Tag Archives: heroine involved with other man

raptures rendezvous

Historical Romance Review: Rapture’s Rendezvous by Cassie Edwards

book review historical romance
Rapture's Rendezvous by Cassie Edwards
Rating: two-half-stars
Published: 1982
Illustrator: Unknown
Imprint or Line: Zebra Historical Romance
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Romance with Rape Element
Pages: 483
Format: Paperback, eBook
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooksOpen Library (BORROW FOR FREE)
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Rapture’s Rendezvous by Cassie Edwards

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

Rapture’s Rendezvous is not one of Cassie Edwards‘ bests.

First off, let me say that I am a Cassie Edwards fan. I love most of her books and hope one day to own all of them. Having said that, this book–a reprint of a book originally published in 1982–is not one of her best efforts.

cassie edwards 2nd
Rapture’s Rendezvous, Cassie Edwards, 1999 edition

The Plot

Maria Lazzaro and her twin brother Alberto are poor Italians dreaming of a better life in America. That is where their father, Giacomo, emigrated sometime earlier. Eventually, the twins are sent for and they travel on a ship in decrepit conditions to America. Once at sea, Maria and Alberto both lose their innocence. Maria gives hers willingly to the “hero” of the book, Michael Hopper.

Alberto loses his virginity in a far less pleasant way–more on that later.

Michael lies to Maria by telling her he is a buyer for a vintner in America. In actuality, he is a successful businessman investigating the cruel treatment of immigrant miners in one of the many business ventures of an individual named Nathan Hawkins. Why Michael is doing so himself instead of hiring someone isn’t fully explained.

After the ship docks in New York at Ellis Island, Michael and Maria part. They will find each other again in the future.

Maria and Alberto arrive in America thinking their father sent for them. They don’t realize until much later that they were actually sent for by Hawkins. Hawkins needs Alberto to work like his father in Hawkins’ dangerous, unsafe coal mine. Maria, Hawkins wants as his wife.

Brother and sister arrive in the Illinois town of Hawkinsville–also owned by Nathan Hawkins–to realize their lives have not changed for the better as they had hoped. Alberto goes to work alongside his father in the coal mine. Maria pines for Michael.

Maria and Michael find each other again and they have several intimate encounters. Later, Maria is forced to marry Hawkins after he threatens to deport her father and brother.

Eventually, Hawkins gets his comeuppance, Maria and Michael marry and they live happily ever after.

rapture's rendezvous cassie edwards new
Rapture’s Rendezvous, Cassie Edwards, 2011 edition

Sex

There’s a lot of sex, in Rapture’s Rendezvous though not terribly graphic. Or nice. As mentioned, Maria and Michael have several encounters. Michael also has sex with two other women–his secretary and a prostitute–while he and Maria are apart. There is some salaciousness.

Alberto is robbed and raped by a man/woman criminal duo on board the ship to America, which affects him later. Alberto also has incestuous feelings for Maria.

Maria is forced into a sex act by Hawkins after they are married.

Violence

Not much, but some. Alberto gets revenge on his rapist/robbers and hits both the man and woman.

There is also a fight scene in which Michael is assaulted and gets help from Alberto. Hawkins is eventually killed, and although he is shot, it is not graphically described.

Bottom Line on Rapture’s Rendezvous

As stated, Rapture’s Rendezvous is not one of Mrs. Edwards’ best books. The characters vacillate between whiny and barely likable. The “hero” isn’t really heroic, and the heroine, while being attractive physically, is less attractive because she is somewhat of a weak, whiny individual.

If one is interested in Cassie Edwards’ books, I recommend her “Savage” series. Those books are far better than wasting your time on this drivel.

Rating Report Card
Plot
2
Characters
2.5
Writing
2
Chemistry
3.5
Fun Factor
2
Cover
4
Overall: 2.7

Synopsis

A Woman’s Love
Maria Lazzaro was as ripe and as sweet as the full, juicy grapes that grew in her homeland’s vineyards. And as she boarded an immigrant ship for America, the olive-skinned, raven-haired beauty met the only man she could ever love. That night, with feverish desire, frantic passion, and wild, sensuous rapture, she gave herself to Michael in a moment she knew would bond them for eternity.

A Man’s Lies
Though they would have to part once they reached America, handsome Michael Hopper couldn’t deny himself the enticing wench. He had to take advantage of her innocent allure. Branding her satin throat with kisses, he promised his devotion forever. Searing her silken skin with caresses, he vowed his undying love. No matter what, he had to have her. And no matter what, he would have to leave her…Rapture’s Rendezvous

Rapture’s Rendezvous by Cassie Edwards
CATEGORIES: , , , , , , , , ,

***

the golden sovereigns geer

Historical Romance Review: The Golden Sovereigns by Jocelyn Carew

historical romance review
The Golden Sovereigns by Jocelyn Carew
Rating: four-half-stars
Published: 1976
Illustrator: Charles Geer
Published by: Avon
Genres: Cavalier Era Romance, Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper
Pages: 404
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: The Golden Sovereigns by Jocelyn Carew

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

The Golden Sovereigns is unlike any bodice ripper I’ve ever read. It’s a stellar piece of writing. The dazzling Charles Geer cover is just the cherry on top.

It’s difficult to categorize this romance it defies genre conventions. Jocelyn Carew is immensely gifted to make me enjoy a book where the heroine doesn’t meet her hero until page 270 into this 404-page epic.

The Golden Sovereigns is the kind of bodice ripper where the heroine’s journey is the real tale. But unlike salacious romps like Purity’s Passion or Passion’s Proud Captive, the hero is not a mere prize she wins at the end. He’s a balm to heal her damaged soul.

The Plot

The First Betrayal

Our story begins in late 17th-century England, in the era of Cavaliers. Carmody Petrie is a gentlewoman in love with Waldo, a no-good, sexy rogue. She engages in some heavy petting with him, but stops there. Carmody knows better than to give in to his caresses despite her body’s urges:

“A new stirring, of springs moving deep inside her, a well of emotion she had never dreamed of had been uncovered. When Waldo had laid impertinent hands on her, she had felt a moving, rising, betraying response. Her own body–if she did not carefully govern it–might well turn traitor!”

That certainly brought me to attention. I was ready to enjoy a bawdy, lusty romp. But, as noted, The Golden Sovereigns isn’t like that at all.

Waldo steals Carmody’s dowry and has no intention of marrying her. He’s got another–a wealthier–woman in mind.

Then Carmody’s young brother Ralph gambles their inheritance away to the Duke of Monmouth. She goes to plead with the Duke for mercy. Instead, with him, she finds her first tragic love affair.

Awakened into passion by the Duke of Monmouth–who is written as a complex, tragically-doomed character–Carmody remains loyal to him. She is the only person who stays with him after his final defeat at Sedgemoor. He is now a criminal, and anyone aiding him is one as well.

In a shattering betrayal, Monmouth abandons Carmody to make his escape, the bastard! Well, history shows he gets his just desserts in the end!

Captured and Enslaved

Carmody assumes a false name. Despite this, she is captured, tried for treason, and sentenced to penal servitude in the West Indies for life.

She is given into employ to a multi-faceted man who is in deep mourning for his dead wife. He’s shockingly cruel to Carmody, even though he never forces her to engage in sex.

In time, she gets her freedom, but it’s temporary as more trials and tribulations face Carmody.

Later she’s forced into marriage and finds herself in the American colonies. Now the love story begins.

Finally, We Meet the Hero

At long last, we meet the hero, Mark Tennant, a truly decent human being who offers Carmody a different world she’s known, one filled with joy & love. Her response to him is heartbreaking:

“There was a time Mark, when I would have given my soul for such cherishing… But I lost my soul for much, much less.”

The most unusual aspect of this bodice ripper is that Carmody and Mark don’t consummate their relationship. At least, not in the book, although I assume they would after the novel ends.

Carmody and Mark’s relationship transcends physical love. Theirs is a meeting of spirit. That is paramount to the meeting of flesh.

Final Analysis of The Golden Sovereigns

The Golden Sovereigns was such a pleasant surprise to encounter. Jocelyn Carew is an author whose works I’d like to know more about.

I admit I’m not a patient reader. Although I adore vintage romances, the older I get, the more difficult they are to read. The long-page counts and tiny fonts usually cause my interest to wane. (ADHD is no fun.) I’ll put a book down, forgetting I ever started it. So many half-finished books!

There have been other romances where I have been less forgiving about the same flaws that The Golden Sovereigns has (ie, the heroine meeting the hero more than halfway through the book). Carew makes the journey worthwhile.

This was a skillfully written bodice ripper, very philosophical in nature. It delved into the strange depths of humanity.

The Golden Sovereigns fell short of perfection, however, due to the limited interaction between Carmody and Mark. There was a more prominent emphasis on the villain, who was a fascinating character, but not as much as Mark.

I consider this to be an unexpected piece of great fiction. It simply lacked a little oomph at the end to make it perfect.

4.5 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
4.5
Characters
4.5
Writing
5
Chemistry
3
Fun Factor
5
Cover
5
Overall: 4.5

Synopsis

Surging with passion and epic power, The Golden Sovereigns sweeps from the proud family estates of England to the exotic West Indies to the sprawling plantations of the Virginia Colony — and, against the pageantry and adventure of an enthralling age, reveals the fiery spirit of a beautiful woman destined for blazing desire.

Thrust into the tumultuous events of two continents — and into the lustful embraces of men of high and low station — Carmody Petrie braves enslavement, danger, and royal intrigue to conquer her tormentors…and to seal, in the arms of the adoring Mark Tennant, their fated bond of surpassing love.

