Tag Archives: heroine actress

my name is clary brown

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

BOOK REVIEW gothic
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

MILD SPOILERS 😉

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
Plot
4.5
Characters
5
Writing
5
Chemistry
3
Fun Factor
5
Cover
5
Overall: 4.6

Synopsis

THE RIGHT TO LOVE…

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…

MY NAME IS CLARY BROWN by CHARLOTTE KEPPEL
Dangerous Obsession natasha peters

Historical Romance Review: Dangerous Obsession by Natasha Peters

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


Historical Romance Review: Dangerous Obsession by Natasha Peters

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

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

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

The Set-Up

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

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

The Plot and the Characters

The Heroine, Rhawnie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Hero, Seth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Good and the Bad

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final Analysis of Dangerous Obsession

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

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

5 Stars

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

Synopsis:

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

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

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

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

DANGEROUS OBSESSION by NATASHA PETERS
a naked flame ray olivere

Category Romance Review: A Naked Flame by Charlotte Lamb

category romance

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

Sad to report, but A Naked Flame has to be the worst Charlotte Lamb book I’ve read so far.

The Plot

Christie married Logan, a man 12 years her senior when she was only 18. They lived in California and she hoped to start a career in Hollywood, but her chauvinist husband wouldn’t allow it. Logan controlled her life totally and wanted children ASAP, but Christie wanted to wait.

They argued, he raped her, and she left and filed for divorce. The rape resulted in a child.

For five years Mommy and Daddy never see each other while sharing custody of their son. Now Christie is a hot movie star with a male “friend” whom she mercilessly cock-teases. The press hounds Christie so much that she moves to England with her son–-without telling her ex-husband. This obviously angers Logan and he and Christie fight it out for custody.

Drama ensues and Christie and Logan realize their feelings for each other still run hot.

My Opinion

It’s not the plot of A Naked Flame I object to; it’s the horrific execution.

Up until page 100, the hero and heroine interact twice, except for a brief flash-back into their marriage. It’s as if Charlotte Lamb wanted to write a longer book, but found she had almost maxed out her word count. So she just summarized all the interesting parts and drew out all the boring, mundane scenes of Christie going to lunch and parties with another guy.

The actual romance portion of this book is limited to two, maybe two and a half chapters. I wouldn’t have minded if the scenes with the other man were fun, or at least we saw the heroine’s personal journey to “enlightenment” or sumthin’…but no.

Final Analysis of A Naked Flame

Christie is a Cnidarian of the lowest order. (That’s a fancy word I learned for jellyfish. See, home-schooling works for parents and kids.)

As for the other man…why isn’t he ever named something strong like Wolf or Magnus? Instead, he’s named Sheldon or Arnie or Dilbert or in this case Ziggy!

So our major conflict in Charlotte Lamb’s A Naked Flame consists of a love triangle between the Sensitive-New-Age-Guy slacker type:

ziggy

And our manly hero Logan:

logan

Enough said.

What a pointless boring book with a wishy-washy, stupid heroine who wouldn’t know her butt crack from the Grand Canyon.

Uggh.

1 Star

Rating Report Card
Plot
1.5
Characters
1
Writing
1
Chemistry
1
Fun Factor
1
Cover
3
Overall: 1.4

Synopsis

This time Christie would stand up to him

Christie had been far too young and intoxicated with love when she and Logan had married. He’d wanted a family. She’d needed sometime to pursue her career.

After their painful breakup Christie had resented carrying Logan’s child. But now her son was even more vital to Christie’s happiness than her career as a famous film star had ever been. And she wouldn’t let Logan use lies and gossip to take Kit away from her.

Losing Logan’s love had almost destroyed Christie. She couldn’t bear to lose their son as well.

A NAKED FLAME by CHARLOTTE LAMB
the other woman

Category Romance Review: The Other Woman by Candace Schuler

Synopsis:

THE LATEST FROM THE TABLOIDS… SOAP STAR SNARES MOVIE MOGUL

Tara Charming-TV’s sexiest seductress and star of the new movie The Promise-has hooked her claws into Gage Kingston of the legendary moviemaking family. Insiders reveal the studio is irate that the movie’s behind schedule. . .all because the lovers spend more time in each other’s trailer than on the set!

Is this a match made in Hollywood heaven? A close friend reveals, “Gage vowed to avoid actresses ever since his ex-wife. It’s hard to believe he’s fallen for Tara. She’s got a reputation for doing whatever it takes to get ahead.” Of course, Tara has had her share of heartache, too. Pregnant at seventeen, she was left to cope on her own. But her track record proves she’s no pushover now.

