Tag Archives: kidnapping

Historical Romance Review: Brazen Ecstasy by Janelle Taylor

Brazen Ecstasy is the best of first four books Janelle Taylor’s in the “Ecstasy/Gray Eagle” series so far.

book review historical romance
Brazen Ecstasy by Janelle Taylor
Rating: five-stars
Published: 1983
Illustrator: Walter Popp
Imprint or Line: Zebra Historical Romance
Book Series: Savage/ Gray Eagle Series #4
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Colonial Era Romance
Pages: 496
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Brazen Ecstasy by Janelle Taylor

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Brazen Ecstasy, book #4 in the Ecstasy/Gray Eagle Series by Kensington/ Zebra author Janelle Taylor.

The Plot

Alisha and Gray Eagle Separated Yet Again!

When Brazen Ecstasy begins, it has been five years since Alisha Williams and Oglala Lakota warrior Gray Eagle first met. Despite numerous hardships–many self-inflicted–they have welcomed a son, Bright Arrow. They are very much in love and happy.

Which–of course–means something will soon shatter their happiness. Two things, in fact.

The first incident is when American soldiers kidnap Bright Arrow in an effort to bring Gray Eagle to heel. This effort fails somewhat as Gray Eagle rescues his son. However, there is tragic news. During the rescue, Alisha was hit on the head, fell into a raging river, and got swept away.

Gray Eagle’s tribe believes she’s dead!

Fortunately–or not–Alisha is rescued by Brave Bear, her former Blackfoot suitor. But Alisha has suffered amnesia from the head injury. She doesn’t remember the last five years of her life.

brazen ecstasy

The Other Woman Makes Trouble

That creates many issues between her and Gray Eagle when he finally decides to search for her and brings her back to the Oglala camp.

Because while Alisha was with Brave Bear’s people, Leah Winston, a white slave with a strong resemblance to Alisha, set her eyes on Gray Eagle.

She does her best to take advantage of Alisha’s absence by ingratiating herself with Bright Arrow.

Then Leah attempts to seduce Gray Eagle– and almost succeeds. But despite the blatant evidence of physical attraction to her–if you know what I mean, and I think you do!–our hero ultimately rebuffs her advances.

For such acts of other-woman villainy, Leah is fated to die later on when trying to kill Alisha/Shalee.

Alisha’s amnesia–plus Leah’s taunts about her (non-existent) affair with Gray Eagle–exacerbates the rift between the two protagonists, who briefly separate–again.

Ah, but love wins out, and in time, the couple reconciles.

A secret is revealed. Gray Eagle and his warriors take their revenge upon the White soldiers for the previous attack. And for a while, happiness comes to Alisha and Gray Eagle.

The Upside

Mrs. Taylor is at her evocative, flowery, lyrical best in Brazen Ecstasy.

The characters are developed, and the emotional level is turned up to 11.

Powered by GIPHY

The arguments that Alisha and Gray Eagle had with each other could have easily happened today, as in 1782–when the book is set. Or in 1983 when the Brazen Ecstasy was first published.

Downside

No matter how evil Leah was, that does not excuse Running Wolf, Gray Eagle’s father, for raping her.

During the quarrels Alisha and Gray Eagle have regarding Leah, his behavior comes across as very childish. Gray Eagle lacks any sympathy and understanding for Alisha’s trauma from her kidnapping.

Sex

very warm heat level

The love scenes in Brazen Ecstasy are a bit more graphic than in the previous books in the series. It’s still not erotica, but there’s a little more pepper in the soup here.

Violence

In addition to the aforementioned rape of Leah and the assault on Alisha, there are other scenes of assault, shootings, and other forms of violence. The violence is not as graphic as in the first book in the series, Savage Ecstasy.

Bottom Line on Brazen Ecstasy

Brazen Ecstasy is the best of Janelle Taylor’s first four books in the “Ecstasy/ Gray Eagle” series so far. (#1 Savage Ecstasy, #2 Defiant Ecstasy, and #3 Forbidden Ecstasy.)

It is not flawless, but it is very, very good.

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

Synopsis

For four years, green-eyed Alisha Williams had been Princess Shalee, the cherished wife of the Oglala Chief Gray Eagle. Still their love was stronger than the surging white water of a snow-swollen stream and even more powerful then the fiery crimson sun that commanded the earth. But fate envied their perfect love and swept the stunning Alisha down a raging river and out of Gray Eagle’s life…

There was no way Gray Eagle could know that his love was alive when his empty teepee proved she was gone. But the daily torment of his lonely heart and the nightly agony of unfulfilled passion insisted that somehow she had survived destiny’s decree. He had rescued Alisha many times before — somehow he would find her once more. No river was too wide and no journey was too long to find his beloved, to share again their BRAZEN ECSTASY…

BRAZEN Ecstasy by Janelle Taylor
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

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

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.

Sex

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

Violence

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
Plot
2.5
Characters
3.5
Writing
3
Chemistry
3
Fun Factor
2.5
Cover
4
Overall: 3.1

Synopsis

HE BETRAYED HER FATHER
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…

SHE BROKE HIS HEART
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

Historical Romance Review: The Captain’s Vixen by Wanda Owen

The Captain's Vixen by Wanda Owen
The Captain's Vixen by Wanda Owen
Rating: two-stars
Published: 1980
Illustrator: Unknown
Imprint or Line: Zebra Historical Romance
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Forced Seduction, Pirate Romance, Romance with Rape Element
Pages: 400
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooksOpen Library (BORROW FOR FREE)
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: The Captain’s Vixen by Wanda Owen

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

Sometimes one can tell when a book is the first an author has written. The stories don’t seem finished, characters arrive and are then written out without rhyme or reason. Such is the case with The Captain’s Vixen the debut by Wanda Owen. This was not a great first book.

The Plot

Part One: Our Hero and Heroine Meet and Fall in Love

France is on the brink of war in 1805. Andre Cartiers, a French resistance fighter, is concerned enough about what is happening in his homeland to send his two daughters, Olivia, 18, and Elise, 16, to England to live with their Aunt Colette.

Taking the girls to England is English sea captain Landon “Lance” Edwards. Lance is also a peer of the realm in England, but he and his father don’t get along, so Lance rarely uses his high-society connections.

Lance and Elise meet on the trip from France to England. They are attracted to each other, and soon after they make love and agree to marry.

Alas, the fact that Elise is stunningly beautiful and Lance is both handsome and a ladies’ man is both a blessing and a curse for the couple.

Almost every man who meets Elise falls in love or lust with her. Sadly, this results in her being raped three times and nearly raped on two other occasions! The first attempted rape occurs at the home of one of Colette’s friends, the Wentworths. Their son, Robert, tries to rape Elise before being beaten severely by Lance who comes upon the act and prevents it. Unfortunately, Lance can’t prevent Elise from being raped by her Uncle, Edwin Herrington.

Part Two: Kidnapped and Separated

The second rape occurs when Elise is kidnapped by the crew of a pirate, Joaquin Ruiz, aka “El Diablo.” One of Ruiz’s crewmen rapes Elise before Ruiz takes Elise under his protection as his unwilling mistress.

Elise was kidnapped as part of Ruiz’s plan to get revenge on Lance for his affair with Ruiz’s wife, Felicia. Ruiz had found Lance and Felicia in bed together. Lance stabbed Ruiz and escaped. Felicia was not so lucky, as Ruiz killed her that night and has been planning his revenge since.

Elise plays along as Ruiz’s mistress to stay alive and get back to Lance. Unfortunately for her, he tells Elise that Lance is dead; obviously not true as he is this book’s hero.

Lance is desperately searching for the two, however, he just misses catching up with them.

Finally, Elise gets the chance to escape Ruiz. Taking her lady’s maid, Lita–whom she adopted into her employ in Havana, Cuba–with her, Elise tries to flee from Havana when the women are set upon by ruffians at the docks. One of them rapes and kills Lita.

The Captain's Vixen by Wanda Owen

Part Three: A New Man for the Heroine?

Elise fairs a little better as she is beaten and nearly raped again before she is rescued by a kind stranger. He is Clint Barron, an American planter and seaman. Barron takes Elise back to his ship, and tends to her, before taking her to his home in New Orleans.

During their travels, Elise and Barron become lovers. Remember, she believes that Lance is dead.

Lance, meanwhile, has tracked Ruiz to New Orleans and eventually kills him. He then makes the acquaintance of a friend of Barron’s, Zach Hart, and his daughter, Susan. Lance and Susan become lovers and they flirt with the possibility of marriage.

That all changes, when Lance attends a party at Barron’s and is shocked to see Elise alive and well. He overhears her talking about her upcoming nuptials with Barron and becomes enraged, leaving the party.

When Elise tries to explain she thought he was dead, Lance–who is seriously drunk at this time–rapes Elise.

Conclusion: They All Live Happily Ever After… Or Do They?

Despite his assault upon her, soon afterward Lance and Elise realize that they love each other. And have their “Happily Ever After”.

Or do they?

There is a sequel to this turkey, called Rapture’s Bounty. So their “Happily Ever After” is going to be delayed a bit.

The Upside

Well, Ms. Owen’s writing can only improve from here. As stated earlier, The Captain’s Vixen was clearly her first book and it shows.

The Downside

From characters appearing and then disappearing to storylines being explored and then summarily dropped, there are multiple problems with The Captain’s Vixen.

The two biggest issues for me are: #1 the endless misogyny and #2 the” hero” Lance rapes Elise and she forgives him! I don’t see why Ms. Owen had to resort to the type of abuse she forced Elise to endure here.

Plus, I have a HUGE problem with the “hero rapes the heroine and she forgives him” part of some romances. This happened far too often in older romance novels.

Sex

There are a few love scenes where Lance DOESN’T rape Elise. They are relatively tame and barely lukewarm as far as sexual heat is concerned.

Violence

There are the aforementioned multiple rapes on Elise, plus a beating. Her maid is also raped and killed.

Lance kills Ruiz. In addition, Lance and Barron have a fistfight over Lance’s violation of Elise. Nothing is described in over-graphic detail, however.

Bottom Line on The Captain’s Vixen

Parts of Wanda Owen’s Zebra bodice-ripper, The Captain’s Vixen, are good. But the rape of Elise by Lance and her forgiveness really turned me off.

Rating Report Card
Plot
1.5
Characters
2
Writing
2.5
Chemistry
1.5
Fun Factor
1.5
Cover
3
Overall: 2

Synopsis

Captain Lance Edwards had sailed the seas and obtained women ever since he was a lad, and no woman had ever resisted his masculine magnetism — no one but the luscious, jet-haired Elise. Passionately attracted to the strong-minded beauty, Lance struggled to overcome the resistance. Now he vowed to possess her and win her love, for he was bewitched by . . . The Captain’s Vixen!

The Captain’s Vixen by Wanda Owen
romance-review-tangled-web-by-janice-bennett/

Historical Romance Review: An Intriguing Desire by Janice Bennett

historical romance
An Intriguing Desire by Janice Bennett
Rating: two-stars
Published: 1989
Illustrator: Walter Popp
Imprint or Line: Zebra Regency Romance
Book Series: Spy Duo #2
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Regency Era Romance
Pages: 356
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: An Intriguing Desire by Janice Bennett

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of An Intriguing Desire, the “sequel” to Tangled Web, both by Janice Bennett.

The Plot

In Tangled Web, readers were introduced to Therese de Bourrgerre and Charles Marcombe, the heroine and hero of An Intriguing Desire, as supporting characters. Here they take center stage.

