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the honey is bitter

Category Romance Review: The Honey Is Bitter by Violet Winspear

category romance
The Honey Is Bitter by Violet Winspear
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1967
Illustrator: Don Sinclair
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Presents #6
Book Series: Stephanos #1
Published by: Harlequin, Mills & Boon
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance, Vintage Romance
Pages: 190
Format: Paperback, eBook, Hardcover
Buy on: Amazon
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: The Honey Is Bitter by Violet Winspear

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

Along with Anne Mather and Anne Hampson, Violet Winspear was one of the three original authors for the Harlequin Presents line when it launched in 1973. Her bestseller, The Honey is Bitter, was first published in 1967 by Mills and Boon.

The books had about 30 reprintings under Harlequin and the first in her Stephanos series.

the honey is bitter violet winspear
Mills & Boon, 1967 edition

The Plot

Part One of The Honey Is Bitter

The Honey Is Bitter features a Greek hero named Paul. I swear, these classic Presents had about 5 or 6 names for heroes! Paul, Dominic, Nick/Nico, Alex, and Andre/Andreas. Plus, the plots were nonsensical, with an intimidating male running roughshod over the heroine, as occurs here.

This book’s Paul is a Greek tycoon who blackmails Domini into marriage. How? By holding over her head that her brother embezzled funds from Paul’s company.

Why does he want a young British girl like Domini? Because Paul is Greek, and his pride demands vengeance this way! Although she is outraged by Paul’s demands, Domini acquiesces fairly easily. Nor does she turn to anyone for help.

On their wedding night, Domini runs out into the darkness and is swept into the sea. Whether that was a genuine attempt to end her life is left up to the reader. Soon, after a bit of coaxing, Domini falls into Paul’s arms and into his bed.

And that’s the end of chapter one! Quite a lot of action. With more drama to come.

the honey is bitter violet winspear
Mills & Boon 1974 Edition

Part Two of The Honey Is Bitter

Paul is much older, and one wonders what–besides the obvious–he sees in Domini.

Domini is hard to like because she’s so caustic, so… bitter. It’s understandable, though. No woman wants to be forced into marriage with a handsome, sensual, magnetic, powerful, wealthy man who desires her above all women. (Except as an escapist fantasy, naturally. 😉)

Paul whisks Domini to his Grecian villa. Despite her discontent, Domini cannot deny Paul’s allure. While she swaps verbal barbs with him during the day, they communicate on a carnal level at night.

Then the man Domini had fancied herself in love with comes back into her life, demanding she leaves Paul. Tragedy strikes. Will Domini leave Paul forever? Or is it too late and her heart already his?

the honey is bitter
The Honey Is Bitter, Violet Winspear, Harlequin, 1984 re-issue

Final Analysis of The Honey Is Bitter

For an older Presents, The Honey Is Bitter was deeply sensual even though the love scenes were behind closed doors. Paul employs forced seduction with Domini, so readers who dislike that trope are warned.

This vintage romance stars a cruel hero and prickly heroine. Paul is inscrutable yet domineering; Domini is determined yet ill-tempered. Together, they make a passionate pairing.

This was a fascinating tale that had me hooked from the first. But then I have a soft spot for dark, somewhat offensive romances, especially with solid writing. Violet Winspear provides just that.

I can see why The Honey Is Bitter was a Harlequin sensation in its day.

Rating Report Card
Plot
4
Characters
4
Writing
4.5
Chemistry
4
Fun Factor
4
Cover
4.5
Overall: 4.2

Synopsis

“Keep your love. Did I ever ask for it?”

Paul’s voice rang out. His face was a taut sculpture, chiseled out of stone-as she felt certain his heart was.

“No,” Domini threw at him, “but you’re not quite so inhuman as to enjoy for very long the companionship of a wife who hates you!”

THE HONEY IS BITTER by VIOLET WINSPEAR
Yesterday's Love

Category Romance Review: Yesterday’s Love by Marsha Manning

Yesterday's Love
Yesterday’s Love, Marsha Manning, Magnum Books, 1969, cover artist unknown

#4286 Magnum Books Easy Eye

Spoiler-free review 🙂

5 Stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnum Books

Yesterday’s Love is a moving romance with a rather mysterious background. It’s part of the Magnum Books imprint of Prestige Books, Inc., a small New York paperback publisher active during the mid to late 1970s. The novel was originally published as a hardcover by Mills & Boon in 1969, under the title Yesterday’s Lover. But the copyright page of this edition doesn’t say when it was published. Nor can I find this info anywhere else.

The author, Marsha Manning, was a pen name of Hettie Grimstead. Or was Hettie Grimstead a pen name of Marsha Manning? If you know, drop me a line.

An Impossible Situation

Here’s the setup. Kerry Talbot, a London office worker for a large corporation, is in love with Philip Ingram, her boss. And he’s in love with her. The situation presents an obvious problem. But wait, there’s more. He’s married. An issue that troubles her far more than him.

What other people think of her doesn’t matter to Kerry, but what she thinks of herself does. Philip says he’ll seek a divorce. But promises aren’t good enough. Until he’s actually free, she determines to distance herself from him. Thus she accepts a transfer to Stockholm.

And what a new life awaits her! Kerry works in big business but lives in an apartment house full of offbeat, creative Bohemian types. Including painter Len Sandeman, who does her portrait and falls in love with her. But the feeling isn’t mutual. Len is a skillful painter, but as a lover, he’s a lout. One with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer.

