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Moonstruck madness

Historical Romance Review: Moonstruck Madness by Laurie McBain

historical romance review
Moonstruck Madness by Laurie McBain
Rating: four-half-stars
Published: 1977
Illustrator: H. Tom Hall
Published by: Avon
Genres: Georgian Era Romance, Historical Romance
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Moonstruck Madness by Laurie McBain

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

Moonstruck Madness is old school historical romance in an oh-so-perfect way. Written in 1977, Moonstruck Madness was Laurie McBain’s second and, in my opinion, best book.

The Characters

Moonstruck Madness begins as the heroine, Lady Sabrina Verrick, watches on as the Scots lose at the bloody Battle of Culloden Moor.

The eldest daughter of a deceased Scotswoman and an itinerant English Marquess, she and her family are without resources. As she’s responsible for her two younger siblings, she packs her family off to England to reside in their absent father’s run-down estate.

Her father is more interested in his young Italian bride than being responsible for his children. It’s up to Sabrina to figure out a way to support her family.

The hero is His Grace, the golden-haired Lucien Dominick, Duke of Camareigh. When we first see him, he’s challenged to a duel by a young hothead. At dawn, he makes quick work of his opponent, displaying his sword-fighting talents.

Lucien’s face bears a dashing scar from when one of his cousins had cut his face as a child.

Speaking of Lucien’s cousins, they share a strange quasi-incestuous relationship and are the obvious villains of this book. They connive to have Lucien done away with to obtain the Dukedom.

Meanwhile, Lucien’s grandmother wants to see Lucien married, and Lucien seems resigned to seeking a wife, but certainly not one for love.

Moonstruck madness
Moonstruck Madness, Laurie McBain, Avon, 1977, H. Tom Hall

The Plot

So Sabrina takes on the wild idea of becoming a highwayman. With the help of two burly locals, she takes on the name “Bonny Prince Charlie,” puts on a mask and hat, deepens her voice into husky timbre, wraps herself in a tartan, and holds up the rich nobles who travel the dark country roads in their coaches.

Lucien, after being robbed and taunted by the Bonny Prince, snares a trap to catch “him.”

I love how Sabrina and Lucien have a sword fight, Lucien gets the best of her, as he is the better swordsman. They engage in tender lovemaking; there is no force, no dominance. I’ve said before in other reviews Laurie McBain might have been old-school, but she was never a bodice-ripper author.

When it’s discovered Sabrina is pregnant, the Marquess, in a rage, whips her mercilessly, only for Lucien to put a stop to the brutality and carry her off in his arms.

That’s more or less the first one-half to two-thirds of this book.

Unfortunately, in the second half, Sabrina and Lucien are at odds for too long.

However, it does pick up and get exciting towards the end as a search for hidden treasure brings them back together.

Final Analysis of Moonstruck Madness

I adored Moonstruck Madness. the first time I read it, I was in my twenties and loved it. The second time, I was in my thirties and enjoyed it a little bit less, but still found it a thrilling read.

As I said, the end falters a bit because the two stubborn hotheads are at odds for too long. nevertheless, this story was an entertaining, swashbuckling romance.

4.5 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
5
Characters
5
Writing
4.5
Chemistry
4
Fun Factor
4.5
Cover
5
Overall: 4.7

Synopsis

She’s one thing by day, something else altogether by night…

After escaping the slaughter of her clan at a young age, Scottish noblewoman Sabrina Verrick provides for her siblings by living a double life, until the night she encounters the Duke, and her secret and all she holds dear is threatened…

He’s so disillusioned, he’s completely vulnerable…

With his inheritance at stake, Lucien, Duke of Camareigh, sets a trap for the Scottish beauty with the piercing violet eyes, never imagining what will happen when the trap is sprung…

As their lives become irreversibly entangled, Lucien and Sabrina become each other’s biggest threat, as well as their only salvation… 

Moonstruck Madness by Laurie McBain
Born to Love

Historical Romance Review: Born to Love by Valerie Sherwood

historical romance review
Born to Love by Valerie Sherwood
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1984
Illustrator: Elaine Duillo
Published by: Warner Books
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 576
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Born to Love by Valerie Sherwood

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

Valerie Sherwood‘s Cavalier & Colonial Era romance Born to Love takes us to England and the American colonies as four women seek love.

Valerie Sherwood, Cat Fancier & Romance Novelist

Sherwood would always lovingly dedicate her books to the special cats in her life. In Born to Love, it was Mopsy and Chow. She was slightly cat crazy.

