Tag Archives: Latino Hero

Latino Heroes

Hispanic or Latino Heroes in Retro Romance

Latino Heroes

Hispanic Heroes in Romance Novels

Heroes of Hispanic heritage, be they European or from the Americas, have always been popular in romance novels. The allure of the Latin lover is legendary.

Although these male protagonists have different backgrounds and lives, they share a common trait. They are men of passion.

Some may be traditionalists, others more modern-minded. They can be billionaires, Dons, or working men who lifted themselves from their bootstraps, but they are always proud, strong, and loyal. Loyal to their families and, most significantly, the women they love.

When they speak words of endearment in Spanish, their heroines melt. Who can blame them?

From down in Argentina up to Canada, from the Pacific to the Atlantic, today we’re highlighting some Latino heroes in romances from North and South America.

north and south america

The List

Presented below is a brief listing of Latino heroes in romance novels. We could have scoured our archives and found many, many more, but we’re keeping this short so as not to overwhelm.

We’ll assemble a master list in due time. You can always check our archives using the hero-latino tag if you want to read reviews for romances featuring Hispanic male protagonists.

We’ve broken the list into Historical and Contemporary sections for your convenience.

Latino Heroes in Historical Romance

hispanic heroes
latino heroes love me only

Latino Heroes in Category & Contemporary Romances

(Abbreviations: BL – Bantam Loveswept; HI – Harlequin Intrigue; HP– Harlequin Presents; HR – Harlequin Romance; HT– Harlequin Temptation; SD – Silhouette Desire; SIM – Silhouette Intimate Moments; SSE – Silhouette Special Edition)

  • Surrender Baby, Suzanne Forster (BL) – Geoff Dias/Spanish-American
surrender baby
  • Personal Protector, Debra Webb (HI) – Ric Martinez/Mexican
  • Whisper My Name, Gayle Wilson (HI) – Rio Delgado/Mexican
  • Beloved Deceiver, Flora Kidd (HP) – Cesar Estrada/Dominican-Canadian
  • The Latin Lover’s Secret Child, Jane Porter (HP) – Lucio Cruz/Half Argentian-half Indian
  • The Black Eagle, Anne Hampson (HP) – Juan Armando Ramires/ Mexican
  • Marriage in Mexico, Flora Kidd (HP) – Sebastian Suarez/Mexican
  • Pale Dawn, Dark Sunset, Anne Mather (HP) – Rafael de Cueras/ Mexican
  • Some Like it Hotter, Roz Denny (HR) – Chino Delgado/Mexican
  • Wildcat, Candace Schuler (HT) – Ben Oakes/ Mexican-American
  • Ripe For the Picking, Mary Tate Engels (HT) – Bret Meyer/ Mexican-American
  • The Right Moves, Sharon Mayne (HT) – Miguel Santiago/Mexican
  • Wedding Fever, Susan Crosby (SD) – Diego Duran/Mexican
  • Paladin’s Woman, Beverly Barton (SIM) – Nick Romero/Mexican
  • An Irresistible Man, Kylie Brant (SIM) – Cruz Martinez/Mexican
  • A Man to Die For, Suzanne Brockman (SIM) – Felipe Salazar/Mexican
  • The Matador, Barbara Faith (SIM) – Ricardo Montoya/Mexican
  • In Close Quarters, Candace Irvin (SIM) – Tomas Juan Vasquez/Mexican
  • Dreams of Evening, Kristin James (SIM) – Tonio Cruz/Mexican
dreams of evening

  • Red Hot, Catherine Palmer (SIM) – Ruben Salazar/Mexican
  • Within Reach, Marilyn Pappano (SIM) – Rafael Contreras/Mexican
  • Stranger by her Side, Susan Sizemore (SIM) – Rafael Castillo/Mexican
  • Rio Grande Wedding, Ruth Wind (SIM) – Alejandro Sosa/Mexican
  • Long-Lost Wife?, Barbara Faith (SIM) – Luis Alarcon/Cuban
  • Heat of the Moment, Joanna Marks (SIM) – Alex Cordera/Cuban
  • Meant to be Married, Ruth Wind (SSE) – Elias Santiago/Mexican-American
meant to be married
touch the wind

Your Opinion

Is there a particular Hispanic hero that you remember fondly? What are your favorite books featuring Latino heroes in the Americas?

