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white lions lady

Historical Romance Review: White Lion’s Lady by Lara Adrian (aka Tina St. John)

historical romance review
White Lion's Lady by Lara Adrian, Tina St. John
Rating: five-stars
Published: 2001
Illustrator: Unknown
Imprint or Line: Ivy Books
Book Series: The Warrior Trilogy #1
Published by: Ballantine
Genres: Historical Romance, Medieval Romance
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: White Lion’s Lady by Lara Adrian (aka Tina St. John)

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

White Lion’s Lady is book 1 in “The Warrior Trilogy” by Lara Adrian. This medieval historical romance was originally published by Adrian under her real name, tina St. John in 2001. The book was released in digital format several times in the previous decade.

The Plot

Part 1 of White Lion’s Lady

White Lion’s Lady begins in 1179 with the heroine, Isabel de Lamere, age 8, running in tears from a party after being made fun of. Isabel–or Izzy as she is known then–goes into the woods, gets lost, and is attacked by a wild boar. Griffin of Droghallow, the hero, saves her life. He kills the boar, and Izzy falls in love with him.

Fast-forward 10 years. Isabel is now 18. She had been sent to a convent after her father was tried and executed as a traitor to the Crown. Her mother was exiled to her native France.

Now King Richard of Plantagenet summons Isabel to marry Sebastian of Montborne, a man she has never met.

And she may not because–unbeknownst to her–Isabel is slated to be kidnapped by Griffin by order of his foster brother, Dominic of Droghallow. The rationale behind the abduction is that the Earl of Montborne is a hated rival of Dominic’s.

It is only when Griffin takes Isabel back to Droghollow and she sees Dominic again that Isabel realizes who Griffin is. Although she still doesn’t know why she was kidnapped.

The reason Griffin agreed to do Dominic’s dirty work is that Dominic has promised him money to go away and live his own life. What Griffin doesn’t know is that Dominic has no plans to pay Griffin. And Dominic won’t let him leave Droghollow alive.

Once Griff realizes he’s being played, he schemes to take Isabel and take her to Montborne. The plan almost works. Griff gets himself and Isabel off Dominic’s land, but Isabel brains him and tries to escape.

white lions lady lara adrian

Part 2 of White Lion’s Lady

This freedom is short-lived, as Griff soon finds her. It may be even more short-lived. Now, as Dominic is aware that Griff and Isabel are gone, he has put a price on both of their heads.

As they travel to Montborne, Griff and Isabel start to fall in love with each other, but each fights their attraction. Griff is a man without a home and doesn’t know who he truly is. Isabel is a woman betrothed to another, bound by honor. She has reasons to marry a man she’s never met, namely to save her younger sister, Maura, age 8.

Dominic has placed bounties on both their heads. His men are now aware of their traveled path and are getting closer to them.

When Isabel agrees to go with Father Aldon to Montborne instead of with Griffin, they argue. This culminates in Griffin stalking off and leaving Isabel to leave with the priest. What Isabel doesn’t know is Father Aldon has no inclination to take her to Montborne. Instead, he’s taking her to another of King Richard’s cronies, Prince John of Lackland.

Griffin discovers the plot before Isabel does. He is captured but manages to escape. As he tries to rescue Isabel from her captors, she is shot. An arrow meant for Griffin pierces her.

Isabel’s wound becomes infected, so Griffin takes her to a monastery to hopefully get some aid. The monks help Isabel recovers. However, being there brings them closer to the fact that Griffin has to let Isabel go to Montborne.

Yet that is easier said than done. Isabel and Griffin nearly consummate their relationship before finally giving in. They make love twice.

lara adrian

Part 3 of White Lion’s Lady

Now, they have more problems to deal with when Sebastian, the Earl of Montborne, arrives at the monastery to take Isabel as his bride. Isabel doesn’t know that Montborne arrived due to a message Griffin sent him.

Griffin is trying to do the right, honorable thing, even though he knows in his heart that he and Isabel will be devastated beyond belief by that action. Later, Griffin is arrested by Montborne’s guards and is taken to the earl’s castle to stand trial.

When they arrive at Montborne, Sebastian deduces that Isabel and Griffin are in love. He questions Griffin about it.

Griffin doesn’t deny it, but he is willing to leave Isabel with Montborne because of his honor. He loves her.

