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velvet night ennis

Historical Romance Review: Velvet Night by Jo Goodman

Velvet Night by Jo Goodman
Velvet Night by Jo Goodman
Rating: three-stars
Published: 198
Illustrator: John Ennis
Imprint or Line: Zebra Lovegram
Book Series: War of 1812 Series #2
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 496
Format: Paperback, eBook
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon

Historical Romance Review: Velvet Night by Jo Goodman


The Book

This review is of Velvet Night, book #2 in the “War of 1812 Series” by Jo Goodman. The review for Book #1, Passion’s Bride, later reissued as The Captain’s Lady, is available on the blog.

The Plot

Velvet Night begins in England, 1805. Kenna Dunne, 13, the heroine, lives with her father, Robert; her stepmother, Victorine Dussault Dunne; her brother, Nicholas; and her stepsister, Yvonne. On this night, the Dunne is hosting a masquerade party at their family estate, Dunnelly.

The festivities will be brief. Before the night is over, an unknown criminal murders Robert.

Fast forward ten years. Kenna, now 23, is visited by Nicholas’ long-time friend Rhys (pronounced Reese) Canning, this book’s hero. And the person whom Kenna believes killed her father.

As the Velvet Night goes on, multiple attempts are made on Kenna’s life. She and Rhys draw close and eventually become lovers. Soon after that, she is kidnapped and brought to a brothel. Before the worst can happen, she is saved by Rhys’ “friend,”–who is also a madam.

Later, Kenna and Rhys marry, and he takes her to America, to Boston. After his father and brother were killed in a fire, Rhys inherited his family’s shipping business in the city. He has brought Kenner there to keep her safe from danger.

When they arrive in Boston, Kenna and Rhys make friends with Alexis Quinton-Cloud and Tanner Cloud (the heroine and hero of book #1 in this series, Passion’s Bride/The Captain’s Lady); they own Garnet Shipping, the very competitors of Canning Shipping.

Kenna and Rhys also make enemies in Boston’s business and social circles.

Unfortunately, the threats against Kenna don’t stop after she arrives in America. Her life is in peril several more times. The bad guys kidnap her once again before her father’s killer’s true identity is revealed.

Rhys saves her, as the hero always does in these books. They unmask and dispose of the killers.

Kenna and Rhys have their Happily Ever After.

The Upside

Kenna and Rhys are fairly nice characters.

The Downside

Velvet Night reminds me very much of oatmeal or rice with nothing added: okay on some levels, but very bland.

Velvet Night by Jo Goodman

The scenes that are supposed to be exciting (e.g., the many attempts on Kenna’s life) aren’t. Plus, there is little chemistry between Kenna and Rhys in or out of bed.

The “mystery” surrounding the killer of Robert Dunne is pretty easy to solve. I figured out who it was by the 25% point of the book.


A few love scenes, none of which are particularly hot or sensual.


There is some assault and battery. Then shootings and killings. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line on Velvet Night

Velvet Night is a very pale sequel to Passion’s Bride/The Captain’s Lady. Jo Goodman’s previous Zebra historical was far superior to this lukewarm romance novel.

Rating Report Card
Fun Factor
Overall: 3.1


Ever since she was a girl, flame-haired Kenna Dunne had hated handsome Rhys Canning for lying about killing her father. Now, even though she hadn’t seen him since the war ended, the vengeance–seeking beauty swore to make the smooth-talking scoundrel confess his crime. But the moment she cop fronted him, all Kenna could do was stare breathlessly at his magnificent body, his ebony hair, and his entrancing eyes. Se knew she should denounce him as a murderer, but somehow all she could do was caress him as her lover…

As an American spy, Rhys could never reveal the truth to the fiery Kenna without jeopardizing his mission. It was best that he never again see the provocative temptress … but she d raged in his blood for years and now it was time for the reward or his patience. The brash colonial crushed her lips beneath his and molded his strong hands to her lush curves. Even though he knew she’d detest him forever after this evening, Rhys had waited too long to keep from recklessly plunging into splendor during this long luscious VELVET NIGHT.

Velvet Night by Jo Goodman
my steadfast heart

Historical Romance Review: My Steadfast Heart by Jo Goodman


Colin Thorne kept a wall around his heart no one had ever breached. His two younger brothers were lost to him, perhaps forever, and now a dark mission of revenge had brought the ruthless ship captain to England.

Penniless aristocrat Mercedes Leydon was beautiful…and desperate. Colin Thorne was claiming the estate of her dissolute uncle, the Earl of Weybourne, as payment for a gambling debt. She was treated as a servant at Weybourne Park, but it was home to her and the earl’s children. Now Mercedes would use anything—lies, promises—even her own body—to stop Thorne from destroying their lives.

A man consumed by the fires of vengeance. A woman determined never to love. An unexpected passion that could damn them both...


Reviewed by Blue Falcon


The Book and Characters

This review is of My Steadfast Heart, book #1 of 3 in the “Thorne Brothers” series by Jo Goodman (a pseudonym used by Joanne Dobrzanski). Published by Zebra/Kensington (March 1997).