THE GOLDEN SOVEREIGNS by JOCELYN CAREW
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
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
a lady bought with rifles jeanne williams

Historical Romance Review: A Lady Bought with Rifles by Jeanne Williams

historical romance review
A Lady Bought With Rifles by Jeanne Williams
Rating: three-half-stars
Published: 1977
Illustrator: Ron Lesser
Published by: Pocket Books
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Western Romance
Pages: 352
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: A Lady Bought with Rifles by Jeanne Williams

Spoiler Alert ⚠

The Book

A Lady Bought With Rifles by Jeanne Williamsis an amalgam of great writing and stupid characterization.

I was extremely frustrated reading it because it could have been one of those legendary bodice rippers that old-school fans would be talking about to this day.

The Heroine

Upon her father’s death, the British-raised Miranda is called back to her father’s ranch in Mexico. There she meets two strikingly different American men, Trace, a tall, dark, and mysterious pistolero, and Court Saunders, the foreman of Miranda’s newly inherited mines and lover to her resentful half-sister, Reina. Blond, panther-like, and roguish, his sensual presence is almost irresistible.

The sisters both inherit the ranch. Miranda, being a foreigner, is aghast by the circumstances of the ranch and mines, particularly how the indigenous Mexicans are treated, how the evil Reina treats her, how gorgeous hunk Court pursues her…and just about every other thing she can find to complain about, rightly or wrongly.

The most frustrating aspect of A Lady Bought With Rifles is that I absolutely loathed the heroine. She ruined what could have been a fun read into painful torture at times.

Never have wanted to smack a protagonist as much as I have Miranda. She is ignorant of the new lands but thinks she knows better than everyone else before asking for advice. She is inflexible, a misguided do-gooder, the type who’s always offended on someone else’s behalf. Moreover–the worst about her–she has terrible taste in men.

The Two Men

Trace

Both Court and Trace take an interest in Miranda, but while Trace maintains an enigmatic distance, it’s Court who vows to make her his woman. Miranda quickly decides she loves Trace, the noble yet inscrutable gunman. Me, I’ll take wicked, sexy Court.

Sure, Trace is appealing with his darkly handsome cowboy looks, but it is Court who offers her genuine help. It’s Court who sticks around, who cares for her and her lands.

Meanwhile, it’s Trace who goes off on escapades of his own. He’s not even half as charismatic as Court. Plus, he has a sexual relationship with a young Native woman he and Miranda cared for when she was a child!

Court

Court offers marriage to Miranda after Trace runs off. Miranda flees, yet Court eventually finds her, and she vows to resist him at every turn, doing everything to deny her attraction to his intense magnetism.

“When I heard you were almost surely dead, that’s when I knew what you were to me. My woman. You rode back to me from the dead. I’ll never let you go again.”

Weak and spent, I said desperately, as if I were shouting at him in a foreign language, “You don’t love me or you’d care what I feel!”

“I do care. In a year you’ll love me.”

Even at that moment, when I hated him, my blood quickened as he smiled. I cried defiance as much to my treacherous body as to him. “I won’t. I’ll hate you more than I do know. “

“We’ll see.” He cupped my chin and raised my face. “You’re tired darling. Sleep now. You can give me your answer in the morning.”

I couldn’t let him kill Trace. But to submit to those muscular, golden-haired arms? Let him do the things Trace had? And it wouldn’t be for one time only, I was sure of that. Court might after a season let me go, but I had a frightening dread that if he possessed me long enough, he would drain me till I became his thing, his creature—that I wouldn’t go, even if he allowed it and Trace would t
ake me.

And this super charismatic hunk is the villain???

Breaking the Mold

Several points. Most romances in 1977, when A Lady Bought With Rifles was written, had heroes who acted exactly as Court did. Heroines responded to their true loves (and yes, sometimes villains) just as Miranda does: “with her treacherous body betraying her.”

I’m a bit familiar with Williams’ writing style as I’ve read other of her books. If she had written romances in the current era, her values would be more in line with the genre as it is today.

I’m guessing that Williams purposely turned the tables on how historical romance novels (i.e., the bodice ripper) were written during the 1970s.

She wanted to write a bodice ripper that subverted expectations to make it compelling, but she just “Rian Johnsoned” it instead. (Yeah, The Last Jedi fans, I went there.)

Rather than ending up with wildly sexual and devoted Court, a man who would walk through the fires of hell and back to get his woman, whose fatal flaw was more “macho” than “sensitive,” it’s the tough but tender guy, a guy who abandons his woman and child to fight a war that isn’t his, who gets the heroine.

The two men are not so distinctly different as perhaps the author meant for the reader to feel: Court is evil, and Trace is good. It’s more nuanced than that, and it’s a risky line for the writer to tread because then the villain becomes more intriguing than the hero.

The Wrong Guy

I compare A Lady Bought With Rifles to Drusilla Campbell’s The Frost and the Flame and Anita Mills’ Lady of Fire because the villains in those books were more compelling than the heroes.

ALBWR is less fun than The Frost and the Flame, and in Lady of Fire, I actually liked the hero. The main difference is in those other two books, the villain was indeed villainous.

Here, Court is the antagonist, although I wouldn’t call him the villain. For example, despite major doubts that his son is actually his–he’s not, Trace is the dad–Court treats the boy with love and care. That is until Miranda cruelly throws it into Court’s face that he is not the father.

Then Court ignores him, simply counting the days until Trace’s son is to be sent off to boarding school.

This leaves Miranda upset and befuddled. “Why, oh why has Court’s behavior changed?”

Gee, what could it be, you stupid cow? Court knew the kid wasn’t really his son, as Court could do basic math. Still, he was willing to pretend that the son of another man—a man he despised—was his, so long as Miranda went along with the pretense.

When she viciously admits to Court that he wasn’t the father, did she really expect Court to react with glee?

I can’t emphasize enough how I hated her stupid, self-centered, sanctimonious character. Court was way too good for her. He warranted his own story with a happy ending.

Williams didn’t want that. As the author, that was her decision. As the reader, it was not one I appreciated.

Final Analysis of A Lady Bought With Rifles

Like many older romance novels, this is truly a romance in the complete meaning of the word: an epic of great scope. Ostensibly the main part should be the love story between Trace and Miranda, yet it’s actually a much smaller part of the story that makes up the book.

In summary, as I wrote in my notes:

Take one exasperating, young, self-righteous heroine.

Add one hero who spends 50 pages max with the heroine, disappears halfway through, and is reunited 10 pages from the end with the heroine.

Then add a plethora of side characters whose deaths are used to manipulate sympathy for the annoying heroine. Finally, add one sexy-as-hell, multifaceted antagonist/anti-hero whose downfall brought me to tears.

Mix with uneven pacing and plotting.

End result: über disappointing 3.5 star read. I would have rated this 2.5 stars, but the writing is quite exceptional.

And Court (sigh)! Wonderfully erotic, tragically misunderstood Court deserved so much better than he got.

3.5 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
3.5
Characters
3.5
Writing
4.5
Chemistry
3.5
Fun Factor
3.5
Cover
3.5
Overall: 3.7

Synopsis:

Court Sanders… Yankee adventurer, tawny lion of a man whose obsession for gold and beautiful women was second only to his lust for Miranda.

Trace Windslade… Dashing Texan pistolero with eyes of blue fire. Miranda was his – no matter how many times Court Sanders possessed her.

Miranda… from a frail, convent-bread girl she blossomed into a woman as fierce as the rebels she befriended. Men lived and dies for her. She was… A lady bought with rifles!

A lady bought with rifles by Jeanne Williams
stranger in my arms george jones

Historical Romance Review: Stranger in My Arms by Louisa Rawlings

historical romance review
Stranger In My Arms by Louisa Rawlings
Rating: five-stars
Published: 1991
Illustrator: George H. Jones
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Historical #90
Book Series: Moncalvo Brothers #1
Published by: Harlequin
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper
Pages: 300
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Stranger in My Arms by Louisa Rawlings

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

There are older romances I enjoy out of pure nostalgia. I know they’re not perfect. Nevertheless, I like them. Stranger in My Arms by Louisa Rawlings is one of the rare flawless gems that gets better with every reread.

This romance set in France first caught my attention over thirty years ago. I love it as much today as I did back then.

Stranger In My Arms even earned the treasured seal of approval from Kathe Robin, the legendary book reviewer and editor of the now defunct Romantic Times Magazine.

Stranger in My Arms: My Favorite Historical Romance

A Harlequin Historical published in 1991, this book is 300 pages of tiny type-face, and there’s no room for it to lag.

Every character, no matter how minor–be he an innkeeper doting on guests; an avaricious villain intent upon deception; a mute orphaned boy; a mercury-addicted nobleman mourning the deaths and losses caused by the French Revolution; or a jealous camp-follower–every individual in this novel is imbued with vivid sense of realism and depth.

Stranger in My Arms is sublime perfection, from its whimsical opening:

If Charmiane de Viollet remembered the Reign of Terror at all, it was as a vision of Aunt Sophie running about shrieking, her fleshy bosoms popping from her bodice as she snatched wildly at the canary that had escaped its cage.

The rest of the story had been recited to Charmiane so often that it had assumed its own reality: the desperate flight from their townhouse in Paris—the carriage loaded with silver and luggage and oddments of furniture—the mad race for the Swiss border, the mobs and the looted carriage, Papa’s final fatal stroke. Very dramatic, very graphic, especially as Uncle Eugene told it, but strangely unengaging.

For Charmiane, the single emotion connected with that event would always be levity—the remembrance of those pink mounds bouncing absurdly against Sophie’s stays in delicious counterpoint to her squeaks and wails.

The Characters

Charmiane de Viollet is a 22-year-old widow from Switzerland who is returning to Paris with her exiled relatives. She never witnessed the horrors of the French Terror. Although her late husband was an abusive beast, she still displays the optimism of youth.

Her loyalty becomes torn between her devotion to her Ancien Regime family and her love for a parvenu upstart.