As An Intriguing Desire begins, Therese shows up at Charles’ home to ask him another favor: to help her rescue one of her fellow Frenchmen from Bonaparte’s clutches. (Therese and Charles have a history together.)

Charles refuses to help her for many reasons, so Therese decides to go it alone.

That decision, however, doesn’t go the way Therese wants, as she is kidnapped by the man, Chevalier de Lebouchon, and taken to France.

Charles decides to undertake a dangerous rescue mission to free her. He does, but they spend much of the time bickering in between nearly getting and getting caught.

They come to discover an even bigger plot against British national security and thwart that plan.

In the middle of a firefight between British and French soldiers in Portugal, Therese and Charles finally realize they love each other. They later get married and have their Happily Ever After.

The Upside

Therese and Charles were the two most interesting characters in Tangled Web, so I looked forward to seeing them in their own book as lead characters. It’s a Regency book. The intrigue is mildly interesting.

The Downside

I’ve never found character development to be a strength of Ms. Bennett’s books, and An Intriguing Desire does nothing to change that view. I’ve yet to read a book by Ms. Bennett where I’ve truly cared about the characters.

Sex

Other than a couple of passionate kisses and some heavy petting, there is no sex.

Violence

Most of the violence takes place late in the book. A British soldier is killed in the fighting, and Charles kills de Lebouchon. The violence is not really graphic.

Bottom Line on An Intriguing Desire

In An Intriguing Desire, the intrigue is not intriguing enough, and there is no desire. Another disappointing Janice Bennett book.

Rating Report Card
Plot
2
Characters
1.5
Writing
2
Chemistry
1.5
Fun Factor
2
Cover
4
Overall: 2.2

Synopsis

Therese de Bourgerre couldn’t believe the man before her was the dashing spy she had known and loved in Paris. This was a man who had given up all hope. It was her duty to reawaken his passion without losing her heart. A delightful Regency from the author of Midnight Masque.

AN INTRIGUING DESIRE by JANICE BENNETT
wild island sands

Historical Romance Review: Wild Island Sands by Sonya T. Pelton

historical romance review
Wild Island Sands by Sonya T. Pelton
Rating: one-star
Published: 1983
Illustrator: Unknown
Imprint or Line: Zebra Historical Romance
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 526
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Wild Island Sands by Sonya T. Pelton

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Wild Island Sands by Sonya T. Pelton, a Zebra historical romance.

The Plot

Wild Island Sands opens with an explanation of Greek mythology, as the heroine’s name is Pandora–Pandora St. Ives to use her full nomenclature. Pandora lives in Hawaii with her aunt and uncle. Her parents passed away earlier.

Pandora will do anything to prevent being pushed into a loveless marriage. As a result, she flees to San Francisco, to live with her cousin, Cara Kalee. In California Pandora gets into an accident. Luckily, the houseman for Rogan Thorn saves her in time.

Rogan, a shipping magnate, owns his family’s company, Thorn Navigation. Rogan and Pandora are immediately attracted to each other. But as in most romance novels, there are barriers to their happiness.

Those barriers are:

  • Pandora’s amnesia from her accident
  • Cara, one of Rogan’s former mistresses
  • Rogan’s other paramours
  • Walter Riddock, Rogan’s professional and personal arch-rival
  • And perhaps most importantly, Rogan’s health issue

Rogan kidnaps Pandora to prevent her from marrying Riddock and forces her to marry him.

Later, Pandora moves back to Hawaii. Rogan follows her. They ignore each other, argue, and have sex.

This same pattern follows them back to San Francisco, where Pandora gives birth to their daughter, and she and Rogan have their Happily Ever After.

The Upside

Well… I finished the book!

Beyond that…

The Downside

Like many of Ms. Pelton’s books, Wild Island Sands is a hot mess of tens of thousands of words–over 526 pages–yet saying absolutely nothing.

I felt no connection to either Pandora or Rogan, nor do they have any chemistry with each other. Ms. Pelton tries to manipulate her readers’ emotions with a storyline about how Rogan’s life is affected by his parents’ neglect but goes nowhere with this.

There is a mystery that is so poorly written that it doesn’t matter at all when it’s solved.

Characters are introduced, then abandoned, or brought in and written about but never go anywhere.

Sex

There are a few scenes, which like the rest of the book, are barely noticeable.

Violence

It is implied that Pandora killed a man. This is not true, but she has horrific flashbacks about the murder.

Bottom Line on Wild Island Sands

Sonya T. Pelton has written only one book that I liked: Dakota Flame.

Beyond that, everything I’ve read by her has been total dreck like Wild Island Sands. They’ve always been destined straight for the garbage bin after I’ve wasted days of my life reading them.

1 Star

Rating Report Card
Plot
1
Characters
1
Writing
1.5
Chemistry
2
Fun Factor
1
Cover
3
Overall: 1.6

***

CATEGORIES:, , , , , , ,

Synopsis

The sultry breezes tossed the island palms and caressed the aqua waves. And as beautiful, copper-haired Pandora walked the endless beach all she could think about was the handsome, arrogant sea captain, Rogan Thorn. His kiss was the first taste of desire she had ever known. Now she wanted Rogan with a feverish longing that scaled her heart and flames between her long silken limbs. But he was a wealthy, womanizing shipping tycoon, whose only love was the sea…

WINDSWEPT LOVE
Hawaii was a paradise of romance and love–but Rogan believed in neither. He was tired of conniving, clinging women who were only after his money. Then he met Pandora, the ravishing Hawaiian goddess whose eyes sparkled like sapphires, whose lips tasted like sweet cherries, whose body was made for pleasure. He thought that if he bedded her, he’d get her out of his mind–but once he took her innocence he was branded by the joys of rapture on the WILD ISLAND SANDS.

Wild Island Sands by Sonya T. Pelton
pino romance

Historical Romance Review: Passion’s Chains by Catherine Creel

historical romance review
Passion's Chains by Catherine Creel
Rating: four-half-stars
Published: 1991
Illustrator: Pino
Imprint or Line: Zebra Lovegram
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 480
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonThriftBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Passion’s Chains by Catherine Creel

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

Passion’s Chains by Catherine Creel was a crazy book that in 1991 could only have been published by the Zebra romance lines. Or in 1977 by Avon.*

It was utterly unrealistic, but I had a blast with it.

Passion’s Chains was the first romance novel I read after subscribing to the Lovegram line many, many years ago. The plot description on the back of the book sounded like this would be a riot. And it was!

The Characters

Lady Eden Parrish met American ship captain Roark St. Claire in England. The two people from different worlds shared a hidden, forbidden love.

The pair married in secret. However, before they could consummate their union, Eden’s family tricked her into believing the worst about Roark.

Thus, Eden is abandoned by her husband, and her is heart broken into pieces.

Then Eden’s family whisked her off to their Barbados plantation to avoid any taint of scandal.

The Plot

Eden is living a lonely existence in Barbados. Months later, Roark discovers her whereabouts in the Caribbean and follows her there. The American is captured by the British and sold into slavery.

Walking through town one day, Eden sees him at the auction block. To everyone’s scandalized shock, she purchases him as her servant.

Perhaps sentimentality plays a part in me remembering this novel so fondly. I thought this book was delightful.

Roark would sneak into Eden’s room at night and assume his “husbandly rights.” By day, he labored away in the sugar fields, plotting his escape and his revenge.

On the negative side, there was a bland secondary couple and some typical boneheaded villains.

Worse, were the stupid, big misunderstandings Eden and Roark could have avoided if they just talked and listened to each other’s words!

Final Analysis of Passion’s Chains

Fond Memories

I don’t want to re-read Catherine Creel’s Passion’s Chains to see if it stands the test of time. I want to recall it fondly because I had such a blast reading this one!

Roark was such an outstanding hero. Eden was likable enough for a heroine.

Passion’s Chains or Shanna?

*This historical romance was a rip-off/homage to Kathleen E Woodiwiss‘s Shanna, as the plots are similar identical. So are the heroes’ names, except the spellings are different.

Until 2022 I had never read Shanna. I appreciated the celebrated blockbuster considerably more than I thought I would. Still, at 600+ pages, it was a long read.

Passion’s Chains is a leaner story at 400 pages, without much filler. That is amazing for a Zebra romance!

Ultimately, I enjoyed this book more than Shanna. Maybe it’s for the reason I mentioned, out of nostalgia, or just because I read Passion’s Chains first. But I did love this one.

4.5 Stars

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

Synopsis

HE HAD BETRAYED HER
Lady Eden Parrish stared in shock at the bare-chested, blue-eyed rogue who stood so proudly on the Bridgetown auction block– he was none other than her husband, the despicable Roark St. Clair! Eden had been sent to Barbados in disgrace after her brief, scandalous marriage to the unscrupulous American spy…after the way he’d betrayed her, she ought to let his contract of indenture be sold to the highest bidder. But memories of how it felt to be embraced by those strong arms and held tight against that well-muscled chest flooded her mind and body, and soon Eden was offering a fortune for the right to claim him as her own!

SHE STILL LOVED HIM
Roark had come to Barbados for only one reason–to reclaim his runaway bride. Of course, getting captured by the British and sold into slavery hadn’t been part of the plan, but t situation was working out nicely, things considered. He would find a to escape and take the luscious along, with or without her consent. The little minx might be his mistress now, but he’d soon be her master. He knew just how to tame her wild spirit and make those emerald eyes shimmer with passion’s fire. Before long, he would possess every silken inch of her…for this night and all the nights to come!

Passion’s Chains by Catherine Creel
tender savage phoebe conn

Historical Romance Review: Tender Savage by Phoebe Conn

tender savage phoebe conn
Tender Savage by Phoebe Conn
Rating: three-stars
Published: 1989
Illustrator: Pino
Imprint or Line: Zebra Lovegram
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Western Romance, Native American Romance
Pages: 480
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Tender Savage by Phoebe Conn

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Tender Savage, a standalone Zebra Lovegram by Phoebe Conn.

Tender Savage starts in Wilmington, Delaware, in June 1862. The book spans from June 1862 to September 1863 during the American Civil War.

The Plot

Part One of Tender Savage

The book begins with Erica Hanson and Mark Randall kissing passionately. The night won’t end happily for either, unfortunately. Mark and Erica’s father, Lars, a physician, are going to leave the next day to join the Union army.

Erica is being sent to New Ulm, Minnesota. She is to live with Lars’ sister, Britta, and her husband, Karl Ludwig, who owns a store there. However, Erica wants to marry Mark–or at least become his lover–before leaving for war. Mark refuses. This is the source of the conflict between them.

When Erica arrives in New Ulm, she meets Viper, a half-Lakota, half-white Indian. They share kisses and are attracted to each other.

Things look bleak as Viper and his fellow Lakota will soon be at war with the white citizens of New Ulm after promises from the government fail to materialize. During the uprising, Viper kidnaps Erica. He does so for two reasons. One is to keep her from being killed, and two, because he’s hot for her. It’s not so bad, as she is also hot for him. Erica and Viper become lovers and are married in the Lakota tradition.

Soon, however, hardships emerge. Viper’s aunt, plus an evil-other woman who is in lust with him, causes problems for Erica.

Part Two of Tender Savage

An even bigger problem will soon present itself in the form of Mark. He arranges a transfer to Minnesota to find Erica and marry her. Mark arrives in Minnesota, finds Erica with Viper, and arrests him. Viper must stand trial in a military tribunal, where he is tried and convicted.