Hero: Colin Thorne, 29. Golden-blond hair, brown eyes. Captain, the Remington Mystic.

Heroine: Mercedes Leyden, 24. Dark brown hair, blue-gray eyes. Caretaker, Weybourne Park.

The Plot

The book begins in London in 1820. Colin Thorne, 8–who will grow up to become the hero of this book–watches his younger brothers Decker and Greyson get adopted while he is not. The boys became orphans after their parents were killed by highwaymen. Colin is later adopted by an American ship’s captain.

Fast forward to 1841. Colin, now 29 and captain of his own ship, the Remington Mystic, is back in London. He receives a visit from Mercedes Leyden, the book’s heroine, who is trying to stop a duel between Colin and her uncle, Wallace Leyden, Earl of Weybourne, over a bet the earl lost Colin. The duel never happens, however, as Weybourne doesn’t show.

As they spend time together, Mercedes and Colin become lovers and eventually marry. Multiple Leyden family secrets are revealed, and Mercedes and Colin discover that they have a tragic connection to each other that neither knew about.

In the end, more secrets are revealed, Mercedes is able to put her personal demons to rest, and she and Colin have their Happily Ever After.


With My Steadfast Heart, Ms. Goodman has created a fascinating concept involving a man separated from his brothers as children, who, now that they are all adults, tries to find them. There are a lot of places to go with this storyline.

The best part of the book, for me, is Colin. He is a good, honorable man, which can be surprising given all he has endured in his relatively young life.


Unfortunately, Ms. Goodman chose to go to a place that is overly complicated and wordy with the first book in the series. Due to that, the book’s storylines go in so many different directions. So it’s hard to tell what is going on. More importantly, why should I as a reader care about any of it? The writing style Ms. Goodman uses here feels like she was asked to write a book to a certain word count. Well, she did her very best to meet it.

Although I liked Colin a lot, I didn’t have the same level of affection for Mercedes. Although I understood some of her behavior, I didn’t find her as likable. She is also a woefully underdeveloped character, as are the supporting characters, who add nothing to the book at all.


The love scenes are good. They are not erotic nor graphic but strike a good balance between love, sex, romance, and the physical act of making love.


Assault, battery, stabbing, shooting, and killing all take place during “My Steadfast Heart.” The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line on My Steadfast Heart

There are some good elements in My Steadfast Heart, but the laborious writing style Ms. Goodman uses and the overall complexity of the story brings the grade down a bit.


Location: London, England. Time frame: 19th Century.

Tropes: Historical Romance.Regency England Separated families. Ship’s Captain.

2.57 stars

midnight princess jo goodman

Historical Romance Review: Midnight Princess by Jo Goodman

Midnight Princess, Jo Goodman, Zebra, 1989, Pino cover art


4 1/2 Stars

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Reviewed by Blue Falcon

The Book, Characters & Set-Up

This review is of Midnight Princess, book #1 in the “Marshall Brothers” series by Jo Goodman, a pseudonym used by Joanne Dobrzanski. Published by Zebra/Kensington, November 1989, the book was later reissued as Her Defiant Heart. (This series connects to Ms. Goodman’s “Dennehy Sisters” series). This review is of the original print book.

Heroine: Jenny Holland, 24. Brown hair and eyes. Mystery woman.

Hero: Christian Marshall, 31. Copper hair, aquamarine eyes. Publisher, New York Chronicle newspaper.

Location: New York City, New York. December 1866-May 1867.

Tropes: Historical Romance. Mystery woman. Newspaper publisher. New York City.

The Plot

The book starts in New York City, December 1866. Christian Marshall, the hero, one of the series’ eponymous titular characters, and publisher of the New York Chronicle newspaper is at a hospital for people experiencing emotional distress. He’s watching one of the “patients,” a woman known as Jane Doe, being treated. He feels sympathy for her and decides to help her.

Later, she shows up at his home.

“Jane Doe” has a real name; it’s Jenny Holland, the heroine. As the book continues we learn more about the traumas she’s suffered in her life. We also learn about Christian’s trauma and that Jenny has three people who want her dead.

In the end, Christian rescues Jenny from a perilous situation. The villains trying to kill her are stopped. Christian gets a major—but very pleasant–Christmas surprise. Jenny and Christian marry and have their Happily Ever After.


Ms. Goodman is a licensed therapist, and this imbues her writing. Many of her heroes and heroines have significant trauma that they are trying to work through, and Jenny and Christian are in that category. This makes Midnight Princess an interesting, compelling book, and Jenny and Christian are interesting developed characters.


Even though I found the book compelling, I can’t say that I truly liked either Jenny or Christian. This is an issue I have with Ms. Goodman’s work. I find it interesting, but I can’t say I like her characters. The supporting characters only exist to advance Jenny and Christian.


Ms. Goodman writes good love scenes. They don’t get anywhere near erotica, but they do explore what the characters in the scenes are feeling and can be very emotional and romantic.


Assault, attempted rape, battery, sodomy, and murder all occur in the book. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line

Midnight Princess/ Her Defiant Heart is a very dark book and won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. However, readers who like books with solid character depth and interesting storylines may like it.

4.14 stars.