Can these two tinsel-town heartbreakers possibly be in love–or is it mutual use and abuse? Turn to our inside story for the full scoop.

Hollywood Dynasty

THE OTHER WOMAN by CANDACE SCHULER

Reviewed by Blue Falcon

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book and Characters

This review is of The Other Woman by Candace Schuler, book #1 in the “Hollywood Dynasty” series. (Harlequin Temptation #451, July 1993).

Series overview: “Hollywood Dynasty” focuses on three siblings, children of a legendary Hollywood couple, as they make their names in the same industry that made their parents famous.

Heroine: Tara Channing, 25. Strawberry blonde hair, blue eyes. Actress.

Hero: Gage Kingston. 30. Dark brown hair, amber eyes. Cinematographer.

The Plot

The Other Woman begins in Montana, on the set of a movie, “The Promise.” A love scene is being filmed featuring two of Hollywood’s top sex symbols, actress Tara Channing, the book’s heroine, and actor Pierce Kingston. Also in attendance is Pierce’s brother, cinematographer Gage Kingston, the hero.

Tara and Gage become lovers, but both are unwilling to share more than their bodies. They later learn, however, that passion without protection has consequences. Gage gets Tara pregnant, and they break up.

In the end, Tara and Gage realize they truly do love each other. Tara has her baby–a son–and gives up her acting career.

She and Gage marry and have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

The best part of The Other Woman for me by far is Tara. Depending on your point of view, she is blessed–or cursed with a Playboy Playmate’s looks and body. Looking like that, however, means that males–I can’t call them men–only view Tara as a sex object. She is, however, a woman of depth and character shaped by her life, which we learn about. Tara is a very easy heroine to like and root for.

Downside

Although Gage is not the actor in the family–his siblings are and were–he is a player here in three parts. In the first part of the book, he is a horn dog. During the second, he is Tara’s lover and an angry man. In the third part, he finally realizes he truly loves Tara and wants her for his wife and forever love. While I understood Gage’s reasons for being a jerk in the first two-thirds of the book, that doesn’t make it okay or him completely likable. Beyond Tara, there isn’t a whole lot of depth.

Sex

A few love scenes between Tara and Gage. They generate some heat, but not an inferno.

Violence

The only violence is “movie violence,” which is described in the book.

Bottom Line on The Other Woman

Readers who like to know what goes on behind the scenes of television and movies and were fans of early 1990s entertainment may find a lot to like here. Still, Candace Schuler’s The Other Woman and the “Hollywood Dynasty” series as a whole may not appeal to readers who don’t fall into those categories.

Locations: A movie set in Montana. Los Angeles, California.

Tropes: Actress. Cinematographer. Movie making

2.84 Stars

Angel In Scarlet duillo

Historical Romance Review: Angel in Scarlet by Jennifer Wilde

Synopsis:

Angela Howard was the toast of London — a breathtaking vision every woman envied and every man longed to possess. Few would have dreamed this violet-eyed beauty was the precocious child of a country schoolmaster… the feisty girl who had spurned Lord Clinton Meredith, the “fairy tale prince”, to surrender her innocence to Hugh Bradford, his illegitimate brother… the young woman who had come to London with nothing but a broken heart — and a fierce determination to survive.

Now she was a celebrated actress; immortalized on canvas by Gainsborough; adored by Jamie Lambert, the playwright who made her his star; desired by the golden-haired lord obsessed with making her his lady… and still tormented with longing for the man who had branded her very soul with his passion, and who has now returned to reawaken past splendors of a love he means to reclaim….

ANGEL IN SCARLET by JENNIFER WILDE

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book – Angel In Scarlet

Jennifer Wilde, aka Mr. Thomas E. Huff, wrote a few bodice rippers before writing romances that weren’t bodice rippers but not quite traditional romances either.

Angel In Scarlet isn’t a bodice ripper. It’s a Georgian-Era chick-lit. This is a hard one to categorize. It’s not just a romance, but more of a heroine’s journey through life and her relationships with several men she meets along the way.

The Plot

Angel in Scarlet begins when our heroine Angela Howard is a child. At twelve years old, she meets Hugh, the man who will haunt her for her entire life. They have a strange first meeting: she’s a peeping Tom trying to catch an eyeful of some action, when Hugh, who’s 16, discovers her then gives her a spanking as a discipline!

Angela grows up with her cruel sisters and mother. Poor Angie, she’s so unattractive with her rich, chestnut hair, violet-gray eyes, and enormous boobies. Who would ever love her?