At times, she is an imperfect heroine, too trusting and too impetuous, but also generous, refined, and filled with joy.

Adam-Francois Bouchard, Baron Moncalvo, a Colonel–then eventually–a General) in Napoleon’s Grand Army, is the kind of hero I adore He’s blond, masculine, and handsome (but not pretty), a soldier, gruff, awkward with women, a bad dancer, loyal to his country, and a man of unrelenting honor.

I don’t usually like soft heroes and can tolerate “jerkiness” to a fairly extreme degree. However, it is the imperfect, all-too-human heroes who captivate me the most.

Then there is Adam’s twin brother, Noel-Victor, a mere corporal in the cavalry and a charming rake. But, while his looks match his twin’s, they are two different souls: one is filled with light and laughter, the other with darkness and dread.

The Plot

The first three chapters deal with Adam’s and Noel’s first meeting with Charmiane. The magical enchantment that follows at a ball attended by Napoleon himself is the stuff of dreams.

Charmiane’s eyes shine in devotion to her dashing hero, and they dance the hours away and later bask in the romantic afterglow of that one perfect night…

If you don’t fall in love with Charmiane and Adam within these first chapters, then this may not be the book for you. As I am a sentimental sap, I weep every single time I read this book.

Adam and Charmiane’s love story unfolds against the backdrop of Napoleon’s France. They struggle to be together as family, politics, war, and personal vendettas take over their lives.

All the Tropes I Adore in Romance

Stranger In My Arms is an exquisite treasure of a novel is filled with sensitive writing, passion, sadness, and love. And so much more.

The love letters: While Adam is off fighting, he writes to his cherished Charmiane, referring to her as his “Dear Helen.” In these correspondences, the yearning he feels for their long-distant love is palpable, as well as his disillusionment and horror in what seems a meaningless war.

There is the brother vs. brother trope, fighting each other for a woman’s love. I admit to a bit of hypocrisy in my reading. I hate love triangles involving the hero and two women, especially when siblings are involved. But the heroine who is torn between two brothers trope, when done well, then that’s one I can appreciate.

And if it’s between twin brothers, even more so. Here, this plot point is executed perfectly, for what we see is not always true.

There are even bodice ripper elements, so be warned if you’re not expecting that in a Harlequin Historical.

The Love Story

Adam is a leader of men, stoic and brave…

Yet, he is so filled with pain that even he is brought to tears. This man has reason to cry. Adam has no mommy issues, nor a woman who hurt him in the past.

There is no other woman, period. Only Charmiane.

What torments him is the awfulness of war: the meaningless deaths of his compatriots; the frozen and rotting flesh of his fellow soldiers’ corpses in the Russian snow; the depths of depravity; and the loss of his humanity that overwhelms him. He weeps for the loss of his soul.

Only Charmiane can bring it back to him.

My Opinion

As said, unlike many of my nostalgia loves, this book gets better with each reading. Every time I find something new to appreciate.

Most of my favorite historical romances are not set in the all-too-common Georgian-Regency-Victorian era of England. Rather they take place in during the Medieval Era or Renaissance. Or they are set in other times in nations like Spain, France, Russia, or the United States.

I enjoy Civil War romances in the American South and Napoleonic Era romances based in France with French protagonists. Those stories are so rare, and when they’re good, they’re excellent.

I suppose my tastes are an anomaly in this genre, and that’s why I read mostly older works.

Louisa Rawlings’ Stranger in My Arms is, for me, the culmination of a romance novel. I have never read one that I enjoyed more on a deep, emotional level.

Both the hero and heroine change and grow as they suffer and cope with loss. Adam and Charmiane learn to adapt to the new world around them and, in doing so, learn to love each other anew.

This isn’t an easy love; it’s a larger-than-life love set in the epic time of the great Napoleon Bonaparte, a man who could lead his men to the ends of the earth, despite his hubris and tragic downfall.

Final Analysis of Stranger in My Arms

Louisa Rawlings wrote a few books, and each one that I have read so far is wonderful. Stolen Spring is another of her fantastic books that I’ve reviewed. Ms. Rawlings, aka Ena Halliday, aka Sylvia Halliday, please write more! Your talents should be more widely known and revered!

There is a sequel to Stranger in My Arms, Wicked Stranger. While not as thrilling and emotional, it still features a great hero, the flip side to Adam’s melancholy and reserve.

Although Stranger in My Arms is a bit on the short side, this is the best romance novel, historical or otherwise, that I’ve ever read. I have re-read this book easily a dozen times in thirty years and am always stirred by its intensity.

I adore Adam and Charmiane’s beautiful affirmation of love:

He lifted his head and at last grinned down at her. “Now,” he said, “who am I?”

“She gazed into eyes that held love and joy and laughter. The laughter that had always been in him—only needing her to bring it out.

“Oh, my dearest,” she answered, her heart swelling with wonder and gratitude for the beautiful man who bent above her. “You’re Love.”

Stranger in My Arms is breathtaking.

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

Synopsis:

A SPLENDID PASSION …

He was every girl’s romantic dream: the handsome, brooding hero that Charmiane de Viollet had longed for, the man who would sweep her away from the endless tedium of life among the impoverished aristocrats who had lost their fortunes in the shadow of the guillotine. He was Adam Bouchard, Baron Montcalvo, a colonel in the cavalry, a favorite of Emperor Napoleon’s. In one reckless night of passion, Charmiane gave herself to him, body and soul.

But morning’s harsh light can dull even the brightest dream. When the night was over, would Charmiane wake to find …

a stranger in MY arms by LOUISA RAWLINGS
Sweet Savage love

Historical Romance Review: Sweet Savage Love by Rosemary Rogers

historical romance review
Sweet Savage Love by Rosemary Rogers
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1974
Illustrator: Unknown, H. Tom Hall
Book Series: Ginny & Steve #1, Morgan & Challenger Saga #1
Published by: Avon
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Western Romance
Pages: 636
Format: Paperback, eBook
Buy on: Amazon
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Sweet Savage Love by Rosemary Rogers

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

Sweet Savage Love, The (Other) Mother of Romance

Where to begin with this review? Sweet Savage Love by the great Rosemary Rogers is–along with Kathleen E. WoodiwissThe Flame and the Flower–the blockbuster historical that launched a new genre: the modern romance novel.

Published by Avon in 1974, this 700+ page doorstopper was a monumental game-changer in an era of social transformation. Sweet Savage Love showed readers that “good” women could have passionate sex with a hero outside of marriage and also have passionate sex with men other than the hero.

Of course, the hero was laying pipe across the United States and Mexico, the primary setting for Sweet Savage Love.

This is a true bodice ripper, featuring rape, forced seduction, abduction, cheating, adultery, multiple sex partners, a dominant, magnetic hero, and a heroine who stomps her feet in anger while her eyes flash in defiance.

sweet-savage-love-hall
Sweet Savage Love, Alternative Cover version, Avon, Tom Hall cover art

The Hero & The Heroine

Our heroine Virginia “Ginny” Brandon, is the half-French, half-American convent-raised daughter of a US Senator. She has fiery copper hair and flashing, slanted green eyes.

Ginny loves to dance like a gypsy, kicking her legs up in the air, her skirts swirling around her. You will hear this repeated constantly throughout the book.

Steve Morgan is this romance’s–ahem–hero. He is a darkly-tanned former Union soldier with deep blue eyes and black hair.

Rogers modeled him after Clint Eastwood, among others. I also got a Gregory Peck vibe from “Duel In the Sun” about Steve.

Imagine the most macho, virile man you possibly can. Picture ovulating women throwing themselves at his feet while low-T males shrink in self-awareness as that super-male confidently swaggers by.

That imaginary ideal isn’t fit to be a pimple sprouting hair on Steve Morgan’s muscular chest.

Steve is a soldier, a spy, a cowboy, and a Comanche ally. He’s a wealthy ranchero of mixed American and Spanish-Mexican descent. He is muy hombre, as we shall see.

Sweet Savage Love, Alternate Version, Troubador

The Epic Plot

Steve the Stud Meets Ginny the Dancing Gypsy

The lovely Virginia Brandon returns to the United States from France, where she had been raised in a convent. Her widowed father has remarried a gorgeous woman young woman. Much, much younger.

Ginny’s stepmother, Sonya, is quite familiar with Steve “The Stud” Morgan. They shared a passionate night together, where Steve practically raped her. Of course, Sonya enjoyed his illicit forced seduction. There are few women who haven’t fallen prey to Steve’s animal magnetism.

A scandal ensues from Sonya and Steve’s dalliance and Steve finds himself potentially facing the death penalty. He agrees to act as a spy in exchange for his life. It’s suspected that Senator Brandon is up to traitorous acts.

Senator Brandon has interests in Mexico, particularly with the controlling government of Emperor Maximillian. Steve–who is against the French–is charged with accompanying the Brandons across the country. He plans to draw them into a trap with the help of some Bandidos. The plot takes off from here.

Steve kidnaps Ginny, and though she fights him like a hellion, she–like all women with a pulse–falls for his ultra studliness. Circumstances find Ginny and Steve caught in a compromising situation and they are forced to marry.

But do you think marriage will stop Esteban Alvarado (Steve’s Spanish name) from being el tigere that he is? No way. He’s kissing broads in front of his new wife and banging other women on the side.

sweet savage love bodice ripper
Sweet Savage Love, Alternate Version, Troubador

Two Strong-Willed, Beautiful Idiots

The best part of the story is when Ginny and Steve are trekking through the Western wilderness. But Rogers doesn’t like her characters being happy. She throws everything imaginable at them.

The action takes us to Mexico, where Ginny and Steve are separated multiple times. There are lies, deceptions, and double-crosses. Mexican soldiers violate Ginny. A deranged doctor tortures Steve…and then some!