Then there is a shocking twist in the tale. Sebastian’s mother, Lady Joanna Montborne, finds an amulet that Griffin gave to Isabel, which sets off a chain of events. This leads to Griffin’s release from prison as all charges of a crime are dropped.

Shortly after his release, he learns of the stunning revelation. Griffin leaves Montborne and heads back to Droghollow. His goal is to confront and kill Dominic for his treachery. Griffin asks Sebastian to marry Isabel in the event that he doesn’t return.

Later, a wedding takes place. The wedding is not for Isabel and Sebastian but for Isabel and Griffin. The pair bring Maura to live with them, and they have their Happily Ever After.

Why did Sebastian give up Isabel to Griffin? Did Griffin kill Dominic?

For the answers to these questions, you’ll have to read the book.

The Upside

The romance in White Lion’s Lady is exquisite. The characters are fully developed. Their emotional depth is so deep that I felt as though I was looking at actual lives as opposed to reading a book.

The Downside

There is absolutely nothing bad to say about White Lion’s Lady.

Sex

There are two love scenes. In the first, Griffin and Isabel nearly consummate their love but stop. Then they eventually do. Both scenes are spectacular: not erotica, but lovely and beautiful.

Violence

In addition to an arrow intended for Griffin harming Isabel instead, there are other incidents of violence. Humans and animals are both killed in the book. The violence is not overly graphic.

Bottom Line on White Lion’s Lady

For anyone who loves historical or medieval romance, White Lion’s Lady by Lara Adrian (aka Tina St. John) is an absolute keeper. I highly recommend it.

Rating Report Card
Plot
5
Characters
5
Writing
5
Chemistry
4.5
Fun Factor
5
Cover
4
Overall: 4.8

Synopsis

She was promised to another
Abducted on the way to her wedding, heiress Isabel de Lamere is unaware that the scoundrel planning to use her for his own gain is the cherished champion of her childhood: Griffin, the White Lion. Yet even as she discovers his treachery, Isabel cannot deny that Griffin lingers in her dreams, awakening the passion in her steadfast heart.

He was nobody’s hero
Then a twist of fate puts a price on both their heads, embroiling them in a life-and-death chase that will force Griffin to choose between his own freedom and his fierce desire for the woman who would redeem his noble spirit. But to reclaim his lost honor, the White Lion could lose Isabel forever. . . .

White Lion’s Lady by Lara Adrian (aka Tina St. John)
midnight fires carol finch

Historical Romance Review: Midnight Fires by Carol Finch

book review historical romance
Midnight Fires by Carol Finch
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1984
Illustrator: Walter Popp
Imprint or Line: Zebra Historical Romance
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Pirate Romance
Pages: 491
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Midnight Fires by Carol Finch

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Midnight Fires by Carol Finch.

The Plot

Part One of Midnight Fires

Midnight Fires begins in a tavern in Bristol, England, circa 1812. Among the citizens, there is Glenna Lombard. Glenna is the sister of Norina Shaw, wife of Lord Edwin Shaw, whom Glenna wanted to marry. As a result, Glenna feels a deep hatred for her sister, who is far more well-off than she is.

We later meet Danielle Shaw, the heroine and one of Norina and Edwin’s children. They also have a son, David. Edwin is pushing Danielle to marry Thomas Seward, the son of one of his business associates. When Thomas tries to take too many liberties with Danielle, she rejects and embarrasses him publicly.

Humiliated by her rejection, Thomas conspires with Glenna and an evil pirate, Colby Morgan, to kidnap Danielle.

Danielle is rescued from Morgan’s ship by Travis Radbourne, an American sea captain, who has his own reasons for wanting to get revenge on Morgan.

Travis has many dilemmas with Danielle, not the least of which is that he can’t take her back to England as they are at war with the U.S. As they spend time together, Danielle and Travis become attracted to each other.

In an attempt to end the attraction, Travis takes Danielle to his tobacco plantation in North Carolina and enrolls her in boarding school. There is a considerable age difference between the pair. Danielle is much younger at 16 than Travis’s 31 years.

These efforts fail to end their attraction for each other. Soon after, Danielle and Travis become lovers.

After their intimacy, Travis leaves, partially out of guilt and partially because of the differences in their ages.

Part Two of Midnight Fires

He continues to fight the British and ends up wounded in one fight. Danielle then nurses him back to health.