After this, Viper asks Mark to marry Erica, which Mark agrees to. Erica and Mark marry, and he is sent back to Wilmington to rejoin the Union Army. Happiness and sadness soon follow as Erica discovers she is pregnant with Viper’s child. Meanwhile, Mark is seriously injured during the war, gets blinded, and becomes an invalid who needs constant care.

Back in Minnesota, Viper’s conviction is vacated. He leaves the state heading to Delaware to find Erica. Adopting the name “Etienne Bouchard” (his French grandfather’s name), Viper finagles his way into becoming Mark’s companion, which severely irritates Erica.

Soon after “Etienne’s” arrival, Erica gives birth to a son who looks exactly like Etienne. This creates a rift between Erica and Etienne on one side and Lars and Sarah Randall–Mark’s sister–, on the other. Poor, hapless Mark doesn’t know he’s not the child’s father.

In the end, Mark conveniently passes away. Erica and Viper go back to Minnesota–to a different part of the state. Lars and Sarah marry, and both couples have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

The backdrop of Tender Savage is the Minnesota Sioux Uprising of 1862, an actual occurrence. Mrs. Conn does a fairly good job melding her fictional characters with real people and events.

On some levels, Tender Savage tries to be like Nancy Henderson (Nan) Ryan’s excellent romance, Kathleen’s Surrender. Like that book, Tender Savage takes place in part during the Civil War and features a love triangle. That, however, is where the similarities end.

Downside

Mrs. Ryan had the ability to make me, as a reader, care about her characters and feel their emotions. Mrs. Conn–although she tries–sadlyTender Savage does not.

Tender Savage is the seventh book I’ve read by Phoebe Conn. Like the other six, Tender Savage lacks both emotional depth and character development.

I also had issues with the heroine and hero. Erica checks off the basic romance heroine boxes: she’s beautiful, young, sexy, and has a great body, but… That’s it. There really is no substance to her.

Viper is worse. Mrs. Conn would have been better served to name him “Etienne Bouchard” because Viper is basically a white Indian. Although she researched the uprising, it is clear that Mrs. Conn did none about the Lakota tribe.

There is almost nothing about Viper–besides living in a teepee and eating pemmican–that would identify him as a Native American. The only depth to his character is that we learn he has French ancestry.

There is very little romantic chemistry between Erica and Viper. The beginning of their relationship in no way indicates love; they are in lust with each other. Although Mrs. Conn tries at the end, she falls well short of creating the type of characters I can genuinely care about.

Also, I didn’t particularly appreciate that after he gained access to the Hanson home, Viper spent a great deal of time trying to have sex with Erica even though she was married to Mark.

I also didn’t buy the “Erica and Mark didn’t consummate their marriage; therefore, they weren’t legally married, and Viper’s actions were okay” excuse at the end of the book, either.

Sex

I will give Mrs. Conn credit for writing slightly better love scenes here than in her previous books, but that is damning with very faint praise.

Violence

Most of the violence takes place “off-screen.” However, there are “on-screen” scenes of assault and battery, and a slashing occurs.

Bottom Line On Tender Savage

There was the foundation for a good book in Tender Savage.

Unfortunately, Mrs. Conn was not the author to mine the gold that might have been there. Instead, the book ends up in “pewter territory.” 

3 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
3
Characters
2.5
Writing
3
Chemistry
3
Fun Factor
3
Cover
4
Overall: 3.1

Synopsis:

TOO FAST TO STOP
When innocent Erica Hansen fled to Minnesota to escape the Civil War’s horrors, she had no idea she was stepping right into the middle of an Indian uprising. And until a painted, whooping brave swept her onto his stallion, she never guessed how unsafe her new home really was. The curvaceous blonde struggled against her captor’s grip, but the farther they rode from civilization, the wilder her response to him became. The passionate beauty knew she should bite, scratch and kick the warrior, but before she could think of the consequences, Erica began to caress, kiss and embrace him!

TOO FAR TO RETURN
From the moment he beheld the golden-haired paleface, the Sioux fighter named Viper swore she’d never meet the white captives’ fate of torture and degradation. This was a woman created for the most ecstatic kinds of lovemaking … and the virile male would make sure he’d be the one to show her the myriad ways to enjoy pleasure. He promised himself he’d release her when the furor of the battle died down. But once the jet-haired Sioux trapped her in his arms, he realized a lifetime was too short to savor her ivory skin, to exult in her lavender scent, to take her time and again as her Tender Savage. 

TENDER SAVAGE by PHOEBE CONN
destinys-splendor drymon

Historical Romance Review: Destiny’s Splendor by Kathleen Drymon

historical romance review
Destiny's Splendor by Kathleen Drymon
Rating: three-half-stars
Published: 1988
Illustrator: Don Case
Imprint or Line: Zebra Lovegram
Book Series: Savage Splendor Series #2
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Native American Romance
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Destiny’s Splendor by Kathleen Drymon

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Plot

This review is of Destiny’s Splendor published in December 1988. This Zebra romance is book #2 in an unofficial Native American “series” by Kathleen Drymon. The series, in order, consists of:

  1. Savage Dawn – September 1984
  2. Destiny’s Splendor – December 1988
  3. Velvet Savage – September 1989
  4. Gentle Savage – February 1990
  5. Savage Heaven – February 1995

The Book

Destiny’s Splendor starts with two births. In a Blackfoot Indian village, chief Golden Eagle and his wife Singing Moon welcome a son, Star Hawk. In New Orleans, on a plantation, Dennis Coltin and his wife Hope welcome a daughter, Jessica Star. None are aware of what fate and destiny have in store for them.

Fast forward many years. Jessica, now 19, is in despair. Dennis and Hope were killed in a carriage accident–which really wasn’t one–a year ago, and Jessica has to deal with Dennis’ cousin, Edmond DeVaugn’s, guardianship. This will end when Jessica turns 21 or marries.

Edmond has been parading a group of lecherous men in front of her to force her to marry. Edmond wants Jessica to marry a man he can control, along with the Coltin fortune.

One day, Jessica meets Star Hawk, now 22. Star Hawk shows kindness and empathy to her, something she needs in her life.

However, in a turn of events, Star Hawk kidnaps Jessica and takes her to his village. They eventually marry and consummate their marriage.

Not everyone is happy about Jessica and Star Hawk’s marriage. Golden Eagle tries to talk Star Hawk out of marriage to her; this fails. Later, a Blackfoot woman, Spring Lilly, tries to kill Jessica; Star Hawk stops her. For a long while, Jessica–now named Silver Star–and Star Hawk are happy.

That happiness is soon threatened, however, as Jessica is kidnapped by two trappers and returned to New Orleans and Edmond’s evil clutches. He takes her to London to marry her off to a lecherous Earl. Star Hawk finds the trappers and makes them sorry for their actions. He then sets sail for England to find Jessica, who is pregnant.

Star Hawk stops Jessica’s planned marriage, kills DeVaughn, and returns to America with Jessica, just in time for her to deliver twins, a boy and a girl. Jessica and Star Hawk have their Happily Ever After. And the story will continue.

Upside

It is very rare to see two people so deeply in love as Jessica and Star Hawk are. From the moment they meet to their marriage to their separation, reunion, and birth of their children, Ms. Drymon lets their love for each other shine through. Jessica and Star Hawk are both, for the most part, likable characters.

Downside

Although Ms. Drymon tries very hard to skip past this, the fact is that Destiny’s Splendor is a Stockholm Syndrome romance. Star Hawk kidnapped Jessica. No matter the fact that they love each other, this is still a Stockholm Syndrome romance; which is a trope I loathe.

While I liked Jessica, she wasn’t my favorite type of heroine. She has no skills beyond knowing about plants for medicinal purposes. Having said that, though, two points need to be made:

Point #1

Although Ms. Drymon doesn’t specify the time setting of Destiny’s Splendor, there are references to “the colonies”, therefore, an inference can be made that the book is set during or before 1776. Women clearly didn’t have as many life choices as they do today.

Point #2

Jessica comes from a well-to-do family. Women from wealthy families weren’t supposed to have skills or intelligence that were made public. Her role was to look beautiful and become a wife and mother.

Mini Bottom Line

Although Jessica isn’t my favorite type of romance heroine, there are mitigating factors that I must acknowledge.

There isn’t any real depth or character development here, and though she falls deeply in love with him, I feel that most of Jessica’s love was out of gratitude to Star Hawk for showing her kindness, something she didn’t get from most males after her father died.

Sex

Most of the love scenes are very mild and filled with extremely purple prose.

Violence

Assault, battery, slashings, and one killing take place here. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line On Destiny’s Splendor

Kathleen Drymon’s Destiny’s Splendor probably isn’t as good a book as I’m making it sound. It also probably isn’t as bad a book as I’m making it sound.

My final grade would be just under 3.5 stars

3.45 Stars


Synopsis:

NO WAY OUT

Jessica Star Colton had nowhere to turn. At nineteen, she had two years before being free of the cruel guardian who intended to marry her off to the highest bidder and keep her fortune for himself. Jessica thought she would never escape this loveless fate… until the day she met Star Hawk in the forest. As the magnificent Indian warrior appeared from behind the dense trees, his dark eyes seemed to penetrate her very being, and his bronzed arms reached out to offer her comfort. There was something about him that made Jessica yearn to taste his kiss – it was as though she were meant for his embrace…

ONLY ONE CHOICE

Star Hawk knew Jessica was the woman of his dreams. They were fated for union from birth and he was not about to let the white beauty slip from his grasp. From the first moment he spotted her from afar, he knew of the heaven he would find in her caress. Her silver-blue eyes and silky red hair haunted him, obsessed him. Star Hawk wanted to take Jessica and claim her as his woman, even if that meant capturing her against her will. He knew that once their lips met in a searing kiss, all of their sleeping passions would awaken, and together they would join in Destiny’s Splendor.

DESTINY’S SPLENDOR by KATHLEEN DRYMON
passions paradise

Historical Romance Review: Passion’s Paradise by Sonya T. Pelton

historical romance review
Passion's Paradise by Sonya T. Pelton
Rating: three-stars
Published: 1981
Illustrator: Unknown
Imprint or Line: Zebra Historical Romance
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Bodice Ripper, Historical Romance
Pages: 544
Format: Paperback
Buy on: Amazon
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Passion’s Paradise by Sonya T. Pelton

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

Passion’s Paradise by Sonya T. Pelton is a wonderfully terrible book published by Zebra in its early years. The cover warns you; it’s dark and dreary, done in deep blues and white, with the wrong hair color for the hero and a ship about to sink in the ocean that shouts: “Disaster looms ahead!”

I got this book in one of those e-bay lots, it was a freebie that the seller was perhaps too embarrassed to mention and only too glad to get rid of, with no back cover (no worries, I printed out the book blurb and taped it to the back) and garnished with red stamps from Arlene’s Book House & Paperback Exchange in Sweetwater, Texas. Now it lay in my Yankee hands, ready to thrill me with its awfulness.

Lying together upon the crest, their two profiles met, silhouetted as one against the clouds’ pink lattice. Here the sun shone softly, and the thrushes and cardinals and mockingbirds cooed love songs sang of twilight nigh, and the nascent magnolia flowers bloomed fragrantly…

PASSION’S PARADISE

The Plot of Passion’s Paradise

Captain Ty, or Tyrone, the supposed hero of Passion’s Paradise is a pirate, a slaver, a whoremonger, a politician–but I repeat myself.