Ginny believes Steve is dead, so she becomes the willing mistress of a young señor.

When she finds out Steve is alive, she goes in search of him. Steve believes Ginny betrayed him, so he despises her, even as he lusts after her ravishing body. Lack of communication and big misunderstandings rule the day.

Oh, will these crazy kids just get over themselves and stay together forever?

My Opinion

Hablo Espanole?

One thing I recall about Sweet Savage Love is that much of the Spanish written was almost gibberish. This was a common occurrence in a lot of 1970s and 1980s romances, be they Harlequin Presents or bodice rippers. Rosemary Rogers’ good friend Shirlee Busbee had that same issue in her book While Passion Sleeps.

Spanish is, I think, the third most common language on Earth. It should have been easy for a former secretary like Rogers to get an English-to-Spanish dictionary and copy down a few words.

Ah, well, that’s a minor gripe.

rosemary rogers bodice ripper

Fast and Furious

The book is divided into sections and begins with a long prologue. It’s a hefty brick of a novel with words in tiny font. Thankfully, Rogers’ prose isn’t as purple and verbose as Woodiwiss’, so the pace is fast.

Still, Rogers has a penchant for repeating descriptions. Mentions of Ginny’s coppery hair and slanted green eyes and Steve’s lean, muscular figure seemed to be on every page. It got tedious.

Once the book got rolling, Sweet Savage Love was a gripping read. Rogers threw so much trauma at her characters; sometimes, I didn’t want to look!

This novel is not for the squeamish, sensitive reader. I first read this at 13, which I think was too young to truly appreciate the grand scope of this tawdry bodice ripper. Sweet Savage Love scared me. I couldn’t conceive heroes and heroines could act the way Ginny and Steve did.

It wasn’t until well into my twenties that I could handle that kind of behavior because my perspectives on romance novels had expanded to be open to new experiences.

sweet savage love rosemary rogers
Sweet Savage Love, Harlequin, 2014

Final Analysis of Sweet Savage Love

Sweet Savage Love is a seminal piece of fiction, a lusty saga all lovers of old-school romance should read.

I wouldn’t rank it the most incredible bodice ripper ever, however. Christine Monson’s Stormfire, Teresa Denys’ The Flesh and the Devil and The Silver Devil, and Anita Mills’ Lady of Fire are better written and engaging.

In my opinion, Rogers’ Wicked Loving Lies is her best book, with more sensitive characterization and deeper themes. It was just more fun than Sweet Savage Love.

The protagonists were wishy-washy and emotional, despite being adults. (At least Steve was a full-grown adult. I think Ginny was 16 or 17 in the beginning.) Steve was a slut. Ginny was a Mary Sue, too beautiful and desirable.

The immature duo couldn’t decide if they wanted to be together or not. The only thing these two could agree on was that they liked banging.

Even so, I enjoyed this overall. Ginny and Steve were larger-than-life people in a story that was larger-than-life.

Sweet Savage Love is an experience you won’t want to miss. It’s a thrilling co-progenitor of the modern romance genre.

I’d rate this bodice ripper between 4 and 4.5 stars. Although it’s not without flaws, I’d say it does merit a high mark.

4.24 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
4
Characters
4
Writing
4.5
Chemistry
4.5
Fun Factor
4.5
Cover
3.5
Overall: 4.2

Synopsis:

A tale of human emotion that lays bare the heights and depths of love, passion and desire in old and new worlds…as we follow Virginia Brandon, beautiful, impudent and innocent, from the glittering ballrooms of Paris to the sensuality of life in New Orleans to the splendor of intrigue-filled Mexico.

A tale of unending passion, never to be forgotten…the story of Virginia’s love for Steven Morgan, a love so powerful that she will risk anything for him…even her life.

SWEET SAVAGE LOVE by ROSEMARY ROGERS
hilltop tryst

Category Romance Review: Hilltop Tryst by Betty Neels

category romance
Hilltop Tryst by Betty Neels
Rating: three-stars
Published: 1990
Illustrator: Will Davies
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Romance #3071
Published by: Harlequin, Mills & Boon
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 192
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: Hilltop Tryst by Betty Neels

VERY MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

Hilltop Tryst is another sweet romance by the famous Betty Neels featuring–as always–a fair-haired doctor as a hero, although this time he’s British, not Dutch. Nor is the heroine a nurse. She’s the daughter of a local successful veterinarian and works with Dad.

The Set-Up

The title Hilltop Tryst makes it sound steamier than this book really is. It’s a very clean, closed-door Harlequin Romance, so no trysting here!

One morning, Beatrice is taking a walk with her dog, and she meets the hero, Dr. Oliver Latimer, a heart surgeon, along the way. Oliver’s a nice, stolid type. There’s a bit of trouble with another dog, and Oliver arranges to bring the pup to Beatrice’s father for a check-up.

Everything lines up making it seem as if Oliver’s interested in Beatrice. He’s kind to her, spends time with her family, and–in typical Betty Neels fashion–doesn’t make a move! When Beatrice’s father has a heart attack, they’re fortunate that Dr. Latimer is there to save the day.

Enter our other man, a more debonair and seemingly sophisticated vet. Have you known many vets? Most of them are really nice folks! But hardly dashing when compared to heart surgeons.

Sunnyvale’s Top Vet

The Plot

Anyway, this OM takes a liking to Beatrice as she to him. Oliver’s nice and all, but he’s so placid and just there. Unfortunately, Beatrice discovers that the OM has his sights set on taking over her father’s thriving business. Cozying up to Beatrice was simply part of his plan.

Ashamed, her heart in tatters, Beatrice turns to Oliver, who is there to save the day. He proposes a phony relationship with Beatrice and offers to take her on a Continental-speaking tour.

Along the way, Beatrice realizes she wasn’t really in love with Sam Losco, sleazy pet doc. She was just blinded by his flash. As Beatrice gets to know more of Oliver on their trip, she realizes it’s he whom she prefers.

There’s some bit of dull action before the two meet up again on that same hilltop. They declare their love for each other. Again, no trysting, but promises of marriage and forever are made.

hilltop tryst

Final Analysis of Hilltop Tryst

This was a charming Betty Neels romance, but not really very exciting. I was reading another Harlequin Romance at the same time as this (a Jessica Steele I’ll review later) and found that a saucy read more to my liking.

To my (not) surprise, reviews on sites rate Hilltop Tryst much higher than the other one I enjoyed. Oh, well, I like a little drama in my romances, even the sweet ones.

Hilltop Tryst, I’d mark as good, not great. Oliver gets points for being an animal lover, but not enough to change my overall sentiments.

3 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
3
Characters
3
Writing
3
Chemistry
2
Fun Factor
3
Cover
4
Overall: 3

Synopsis

A Dependable Man

When Beatrice’s world turned upside down, Oliver Latimer was on hand to pick up the pieces. There was something solid and reassuring about Oliver. Beatrice felt safe with him. But he wasn’t an easy person to get to know.

Accompanying him on a lecture tour to Europe convinced Beatrice that there was more to Dr. Latimer than she’d imagined. In fact, she came to believe he was the only man she could truly love. But Oliver kept his feelings hidden. What did he really think of her

HILLTOP TRYST by BETTY NEELS
hearts of fire gulbronson

Historical Romance Review: Hearts of Fire by Anita Mills

historical romance review
Hearts of Fire by Anita Mills
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1986
Illustrator: Gregg Gulbronson
Book Series: Medieval Fire Series #3
Published by: Onyx
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Medieval Romance
Pages: 432
Format: Audiobook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonThriftBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Hearts of Fire by Anita Mills

CONTENT & SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

Hearts of Fire by Anita Mills is a great medieval romance that fell a bit short of being flawless.

This book is a more satisfying sequel to the first installment of Mills’ medieval romance series, Lady of Fire, than its second outing, Fire and Steel, was.

A Fitting Sequel to a Masterpiece Romance

Fire and Steel saw Catherine de Brione, the beloved daughter of Lady of Fire‘s Roger and Eleonor, find love with Guy of Rivaux.

Guy was the pure-hearted bastard son of the demonic Robert of Bellesme. Bellesme was the unforgettable charismatic villain of the first two books who had an obsessive but somehow noble love for Eleonor. Bellesme stole the show in those novels, so magnetic was his character.

In Hearts of Fire, the male protagonist is Richard of Rivaux, grandson of Robert Bellesme and his beloved Eleonor. Richard is a fascinating and complicated hero. He has his grandfather’s darkness but is not consumed totally by evil. He kills for his woman, yet he’s a tender lover. In another book, Richard could have been a villain. In this story, he’s the hero, and a wonderful one at that. His multi-faceted personality makes Richard almost as intriguing as his grandfather.

Forbidden Love

Gilliane de Lacey is orphaned, and her brother is dead. When Richard’s forces surround Gillaine’s home, she thinks it’s a siege and does what she can to defend her fortress home. To her shock, it is not an enemy but a friend of her brother who has arrived. An enraged Richard is prepared to butt heads with the fool who ordered the attack. Then he finds himself confronted with the beautiful Gilliane. His world is torn asunder.

Richard is from a wealthy, powerful family. Although he bristles under his father’s authority, he is duty-bound to wed a noblewoman with whom his father has arranged a marriage. Gilliane, as the mere sister to a simple knight, is part of the vassal class. Despite their obstacles, Gilliane and Richard are drawn together and cannot deny their love.

The Few Flaws

The forbidden romance between Richard and Gilliane de Lacey is stellar… When they’re together, that is.

I would have given this book 5 stars if not for the long separation when the heroine is married to some beast of a man who rapes and abuses her. It added nothing to the story. I can see that Mills was trying to parallel Lady of Fire with this plot, as in that tale, the heroine was captured and violated by the villain.