While Travis was away, Danielle became engaged to Blair Ramsey, a son of a North Carolina banker. Travis makes it clear he disapproves of Blair–his dislike is justified–and eventually succeeds in breaking up their engagement and marrying Danielle himself.

While in America, Danielle makes some enemies, and those enemies try to do Danielle harm. They don’t succeed. When the war ends, Travis plans to take Danielle back to England to her family.

A lot has changed in the four years she’s been away. Glenna has ensconced her daughter, Annice, into the good graces of the Shaws’. Annice is married to Thomas. Glenna’s financial situation has improved.

And no one knows about her evil scheme. Or so she thinks.

Glenna’s house of cards begins to fall when Danielle and Travis show up in London, followed by Morgan, who survived the destruction of his ship and is now out for revenge against Glenna and Danielle.

Morgan assaults Glenna, kidnaps Danielle, and shoots Travis.

Travis is nursed back to health by Seward, who takes him to the Shaw estate. Seward confesses his part in Danielle’s earlier kidnapping, and Edwin and Travis cross swords on many subjects, among them: the fact that Travis is an American, and his wish to take Danielle back to America rather than live in England.

Travis is able to rescue Danielle from Morgan’s clutches, killing Morgan in the process. He also wins over Edwin–grudgingly–and Danielle and Travis have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

Danielle and Travis are strong characters and they are well-matched, both strong, passionate people who occasionally cut each other to ribbons verbally, but also eventually realize they love each other.

Downside

Like so many 1980s romance novels, Midnight Fires is based on the trope of assuming facts not in evidence. Characters ruminate incessantly over what they think the other person is thinking and feeling, as opposed to knowing. All of this could have been avoided had Danielle and Travis actually TALKED WITH EACH OTHER!

Of course, had that happened, this book and probably hundreds of other books in the romance genre would not exist.

Sex

There are far more love scenes in Midnight Fires than there are typically in Ms. Finch’s books.

However, one thing remains: enough purple prose to make Minnesota’s sports teams proud.

Violence

Assault, battery, stabbings, shootings, and killings appear in the book. None of the violence is graphic.

Bottom Line On Midnight Fires

Midnight Fires is a typical Carol Finch book. It’s very good but lacks the dynamic qualities to make it great.

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

Synopsis:

Abducted from her beloved England, trapped aboard a pirate ship, and rescued by a handsome American captain, beautiful Danielle Shaw had had her fill of adventure! She should have been terrified when Captain Travis Radbourne informed her they were now in the midst of a war, but all she could think of was the way his tight black breeches clung to his muscled thighs and the way she would love to cling to his strong, broad chest…

When Travis saw the treasure he had pulled from the sea, he was stunned. From Dani’s wide emerald eyes to her smooth alabaster skin and silky golden tresses, she was alluring, enticing, and altogether irresistible. He longed to taste her full, red lips, caress her satiny curves, lose himself in her sweet, seductive embrace, and take her on a passionate journey to a summit ablaze with MIDNIGHT FIRES.

Midnight Fires by Carol Finch
Sirocco

Category Romance Review: Sirocco by Anne Mather

category romance
Sirocco by Anne Mather
Rating: three-half-stars
Published: 1983
Illustrator: Len Goldberg
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Presents #683
Published by: Harlequin
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 192
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: Amazon
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: Sirocco by Anne Mather

The Book

Sirocco is a solid read, worthy of my time, but not without its flaws. It’s consistent with the kind of writing I’m used to when I pick up an Anne Mather book.

An Anne Mather Harlequin Presents is what I consider to be an “old reliable.” She wrote romances that are almost guaranteed to entertain me, or if not, then at least not bore me. Although usually satisfactory, Mather rarely wrote books I would place on an all-time best list. Sometimes she does surprise me, so it makes reading her works an experience to look forward to.

In this category romance, Anne Mather employs one of her commonly used tropes: a hero in pursuit of an already “attached” woman.

The Stalker vs. the User

One night, Rachel Fleming comes across a man whom she thinks requires help. The man is slumped in his car, just sleeping, but Rachel doesn’t know that. He turns out to be Alexis Roche, a blond half-Arab, half-French, sheik ruler of a tiny nation (Rachel doesn’t know that either until later).

Alexis is instantly intrigued by his would-be savior and begins to stalk her.

Seriously.