She goes through ups and downs. Angela carves her way into society, falls in love, and has her heart broken. She then moves to London to make it big as an actress. She gets married and is widowed, her heart gets broken once more.

Three men vie for Angela’s love: Hugh Bradford, the bastard son of a nobleman, whose passion for Angela is surpassed only by his desire for legitimacy & a title. There’s the arrogant womanizer, Lord Clinton Meredith, Hugh’s half-brother, who is more than what he seems. And last, the famous playwright, James “Jamie” Lambert, has a tumultuous professional and personal career with Angela.

Highlight to View Spoilers Below

In the end, Angela picked the last man I thought she should be with. It broke the rules to end up with the guy she did, but that’s what Mr. Huff was good at, breaking the rules. I can’t forget how shocked I was at the end of Love Me, Marietta.

So it was the “right” choice because the man she loved could never be content with just loving her.

(Highlight the white area below to read spoilers.)

Past the age of thirty, a person shouldn’t blame their parents for their shortcomings, yet Hugh had a rough childhood, so I couldn’t fault him. His life was so difficult, and he had nothing except his dreams. They were absolutely shattered at the end. He got what he wanted, but it wasn’t worth it without Angela.

Still, I felt bad for him. I guess that’s the mark of a good writer if you can make your “villain” sympathetic. He was single-minded and wrong, but Angela was so harsh because he wanted to get his fortune. Finished! Angela, you broke that man’s heart! He was cruel and misguided, but he loved you. After what happened to Clinton, she had every right to be. Clinton was not the man for her, but I loved him. He was so sweet (plus a blond) and got teary-eyed when he made his exit.

As for Jamie, he was a great character, but Angela lived with him for years and never realized she loved him until they were through. Certainly not the kind of epic love you’d expect in a romance. I wish Hugh hadn’t turned into a jerk for her to have to make that decision.

The scene where Jamie revealed his true feelings for Angela was fantastic, and if it had been more of those, I don’t think I’d feel as conflicted.

Let’s Get It On

Wilde never met a word that wasn’t a friend. Adverbs, adjectives, subjective clauses, it’s all there, and then some! One particular passage struck out to me as ridiculously cartoony:

We ate slowly, looking at each other the whole while, silent, anticipating, savoring the sensations building, mounting inside. Utterly enthralled I watched him eat chicken, his strong white teeth tearing the flesh apart, and it was thrilling, tantalizing. I observed the way his neck muscles worked when he swallowed his wine, and that was thrilling, too and I watched with fascination as his large brown hand reached out, fingers wrapping around a fuzzy golden-pink peach, clutching it. He took up a knife and carefully peeled the peach and divided it into sections and ate them one by one, his brown eyes devouring me as he did so. The tip of his tongue slipped out and slowly licked the peach juice from his lips…

ANGEL IN SCARLET

I think this was supposed to be a sensually-tinged scene like the one out of the film “Barry Lyndon.” As for me, I was reminded of the “3rd Rock From the Sun” Thanksgiving episode where Harry and Vicki have leftover foreplay, eating turkey legs and dipping their fingers in gravy. Then Harry puts a turkey carcass on his head, and the loving begins.

“3rd Rock From the Sun,” Carsey Werner Company/NBC

Final Analysis of Angel in Scarlet

This was the story of the rise of actress Angela Howard and her (not too many) loves.

At 600 pages long, Jennifer Wilde’s Angel in Scarlet runs a tad overlong. That might have been due to Wilde’s penchant for purple prose, clothes porn, and food porn. Sex porn? Nah, Wilde uses a stream of consciousness perspective and euphemisms for love scenes. Hardly porn.

Mr. Wilde could have cut out 100 pages of description. I didn’t need to know the details of every outfit worn by every character in every scene.

Although I enjoyed it, I’m not 100% certain Angela made the right decision in the end.

I wanted to hate this, but something about Huff’s writing pulled me in. Yes, it’s as purple as grape jelly and full of run-on sentences, but for some reason, I can tolerate it more than Kathleen Woodiwiss‘ prose. The tension of not knowing who Angela was going to choose and the resulting emotions when she did are feelings I won’t forget.

3.88 stars

texas blonde

Historical Romance Review: Texas Blonde by Victoria Thompson

Synopsis:

When dashing Josh Logan rescued her from death by exposure petite Felicity Morrow realized she’d never survive rugged frontier life without a man by her side. And when she gazed at the Texas rancher’s lean hard frame and strong rippling muscles, the determined beauty decided he was the one for her. To reach her goal, feisty Felicity pretended to be meek and mild: the only kind of gal Josh proclaimed he’d wed. But after she’d won his hand, the blue-eyed temptress swore she’d quit playing his game–and still win his heart!