But it doesn’t work here, as Robert Bellesme was such an integral part of Lady of Fire. Meanwhile, the abusive other man is relatively unimportant to the overall picture. The long section when Gilliane was paired off with him seemed like filler for this 431-paged book.

Final Analysis of Hearts of Fire

The moments when Hearts of Fire shines are when Richard is around. He is Bellesme, with none of the baby-killing, mother-fucking, or father-killing baggage.

I loved Bellesme in Lady of Fire. Despite his thoroughly wicked behavior, he was complex and charismatic. I wished Robert could have had a bit of happiness and love.

Through his grandson Richard and Richard’s epic romance with a woman beneath his class, this achievement is fulfilled. Anita Mills is such a riveting author, I can’t wait to finish this series.

4 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
4
Characters
4.5
Writing
4.5
Chemistry
4
Fun Factor
4
Cover
4.5
Overall: 4.3

Synopsis

Gilliane de Lacey’s pride is as fiery as her hair. In the face of a command from the King of England himself, she refused to wed a lord she despises. The one man she does want, Richard of Rivaux, is honor-bound to wed another, even though his passion for her has become a burning need.
 
Defying death to rescue Gilliane from the royal wrath, Richard draws his love into the perilous swirl of conflict between England and Normandy. Against this dramatic backdrop, Gilliane and Richard know that nothing will ever stop them from risking it all for love, and giving all to desire.

Hearts of Fire by Anita Mills
passion's wicked torment

Historical Romance Review: Passion’s Wicked Torment by Melissa Hepburne

Passion’s Wicked Torment, Melissa Hepburne, Pinnacle Books, 1980, cover art Bill Maugham

Spoiler Alert & Warning: This Review and/or This Book May Offend You (Maybe) ⚠

3 Stars

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Pinnacle BooksPassion’s Wicked Torment is a balls-to-wall 20th-century bodice ripper set in the gangster era during American Prohibition. From New York to Chicago, from Alaska to Europe, this book hops around the globe and features lots of mutually lusty sex scenes, rapes, and gangbangs. It stars a heroine so stupid and dumb, she could only have been written by Mr. Melissa Hepburne himself, the author of the blockbuster bestseller (I’m not kidding, it sold over a million copies!) Passion’s Proud Captive.

Aren’t Do-Do Birds Extinct?

Our heroine, Kristin Fleming, is perhaps an IQ point or two higher than Passion’s Proud Captive’s brainless Jenny-fair, whose stupidity made that book a hilarious blast. Now, I am not insulting our resilient sisters and aunts and mothers and grandmothers of the past when I refer to Hepburne’s heroines as too-stupid-to-live. This so-called historical fictional romance plays fast and loose with history, waffles around on the romance, and is HEAVY on the fiction. I doubt many women in reality who were capable of dressing themselves or had the mental know-how to expel their body wastes in a bowl of some sort ever inserted themselves into the moronic situations these caricatures of female protagonists did.

Here the heroine’s so dumb, and the action so predictable, yet somehow compelling, it’s like watching multiple gory car-wrecks in slow-mo, one after another, after another.

Kristin’s brother Chad gets kidnapped by a bunch of mafiosos. She has the brilliant idea to infiltrate a mobster’s club to find out where he is. Of course, Kristin has to get a makeover and change her persona. She’s a long-haired, virginal good girl, and that won’t do as she plans to sink her hooks into the head Capo, become his moll, and use her wiles to find her brother.

So she enters the club with her bobbed hair, slinky dress, and new fake identity & cozies up to the owner of a club, this hood, Dallas Hunter, to find who kidnapped her brother. With her gorgeous blonde looks, it’s as easy as cream pie to get into his bed. But Hunter gets angry with her when Kristin asks too many questions about his illegal biz while in bed. Newbie mistake; pillow talk is for AFTER sex, not during!

This is the Plot? For Real?

Dallas Hunter is a real Eye-talian with a dash of British panache. The next morning at breakfast:

Hunter ordered for both of them: scrambled eggs, spaghetti, sausage and buttered rolls. He also ordered kippers for himself, a smoked fish that was an English specialty.

Kristen sort of becomes Hunter’s gal, but she’s looking for bigger fish because she needs to get to the ultimate leader to find out what happened to her brother. Ironman is the top cat, and if anyone knows where bro-bro is, it would be he. So despite her burgeoning feelings for Hunter, she pursues Ironman, and that plan falls apart in spectacular fashion.

For you see, our hero Hunter is really a Fed, working undercover to infiltrate the mob. He, like Kristin, wants to find her brother, who is being held prisoner for reasons I forget but don’t really matter as this plot is (I’m not sorry to use this word) retarted (the misspelling is intentional).

Ironman finds out Kristin is not who she says she is, so he does some pretty nasty things to her. He has her drugged, up, chained to a bed, and forced into a vile porno with a sadistic creep. Things go from worse to worst for our heroine with a plan that’s not a plan.

First Plan: Kristen gets kidnapped, Hunter has to save her.

Second Plan: Kristen gets kidnapped, Hunter has to save her.

Third Plan: Kristen gets kidnapped, Hunter has to save her.

Oh, did I repeat myself? Well, that’s what this story does, too.

North to Alaska

Through various convoluted contrivances, Kristin finds herself in Alaska, where she meets a great bear of a man, McShane, a former Canadian Mountie. She and McShane enter a partnership to start a gambling house. They also get involved in a love affair with each other. McShane was the most decent character in this alleged romance novel and should have been the hero. This was the third Hepburne book I’ve read, so going by pattern, it seems s/he was setting McShane up to be the hero for a next book that never materialized (Hunter, this book’s male protagonist, and had been the “other” guy in a previous novel).

Really, in this brief portion of the book, Hepburne shows s/he’s capable of writing decent characters and a somewhat believable romance. 

This was incredible. [Kristin] was surprising herself as well as McShane. Not only by her professions of caring for him deeply, but also by her strength and refusal to submit quietly. She felt more like a real woman now than she ever had before, a strong-willed woman who knew what she wanted and went after it.

Ah, if only. Kristen should have stayed in Alaska. But remember, she has to find her brother, Mr. MacGuffin. So she returns to the mobsters’ world, and she and McShane buy a ship to use for illegal gambling and drinking off the coast of Long Island.

Alas, those plans fall apart, as the mob doesn’t like competition, and Hunter again comes to the rescue. More plot shit is flung at the proverbial walls.

Kristin sells her share of the casino ship to McShane and flees to Europe to party her sorrows away.

A Gary Stu Supporting Character?

An unusual aspect of this book is that the author Melissa Hepburne, whose real name is Craig Broude, literally self-inserts himself into the story to have a gang-bang sex scene with the heroine. It’s tongue-in-cheek but also rather sad, as Kristin drinks, parties, and sleeps with various men in an attempt to forget all the hurts committed upon her body and spirit.

When Kristin finds out that Hunter is looking for her, she asks Broude, or Brady, as he’s called in the story, to make him scarce: 

Would Brady succeed in throwing him off her trail? Probably, she thought. Her American friend was a very smart man and could be extremely cunning and crafty when he put his mind to it. The reward she promised him would certainly motivate him to do his devious best, that she was sure of.

Eventually, Kristin finds her way back to the States, sober and resolved. Dallas Hunter is there for her, and the two rekindle their romance (What romance, you might ask? Don’t. Just roll with it.).

But uh-uh-uh, there are still evil goons after them. Fortunately, the true hero of this book, McShane, who truly loves that silly do-do bird, shows up in his boat and saves the day, allowing for Hunter and Kristin to live their lives happily ever after.

Oh, and as for the missing Chad, the brother Kristin was searching for, and the whole reason she was embroiled in this ridiculous mess? Ignominously killed off partway through the book and long-forgotten by the end.

Final Analysis of Passion’s Wicked Torment

Melissa Hepburne only published four romances, but they were successful enough to put some serious cash into Craig Broude’s pockets. Good for him, I say. For despite being lackluster love stories, they were some seriously whacktastic reads I was glad to experience. Passion’s Wicked Torment, his final bodice ripper, wasn’t as fun or shocking as Passion’s Proud Captive, his first, so that it might have been a case of diminishing returns. Still, for the not-easily offended reader, these books made for wild rides.

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

frost and flame drusilla campbell

Historical Romance Review: The Frost and the Flame by Drusilla Campbell

historical romance review
The Frost and the Flame by Drusilla Campbell
Rating: four-half-stars
Published: 1980
Illustrator: Harry Bennett
Published by: Gallen Books, Pocket Books
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper
Pages: 360
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooksOpen Library (BORROW FOR FREE)
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: The Frost and the Flame by Drusilla Campbell

Spoiler Alert ⚠

The Book

Drusilla Campbell‘s The Frost and the Flame is one of those naughty bodice rippers where the heroine is separated for a long period of time from her true love, the dull, twatwaffle of a hero, and instead spends more time sexing it up with the lusty, evil villain.

For the record, this is just the kind of bodice ripper I like: one that does not take itself seriously and knows how to throw crazy tropes at you, so you’ll keep the pages turning, even if the story is not really romantic.

The Crazy Plot and Characters

I loved the Russian setting of The Frost and the Flame. The heroine’s growth as a character was fun to watch. Alas, the hero, Alexei, is exciting as dry toast. It’s the villain who is the star here: charismatic, evil, and blond!

Eighteen-year-old Katiana Donova is a convent-bred naif. While traveling across the cold depths of Russia, she and her companions are attacked.

The dashing blond Prince Oleg saves her. The Prince seems so sweet and kind at first, but he soon proves to be a lustful rogue. Nothing will stop him from possessing Tanya.