Tyrone captures the ship that bears Angel Sherwood and her family from England to America. His Pa told him there was a special package on board and Ty was to take it. Ty and Pa had an agreement that Ty would marry when Pa found a woman worthy of his son and–who the hell cares, is the plot important? Not to the author, so you shouldn’t care either! Random events occur in the book, story-lines are dropped and nothing makes sense.

There is a mysterious murder… Is Ty the killer? Who knows? Who cares?

There is another murder. Is Ty the killer? Well, this time yes, but again, who cares?

Angel runs away from Tyrone about four times in a row but keeps getting caught. The final time she flees, she leaves her severely mentally-unbalanced mother behind and promises to retrieve her. Of course, the only person Angel can trust to care for Mama is Tyrone’s evil ex-mistress. Mama goes missing. A year passes by, and Angel is concerned, but she’s had so much on her mind that she hasn’t had time to search.

You see Ty’s penis keeps taunting her in those tight pants he wears and a girl can’t think straight with that anteater staring at her.

Stupid Big Misunderstandings & Clichés Abound

This book is filled with stupid “big misunderstandings” and really random, unnecessary secrets. For 200 pages the big mystery of the book is Angel’s first name. There’s no reason for her to hide it. I think it’s just so the author could have Tyrone call the heroine “My mysterious Angel” without him knowing that was really her name. Lame.

Ty’s last name is a secret. Who is Ty’s father? Is Tyrone married? What is the secret of Cresthaven plantation? Where did Angel’s hymen go if she really was a virgin? (It blew up in the fire. Really, it did.)

Don’t expect any PC, this book is raw. A Chinese prostitute does her best at a Mickey Rooney Breakfast at Tiffany’s impression. Ty has slaves and whips them bloody. He takes what he wants from Angel (her love pudding) and doesn’t ask permission.

But oh, he’s a misunderstood devil. There’s depth to Capt. Ty, and a heart that yearns for love. You see he had a rough childhood because his mother was a slut, or something like that.

Final Analysis of Passion’s Paradise

Passion’s Paradise is a cliché-ridden calamity. Even so, it was oddly entertaining, like a terrible movie you watch just to shout inanities at the screen. Plus, I can’t hate a book with such craptastic dialogue as:

Ellen (a prostitute): “You know I used to enjoy all kinds of men before Captain Ty came along. That tawny-haired devil made me forget them all, with his lean body and bulging crotch! Shees! I’ve bedded down with more men than you could ever hope to meet in your lifetime.”

Angel: “But not with Captain Ty?”

Ellen: “Bitch. Take your clothes off!”

Apparently, this book was a multi-million seller putting Zebra on the map. And it didn’t even have a pretty cover!

What a mess. 3 itty-bitty stars for being so gloriously, wonderfully entertaining.

3 Stars


Synopsis:

As the beautiful, fair-haired Angel Sherwood sailed from England to Louisiana, she sensed that her destiny flowed with the rough waves of the ocean. Frightened by the harsh sea, Angel prayed that perhaps, just perhaps, she would find happiness and romance in her new home.

But Angel’s fate changed course when she was kidnapped by the cruel, yet captivating pirate, Captain Ty. And even though her future was suddenly in the balance, Angel was strangely warmed by his manly touch. Her strong captor stirred in her a delcious pleasure, a burning fire that made her whole body tingle with precious thrills.

Captain Ty’s black heart was softened, too by her golden presence; she was an untouched treasure, full of charm, wit and innocense — a jewel that he feverishly desired. But rather than taint his savage and foreboding name, he kept his feelings hidden. First he had to be sure that her heart belonged to him–and then he would send her to PASSION’S PARADISE! 

PASSION’S PARADISE by SONYA T. PELTON
pirates wild embrace

Historical Romance Review: Pirate’s Wild Paradise by Kate Douglas

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Pirate’s Wild Paradise a standalone Zebra romance from February 1989 by Kate Douglas.

The Plot

Part One of Pirate’s Wild Paradise

Pirate’s Wild Paradise starts in Port Royale, Jamaica, with the heroine James Allison Morgan–yes, that is her name, but hereafter she is known as Jamie–about to get married.

She won’t be wed, however, as her ceremony is interrupted by Francisco “Franco” Alonzo Montenegro DeCortega, our hero, and Jamie’s former lover.

We then flashback to how Jamie and Franco came to know each other.

Part Two of Pirate’s Wild Paradise

Jamie is the only child of notorious English pirate Captain Henry Morgan. One day, Captain Morgan attacks and sinks a ship with Franco on it. Henry plans to kill Franco, but Jamie stops him. Henry then decides to hold Franco for ransom.

As to how Jamie got the name James Allison, Henry decided that was what he was going to name his child, regardless of gender. We also learn about Jamie’s mother, Antoinette Duvalle, who was kidnapped and impregnated by Morgan; she later committed suicide.

After a drunken wager, Jamie and Franco become lovers. He leaves her, however, upon learning that his father, Carlos De Cortega, is dead. The DeCortega family consists of the late Carlos, mother Isabella, Franco, and his older brother, Lorenzo–who hates Franco–and two sisters, Maria and Teresa.

Franco goes to Spain to stop Lorenzo from destroying the family in many ways. Meanwhile, Morgan sends Jamie to England to attend a finishing school for ladies.

Part Three of Pirate’s Wild Paradise

The scene then shifts to London, where Jamie spends two years learning how to be a lady. While in London, Jamie is told by Henry–now Sir Henry and Governor of Jamaica–that Franco returned to Jamaica and never asked about her, and meets Peter Alexeivitch, a.k.a. Russian Tsar, Peter the Great. Peter offers Jamie marriage. She refuses!

Jamie then returns with Henry to Jamaica.

Back in Jamaica, we meet up with Franco again. After he was released from Morgan’s captivity, he went to Spain to confront Lorenzo. It didn’t go well for Franco. With no money and no way to fight Lorenzo’s power, Franco was forced to become what he didn’t want to be: a pirate.

He still has plans to defeat Lorenzo, but he has to balance that with having Jamie back in his life, as they reunite when she returns to Jamaica.

Jamie also gains an uncle, as she meets Antoinette’s brother, Bertram, for the first time.

Franco, Jamie, and Bertrand then make their way to Europe–France and Spain to be specific–to help Franco settle his family affairs and help his revenge against Lorenzo. The latter won’t happen, however, as Lorenzo passes shortly after Franco’s arrival. He was gravely ill when Franco got to Spain.

After seeing to his sisters’ welfare and regaining his inheritance, Franco and Jamie plan to marry. Another roadblock is put in place, though as Morgan angrily refuses to bless their union. Franco kidnaps Jamie and returns her to Jamaica.

More problems soon follow as Morgan passes away and Jamie finds Franco in a compromising situation.

Part Four of Pirate’s Wild Paradise

After Henry’s death, Jamie has no money, thanks to a codicil in Henry’s will requiring her to marry someone he would approve of, thus giving the money to her future husband.

So she decides to follow in her sire and Franco’s footsteps and becomes a pirate. Her crew consists of some of Henry’s former crew and two surprising additions.

Later, Jamie’s ship, The Lady Morgan, captures a British naval ship, taking the crew hostage. She then blackmails the ship’s lieutenant, John Terry, into marrying her so she can get her inheritance. The marriage doesn’t happen, as Franco sees to that.

Jamie is arrested and will be hung for piracy, but Franco vouches for her.

In the end, twin catastrophes-an earthquake and a wave-destroy Port Royale, which is rebuilt. Jamie and Franco survive, she gives birth to a son, and they have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

Readers who follow my reviews know I love heroines with spirit, who are strong and fight against the tide of patriarchal society. Jamie fits into that category.

She and Franco are fairly well-developed characters. Franco is a good hero; although he has some alpha characteristics, he is overall a decent man. I liked the fact that Ms. Douglas showed us both Franco and Jamie’s emotions.

Downside

I didn’t like the way Ms. Douglas handled the storyline involving Lorenzo. After Carlos died, Lorenzo:

  • Cheated Franco out of his inheritance.
  • Framed Franco on charges that, had he not left Spain, would have had him arrested and hanged.
  • Forced Maria and Teresa into marriages to an abuser and an adulterer, respectively.

I like when villains get their comeuppance, and that didn’t happen here. The ending of the book is too simplistic and kind of lame.

Sex

Multiple love scenes involving Jamie and Franco. However, the scenes are fairly mild and not very erotic.

Violence

Assault, battery, and one killing. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line On Pirate’s Wild Paradise

Pirate’s Wild Paradise is a good romance, with a fantastic female pirate as a heroine, but has too many issues to make it a great one.

3 Stars

*Book Trivia: The clinch image of Pirate’s Wild Paradise was used by Zebra as their new Lovegram logo design starting in 1990.

pirate's wild paradise kate douglas zebra

Synopsis:

Unexpected Surrender
Daughter of the infamous Henry Morgan, beautiful Jamie Morgan could hold her own against any pirate on the high seas…except Franco DeCortega. The handosme Spaniard bested her with his saber, then spared her life at the risk of his own. His compassion unsettled her; the desire in his dark eyes intrigued her. But Jamie had treasured her independence too long to surrender it in the heat of passion. Though she would yield to the dizzying sensations he aroused in her innocent flesh, she swore she’d never give him her heart!

Inevitable Conquest
Franco DeCortega was enthralled by the spirtied vixen who now held him captive, body and soul. Her violet eyes sparkled with mischief and daring; her ebony tresses danced about her creamy shoulders as she frolicked in the surf. It would take more than sweet promises to tame this tempetuous beauty..but Franco knew exactly how to make her his. With soul-searing kisses and masterful caresses he would tempt her with the ecstasy that awaited them both in a seductive unforgettable…Pirates Wild Paradise!

PIRATES WILD PARADISE by KATE DOUGLAS
the sheik

Classic Romance Review: The Sheik by Edith M. Hull

 classic romance
The Sheik by Edith Maude Hull
Rating: five-stars
Published: November 10, 1919
Illustrator: N/A
Book Series: Sheik Duo #1
Genres: Classic Romance, Contemporary Romance, Bodice Ripper, Harem Romance, Forced Seduction
Pages: 296
Format: eBook, Hardcover, Paperback
Buy on: Amazon
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Classic Romance Review: The Sheik by Edith M. Hull

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

The Sheik by Edith M. Hull, published in 1919, is as influential to the modern romance genre as Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Perhaps, more so.

The salacious book was a blockbuster of a success, despite its many detractors. While some modern readers may cringe at its depiction of women, sexual roles, and racial attitudes, The Sheik remains a compelling read one hundred years after its publication.

the sheik

The Sheik: The Grandmother of Bodice Rippers

“Shall I make you care? Shall I make you love me? I can make women love me when I choose.”

This year, 2022, is the 50th anniversary of Kathleen E. Woodwiss’ the Flame and the Flower, the first “modern romance novel.” The roots of modern romance go back further than 1972, however.

Although Pride and Prejudice and other works by Jane Austen were critiques of manners and social mores, the love stories were at the heart and center. For that reason, her books are considered both as literature and among the first romance novels.

As far as I’m concerned, Jane Austen and all her imitators–Georgette Heyer included–didn’t influence the modern historical genre as The Sheik did.

Oh, I liked the story of Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy just fine. I don’t obsess over it as many do. Charlotte Bronte’s tale of Jane Eyre was far more to my liking, anyway. Jane Eyre, however, is more of an ancestor to Gothic romance.

the sheik grandmother of the bodice ripper.

The First Modern Romance Novel?

“What I have I keep, until I tire of it–and I have not tired of you yet.”