After a long day in the saddle the last thing hot-blooded Josh Logan wanted was a clinging wife. All he needed was a hot bath, a warm a meal, and a loving little lady who knew her place. Then golden-haired, Felicity came into his life and the virile cowboy knew he’d have to marry her if he ever wanted to taste her pouting lips and stroke her satiny skin. The reward of her charms was reason enough to give her his name – but the proud man vowed he’d never give up his independence…not even for his sultry, sensuous…

TEXAS BLONDE by VICTORIA THOMPSON 

Reviewed by Blue Falcon

VERY MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book & Characters

This review is of Texas Blonde, book #3 in the “The Cowboy and the Lady” series by Victoria Thompson. (Zebra/Kensington, October 1987). This review is of the ebook version of the book.

Heroine: Felicity Storm, 18. Blonde hair, blue eyes. Photographer.

Hero: Josh Logan, 28. Silver/white hair (it’s a hereditary thing), gray eyes. Owner, Rocking L ranch.

The Plot

Texas Blonde begins with the hero, Josh Logan, a rancher, rescuing Felicity Storm, the book’s heroine, from several calamities –flash floods, homelessness, hunger. As they spend more time together, they become attracted to each other, become lovers, and decide to marry. We also learn about their respective histories. However, Josh is determined not to fall in love with Felicity.

Even so, Felicity and Josh do fall in love and get married. However, many threats, both internal and external, challenge their happiness.

In the end, the external threats are vanquished, the internal threats are discussed and addressed, and Felicity and Joshua have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

Ms. Thompson has once again written a very emotional book with likable, well-developed characters.

Felicity begins the book as a young woman with a transient lifestyle. She’s looking for security, stability, and someone to love. She finds all of these in Josh. I liked the fact that Ms. Thompson gave Felicity a skill–photography–and allowed her to use it. Felicity began the book as a little girl; she ended it as a woman. It was great to see her growth.

Joshua is a slightly unusual hero, in that he has white hair (it’s a hereditary thing among Logan males). At first, all he cares about is his land. He tries really hard not to fall in love with Felicity but realizes that things aren’t important if you don’t have anyone to share them with. Josh comes to realize that Felicity completes him and opens himself to loving and being loved.

The storylines take a lot of twists and turns that are very well-written and unexpected.

Downside

Not much, but Ms. Thompson uses the overused “Lack of Communication” trope in Texas Blonde. Some of the issues Felicity and Josh have could have been settled earlier had they actually TALKED with each other. However, as I’ve written before, if couples actually talked with each other, romance novels wouldn’t probably exist. So maybe it’s not a bad thing after all.

Sex

Multiple love scenes between Felicity and Josh. Ms. Thompson’s love scenes are not particularly graphic nor erotic.

Violence

Assault, attempted rape, battery, shooting, and killing all take place here. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line on Texas Blonde

Readers who like slow-burn romances with a great payoff at the end will find much to like in Texas Blonde. It’s the best book in the “The Lady and the Cowboy” series.

Location: Prospect, Texas. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 1867-1868.

Tropes: Historical romance. Photographer heroine. Rancher hero. Zebra historical romance.

4.87 stars

stranger in the night

Category Romance Review: Stranger in the Night by Charlotte Lamb

Stranger in the Night, Charlotte Lamb, Harlequin, 1980, William Biddle cover art

HARLEQUIN PRESENTS #417

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

5 stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

The Plot

Charlotte Lamb’Stranger in the Night deals with a sensitive topic she’s approached several times: rape. No, it does not employ the controversial trope of “dubious consent” found in many Harlequins from the 1970s and 1980s. This is a healing love story about a traumatic assault that upended a woman’s life and almost destroyed her ability to find a romantic relationship.

On the surface, the set-up of Stranger in the Night might share some commonalities with Emma Darcy’s Don’t Ask Me Now, which had an actual love triangle plot. Here, the heroine Clare is living a good life as a successful actress. She has a male friend Macey, a writer and producer whom she keeps at bay, however much he adores her.

Macey is also a nice guy, one of the most gentle and understanding heroes in an old-school Harlequin Presents. Not a “beta” male, mind you, but a decent man whose aura commands respect. He’s supportive, assertive–not domineering–, and quite sexy to boot.