Prince Oleg is seriously obsessed with Tanya, but he’s not in love. He’s not capable of true feeling. Don’t dare think the villain in The Frost and the Flame has a heart

Even the demonic, baby-killing Robert Bellesme of Anita Mills’s Lady Of Fire was more of a romantic softy than Oleg. Oleg loves to abuse and use his Tanya, but he does not care about her. He degrades her in awful sorts of ways, so make no mistake about finding redemption in him!

Plus, the dude is going crazy. It’s hinted that Oleg has a brain tumor or something because his headaches make him act more insane.

Even as Oleg will do whatever it takes to make Tanya his, he also has a cruel and jealous wife who will stop at nothing to see Tanya pay. Poor Tanya suffers so much through this book. It’s one catastrophe after another.

But wait, there’s more! There’s a twisted secret–

No, no, I won’t say. I spoil enough romances; I won’t spoil another. Although I’d hardly call this bodice-ripper a true romance.

As for the hero? Well, Tanya spends much of it separated from her boring Alexei. He vows to have his Tanya and pines for her, however, ends up having affairs of his own. Not much of a hero, but Tanya loved him, so I tried not to dislike him. There’s not much to like or dislike about Alexei. He’s just there.

The Unconventional Ending to an Unconventional “Romance”

At the conclusion of The Frost and the Flame, Tanya is reunited with her beloved Alexei. Sadly, Tanya has been so hurt by Oleg’s torments that marriage is not on her agenda right away. She loves Alexei, yes, although wants to have a deeper relationship with him before taking it further.

Final Analysis of The Frost and the Flame

So this is a unique romance, The Frost and the Flame, has a Happy For Now ending, not necessarily a Happily Ever After.

Am I ok with that? Bodice rippers occupy a strange corner in Romancelandia, where they can do just about anything. As long as it’s an optimistic ending and the book was fun, I don’t mind. This one was.

Oleg, the psycho villain, was the star of the show. I enjoyed watching his mental and spiritual decline while Tanya grows from an innocent girl to a mature woman. This may not be everyone’s idea of an entertaining romance; however, I consider myself a satisfied reader. I’m holding on to this one!

Rating Report Card
Plot
4.5
Characters
4.5
Writing
4.5
Chemistry
4
Fun Factor
5
Cover
4
Overall: 4.4

Synopsis

Convent-bred and seductively beautiful, eighteen-year-old Katiana Donova was journeying across Russia when suddenly a band of murderous serfs attacked her traveling party. Soon she was rescued from her frozen hiding place by none other than the dashing Prince Oleg Romanov — only to become the object of his insatiable lust.

Helpless to defend herself against this cruel aristocrat, Katiana had no choice by to become his frigid, taunting mistress — despite the vindictive jealousy of Oleg’s wife, Princess Elizabeth.

But Katia longed only for Alexei, the gentle handsome nobleman whose very soul seemed to burn with a quiet passion — for his people and — could she hope? — for her.

Ravished and betrayed, Katia would eventually escape Oleg’s clutches to a country half a world away. But would she ever be reunited with the man who could melt her frozen passion with the glorious flame of his love?

The Frost and the Flame by Drusilla Campbell

The Frost and the Flame is available for borrowing for free at the Internet Archive

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
kathleeen's surrender nsn ryan

Historical Romance Review: Kathleen’s Surrender by Nan Ryan

book review historical romance
Kathleen's Surrender by Nan Ryan
Rating: five-stars
Published: 1983
Illustrator: Walter Popp
Imprint or Line: Zebra Historical Romance
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Civil War Romance, Historical Romance
Pages: 462
Format: Paperback, eBook
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Kathleen’s Surrender by Nan Ryan

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

Kathleen’s Surrender by Nancy Henderson Ryan–known better these days as Nan Ryan–is without question one of the best, most emotional romance novels I’ve ever read.

This review is based on the Zebra print version of the book published back in 1983.

The Plot

Part One

As the book opens, we meet the Beauregard family of Natchez-on-the-Hill, Mississippi. Patriarch Louis Antoine, Matriarch Abigail Howard Beauregard, and the heroine of the book, their only child, daughter Kathleen Diana Beauregard.

At the start, Kathleen is a starry-eyed 15-year-old who loves her Southern Belle life. She soon meets a handsome, wealthy man named Dawson Blakely and falls quickly and fully in love with him. They fall in love and want to get married.

However, Louis is vehemently against their relationship, although he and Abigail are nice to Dawson. Louis’ objection: Dawson’s ancestry isn’t as blue-blooded as the Beauregards’ is; Dawson’s ancestors are rather notorious people.

Louis tells Dawson they can’t marry, and Dawson loves Kathleen enough to let her go without telling her that her father is the one who’s trying to keep them apart. They do have an intimate encounter before they part, which results in Kathleen’s pregnancy.

To avoid losing face, Kathleen marries a doctor named Hunter Alexander to give their child–a son named Scott–a father.

Dawson, meanwhile, goes to Europe to drown his sorrows over losing Kathleen in drink and women.

Part Two

As time goes on–the book encompasses 10 years–Kathleen realizes she’s not in love with Hunter and freezes him out–emotionally and sexually. Dawson eventually returns to America while Kathleen realizes that she and Dawson still love each other. They become involved again.

Hunter sees them kissing and decides, when the Civil War begins, to join the Confederate Army, ostensibly to die in combat to avoid living with a broken heart, knowing that Kathleen will never love him the way she loves Dawson. Dawson also does his part for the Confederacy, acting as a blockade runner on one of his many ships.

Part Three

As the war goes on, Kathleen later realizes she does love Hunter and goes to the frontlines of the war in Vicksburg to be with him-they make love. On the way back to Natchez, Kathleen and her servant are set upon by Union soldiers, one of whom tries to rape her. That is prevented by Dawson, who is shot and seriously wounded in the process.

Then Kathleen decides she wants to be with Dawson again. She finds out later that Hunter is listed as a casualty of the war and decides to go ahead and marry Dawson.

Things don’t end there, but I won’t reveal all of what happens.

It’s Complicated

While you might think that Kathleen is a flighty and self-centered five-letter-word-for-female-dog flipping back and forth between her husband and her lover, it’s a lot more complicated than that.

Ms. Ryan does a tremendous job exploring and describing the emotions Kathleen, Hunter, and Dawson are going through. None of the three are villains, nor are they trying to deliberately hurt each other. They’re just three people caught in a love triangle that none of them want, but they also can’t get out of easily.

I felt each of their joys and sorrows, and it is an emotional rollercoaster that touched every one of my emotions.

Sex

There are some sex scenes, and although they are multiple pages long, they are not overly graphic.

Violence

Since the latter half of the book takes place in the Civil War, there is some violence. Most of it is not graphically described, except for the scene in which Dawson shoots and kills Kathleen’s attempted rapist. That is graphically described.

Final Analysis of Kathleen’s Surrender

One of the most important things that a book–or tv show or movie–has to do to get and keep my attention is to make me care about the people I’m watching/reading about. Ms. Ryan does exactly that. She made me care about Kathleen, Hunter, and Dawson, and it was incredible to read this book.

Kathleen’s Surrender by Nan Ryan is one of my favorite novels ever.

BTW, on Amazon, where I first posted this review, Ms. Ryan wrote to me to tell me that she appreciated my review!

5 Stars

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

Synopsis

PROMISE OF LOVE
“I know that you will fall madly, helplessly in love with me,” dashing Dawson Blakely murmured in Kathleen’s delicate ear. Though she knew it was wrong to encourage the gambler’s attentions, the curvaceous beauty couldn’t keep her heart from racing nor stop the blush that spread from her velvety cheeks to her full, heaving bosom.

DREAM OF DESIRE
The innocent young woman tried not to feel the virile man’s hard body next to her soft skin; she knew she ought to slap away the strong hands encircling her tiny waist. But she had always wondered what it was like to fall in love. Without a second thought, she yielded to the magic of passion’s splendor and swooned to the ecstasy of KATHLEEN’S SURRENDER

Kathleen’s Surrender by Nan Ryan
no gentle possession

Category Romance Review: No Gentle Possession by Anne Mather

No Gentle Possession, Anne Mather, Harlequin, 1980, Don Sinclair cover art

Harlequin Presents #105

SPOILER-FREE REVIEW 🙂

3 1/2 stars

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Anne Mathers No Gentle Possession consists of two plot points she’s employed many times in her works like Stormspell: separated lovers and cheating.

The Plot

Well, in this book, it wasn’t so much a case of separated lovers as two people who briefly dated in the past. The heroine broke it off with the hero when she thought his relationship with his young stepmother was a bit too close for comfort and creepy.

Karen Sinclair likes her life just how it is. She has a job and a boyfriend and lives in a nice little town. Sure she’s not wealthy like some other families in town, but she’s happy. What more could she ask for? To her shock and dismay, she meets up again with Alexis Whitney, a man from a well-heeled family she’d been involved with years earlier and never forgot. For Alexis, however, their relationship hadn’t been significant (they didn’t have sex), so he doesn’t even remember Karen.

Karen’s pride is a bit wounded, although she tries to put on a brave face. While Alexis may not recall their time together, he seeks to remedy that by starting a new relationship. So he begins pursuit of Karen, which baffles and insults her while intriguing her at the same time. But she has that steady boyfriend who’s a better suit for her than the love-them-and-leave-them type. Besides, Alexis’s stepmother is still in the picture and still seems to have an unseemingly interest in him.

Nevertheless, Alexis always seems to be wherever she goes, and soon enough, Karen is having those old feelings for him. Despite her commitment to her current boyfriend, she finds it hard to resist Alexis’s aggressive passes at her. I sort of wanted to give Karen a good kick in the rear to get her to wake up; she’s so inconsistent in her feelings. Even so, I like Alexis as a hero. He was an arrogant douchebag, but an arrogant douche bag with style and charisma.