For the kind of romances I enjoy, their roots lie with Edith Maude Hull’s masterpiece, The Sheik. It is the grandmother of the bodice ripper. If not for the closed-door bedroom scenes, this book would have fit right in with the romances penned in the 1970s.

In 1921, the silent film adaptation of the novel starring Agnes Ayres came out. It catapulted Rudolph Valentino’s career into movie stardom. I recall watching the film as a teen and practically swooning over the fantastic tale.

Decades later, I finally got around to reading the novel.

the sheik

The Characters and the Plot

He had seen her, had wished for her, and had taken her, and once in his power it had amused him to break her to his hand.

British-born Diana Mayo has it all: fashionable looks, wealth, and a multitude of male admirers. She’s young, thoroughly modern, and fiercely independent. If someone tells her not to do something, she considers it a dare.

Filled with boredom, the wild Diana travels to Algeria to seek adventure.

And she finds it in the powerful Sheik Ahmed Ben Hassan, who kidnaps her and whisks her off to his desert oasis.

Between the two will be fierce, passion-filled clashes filled. Diana is a contemporary-minded woman who demands equality from her peers. Even so, she cannot resist the allure of the savage, almost primitive male who seeks to dominate her.

When first published, there was nothing like this book.

the sheik

Intriguing Gender Dynamics

Some historians have noted that during “conservative” eras, the idealized feminine form becomes more “traditional.” Typically, in times of social transformation, she is perceived to be more fluid.

In the 1960’s natural hair, short skirts, and slim figures, a la model Twiggy or Mia Farrow, reigned.

In the 1980s, the style was big hair, full lips, and 36-24-36 figures like Kelly LeBrock and Cindy Crawford.

The 1920s was a post War society with women in politics and the popularization of the motion picture. Ideas of sex, gender, and sexual mores were radically changed from the rigid Victorian/Edwardian and Gilded Age Eras on both sides of the Atlantic. Hair was bobbed, hemlines were raised, and large breasts were out-of-fashion.

The Sheik is a product of its time, with Hassan noting:

But the emotion that this girl’s uncommon beauty and slender boyishness had aroused in him had not diminished during the months she had been living in his camp.

The omniscient narrator constantly refers to Diana’s boyish figure and her as a splendid example of a “garcon manque,” a French term for tomboy. That was the old-fashioned term for girls who “behave” like and hang around boys.

It made for a fascinating sexual dynamic that was only flirted with and never really delved deeply into.

the sheik

The Sheik, A Controversial Novel

To say this is a controversial book is an understatement. Because it was such a phenomenal hit, critics could not ignore it, and they were divided in their opinions. Unlike, say, Fifty Shades of GreyThe Sheik cannot be dismissed for lack of quality.

The New York Times labeled the book as “shocking” but written with “a high degree of literary skill.” It was considered “salacious” and “tawdry.”

“What do you expect of a savage? When an Arab sees a woman that he wants he takes her. I only follow the customs of my people.”

If there was contention about this book 123 years ago, it’s practically obscene today and viewed as problematic. It has been accused of promoting part of rape culture, and it reeks of colonial attitudes.

There may be merit to discussing those arguments, as nothing exists in a vacuum. Nevertheless, I say, “Yes. And?” Fiction demands the freedom to write from any perspective. If it is a story worth telling, the story will be told.

the sheik

My Opinion

“If he killed me he could not kill my love!”

From its initial publication continuing to this day, The Sheik remains scandalous. It was an immediate bestseller, yet it received no respect from critics. The novel was labeled “poisonously salacious” by the Literary Review. It was even banned from some communities.

And it was a huge sensation, launching a subgenre of desert romances, several sequels, film adaptations, and Rudolph Valentino’s career.

The influence of The Sheik on romance is undeniable. For many readers, it still strikes a chord today. Despite Diana’s position as a kidnapping victim, there is a strong theme of female power and independence.

Even so, The Sheik gives a picture of the social order of its time. It captured the contemporary attitudes toward colonialism. Perhaps worse, The Sheik portrayed sexual dominance as a means to love.

the sheik

Final Analysis of The Sheik

E. M. Hull’s desert epic made me feel like a 12-year-old young girl discovering romance. For me, The Sheik was a thrilling experience! It’s pure entertainment, a rush from start to finish. I loved the film; the book was even better.

Without this romance, I don’t know if bodice-rippers or Mills & Boon romances, or the Harlequin Presents line would have ever existed. As stated, The Sheik is grandmother of the bodice ripper.

As for the naysayers?

Perhaps it’s good advice not to take fiction so seriously.

The Sheik is unreality. A dark fantasy. An erotic nightmare. Perhaps a little of both.

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

Synopsis:

Diana Mayo is young, beautiful, wealthy–and independent. Bored by the eligible bachelors and endless parties of the English aristocracy, she arranges for a horseback trek through the Algerian desert. Two days into her adventure, Diana is kidnapped by the powerful Sheik Ahmed Ben Hassan, who forces her into submission. Diana tries desperately to resist but finds herself falling in love with this dark and handsome stranger.

Only when a rival chieftain steals Diana away does the Sheik realize that what he feels for her is more than mere passion. He has been conquered–and risks everything to get her back. The power of love reaches across the desert sands, leading to the thrilling and unexpected conclusion.

THE SHEIK BY EDITH MAUD HULL
defy not the heart

Historical Romance Review: Defy Not the Heart by Johanna Lindsey

historical romance review
Defy Not the Heart by Johanna Lindsey
Rating: five-stars
Published: 1989
Book Series: Shefford Knights #1
Published by: Avon
Genres: Historical Romance, Medieval Romance
Pages: 432
Format: Audiobook, eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonThriftBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Defy Not the Heart by Johanna Lindsey

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

Johanna Lindsey was an Avon bestseller, starting with her first book, 1977’s Captive Bride. With 1989’s Defy Not the Heart, she reached #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list.

For a while–except for maybe Jude Deveraux–there was no other mass-market romance author in the 1980s to 1990s whose prolific writing achieved such commercial success as Lindsey did.

Johanna Lindsey: Romance Superstar

During this time period, Lindsey was at her peak. For a solid 10 to 15 years, she put out book after book (with the best covers ever) that, with a few exceptions, were all fun reads. Many rank among my most beloved romances.

For sure, they were not always the best written, rambling on about unimportant characters and telling more than showing. Usually, I wanted to strangle the heroines for their stubbornness and TSTL tendencies.

Even so, I loved her plots involving kidnapping and forced marriages. They featured overbearing, handsome men who would treat their heroines like crap one minute, then make passionate love to them and brush their hair as after-play.

I ate Lindsey’s books up like candy and have the emotional cavities to prove it!

The Plot

In Defy Not the Heart, Ranulf Fitz Hugh is a bastard, mercenary knight simply working on another job. He is to kidnap Lady Reina and bring her to her supposed betrothed, Lord Rothwell, an elderly man Reina’s never met.

Reina, not being a stupid girl, is sensible and realizes she’s in a precarious position as an unmarried woman.

Since Rothwell hasn’t yet paid Ranulf for his services, and Rothwell’s claim to marriage is false, why doesn’t Ranulf wed Reina himself? She’s a wealthy heiress, so such a union would make Ranulf a wealthy lord.

A marriage of convenience takes place, then the two seemingly different spouses settle into married life.

I’ve read others complain about how little interaction Ranulf and Reina have with each other. Perhaps because Lindsey has a penchant for making her protagonists constantly fight, this scarcity is a good thing.

The scenes with Ranulf and Reina are all the more memorable.

After waiting hours to meet the lady whose castle he’s invaded, an impatient Ranulf unknowingly picks up an armor-clad Reina and throws her to the floor, causing her to crack jokes about housekeeping.

There are sexy bedroom sessions with light bondage and spanking punishments (although rather vanilla today, they were a bit controversial at the time).

Defy Not the Heart combines some of my favorite tropes to make this book a truffle-bacon-cheese-and-macaroni comfort read.

defy-not-the-heart-

The Wonderful Characters

Ranulf

Ranulf is a brute, a knight with no time for chivalry: he bangs slutty, fat chicks, parties with his buds, pisses where he likes, and is an all-around ill-mannered boor.

But he’s secretly insecure. He’s so beautiful, so handsome that women chase him wherever he goes. He’s never received any genuine affection or love from a woman in his rough life.

As the illegitimate son of a noble lord Ranulf had to fight for his own. Finishing one last job would enable him to buy great lands and show up his dad once and for all. But Reina’s offer of marriage is impossible to resist.

Reina

Reina’s one of Lindsey’s best heroines. This was not a challenging feat to achieve, considering how caustic so many of them were.

She is short and plain-looking, except for her pretty eyes. Reina’s charms are her brains and ability to lead. She’s no shrinking violet, a no-nonsense girl who’ll pull up her sleeves to protect her castle and people.

Reina’s witty, and yes, she gets prissy, although she’s no shrew. Some call her a mouse, but Ranulf’s pet name is “Little General.”

Although not beautiful, she’s not “Woe is me, my looks suck.” Reina knows it’s her practical qualities that get her the hunkiest man around.

“That feline rodent farted in my face!”

A Marriage of Convenience

I hate when arranged marriages in historicals come with the attitude of “I won’t have sex until you love me.” That’s so phony and modern-minded.

Fortunately, Reina has no problem looking forward to her marriage bed, and Ranulf has no problem performing his duties.

Alas, he’s terrible in the sack.

I love the fact that Ranulf’s an oaf in bed.  Ranulf visits a prostitute to listen to advice on how to please Reina, as his lust is too great to let him last longer than a few seconds.

Unfortunately, Reina catches him in a compromising situation, though Ranulf shrugs it off and doesn’t apologize. He just asked for advice, not set it into practice, so why be sorry? It’s his wife and only his wife he wants.

The results of his lessons are… memorable. 

My Opinion

There are so many enjoyable scenes in Defy Not the Heart. Ranulf’s reaction when Theo, Reina’s gay male attendant, bathes him is priceless, and Ranulf’s kindness to a club-footed young boy who is bullied makes me sigh with girlish glee.

Plus, I adore cats, and there’s something sexy about a man who does, too. Ranulf has a beloved kitty named Lady Ella.

If, like me, you own cats, you may be familiar with the experience of waking up to a warm furball laying on your chest, tail up, butt planted directly in your face. That is what Ranulf’s jealous queen cat does to Reina, though much worse. It’s a riot!

Fabio and Elaine’s Best Romance Cover?

And, saving the best for last, I adore the fabulous original cover. It’s a dazzling Elaine Duillo masterpiece of camp.

Backed by a pink-purple sky, it features a blond Fabio looking like Prince Adam of Eternia in a white poofy shirt that drapes off his shoulders, baring his massive pecs & biceps, and purple tights that cling to his bulging muscles.

There’s that female model who’s always posing alongside Fabio (Lianna Loggins, I think), this time with flowing raven hair, her fingers clutching Fab’s purple thighs.

She sports a sexy red dress that shows more boobies than most infants see in their first months of life. Reina’s supposed to have itty-bitty titties, so that was a major exaggeration on Duillo’s part!

Final Analysis of Defy Not the Heart

Along with Gentle Rogue, The Magic of You, and Secret Fire, Defy Not the Heart ranks as one of my favorite Lindsey books, and there are many to choose from!

Every year or two, I pull it out and re-read it. Check your brain at the door, and simply appreciate the ride.

Don’t expect literary perfection. If you’re in a goofy frame of mind, have a blast reading about two silly characters that make you fall in love with them just as they do.

5 Stars

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

Synopsis:

The first book in the Shefford series from #1 New York Times bestselling author of historical romance, Johanna Lindsey. 