Macey’s more possessive instincts come to the forefront when a fellow from Clare’s past comes back into her life. While she and this handsome man, Luke, share a past connection, it’s not what Macey thinks. Nine years ago, Clare was a student at a party where she imbibed a bit too much alcohol. The predatory Luke took advantage of Clare and violated her.

Clare and Macey

In the ensuing years, Clare’s built herself a solid career on stage and screen. Along the way, Macey has been there as a trustworthy friend. He’s never hidden his attraction, even though Clare has no desire for romantic entanglements. For years Macey suffered in silence from unrequited love, never pursuing her in a predatory manner. Macey knows that would scare Clare away, and he’d rather have her in his life as a friend instead of not being there at all.

At first, Macey thinks Luke broke Clare’s heart long ago, making him insecure and jealous. It takes some time for the truth to be revealed, and when it is, Macey provides Clare a strong shoulder lean on. He’s there for her to unload the emotional baggage she’s been carrying all alone for so long. What’s more, he wants Luke to pay for the brutal crime committed against the woman Macey loves.

As usual, Lamb’s strength is in her characterization. Clare and Macey seem like authentic people with genuine concerns. Macey’s love for her is evident, but Clare struggles to deal with her feelings of sexual desire for him. In the end, Clare must learn to put the past behind her and not allow one horrific situation to define the rest of her life. Love is an emotion she needs to experience in order to heal.

Final Analysis of Stranger in the Night

Charlotte Lamb readers might note the similarities between this book and her full-length novel, A Violation. Both stories feature a heroine named Claire/Clare who must deal with the aftermath of rape and how it affects her and the people in her life. Where A Violation read more like women’s fiction with a Happy For Now conclusion, Stranger In the Night is a true romance with a Happily Ever After.

The only flaw in this book is that A Violation had the luxury of being twice Stranger In the Night‘s length. So some scenes come off a bit rushed and condensed. Regardless, this Harlequin Presents by one of my favorite authors is a book I could not put down. It’s a keeper for an indomitable heroine and a wonderful hero whose love is strong but never forceful.

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
raven franco

Historical Romance: Raven by Evelyn Rogers

raven evelyn rogers historical romance review
Raven by Evelyn Rogers
Rating: five-stars
Published: 1995
Illustrator: Franco Accornero
Imprint or Line: Zebra Historical Romance
Book Series: Chadwick Sisters Trilogy #2
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Victorian Era Romance
Pages: 378
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance: Raven by Evelyn Rogers

SPOILER FREE REVIEW 😊

The Book

Raven by Evelyn Rogers is one of those books with a little bit of everything. Of course, there’s romance–the chemistry between the protagonists was sizzling–but there’s also adventure, painful tragedy, and a dash of gothic intrigue.

The Plot

Raven, an American Southerner living in England, is a broken woman with a tainted past. She has to learn to let go of her hurts to become the mature, independent woman she was destined to be.

Acting is her calling, so our heroine takes to the London stage to be an actress. There, she shines as a bright star. Still, there is an emptiness inside her.

Marcus Bannerman is just the man she needs. He is a wealthy and arrogant nobleman. Marcus is a multi-faceted character, however, as he is also a kind, understanding man.

Marcus is a very patient and dedicated lover. He was an incredibly sensual hero, and the dialogue between him and Raven was so steamy!

Besides having to get over the major trauma she experienced long ago, now there is danger afoot that could threaten Raven’s life!

Final Analysis of Raven

I’ve read several books by Evelyn Rogers, and I’ve always been impressed. This was one of her best romances so far! She was one of the better authors for Kensington’s Zebra imprint and later wrote for Dorchester.

Raven was the second in a series of books about three sisters trying to flee from their pasts. I’ve yet to read them all, although I will correct that very soon because Raven was an excellent read.

4.5 Stars

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

Synopsis:

A WOMAN OF SECRETS
Haunted by memories of the terrible night that left her innocence shattered, Raven Chadwick prefers the world of make-believe to the cruel realities of everyday life. So she leaves her girlhood home of Savannah to pursue a stage career — and uncover a mysterious family secret.

A MAN OF MYSTERY
In London, Raven meets Marcus Bannerman, the enigmatic Earl of Stafford. Powerful and hotly sensual, he fills her with doubt — and awakening desire…

A WORLD OF PASSION
Then Raven discovers the truth that was once hidden amid the shadows of the elegant Stafford mansion — a secret that could change her life. Only if she believes in herself and the man she adores will Raven be able to take on her greatest role: a woman ready to fight for her true, undying love!

RAVEN by EVELYN ROGERS