In contrast, there’s the refined Axel Von Fersen. Kind and considerate, he’s every inch a gentleman. But he’s also Kerry’s boss and has a fiancée. He tries to hide his feelings, but eventually, it becomes clear he loves Kerry. The situation largely parallels the one she left behind.

But not entirely. Axel isn’t Philip. For once, a man can and will put Kerry’s happiness above his own. Can he persuade her to love him and forget Philip?

My Reactions

There’s more, but in order to avoid spoilers, I’ll stop here. Yesterday’s Love presents the heroine’s dilemma with skill, grace, and depth. There’s plenty of romantic drama, and all of it seems natural and real, without exaggeration or contrivance. The story remains engaging from beginning to end.

The author conveys well the emotions of the characters. The point of view is strictly limited to Kerry, but we can tell what the others are thinking and feeling. Even the minor characters come to life convincingly and memorably.

Equally compelling are the exterior descriptions. The settings, mostly in Stockholm and the Swedish island of Gotland, seem vividly real.

I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone in the mood for an emo romance. It’s available at the major websites that sell used books.

Reviewed by: Mary Anne Landers

wicked loving lies rosemary rogers

Historical Romance Review: Wicked Loving Lies by Rosemary Rogers

historical romance review
Wicked Loving Lies by Rosemary Rogers
Rating: five-stars
Published: 1976
Illustrator: Robert McGinnis
Book Series: Challenger #1/ Morgan-Challenger #3
Published by: Avon
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Regency Era Romance
Pages: 663
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Wicked Loving Lies by Rosemary Rogers

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

Wicked Loving Lies by Rosemary Rogers is her fourth and–in my opinion–her best book. This is peak bodice ripper fun; it’s salacious, entertaining, and attempts (and succeeds) at profundity.

I’ll probably rewrite a more in-depth analysis of this historical romance at another time. For now, here are my reading notes assembled into a semblance of a review.

His lips touched the back of her neck and moved along her stubborn shoulder. One hand stroked her breasts, and the other moved unerringly between her thighs; he found the most sensitive part of her and moved against her and in her until her half-formed protests turned into soft, stifled moans.

WICKED LOVING LIES

The Story

Readers, do these plot points sound fun to you?

  • Traveling to almost every continent in the world
  • Affairs with noblemen, warriors, and even Napoleon!
  • Being a criminal on the run
  • Highwaymen, high seas action, and harems
  • Buttsecks
  • Getting branded with your husband’s initials after he bangs you in front of your new lover… And then said lover gets so aroused, he bangs you afterward!

If you have a high threshold for triggering issues like:

  • Overbearing alphas,
  • Forced seduction
  • Forced marriage of convenience
  • Adultery
  • Rape
  • Slavery
  • Racism
  • Kidnapping
  • Murder
  • Divorce
  • Abandonment
  • A mother having her only child taken away from her

Plus, enjoy a hefty dose of second-wave feminism from a heroine who goes to hell and back several times over…

If any of this sounds like your idea of a thrilling read–because it certainly is–then Wicked Loving Lies by Rosemary Rogers might be a book you’d want to pick up.

wicked-loving-lies-rosemary rogers2014
Wicked Loving Lies,
Rosemary Rogers, Mira, 2014 re-issue

My Opinion

As far as I’m concerned, this is Rosemary Rogers at her prime.

Some parts of Wicked Loving Lies were scorching hot, like Chapter 17. Other parts were heartbreaking. Many parts were shocking.

There’s only one thing this book NEVER is: boring!

That’s what I loved about these the best of these older romances, there was always so much stuff going on you never had time to overanalyze and nitpick, you just kept moving.

Rosemary Rogers knew how to write a page-turner.

The Proto-Feminist Heroine

“Oh damn men and their superior ways. From now on I’ll stand on my own two feet and fight for what I want–anyway I have to, with my body and my wits… Why not? It’s a man’s world, what other choice do you leave a woman who possesses a mind?

WICKED LOVING LIES

Those words are from Marisa, the heroine of this amazing, action-packed bodice ripper by the Original Great, the legendary Rosemary Rogers.

Marisa is a heroine you want to smack or shake or hug or give a big old high five.

She’s amazing as she never gave up, even though life kept coming at her with no remorse. Except for when she thought her beloved Dominic was dead.

And even then, Marisa was not going out without taking someone else with her.

Final Analysis of Wicked Loving Lies

Wicked Loving Lies by Rosemary Rogers is an excellent experience for bodice ripper enthusiasts but not for the faint of heart.

This book will shock you. I loved it!

5 Stars

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

Synopsis

Born of scandal and denied his birthright, Dominic Challenger took to the sea, charting his own future. A true rogue, Dominic answers to no one, trusting only himself. Until Marisa.

Born of wealth and privilege, Marisa is a prisoner to her father’s expectations. When the sanctuary she has found behind the walls of a convent is threatened by the news that her father has arranged for her to marry, Marisa flees…right into the arms of a pirate.

From the safety of a sheltered convent to a sultan’s harem, from the opulence of Napoleon’s court to the wilds of the new frontier, Marisa and Dominic brave all that they encounter in this thrilling age: intrigue, captivity and danger. And above all, an enduring passion that ignites into an infinite love.

WICKED, LOVING LIES by ROSEMARY ROGERS