Reina seethes with rage over her fate: taken captive by the knight Ranulf — a golden giant of a man — who has pledged to deliver her to the nuptial bed of the despised Lord Rothwell. She will never accept such bondage — and Reina offers herself to her kidnapped instead, offering to make Ranulf a great lord…if he agrees to wed her.

But the brave knight desires much more than a marriage of convenience from this proud, headstrong lady who treats him with scorn yet makes his blood run hotter than liquid fire. She must come to him of her own free will — or Ranulf will take her. For the passion that consumes them both cannot long be denied — even though gravest peril surely awaits them on the heart’s trail to a destines and turbulent love.

DEFY NOT THE HEART by JOHANNA LINDSEY
desert slave miranda north

Historical Romance Review: Desert Slave by Miranda North

book review historical romance
Desert Slave by Miranda North
Rating: three-half-stars
Published: 1989
Illustrator: TBD
Imprint or Line: Zebra Heartfire
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Harem Romance
Pages: 416
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Desert Slave by Miranda North

VERY MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book and Characters

This review is of Desert Slave, a standalone historical romance novel by Miranda North. (Zebra Heartfire, May 1989).

Heroine: Juliette Hawkins, copper red hair, blue eyes. No occupation.

Hero: Deric Raleigh. Dark brown hair, green eyes. Caravan trader.

The Plot

Part I

As the book begins, Juliette Hawkins, 19, the book’s heroine, is excited. Her guardian and uncle, Lionel Hawkins, has accepted a diplomatic assignment in Malta and is taking Juliette with him. On the trip, however, Juliette is kidnapped by Bedouin pirates. She is later given to Deric Raleigh, the hero of the book.

As they travel in the desert, Juliette and Deric become lovers. Soon after, however, Deric becomes distant, so Juliette decides to leave him. Big mistake, as she ends up in trouble that he has to save her from.

Later, they part company. They reunite in Malta when Deric asks Juliette to join him on a dangerous mission.

Part II

Juliette and Deric engage in their mission, which is mostly successful.

Deric is shot and wounded. Juliette nurses him back to health. During this time, Juliette and Deric come to their senses and realize they love each other. They get engaged and have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

Juliette and Deric are a well-matched couple. Ms. North writes their love as genuine and real.

Downside

Riddle me this: What do Desert Slave’s character development, depth, storyline, and what “Juliette” is wearing on the book’s cover have in common?

Answer: There’s not a whole lot to any of them. Like way too many romance novels, Juliette and Deric could have saved themselves a lot of time and pain had they actually TALKED WITH EACH OTHER!

Sex

Juliette and Deric share a few love scenes. There is an emphasis on the emotions of the love scene rather than the esoterics of the act.

Violence

Assault, battery, a knifing, and shooting all take place in the book. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line on Desert Slave

A good book is like a building. First, a foundation is laid down. Then, hopefully, the author/builder will put something on the foundation that is attractive/interesting/useful.

In Desert Slave, Miranda North got the first part right.

Locations: England. Africa.

Tropes: Africa. Historical romance. Zebra Heartfire.

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

Synopsis:

KIDNAPPED BY PIRATES
Proud Juliette Hawkins was terrified when Barbary brigands overran her Mediterranean-bound ship. For safekeeping, they handed her over to Deric Raleigh, an Englishman turned desert trader, and the redhead’s terror turned to fury. How dare this arrogant mercenary — her own countryman — continue to hold her captive! But as they traveled deeper into the Sahara, the independent beauty came to rely on Deric’s expertise more and more. Soon admiration became desire … and Juliette yearned to love the very man she as supposed to hate!

OVERPOWERED BY A WENCH
Caravan leader Deric Raleigh never wanted to get mixed up in holding Juliette Hawkins prisoner. But in order to gain his best friend’s freedom, he had to bow to the pirates’ demands. The cynical nomad had no use for a gently bred innocent in the hard, adventurous life he had chosen. But as they traversed the dunes beneath the starlit sky, Deric couldn’t help wanting to bed his alluring hostage, teach her how to please a man, and make her his…

DESERT SLAVE by MIRANDA NORTH
the silver devil teresa denys

Historical Romance Review: The Silver Devil by Teresa Denys

historical romance review
The Silver Devil by Teresa Denys
Rating: four-half-stars
Published: 1978
Illustrator: H. Tom Hall
Published by: Ballantine
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Renaissance Era Romance
Pages: 380
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonThriftBooksOpen Library (BORROW FOR FREE)
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: The Silver Devil by Teresa Denys

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

I’ve put off posting an analysis of Teresa Denys‘ first book, The Silver Devil, for a long time because I didn’t quite know how to critique it. If you’re a hard-core lover of old-school romance or bodice rippers, you might be familiar with this legendary novel.

A Legendary Romance

Teresa Denys was a magnificent author whose writing pulled the reader in from the first word and never lets go. Sadly, she died young in the mid-1980s’ after only publishing two books. The Silver Devil was followed by The Flesh and the Devil. Both are superlative works of fiction.

The Silver Devil is out-of-print, a hard paperback to find. And if you do, it will cost you quite a penny! On e-bay, the only one I currently see available costs $159. That’s relatively cheap compared to the other listings that are upwards of a thousand dollars.

I purchased my edition eleven years ago for $12. At the time, I thought that was too much!

There’s a good reason this book is highly prized.

The Silver Devil captivated me with its stunning characterization and intense, passionate tone. The enclosed world of 380 pages (my Futura Publications Ltd/Troubador version) made me truly believe that in the imaginary Dukedom of Cabria, there lived a proud Duke so handsome and omnipotent that with a snap of his fingers, he was swiftly provided with whatever he desired.

Including one lovely peasant girl named Felicia.

the silver devil
The Silver Devil, Troubador Books, UK edition

The Set-Up

“He sat on his horse unmoving, a somber black figure in startling contrast to the vivid colors about him, the sun dazzling on his white gold hair… There was no laughter in his face, and his eyes were not searching the housefronts for diversion–instead, he was staring intently straight up at my window.”

THE SILVER DEVIL

It is a hot summer in the year 1604 in Fidena, a fictional town in the fictional province of Cabria, set just north of Naples. Felicia Guardi is the sister of an innkeeper who’s just gotten married. Her sister-in-law, Celia, is a greedy and harsh taskmistress. Felicia’s half-brother, Antonio, is not much better, as he bears no love for the girl with whom he only shares a mother.

For Felicia was not the child of their mother’s husband. Her actual father spent one brief night at the inn, sharing a fleeting moment of passion with her mamma.

Adding to the gothic allure of this novel is the narration. The story is told from Felicia’s first-person perspective, appropriate for such a macabre tale of lust and love. She describes the overwhelming heat and decay of Fidena during a hot summer when the plague that runs through town.

Like a princess out of a fairy tale, Felicia is forced to slave away her days until a handsome prince falls in love with her and takes her to his castle home.

The Villainous Hero: The Silver Devil

One day Felicia stands by the window and is seen by Duke Domenico, a white-blond-haired, black-eyed sensualist of a tyrant. His desire for her is powerful and instantaneous. The Duke demands to have her, and with a snap of his fingers, she is made his.

Felicia does not want to go willingly. Yet what is she, an illegitimate peasant, to do? In vain, she resists. Felicia’s brother and sister-in-law drug her to surrender to the devil’s demands.

Although Felicia is attracted to this magnetic demi-god, she displays a strong will, refusing his seduction despite how futile.

Domenico treats her as a jealously-guarded treasure. Felicia’s innate strength demands no less than a queen’s respect.

The Story

Domenico’s ardor for Felicia becomes a raging obsession. He is monstrous in his possessiveness. In one unforgettable scene, Felicia smiles at a handsome youth. Enraged, Domenico has the boy brutally tortured to death.

As they travel through the hot, dusty lands, a retinue of servants and sycophants escort Domenico and Felicia. Former mistresses accompany Domenico, vying fruitlessly for his attention. He humiliates them callously when they seek his favor.

The Silver Devil was written in 1978 and, for its time, took a daring risk with the lead male character. The hero is/was bisexual. Domenico had a past affair with Pierro, a childhood friend who now is one of his courtiers. He only has disdain for Pierro, who pathetically apes Domenico’s looks and style.

Once Domenico’s affection dies out, only contempt remains. Domenico’s eyes and heart belong to his beloved Felicia alone.

I won’t spoil what evil deeds he has in store for his hangers-on. Suffice it enough to say he does his admirers wrong. He is ruthless in his brutality.

A Difficult to Believe HEA

As a result, it’s no surprise when the people turn against Domenico.

The beautiful Prince falls from grace. Felicia alone stands by his side, aiding him in his quest to regain power. Domenico is humbled several times over while Felicia remains at his side. Felicia proves she is more than an object of desire. She has grit and fortitude where others fail. With her by his side, Domenica will rise to power once more.

The novel culminates with Domenico declaring his love in a surprisingly vulnerable demonstration of emotion.

“I knew that love would not turn the silver devil into an angel. He would remain what he was–subtle yet childish, unfeeling yet passionate, lost irretrievably to everything but his own desire. But he loved me–and I loved him, now and forever.

THE SILVER DEVIL

My Opinion

The writing in The Silver Devil is gripping. However, it’s not a sweet tale that leaves a pleasant taste in my mouth.

Reading this like a simple love story doesn’t work. It’s too dark, too gothic, and too gruesome for me to call it one.

It is a fascinating character study of an unhinged, narcissistic megalomaniac and his female object of jealous obsession.

I cannot give this book five stars because it fails on one singular level. The Silver Devil is fabulous historical fiction. It’s a monumental piece of psychological analysis. But is it a romance? Only if I engage in a suspension of all disbelief.

Final Analysis of The Silver Devil

SPOILER ⚠

Although Domenico is the absolute ruler of a wealthy Duchy, he is not a typical “Alpha male.” Alphas are devoted to their mates, but they are also leaders who command respect. Domenico struggles spectacularly at this. His Dukedom is overtaken, and he must maneuver his way back into power. This is done not by coalescing allies who will eagerly follow his lead. He must attain this through deception, posing as a lowly peasant.

He is feared by others but not loved. Contrary to Machiavelli’s perspective, fear alone is not enough to keep Domenico secure.

In the last pages of The Silver Devil, Felicia gives birth to a son, the heir to Cabria. The novel concludes on a gloriously positive note.

Even so, I had doubts about the happy finale. Domenico is a mad despot. I could see the inhabitants of Cabria taking him out, Mussolini-style. Lord knows what would happen to Felicia and their son! My imagination goes wild, and it’s never a good end.

For that, it’s best to close the book and leave this story in its final moment of ultimate bliss.

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

Post Script: Read The Silver Devil For Free Online

I don’t usually post links for free books on the internet unless it’s to borrow from Open Library. However, the author has been deceased for more than thirty years, with no heirs. In light of that, I have linked to several sources where you can read the free PDF or internet version of The Silver Devil at no cost.


Synopsis

He was cold. He was cruel. A ruthless sensualist riding headlong to hell. He was the Silver Devil – Domenico, Duke of Cabria.