Fun Fact

No Gentle Possession was—like many other HPs—offered free with dish detergent:

 photo No Gentle Possession FREE.jpg
No Gentle Possession free with Ivory Liquid Detergent

Anne Mather must have been the bomb back in the 1970s and early 1980s. Her books were often reprinted to great success, and one of her Harlequins, Leopard in the Snow, was made into a movie starring Mr. 2001 Space Odyssey Canadian cutie, Keir Dullea. Despite being a box-office failure, it was quite a big deal for a little category romance to be made into a major motion picture.

Final Analysis of No Gentle Possession

Anne Mather was one of Harlequin Presents most popular authors, especially in the line’s early years. She rarely disappointed, and No Gentle Possession is a good oldie romance. There are a few loose ends with the stepmother, and the conclusion is a bit abrupt, but all in all, I liked this one.

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surrender to love

Historical Romance Review: Surrender to Love by Rosemary Rogers

historical romance review
Surrender to Love by Rosemary Rogers
Rating: three-stars
Published: 1982
Illustrator: Unknown
Published by: Avon
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Victorian Era Romance
Pages: 612
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Surrender to Love by Rosemary Rogers

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

Rosemary Rogers, the “Grande Dame of Bodice Rippers,” wrote a few exceptional epic romances. Alas, Surrender to Love wasn’t one of them. It’s my least liked of her books I’ve read so far.

The Heroine

Surrender to Love begins in the hot, sultry nation of Ceylon, where the British heroine Alexa lives. Alexa is so spunky. She hates convention. Why-oh-why do rules have to be so strict for women, and why couldn’t she have been born a man?

Look, I like feminist heroines in my bodice rippers. A meek, wishy-washy heroine in one is no fun, but Alexa… It just never ended with her. Everything was political. That attitude is very draining.

But the worst aspect about her is reading her inner monologues. They’re jam-packed with randomly italicized words, sometimes just a couple per page, sometimes dozens. It made me crazy.

Alexa is one of those wild heroines who courts danger and is susceptible to intense mood swings. I got the suspicion it was the author’s menopausal mania slipping in. (I’m feeling it myself these days.)

I got a strong sense of Alexa’s mental instability with her long internal rants. Or when she’s scratching the hero Nicholas’s face off. Or sobbing hysterically in front of him. Basically, every scene underscores her fluctuating moods.

The writing was erratic. For example, POV changes without warning, just within one paragraph.

And did I mention those italics?

The Plot

Alexa wants to be independent in a society constricted by stultifying rules. She meets Nicholas Dameron, who’s as wild as she is.

Their relationship is a tug-and-pull game that goes on for too long. There’s no consummation until page 337 of this 612-page brick, which ticked me off.

The tempo in Surrender to Love is more sluggish than the other Rogers books I’ve encountered, even the profoundly introspective The Wildest Heart. The pacing plods on.

It turned around after Part Two, but it was rough when a book doesn’t have not much happening for the first 200 pages. Alexa gets involved in a few scandals and then marries an older husband who brings her to the “Temple of Venus” to catch a naughty peep show or two.

She is soon widowed and goes to England to take society by storm.

Eventually, I saw where Rogers was going with the plot; it’s a tale of a woman who defies the stifling conventions of the Victorian Era through her overt sexuality.

I wondered if Rogers was ever a fan of Mexican telenovelas. The hidden family secrets, brutish hero, and spunky heroine reminded me of Alondra, which was about a “beautiful, rebellious girl, with very independent and progressive views for that time” (i.e., she has sex with other men besides the hero) who looks and acts just like Alexa.

rosemary rogers bodice rippers
The cast of the Mexican telenovela Alondra.

Random Observations on Surrender to Love

All the Viscounts of this-and-that running around got confusing. But at least they weren’t Dukes!

Nicholas Dameron was too nebulous, too enigmatic for a hero, which is unusual for me to criticize. Despite learning the history of his first wife, I didn’t understand him at all.

As always, Rogers drew upon themes of women’s liberation. This time it came on a bit thick.

Yes, Alexa, we get it. Being a woman in the 19th century was smothering and oppressive. However, she was part of the wealthy upper class, plus beautiful & widowed. Alexa had privileges that the average woman of her time did not share.

Alexa’s rash impetuosity was a major flaw. She never thought about her actions first. She was capricious and blamed her troubles on outside forces.

Nobody forced her to move to London and deal with the repressive London ton, but she had to have her “revenge” on Nicholas for ruining her in Ceylon.

Sure, Alexa, it was revenge you were after.

The world was that woman’s oyster, but she had a hankering for geoduck:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
That’s a shellfish. What did you think it was?

The first two hundred pages could have been condensed to half that amount. The ending was weird (although not the “trial” and a whipping scene, which was awesome). One moment Alexa is engaged to Charles, her consummation with him is glossed over, and then she ends up married to Nicholas.

Happy ending, I guess?

Final Analysis of Surrender to Love

Surrender to Love wasn’t Rosemary Roger’s best romance. She’s written far better.

Strong characterization, a staple of her works, is missing here. The heroine was a manic mess. Nicholas, the hero, was too distant and mysterious to be appreciated.

The villains weren’t exciting. Although I liked Alexa’s evil grandma, she was the Diet Coke of evil: just one calorie, not evil enough. Same opinion of the Marquess. But as long as I kept imagining Mexican actress Beatriz Sheridan as the evil Dowager Marchioness, I had a good time with that particular villainess.

Beatriz Sheridan

I would have given Surrender to Love a less than favorable rating but settled on three stars because the pluses slightly outweighed the negatives.

But, oh, those annoying italics made it difficult. 

3 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
3
Characters
2.5
Writing
3
Chemistry
3.5
Fun Factor
3
Cover
2.5
Overall: 2.9

Synopsis

Under the midnight moon of Ceylon, on the night of her debutante ball at the Governor’s palace, Alexa Howard met her cousin, Nicholas Dameron. And in the sardonic curl of his hard, sensuous lips, in the commanding arrogance of his eyes, Alexa beheld the fierce, implacable passion that would render her helpless to the trembling slavery of desire…

Every kind of love a woman can be made to feel…
Within the golden softness of Alexa’s alluring gentility flowed the insatiable fires of an innocent woman’s awakening to lvoe — and the fury of a betrayed woman’s lust for revenge. Through the nightworlds of Naples, Rome, Paris and London, she was pursued by the man who heartlessly wanted her beauty. But her soul was possessed by the man whose touch was unbearable ecstasy, whose cruelty was ravishing torment, whose tenderness was passion’s fulfillment. Nicholas Dameron had taken her virtue and mocked her pride. But his love was the offering of every pleasure a woman has ever dared to dream of…

Surrender to Love by Rosemary Rogers

Historical Romance Review: Pirate’s Angel by Marsha Bauer

pirate's angel
Pirate’s Angel, Marsha Bauer, Zebra, 1991, Pino cover art

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

5 Stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Book

First of all, I love the original Pirate’s Angel Zebra Heartfire cover, but man-oh-man, have you taken a look at the e-book version? Authors, why are you doing this to your books? Lots of folks love to mock old-school covers and Fabio, but there are e-book covers that make clinches look like Rembrandts. Even a plain black cover with white Comic Sans font would be sexier than whatever the heck that new version is.

Besides loving the original Pino cover, I loved just about everything else in Marsha Bauer’s 1991 Zebra Heartfire pirate romance. Sure, the heroine is a two-faced hussy, as she has a dependable guy back home whom she plans on marrying while she enthusiastically partakes in lovemaking sessions with the hero. But I couldn’t blame Ivy. Drake was wildly attracted to her.

Plus, he was hot. (God, I’m so shallow.)

The Plot

Part One

Our story begins with a lovemaking session some 20+ years prior to the start of the main plot, with the pirate Keils Cauldron making love to a beautiful woman he calls Sunny.

Ostensibly, the product of this union is our heroine, Ivy Woodruff. Her pregnant mother settled down with a nice guy who raised Ivy and gave her his last name. From what her mother told her of her conception, Ivy is convinced that Keils is her natural father.

Conveniently enough, Ivy is sailing on a ship when Keils and his crew seize it. Keils’ first mate Drake is instantly taken with the violet-eyed vixen, so he makes her his captive. Ivy resists Drake and tries to convince Keils that she is his daughter, but he’s not keen on believing her as he’s in mourning for his dead son, who was mysteriously murdered. For the time being, Keils is determined to find the killer. So he allows Drake to take Ivy aboard, even though Keils doesn’t trust her.

Part Two

There was an engaging plot at the heart of this book; however, what really drew me to Pirate’s Angel was the chemistry between Ivy and Drake. Blond heroes always intrigue me. Drake’s intense pursuit of Ivy had me reading and rereading many scenes.

I remember as a teen pestering a friend over and over to read this one, not resting until she finished it. I had to share the sexy, cheesy awesomeness with someone! When she gave it back, she gushed about how she finished it in one sitting.

The sex scenes were very steamy. I should not have been reading his trash. What did my mother think these books were about? The covers explicitly told you what was going on!

Despite her prim and proper upbringing, Drake brings out the wild siren in her, and they become lovers. Who then shows up, but Ivy’s fiance, Alan? Ivy begs him for forgiveness, which he gives her without any quarrel. As a man-of-the-cloth, he believes in redemption.

Plus, Ivy’s hot.

The trouble is, whenever she and Drake are together, Ivy can’t resist him; their passion is so intense.

Alan who?

Ivy remains convinced that Keils is her father. Despite there being no solid evidence one way or another if they’re related, Keils accept Ivy as his own.

Part Three

There is a slight surprise at the end when Drake and Ivy get married. They rush off to enjoy the consummation of their nuptials when Keils notices that Ivy transposed the “V” and “Y in her own name as she signed the wedding register. Since Keils does that to his name, too, it’s all the proof needed of parenthood. No DNA test could be more precise.