So in honor of Ms. Sherwood–and from one crazy cat lady to another–I would like to dedicate my review of Born to Love to one of my cats.

To Bear,

You sweet, gentle soul, a little black-furred, black-nosed, green-eyed wonder.

Bear, you came into my life at 19, when your mother, a feral queen, bore her kittens in the warehouse of the office where I worked. I took you home at four weeks old and because you had not been weaned, I had to feed you milk and mush. Every night before I’d fall asleep, you’d suck at my earlobe as you would have at your mother’s teat.

Even when you grew, you still held on to this adorable kittenish trait.

Sadly Bear, you were in my life for just over a year. I went back to college and my landlady would not allow cats so you stayed home with my mother and siblings. Perhaps life there without me was not what you desired, because you ran away.

I never saw you again and I cried many tears of loss. But I have never forgotten you.

To you Bear, this review is dedicated.

The Set Up: A Family Saga

Now that I’ve got that off my chest, on to the book.

Born to Love is actually four stories of several generations of women with the same name, Dorinda, and their (mis)adventures in love. As repeated over (and over), the premise of the tale is: “It takes one generation to make it, one to lose it, one to talk about it, and one to make it again.”

The First Three Dorindas

The book opens up with the most exciting story of the group. Angel-faced, golden-haired Dorinda, a chambermaid, escapes the Great London fire. She valiantly saves Grantland Meredith from street toughs. Then the two marry each other. The simple Dorinda is shocked when she learns he is an Earl.

Unfortunately for sweet Dorinda, she is not his true love. That would be Polly, an amoral, evil black-haired she-devil of a woman. Polly is the best character in the book, relentlessly calculating and conniving, willing to do anything to have her man. It’s no surprise when this tale ends in tragedy.

Their daughter Rinda’s tale is the second part. Rinda is a wealthy, hereditary Countess. That struck me as odd, as I don’t think that English titles were passed on through the female line back then, but what do I know? Rinda falls in love with Rory, the son of her mother’s rival.

This second Dorinda risks everything to save her man at the Monmouth Rebellion. Sherwood kept repeating how brave, how bold, how valiant Rinda was to ride into battle and save Rory. It would have been nice to see it happen, not hear about it again and again. This story is kind of a letdown.

Of the third Dorinda, we hear about only in a summarized tale told to the fourth Dorinda.

It takes a generation to make a it, one to lose it, one to talk about it, and one to make it again.

The Main Story

The last half of the book deals with Dorinda IV, an indentured servant in Virginia. I liked this Dorinda and her cat, Lady Soft-Paws. Her story, while enjoyable, was uneven.

After her time as an indentured servant is over, Dorinda seeks adventure. She pretends to be a long-lost heiress to a plantation.

Two handsome men vie for her attention, although it’s obvious who the hero is. He is Tarn Jenner a man shrouded in mystery. He hides a secret identity, but we don’t know this until the end.

The characters play deceitful games, but this delightful plot point is squandered as Dorinda spends most of her time mooning over the villain.

Tarn Jenner, who is really a witty character, isn’t seen enough to be fully appreciated. The parts we do see are terrific but fleeting.

The back of the book claims:

“She was the Beauty… He was the Blade-dark debonair, the most dangerous highwayman to rove the colonial roads.”

And yet the highwayman portion is a tiny part of the story and only revealed in brief towards the end!

Final Analysis of Born to Love

The conclusion of Born to Love is wrapped up in a neat package. Although it’s left up to the imagination what the fate of the fifth Dorinda will be.

Sometimes I hate rating a book 4-stars, particularly when with just more care to detail and pacing, it could have been a 5-star read. Born to Love was a book that reached great highs and very middling lows.

Although I love her voice, this is a problem I’ve run into when reading Valerie Sherwood’s romances. Plus, she makes a great hero and sometimes doesn’t do much with him.

If I’m focusing too much on the negatives of this family saga it’s because this one could have been great, a book I loved. As it is, I just liked it very much.

Rating Report Card
Plot
4
Characters
3.5
Writing
4
Chemistry
3
Fun Factor
4.5
Cover
4
Overall: 3.8

Synopsis

She was The Beauty — reckless Dorinda Meredith, heiress to the wind!

He was The Blade — dark, debonair, most dangerous of highwaymen to rove the colonial highroads.

A world of intrigue and danger stood between them, but they were star-crossed lovers — born to meet, born to clash, and Born to Love

Born to Love by Valerie Sherwood
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