If it’s not him, he has his “people” trail her. Alexis finds out where Rachel lives, where she works, and that she’s currently engaged to a wealthy man, Roger what’s-his-name. He’s a spoiled “mama’s boy” who uses the heroine for his own selfish desires.

Seriously.

I read this on Kindle but knew it was written long ago. The copyright date is 1983, so it’s “reasonable” to assume social values here would be similar to those found in the early 1960s as this is an old-school, vintage Harlequin Presents.

What blew me away was even though the heroine was a virgin, she gets sexually intimate with her fiance:

“Roger was singularly old-fashioned when it came to relationships, and although he had taught her ways to please him without their going to bed together, they had never actually made love.”

Then Roger tells Rachel later during a passionate moment together: 

“”Oh, sweetheart, I’ve missed you,’ he murmured, drawing her reluctant hands to his body. ‘Hmm, that feels good. Go on, go on: make love to me.'”

I was, as they say, in these books, gobsmacked. The heroine WAS doing what I thought she was doing! How Anne Mather got that past the editors in 1983 is beyond me, but sometimes, as I said, Mather does surprise me.

sirocco alt
Sirocco, Ane Mather, Mills and Boon, 1983, artist unknown

The Rest of the Plot

Anyway, Alexis is able to manipulate his way into Rachel’s life, hawking her, hounding her, and preying upon her until every aspect is turned completely upside down. Alexis is typical of Mather’s heroes, self-centered, arrogant, and determined to have his way.

She also describes the awful clothing her characters wear, so you can imagine the hero in his velvet suit, his silk shirt unbuttoned down to his navel to reveal his masculine, suitably hairy chest as he smokes cheroots while he contemplates seducing the heroine.

Alexis manages to blackmail Rachel into his arms as he uses her father’s outstanding gambling debts to force her to do whatever he wants. Alexis then whisks her away to his little sheikdom, where he has his way with her (and she with him), all while Alexis’ family looks upon Rachel with scorn.

About the heroine, Rachel. She tries to carry herself as a confident, modern woman, disdainful of the type who’d sit back and allow a man to run her roughshod. However, many awful characters weigh her down: her fiance, her father, Alexis’ family members, and Alexis himself. Rachel poses as this strong character but is she really?

Alexis is certainly the take-charge type, and though she opposes him, in the end, we all know how this winds up.

Final Analysis of Sirocco

I sort of hated this book and liked it at the same time. I enjoyed Alexis’ pursuit of Rachel, although it’s hard to see when desire turns to love with Mather’s male characters. Was this just a power play for Alexis?

Rachel attempts to fight for the right to live life on her terms. She’s just not very good at it. I had mixed feelings about this one, but there was something so engaging about the tale I read it super quickly.

As I feel now, it’s a 3.5-star read, which is what I usually rate an Anne Mather book.

3.5 Stars


Synopsis

Rachel Fleming wished she had never stopped to help the stranger in distress. But it was too late now. The tables had turned.

Alexis Roche was no helpless victim. He was a seasoned hunter committed to the chase. He found out Rachel’s name, address, even where she worked and set out to systematically change her whole life. First he toyed with her engagement, and then he closed in on he dangerously frazzled emotions.

Rachel’s mind bid her to run…but her heart was tiring from the chase.

SIROCCO by ANNE MATHER
Escape From Desire

Category Romance Review: Escape From Desire by Penny Jordan

category romance
Escape From Desire by Penny Jordan
Rating: three-half-stars
Published: 1982
Illustrator: Tom Bjarnason
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Presents #569
Published by: Harlequin, Mills & Boon
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 186
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: Escape From Desire by Penny Jordan

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

Penny Jordan’s Escape from Desire was a very satisfying yet silly read.

A Tropical Vacation

Tamara is on vacation on the island of St. Stephen, all by herself, as her stuffy fiancé has no time for frivolities like lounging in the sun.

Tamara is typical of Penny Jordan‘s heroines, slightly repressed due to an overbearing aunt who raised her. But as she sunbathes on the beach, Tamara’s doubts about her engagement come to a head.

While Malcolm is everything Tamara thought she wanted in a husband–staid, unemotional, professional–she recalls her parents’ happy, loving marriage and ponders if she can go through a loveless union so different from her deceased parents.

Meanwhile, a mysterious stranger on the beach admires her bikini-clad body with his eyes. When he notices her engagement ring, he’s cruel to her, thinking she’s just out in the Caribbean for one last hurrah.

