that’s on the cover.

Abel is confounded. Who is this beautiful creature? Why is he so head-over-heels gaga for her? And why doesn’t she reciprocate the feelings?

The Heroine

Samantha Wyatt is a respectable, no-nonsense type. She has a dream job working in politics, and her life is fine, if a little dull. She’s not the wild, adventurous type. In fact, even playing that softball game was completely out of character for her, as some friends had cajoled her into the at-bat. Then she literally runs into this crazy, disheveled, although admittedly handsome man who claims they’re destined to be together.

Abel is determined to convince Samantha he’s the man for her. But what could these two disparate people possibly have in common?

Hmm… What could it be?

Oh, that’s right! This is a red-covered Desire romance. That means some sexy times are ahead!

Despite her misgivings, Samantha can’t help but be charmed by the besotted treasure-hunter. He’s so honest and direct, unlike anyone she’s ever met. As Abel gets to know Samantha, he realizes his love-at-first-sight isn’t skin deep. There’s a warm, passionate, giving woman beneath the icy veneer. Abel is set on proving to her that their love is the real deal!

The Love Story

The characters are older in Ready, Willing and Abel than in the usual romances I had come upon. That is, both the hero AND the heroine were. Abel is in his early 40s, and Samantha is well into her 30s. So it makes sense that Samantha is mature and level-headed. On the other hand, Abel is a kid at heart who is supposed to be like Harrison Ford with charisma.

I know, you’re probably thinking: “What? Harrison Ford was Han Solo and Indiana Jones and the US President kicking ass on Air Force One.” Yes, the roles he’s played are intriguing, but I’m talking about the man. Have you ever seen him do an interview? Total snoozeville.

Anyway, Samanta and Abel make a romantic pairing that is a delight to read about.

Abel decides to return the stone to show Sam what he feels isn’t magic; he truly loves her. So he does just that, going back to the jungles where he found the totem. The natives are straight from an episode of “Gilligan’s Island,” so unclench your butts and take it all in with a sense of humor because this book is played for laughs, not enlightenment.

Final Analysis of Ready, Willing and Abel

Upon finishing Nancy Martin’s Ready, Willing and Abel I tore out the postcard mailer in the middle of the book and filled it out, anxious to read more Desire romances. I found a wonderful variety in that series, some books funny, like this one, some deep and tragic, and most of them were enjoyable, erotic entertainment.

Like all things, the category line has changed over the years. Now it’s basically an imitation of Harlequin Presents but with American billionaires instead of foreign ones.

Eh, keep your jet-setting billionaires. I’ll take the wacky, madly in-love adventure-seekers any day.

4.25 Stars


Synopsis

LOVESTRUCK!

Professor Abel Fletcher didn’t believe in love at first sight. It had to be the sacred love stone he’d recently acquired that was making him act like such a dope. What else could explain his sudden attraction to coolly aloof Samantha Wyatt? And anyway the charm was supposed to turn her into his sex slave. Why wasn’t she tearing off her clothes and falling at his feet?

Samantha knew she should stay far away from dangerously distracting Abel. She kept trying to convince the footloose adventurer that she wasn’t interested in a relationship–especially with a man who traveled halfway around the world in search of lost treasures. But she knew if she wasn’t careful, Abel would realize she was ready and willing!

READY WILLING AND ABEL by NANCY MARTIN