Felicia was the illegitimate sister of a tavern-keeper. She felt nothing but terror when they told her that she had been chosen as the Duke’s next mistress, and when they took her, decked in silks and jewels to the Silver Devil’s bed…

THE SILVER DEVIL BY TERESA DENYS
Secret Fire

Historical Romance Review: Secret Fire by Johanna Lindsey

historical romance review
Secret Fire by Johanna Lindsey
Rating: five-stars
Published: 1987
Illustrator: Elaine Duillo
Published by: Avon
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper
Pages: 416
Format: Audiobook
Buy on: AmazonThriftBooks

Historical Romance Review: Secret Fire by Johanna Lindsey

The Book

Secret Fire was the second Johanna Lindsey romance I read. It cemented her works among my favorites. Published in 1987, this book was written during Lindsey’s peak years of output.

The cover is another Elaine Duillo gem, this time featuring white, cream, and brown hues, appropriate for the wintery Russian setting. There’s also a blond male cover model whom I’ve been searching for for years. Forget Fabio and his long-haired colleagues; it’s this guy I have often imagined as the hero of many love stories I’ve read. He’s a perfect model for the ultra-gorgeous hero of Secret Fire, Dimitri.

The Plot

Dimitri is a half-Russian, half-English Prince who is in England to visit family and smooth over a scandal his sister has gotten into by engaging in an affair with a married man. The uber-sexual Dimitri doesn’t mind his sisters’ affairs, only that she’s so flagrant about them. So he decides to bring her back to Russia on his ship and perhaps find a dutiful spouse for her.

Meanwhile, Lady Katherine St. John, the eldest daughter of an Earl, is enraged to find that her sister has decided to run off and elope. Although Katherine has a father and brother, it’s upon her dainty shoulders that familial responsibilities lie. She concocts a plan to exchange garments with a maid and search the London streets for her sister.

As she’s walking about, Dimitri’s carriage is stuck in traffic, and he happens to see Katherine. Although she’s short and rather plain with dull brown hair, there’s something about her that appeals to Dimitri. A prince who’s gotten anything and everything he’s ever wanted with a snap of his fingers, Dimitri sends a servant off to procure the woman for a night of passion. Katherine dismisses the man, but he won’t take no for an answer. Before Katherine knows what’s happening, she’s kidnapped and finds herself trapped in strange quarters. Her adamant refusals prompt Dimitri’s servant to ply her with”Spanish Fly” to make her willing for the prince’s touch.

When Dimitri finds out what’s been done, he’s disgusted at first. He was just looking for a quick tryst, not a sex marathon. Dimitri figures he’ll have to let his men have a go with her, as Spanish Fly makes a woman insatiable. Then he enters the room, and those thoughts go out the window. For while Katherine might not be the most beautiful woman in the world, she certainly is one of the most sensual visions he’s ever witnessed, naked on the bed and writhing in desire.

And so begins Secret Fire, with a night of pure ecstasy for both Katherine and Dimitri.

The Prince in Pursuit

However, the next day Katherine is back to her old self and threatens Dimitri’s servants with arrest, as she is the daughter of an Earl. No one believes her, of course. What would an Earl’s daughter have been doing roaming the London docks alone and wearing the clothes of a servant? Still, to prevent any scandal, his servant has the brilliant idea of locking Katherine in a chest and taking her with them to Russia.

When Katherine finds herself at sea, she demands to be returned. Dimitri had not expected to find her aboard the ship but is pleased to see her. Despite his hundreds of past amours, their night together was one of the best in memory, and the lady had been a virgin, to boot!

Dimitri pursues Katherine with an ardor he hadn’t imagined possible. Of course, Katherine rebuffs him at every turn. She’s no common trull but a lady deserving of respect. Dimitri ignores Katherine’s claims of nobility, mostly because he wants to believe that his Katya can be easily had. He knows he has to marry a noble Russian woman to produce an heir for his line, but Katya can be his mistress in the meantime.

Over the seas and rivers, through Europe, and into Russia, Dimitri tries what he can to seduce her back into his arms.

But Katherine has a will made of steel. Even though she wants him just as much as he wants her.

[He] wanted her. Incredible fantasy. This fairy-tale prince, this golden god wanted her. Her. It boggled the mind. It defied reason. And she said no. Stupid ninny!

SECRET FIRE

Final Analysis of Secret Fire

I love Katherine. Like Georgina Anderson from Lindsey’s Gentle Rogue, she has a habit of talking to herself, a trait I share, to my husband’s annoyance. Katherine’s fiercely proud, stubborn, and resilient. She’s not my favorite Lindsey heroine, but she is up there with the best. One of my favorite scenes is after Dimitri’s aunt decides to discipline Katherine, and Dimitri’s horrified reaction to it all, combined with Katherine’s stiff-upper-lip reserve.

Dimitri is as equally stubborn and proud as Katherine. But nowhere near as brilliant. That’s ok. His charm and godlike looks make up for it!

This is another of Lindsey’s excellent romances that I’ve re-read many times. Secret Fire is an absolute wonder, the hero, the heroine, the plot, the writing, all of it.

5 Stars

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

Synopsis

He’d caught only a glimpse of her from the window of his carriage, but the young prince knew he had to have her. Within minutes, Lady Katherine St. John was dragged from the London street and carried off to a sumptuous town house — for the pleasure of her royal admirer…

From the tempestuous passion of their first encounter, across stormy seas, to the golden splendor of palaces in Moscow, she was his prisoner — obsessed with rage toward her captor even as an all-consuming need made her his slave. Yet theirs was a fervor beyond her understanding, carrying them irrevocably toward final surrender to the power of undeniable love.

Secret Fire by Johanna Lindsey
the lord of hawkfell island

Historical Romance Review: The Lord of Hawkfell Island by Catherine Coulter

historical romance review
The Lord of Hawkfell Island by Catherine Coulter
Rating: two-half-stars
Published: 1993
Illustrator: Unknown
Book Series: Viking Lords Series #2
Published by: Jove
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Medieval Romance, Viking Romance
Pages: 403
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: The Lord of Hawkfell Island by Catherine Coulter

WARNING: CONTENT AND MILD SPOILER ALERT ⚠

Catherine Coulter takes her propensity to create unlikeable heroes and dials it all the way up to “11” in her so-called romance, The Lord of Hawkfell Island.

The Plot

Mirana is a young, unmarried woman who lives with her brother in a fortress in Ireland. When he’s away, their home is attacked by Viking raiders seeking vengeance against him. Their Viking leader Rorik blames him for the death of his wife and child.

Usually, a hero grieving over his lost love is grounds for me to dislike a historical romance, but thanks to Rorik, I had plenty of other reasons to despise this “love story.”

I shouldn’t even call this a love story because–let’s get this right out the gate–Rorik never says a single word of love to Mirana. And it’s not because he’s so filled with sorrow over his loss. He’s just an unfeeling, cruel, petty, boorish boar.

I detested him so much that I created a Goodreads shelf labeled “jerky pig hall of fame” for him and his porcine brethren.

Rorik kidnaps Mirana as a hostage, not out of lust, but because he’s on the boys’ team and Mirana’s on the girls’ team, and boys are supposed to torment icky girls because boys rule and girls drool.

Rorik, The Viking Philosopher

Although externally Rorik has the appearance of a strong, 30-something Viking warrior, his demeanor is that of a gangly 10-year-old-boy who’s on the verge of adolescence. He thinks girls are gross and stupid, yet gets a weird, tingly feeling whenever a particular one is around.

So instead of reacting like a mature, well-adjusted male to that particular sow (or female) who gets him hornt up, our hero spouts insults like:

“I told you that my men really have no interest in you. You’re skinny, not at all appetizing. A man would have to be starving for a woman before he would turn his eyes to you.”

Saying mean things to Mirana alone wouldn’t merit Rurik a place at the Big Pigs’ table, though. Sure, he gets naked and bathes in front of her, taunting her in an “I-know-you-want-me-but-you-cannot-have-me-so-look-at-how-hot-I-am” sort of way. That’s cute.

He also threatens to sic his dog on her:

 “I’ll have my dog kill you. He’s vicious. He protects me and my island.”

Rorik accuses Mirana of incest (and being damn good at it): 

“Do you lust after him, your own kin? Is that why you’re still unwed? Perhaps he has already bedded you. You aren’t young, after all. Does he hold you above his other whores?”

He chains her up with heavy iron links–no cloth under the metal to protect her skin–and keeps her that way for days on end, deprives her of food, beats her, and neglects her. Later he gets more brutally physical, punching Mirana in the jaw, stepping on her throat, and whipping her!

So, to sum up: Rorik abducts Mirana, tells her she’s so ugly no man would sleep with her, except her brother, of course, threatens her with murder and rape, abuses her, tortures her, and spouts Schwarzenneggerian brilliance as:

“The man rules. It is he who protects the woman, he who provides shelter and food for her. It is his right to bed with a bear if he wishes to. It is I who am the lord here, and all obey!”

He’s a beast, all right. Well, charisma goes a long way, thank goodness.

Alas, Rorik has zero charisma to back up his nasty demeanor.

So What’s To Like?

Then, why didn’t I one-star this book if the hero is so loathsome?

For one thing, Mirana gives back as good as she can. She’s a solid character who deserves a better man. How about her evil brother? 😉

And second, it’s kind of funny if you can disassociate from it all. Rorik is so childlike in his hatred for Mirana. I’m surprised he didn’t wipe his boogers on her or play “I’m not touching you” with his finger hovering an inch from her face.

Sure the guy’s a looker, and he’s lord of an island, but with his protozoan personality, who wants him?

Sleeping with Rorik would be akin to doing it with Colleen McCullough’s “Tim,” inhabited by the spirit of “South Park”‘s Eric Cartman on D-Bal Max.

(SO WRONG)

+

(SO VERY WRONG!)

X

(AND ON STEROIDS!!)

Sisterly Love

Ultimately, what pulls this book together has nothing to do with romance. It’s all due to Mirana and a supporting cast of female characters who forge a strong network of relationships They help each other grow and thrive in a world that’s brutal and unfair.

On the one hand, we have Rorik and his dopey gang of followers with their collective IQ & EQs of (I’ll be generous) 105.

On the other hand, we have the Hawkfell Island women’s team.

The central theme is all about “The Battle of the Sexes.”

Caring for Mirana is a servant woman, Utta, married to one of Rorik’s men. A beautiful yet simple slave girl named Entti is treated as a bounce house for the Vikings to play with, and she gets no respect. The women unite to get back at the men in ways they can, like giving them inedible food and refusing sex.

After a while, the men determine that Mirana’s behind the women’s uppitiness. Rorik attempts to rein her in. He decides he will marry Mirana and control her through force of will.

Mirana, for some reason, develops feelings for the Neanderthal.

At last, Rorik and Mirana share something in common: love for Rorik. INow, there’s a match made in Valhalla!

When the men get fed up with the women’s antics, they threaten Mirana with all kinds of bodily harm. Rorik does nothing to stop it.

He spouts perplexing threats like: “I will rape you if you force me” when Mirana refuses him his marital rights.

By The Lord of Hawkfell Island’s conclusion, Rorik and Mirana are paired off… because that’s what a romance demands. Rorik remains the same unfeeling brute he was in the beginning.

Final Analysis of The Lord of Hawkfell Island

The kindest, most intimate thing Rorik says to Mirana is:

“You are very nice,” he said forcing his eyes back to her face. “You are pleasing to me.”

If that’s enough to spark your interest, and you have a perverse curiosity to observe an exaggerated caricature of a supreme male chauvinist pig in action, while a crew of much savvier women maneuvers social politics and gender roles, then by all means, take a gander at this book.

Whatever “this” is, that Catherine Coulter wrote.

On a certain level, The Lord of Hawkfell Island is fascinating. I wouldn’t call it a romance, though.