A Jungle Nightmare

Tamara signs up for a jungle trek to take her mind off her worries when who should show up, but the mysterious stranger from the beach, our hero Zach Fletcher. However, what should have been a three-hour tour turns into a nightmare when the guide lures them into a trap.

Rebels armed with Ak-47s take the group hostage for the usual political reasons. Zach manages to convince the terrorists to release all the hostages except himself. Unfortunately, the terrorists, thinking Tamara is Zach’s woman, demand Tamara stay as well.

Days pass, and eventually, when the terrorists make a supply run, leaving behind just one man to guard the pair, Zach makes his move.

It appears that Zach is no run-of-the-mill Harlequin Present m/billionaire hero. He’s a member of the Special Air Service of the British Army and was recently scarred in a melee in Africa. As their captor attempts to force himself on Tamara, Zach stabs him dead, and the couple flees through the jungle.

The near-death/near-rape experience is traumatizing for Tamara and Zach, and they make love. Zach is shocked to find that she’s a virgin. Rather than handling the situation with normal, human-like emotions (this is, after all, a Penny Jordan Harlequin Presents), he accuses her of having held on to her virginity to tease her fiancé.

Tamara gets bitten by a lethal spider on their march through the rainforest. She awakens in a hospital, safe and sound, but dismayed to hear that Zach hightailed it back to England.

escape from desire penny jordan
Escape From Desire, Penny Jordan, Harlequin, 2017 re-issue

A Bunch of Silly Coincidences

The life-and-death trauma awakens something in Tamara, and she vows to change her repressed ways, first by getting a makeover and then by dumping her stuffed-shirt fiancé.

But as I said, this being a Penny Jordan Harlequin Presents, normal human-like behavior is not be expected. So instead of breaking up with her boyfriend ASAP, Tamara waits until they’re on a weekend trip at his parents’ home in the Cotswolds. Then, Malcolm asks Tamara to pretend their engagement is still on to save face temporarily.

Who should show up but Malcolm’s parents’ new neighbor… Zach!

Zach is disgusted with Tamara and accuses her of being a slut. Sure, she was a virgin when she slept with Zach, but now that she’s not a virgin, indeed, she’s sharing all her newfound sexuality with her fiancé. (None of this sounds like standard human thinking, but something like Tommy Wiseau would come up with.)

Tamara goes on with her life as an assistant to an editor when she finds out she is pregnant. She’s delighted by the fact but vows never to let Zach know the truth. Why? I don’t know, Zach was mean to her, and that’s reason enough to hide her child’s parentage.

But Zach is still not out of her life because, in coincidence number #2, who should be the secret client her boss has been trying to lure? Why it’s Zach, of course! Zach’s writing a book demands Tamara as his secretary.

Unfortunately, Tamara’s morning sickness is of the virulent type, and Zach realizes she’s pregnant. With her fiancé’s child, of course, the slut!

How Will They Ever Get Together?

Sure, she was a virgin until she met Zach, but virginity was only a tool to get her fiancé. Then after Zach initiated Tamara in the ways of love, she used that knowledge to dig her claws into her fiancé some more. And now she’s utilizing the oldest trick in the book to keep her fiancé. The tramp!

Despite it all, Zach can’t keep his hands off Tamara, who he believes is engaged and pregnant with another man’s child. And Tamara loves Zach, although she can’t let him know. Why not?

Will these two crazy kids ever get over their hang-ups and just be honest with each other?

Sure, they could, but it’s more dramatic when a letter reveals all the truths because communication is for human adults on Planet Earth, not for our heroes and heroines of Harlequin-Presentslandia.

Final Analysis of Escape From Desire

What a crazy, unforgettable read was Escape From Desire! Penny Jordan really upped the zaniness in this romance.

It’s not her best, although it’s definitely a memorable one.

3.75 Stars

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

Synopsis:

When Tamara’s Caribbean holiday turned into a nightmare, there was only one man shecould turn to—Zach Fletcher! With their lives in jeopardy, in the heat of the jungle, Zach took Tamara’s innocence for his own. They escaped from danger—but not from the consequences of their passion!

Neither of them could know that their heated fling would leave Tamara pregnant. Reunited in London, Tamara is reminded of the claim Zach has on her body. And he’ll doanything to prove their chemistry means more than just an affair…

ESCAPE FROME DESIRE by PENNY JORDAN