Although, Keils might have a point. The “I before E, except after C, etc.,” rule should mean his name is pronounced “Kails,” but I read it as “Keels,” which makes sense with him being a ship captain and all. So it’s understandable he has trouble spelling his own name. Certainly, there are given names that would be hard for any adult, let alone a child, to spell: Tiphaniee; Quvenzhane; Chrysanthemum; Donnabháin; ABCDE–actually, that one’s pretty easy to spell, it’s just hard to pronounce.

Final Analysis of Pirate’s Angel

I’m not going to pretend as if there’s any doubt to a HEA in this book. Ivy and Drake are obsessed with each other and will spend the rest of their days together, whether on land or on the sea, always getting some booty.

Anyway, whether you buy Pirate’s Angel as an e-book or have an original copy, it’s a story you’ll want to read over and over again. This is one sexy pirate romance.

the coach to hell

Historical Romance Review: The Coach to Hell by Rachel Cosgrove Payes

Synopsis:

DESPERATION AND DESIRE
Rescued from poverty to live in an opulent mansion filled with servants…loved by two adventurous and passionate men…Georgina’s new life was wantonly wonderful. But she was caught between her arrogant benefactor and his rakehell coachman brother — and their fierce obsession threatened to shatter everything. Each man claimed to be the rightful heir to a noble title. Each man thought Georgina knew the secret location of the missing proof. And though each man already possessed Georgina’s body — each demanded more…

COACH TO HELL by RACHEL COSGROVE PAYES

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Coach to Hell was a bit of disappointment for me after reading Rachel Cosgrove Payes’ Moment of Desire. While that book had a heroine who was placed in awful situations yet tried to make the best of them while always knowing her mind, this book’s heroine is a wishy-washy sort that just goes with the flow because that’s what toilet paper does.

The Plot

The Coach to Hell is a paranormal/Gothic/bodice ripper romance that features a beautiful, orphaned woman named Georgina. To avoid the lusty clutches of a local pervert, she is forced out of her home. Georgina has the gift of the special sight of psychometry. Like some psychic blood-hound, she has the ability to touch an item and immediately glean information about its history or find a hidden object if she touches items associated with it.

Georgie’s ESP is the Chekhov’s gun of this novel as it will be instrumental in the plot’s resolution, what little there is of it.

She heads to a far-away town to seek out a distant cousin in hopes that he will care for her, a relative in need. On the coach ride to her new environs, Georgina meets a dashing red-haired coachman whom she falls for. However, well-meaning fellow passengers warn her that he’s the love-them-and-leave-them type, with different women in every village. Georgie ignores their advice and engages in a secret love affair.

The hero, Charles Collins, supposedly has lots of sex appeal (didn’t see it) but no fortune, as he is the bastard son of a nobleman. He believes he is legitimate, however. Charles is working as a coachman to save money to hire a barrister. He tells Georgina that the relative she’s going to live with is his younger half-brother, Francis, his father’s legal heir.

He’s convinced there must be some shenanigans afoot. Charles, not his brother, is the true inheritor of the manor and title.

Charles and Georgie get down with each other, and he sweet talks her into promising to search for any information that will prove his claim. Georgie vows to do her best.

Her best is… Well, you’ll see.

So the Lord of a half-brother is also a charismatic hunk (I saw it here) and lives openly with his mistress, who’s naturally contemptuous of Georgina. If Georgie would say the word, he’d gladly throw his courtesan aside to have Georgina instead. But Georgie has her dashing coachman and wouldn’t dream of being unfaithful to her beloved.

No, I’m just joking. Remember, this is a 1970s Playboy Press bodice ripper!

One Hell of a Crazy Scene

Back in her hometown, when some creepy old dude wanted her for his mistress, Georgie’s upstanding morals wouldn’t allow for such dishonor. Now, things are different. Yes, she’s in love with a young, handsome dude, but she’s living with his equally hot and much richer brother…

Morals? Pffft. That’s for poor people who don’t live in fancy manors.

The best part of Coach to Hell is when Georgina has Charles in her room for a late-night tryst. Then his brother enters her chambers with the same intention, forcing Charles to hide in her wardrobe. Georgina can’t shoo Francis away by being smart enough to say she’s on her period, so while Charles conceals himself in the closet like some teenage boy hiding from an angry father, Georgie bangs Francis in her bed. And Francis is so good at it that Georgina forgets everything and moans away in ecstasy, giving our sad-sack hero something extra-special to listen to.

This book is a bodice-ripper, and Charles is our supposed “Alpha” male hero. So does he burst out into the room and kill them both in a blind rage? Nope. Charles stays there, sitting and sulking, while his hated enemy joyously screws the woman he loves, bringing her to orgasmic heights.

This scene was so WTF and made me wish that The Coach to Hell had fully embraced its campy nature and included more juicy bits like this!

After that, I admit I lost all respect for the hero. I certainly didn’t expect him to go all wifebeater on Georgina, but he at least could have punched the lights out of Francis. Unfortunately, I can’t root for a cucked hero, so I just read to get to the end of the story.


  photo cuckold horns.png 

Moving on, then.

Final Analysis of The Coach to Hell

Remember Georgina’s special kind of ESP? Well, it served the plot’s purpose. She’s able to find evidence that proves Charles’ legitimacy.

You didn’t actually think Charles wasn’t the real Lord, did you? Oh no, I gave away the ending! Look, if you’re reading these cheesy romances, you know they’re supposed to end “Happily Ever After,” no matter how discombobulated the path to “Ever After” is.

I do wish I had enjoyed this book more, but Georgina was just too stupid for words. I lost any admiration I’d had for Charles after he was ignominiously crowned with a set of horns. Instead, I rooted for his brother from another mother to get the girl.

In the end, this Rachel Cosgrove-Payes Gothic ‘ripper, The Coach to Hell, was a so-so read for me, memorable for all the wrong reasons.

2 1/2 Stars

dont ask me now emma darcy

Category Romance Review: Don’t Ask Me Now by Emma Darcy

category romance
Don't Ask Me Now by Emma Darcy
Rating: five-stars
Published: 1986
Illustrator: TBD
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Presents #984
Published by: Harlequin, Mills & Boon
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 192
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: Don’t Ask Me Now by Emma Darcy

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

Emma DarcyDon’t Ask Me Now is an unusual Harlequin Presents. Prior to this book, I had seen a similar love-triangle plot done in the Temptation line, which was more sexually explicit. To see this kind of story in an HP was a bit surprising.

The Unusual Plot

What’s the big deal? Well, this romance features two heroes! And the heroine sleeps with both–although it’s not as tawdry as it sounds.

Many years ago, the heroine, Cathy, had a torrid love affair with Hero #1 Anthony Pryor-Jones of the Pryor-Joneses, part of Australia’s creme-de-la-creme. His family disapproved of her as they were a wealthy clan, while Cathy was a nobody.

Hero #1 was obsessed with her, and they had fantastic sex. But the class divide was too much. Finally, Cathy broke free from the toxic relationship and relocated to Sydney.

Years have passed, and Cathy’s made a new life for herself. She’s got a great friend and business partner, Tom. Tom, Hero #2, has always wanted Cathy. Unfortunately, he’s been friend-zoned for some time.

Just when he thinks he’s breaking through her icy reserve, they bump into Anthony at a ball.

Cathy sees him, and her feelings come rushing back. Anthony wants her again, too.

Tom isn’t going to stand by and let it happen. He demands Cathy see him as he really is: a man, a desirable one, who genuinely cares for her.

Moreover, Tom’s not willing to play second fiddle to her ardent feelings for Anthony. Even if Tom knew Cathy loved him, he’s unwilling to be next-best in bed. Tom is rightfully jealous of the passionate relationship she shared with Anthony.

Don’t ask me now, Tom,” Cathy says to him, as she can’t decide what her heart wants. But she must.

Who Gets the Girl in This Love Triangle?

I’m happy to say that it’s the nice guy who wins out in the end. Hero #1 turns out to be no hero at all.

Tom and Cathy get invited to a weekend party at the Pryor-Jones estate. As Anthony sees that Tom and Cathy are drawing closer and Cathy won’t give in to him, he tries to make Cathy jealous. How? By having sex with a young girl in a car in the driveway (what a stud!). Then when he sees Cathy fleeing his family’s party, he cruelly and abruptly abandons the crying, confused girl.

Cathy easily realizes it’s Tom she wants, needs, and–most importantly–desires.

The pair share a memorable scene where they make love and break the bed. This occurs at the party at Pryor-Jones estate, so everyone will see the results of Tom and Cathy’s wildly erotic night.

Final Analysis of Don’t Ask Me Now

Don’t Ask Me Now is a wonderfully unique Harlequin Presents. It was written to keep you guessing who’s the right man in this love triangle, then made you root for that right man to get the girl. I don’t even want to imagine how this kind of plot would be addressed in a modern HP/ Mills and Boon. If it has, I don’t want to know!

Emma Darcy executed this plot with perfection. Although I’ve enjoyed many of her books, like Fantasy, this one is special. It’s one of my most beloved Harlequin Presents; if not a top 10 pick, then top 20 for sure.

5 Stars

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

Synopsis

Only one man was offering the forever kind of love

Four years ago, Cathy Lawrence’s hopes of marrying Anthony Pryor-Jones had been humiliatingly crushed. The country girl from Armidale had been deemed no match for Anthony, whose family sat atop the social register in New South Wales–_ perhaps all Australia.

Since then she’d built a comfortable life for herself in Sydney, and had a steady relationship with Thomas Crawford–her business partner.

But when she bumped into Anthony at the charity ball, one brief look into those green eyes threw her emotions into churning conflict. He wanted her again. And Cathy wasn’t sure she had the willpower to resist the only man she thought she had ever loved. 

DON’T ASK ME NOW by EMMA DARCY
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