2.74 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
3
Characters
3
Writing
2.5
Chemistry
2
Fun Factor
2
Cover
1.5
Overall: 2.3

Synopsis

Rorik is a Viking warrior, as fierce and savage as the North Sea during the winter solstice. Mirana is a Viking woman who loves birds, is more ingenious than most men, and loyal down to her toes. Her life changes utterly one fateful day when Rorik and his men come to Clontarf, a Viking fortress on the eastern coast of Ireland, to kill her half-brother. But she is the one taken as hostage to use as a pawn against him.

Rorik is the Lord of Hawkfell, an island off the east cost of Britain. The moment he brings his captive home, it seems that everything begins to fly out his control. The women are out to teach the men a lesson with the result that food is rank, Rorik’s family is out for Mirana’s blood, a murderer is on a loose, and a huge mongrel, Kerzog, dotes not only on his master but also on his master’s captive.

Rorik and Mirana are two strong-willed people, ardent in their opinions, who will have you rooting for both of them equally.

THE LORD OF HAWKFELL ISLAND by CATHERINE COULTER
passions web

Historical Romance Review: Passion’s Web by Cassie Edwards

Passion’s Web, Cassie Edwards, Zebra, 1984, Walter Popp cover artist

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

2 Stars

Rating: 2 out of 5.

The Book

This review is of Passion’s Web by Cassie Edwards.

The book begins in Key West, Florida, with the heroine of the book, Natalie Palmer, and the hero, Bryce Fowler, meeting in a carriage. Shortly after they meet, Natalie and Bryce become lovers.

Backstory #1

Natalie lives with her father, Saul, a wealthy tobacconist. She also has an older brother, Adam. Natalie’s mother, Kathryn, passed when Natalie was younger. The circumstances of her passing is one of many secrets–the theme of the book–that Saul is trying to keep from Natalie.

Backstory #2

Bryce–who has multiple aspects to his persona–has come to Key West at the request of his dying father, Tom. Bryce has been estranged from his father for a long time. Bryce also has to deal with his younger brother, Hugh, with whom he has bad blood.

The Plot

Bryce is hired by a businessman in New Orleans, Clarence Seymour, to find three things. An opium shipment, and Seymour’s wife and daughter, who were taken in separate incidents years apart. Bryce won’t be able to bring back Seymour’s wife–she, Kathryn, is dead–but he can bring back his daughter…Natalie.

Bryce kidnaps Natalie and takes her to New Orleans to meet Clarence. He’s happy to see her, but one person who most definitely isn’t is Brenda Seymour, Clarence’s other daughter, Natalie’s sister…and Adam’s lover.

When Natalie decides to go back to Key West, Brenda helps her. This effort ends up with Natalie being forced to marry a man, Albert Burns, who is a former pirate.

Bryce saves her from this forced marriage and they return to New Orleans, to discover sadly that Clarence has been shot. He is later shot again.

In the end, the secrets Saul and Adam wanted to hide from Natalie are revealed She and Bryce have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

I got through it.

Downside

Passion’s Web contains many of the same literary weaknesses which mark the rest of Mrs. Edwards’ work: shallow, undeveloped characters and storylines; unsatisfactory endings; and way too many exclamation points! At unnecessary times! It’s annoying!

Sex

There are a lot of love scenes. None are as hot as what Mrs. Edwards would come up with for her Native American romances.

Violence

Assault, battery, shootings, and killings. None of the violence is graphic.

Bottom Line

There are books I’m glad I got through because I paid for them and can now resign them to the dustbin of history–literally and figuratively. Passion’s Web is one such book.

tender feud

Historical Romance Review: Tender Feud by Nicole Jordan

Tender Feud, Nicole Jordan, Harlequin, 1991, Pino cover art

MILD SPOILERS 😉

4 1/2 Stars

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Book

Nicole Jordan’s Tender Feud is an engaging Harlequin Historical where the enemies-to-lovers trope is used against the backdrop of 18th-century Scotland.

The Plot

Katrine Campbell has left staid England behind for adventure in her ancestral Scottish homeland. Unfortunately, her Campbell relatives are feuding with the Macleans. On her first night in her family home, Katrine gets caught in the middle of it all and is kidnapped.

Her captor is hunky Raith Maclean, leader of his clan. Maclean is a widower, not looking for remarriage, and certainly not looking for love with his half-Scots-half-English enemy.

There are tons of sparks flying between the fiery Katrine and stubborn Raith. They argue lots but are secretly attracted to one another. The romance takes time to unwind, as Katrine is one of those “spunky” heroines, and Raith is determined to “dominate” her by his will.

Instead, the two learn to build a relationship on trust. Raith has a young female relative with whom Katrine builds an endearing friendship. Raith’s sexy cousin Callum flirts with Katrine. Although she’s not interested in him beyond friendship, Raith glowers and disapproves.

A romance begins to unfurl between our protagonists in due course, as they always do in these books. Katrine finds herself falling deeply for Raith.

Eventually, Katrine is finally released. But is that what she wants?

Final Analysis of Tender Feud

Tender Feud is one of the better Scottish clan feuding and kidnapping love stories I’ve read. Or maybe it only seems that way since I read it when I was young, and other books with similar plots seem to be derivative.

(Side note, just to point out how old I am, every time I think of this book, I recall at the time also listening to one of deceased Spanish crooner’s Camilo Sesto‘s Greatest Hits albums, which was filled with so many romantic songs. Solo Tu (Only You) is my favorite. So perhaps the music swayed my tastes about this book a teeny bit.)

Still, I consider this a more than satisfying read, as I would always contrast books with comparable plots to Tender Feud and find them inferior. There are many romances with this same story and setting, but to this day, this one still holds a certain charm for me. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Nicole Jordan is quite a talented author.

I wish Raith’s sexy cousin Callum had gotten his own book. It doesn’t seem to me that he did, but I’d love to be updated if anyone knows for certain.

Category Romance Review: Seduction by Charlotte Lamb

category romance
Seduction by Charlotte Lamb
Rating: five-stars
Published: 1980
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Presents #428
Published by: Mills & Boon, Harlequin
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 189
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: Seduction by Charlotte Lamb

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

Charlotte Lamb‘s Seduction features a ridiculously sheltered and innocent heroine and a hero so crazy and obsessed, that they can only be found in old-school Harlequin Presents or bodice rippers, “mated-pair” paranormal romances, or perhaps self-published New-Adult books.

The Plot

Clea is an orphaned English girl living in Greece with her Greek stepfather and stepsister.

Her step-sister is a caricature of a slut, pursuing the hero with inexplicably misplaced confidence.

Worse, Clea has a creepy stepdad with unhealthy designs on her, as he wants Clea to remain untouched by any man (except himself).

Ben is an Englishman visiting Greece, and he becomes obsessed with Clea from the first instance. He will do anything to get her.

He has a female accomplice named Natalie who befriends Clea and helps Ben abduct her. I wondered what this guy had on Natalie to make her do such a thing, but we never found out.

Although just like Kramer from the show, Seinfeld has the power of the “Kavorka,” the “lure of the animal,” which attracts lust and devotion, Ben wields a strange control over women.

kavorka

Ben’s obviously off his rocker, but Clea is not all there either. He demands, but she refuses. He is forceful, but Clea is resilient, giving as good as she gets. Finally, she escapes, but not before Ben can put his mark on her soul.

She falls in love with him.

Final Analysis of Seduction

Seduction was not the first Harlequin Presents I read, but it was the one that got me addicted to the Presents line.

Charlotte Lamb didn’t write like any other ordinary Harlequin author. Her plots were wildly fantastic, forcing you to turn the page to see what insanity she included next.

Lamb was able to psychoanalyze by delving into navel-gazing. She was very aware of the nature of her works, that they were just fantasies. Nevertheless, she treated her subject matter seriously with exquisite attention to character, dialogue, and tone.

Seduction is very chauvinistic and very politically incorrect. But this is a book, an illusion, not reality.

Charlotte Lamb’s writing was at its best in this one. I love this romance, as crazy as it was.

5 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
5
Characters
5
Writing
5
Chemistry
4.5
Fun Factor
5
Cover
5
Overall: 4.9

Synopsis

Clea felt insulted — by both men!

Clea’s stepfather, Kerasteri, had followed Greek custom in choosing a man for her to marry. Defying him meant arousing his violent temper.

Ben Winter was the man who desired her and was determined to have her. I know what you want more than you do, he kept insisting. But he saw only the betraying signs of her body; he didn’t listen to her reasons for refusal.

Clea had little choice. But she was sure of one thing: she would not be owned or used by anyone. She was her own person!

SEDUCTION by CHARLOTTE LAMB
stay through the night kebic

Category Romance Review: Stay Through the Night by Flora Kidd

Synopsis:

“I warned you from the start,”

Burt Sharaton said. “You had no right to come between Nancy and me.”

But putting an end to her sister Nancy’s affair with him was a responsibility Charlotte had just had to take on. She’d told him her sister refused to cruise with him on his yacht, the White Cockatoo.

Unfortunately, her plan hadn’t worked and Charlotte was caught in a trap of her own making. For Burt was determined that if he couldn’t have Nancy, he would take Charlotte instead!

STAY THROUGH THE NIGHT by FLORA KIDD

I’ve been looking for someone like you for a long time, a long, long time…

Stay Through the Night

The Book

Feeling lazy, (as always), so here’s a quick review of Stay Through the Night by Flora Kidd hacked together from my reading updates:

The Plot

In Stay Through the Night, Charlotte is a single, fiercely independent, and career-minded woman, who never had her sights set on marriage, although she at least respects the institution. When she sees how her very married sister, Nancy, drapes herself all over multi-millionaire Burt Sharaton, she quite naturally believes they’re having an affair. Charlotte is disappointed in her sister. Moreover, she’s angry on behalf of her as she cares for her brother-in-law, who’s a decent man.

Determined to put a stop to this madness, Charlotte confronts Burt. There’s no way she’s going to let Nancy sail across the world with Burt in his flashy white yacht.

However, Burt surprises Charlotte when he decides to settle for Nancy’s younger and unmarried sister instead. Charlotte’s plan backfires on her, as Burt all but takes her captive.

Stay Through the Night, Flora Kidd, Mills & Boon, 1980, cover artist unknown

My Opinion

This sweet, little romance seems to have low ratings on book sites around the internet and I don’t share the opinion. But then, my tastes do run contrarian to what’s popular.

It has everything that makes a classic HP so much fun:

#1 – A wealthy, arrogant hero, whose brutish ways are just a defense mechanism for his troubled past.

#2 – A virginal heroine who’s intelligent, a working woman, moral & strong-willed.

#3 – A married older sister trying to get her hooks in the hero.

#4 – Blackmail, kidnapping, and a quickie marriage to avoid scandal.

So what’s not to like?

Final Analysis of Stay Through the Night

Stay Through The Night was a fun little read from start to finish. What I enjoyed best of all, was this drunken confession of love from the stoic, brutish hero. It really got to me…

“‘You’re warm and soft and rounded,’ he murmured. Again his speech was a little slurred and she wondered if he were lightheaded. ‘I’ve been looking for someone like you for a long time, a long, long time…’ He broke off and stiffened.

“‘Who was that talking?’ He demanded suddenly, very clearly and coldly.

‘You,’ [Charlotte informed him.]

STAY THROUGH THE NIGHT

(SIGH!)

I’m a sucker for dramatic revelations of love. With Burt, there’s more to him than meets the eye. He’s not the flashy playboy Charlotte thought he was. He’s a true gem of a hero.

3 1/2 Stars