As always, please drop a comment, and let’s talk romance.

flora kidd beloved deceiver

Category Romance Review: Beloved Deceiver by Flora Kidd


The Book

Lately, I’ve been trying to write as many reviews as I can, before I forget what I read. Even though I read this romance in the early Noughties, Flora Kidd’s Beloved Deceiver still sticks out in my mind for one big reason. It’s the only Harlequin/Mills-and-Boon I’ve read to feature a hero from the Dominican Republic, which is my parents’ birth country.

There have been plenty of Hispanic, Latino, and Latin-American-born heroes in the HP line, but up until this one I’d never encountered a Dominican and a blond one, to boot! That, for me, was like hitting the romance lottery jackpot.

The Plot

Our heroine, Glenda, is an independent divorcee whose first marriage ended when her husband decided fidelity was too taxing on him. Glenda’s a magazine writer from Canada visiting the Dominican Republic on holiday. Her former college classmate, Cesar Estrada, is now a bestselling author and Glenda seeks him out for an interview.

Upon meeting Cesar again, Glenda notices some changes, mainly her attraction to him. Back in Montreal, they’d just been friends, however, this tanned, tropical hunk makes her motor run at super high RPMs!

Glenda and Cesar get it on, but all is not what it seems as Cesar appears to be hiding something about himself. What is it about his past that he’s keeping a secret? Is Cesar really the man she used to know? Who is this Rafael character she keeps hearing about? And worst, could there be another woman with whom Cesar is involved?

So many questions for Glenda, but she’s a slave to her passions.

The zig-zaggy trail of breadcrumbs that Flora Kidd gives us leads to new revelations and some slight HP angst.

Final Analysis of Beloved Deceiver

To be completely honest, for me this was a good Harlequin Presents that made the time pass quickly and leisurely even though it wasn’t a super-wrecky, extra-memorable experience. I’ve read a handful of Flora Kidd romances and have found them to be just fine to above average, with the exception being Stay Through the Night, which was excellent.

Here, it was the hero’s unique background that ticked the right boxes for me.

Plus, I pictured him looking like Carlos de la Mota, a Dominican-born telenovela actor who’s an absolute dream!

beloved deceiver flora kidd
Dominican-born actor Carlos de la Mota. Yummy!

3.45 Stars


She was a magazine writer, he was a famous novelist

Yet eight years ago Glenda Thompson and Cesar Estrada had known each other as students at university in Montreal.

Now, trying to interview him in his own country, the Dominican Republic, Glenda is puzzled by the mystery surrounding him. Why is he referred to as ”Rafael” and why doesn’t he want to be interviewed. Is he trying to hide something?

When they do meet again, in spite of unsuccessful marriages and the intervening years, they cannot conceal their feelings for each other.

Sweet Savage love

Historical Romance Review: Sweet Savage Love by Rosemary Rogers

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

Historical Romance Review: Sweet Savage Love by Rosemary Rogers


Sweet Savage Love, The (Other) Mother of Romance

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

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

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

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

Sweet Savage Love, Alternative Cover version, Avon, Tom Hall cover art

The Hero & The Heroine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sweet Savage Love, Alternate Version, Troubador

The Epic Plot

Steve the Stud Meets Ginny the Dancing Gypsy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two Strong-Willed, Beautiful Idiots

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

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

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

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

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

My Opinion

Hablo Espanole?

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

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

Ah, well, that’s a minor gripe.

rosemary rogers bodice ripper

Fast and Furious

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final Analysis of Sweet Savage Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4.24 Stars

Rating Report Card
Fun Factor
Overall: 4.2


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

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

meant to be married

Category Romance Review: Meant To Be Married by Ruth Wind

category romance
Meant to Be Married by Ruth Wind
Rating: five-stars
Published: 1998
Illustrator: TBD
Imprint or Line: Silhouette Special Edition #1194
Published by: Silhouette
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 248
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader

Category Romance Review: Meant To Be Married by Ruth Wind


The Book

Meant To Be Married by Ruth Wind (aka Barbara Samuels) is a powerful romance that brought tears to my eyes. This second-chance-at-love story is underscored by superb characterization and a sensitive writer’s hand.

The Characters and Setup

Meant To Be Married begins a decade in the past when Elias Santiago and Sarah Greenwood defied their families to become lovers. The teenage Romeo and Juliet were precisely that: two youths from feuding clans who fell in love with one another and had to keep their relationship secret.

For over a century, Santiago and Greenwood blood has been shed via lynchings, murders, and suicides. Legend says the feud began when a Santiago male violated a Greenwood female. The Greenwoods hanged the Santiago man, and in turn, the Greenwood woman killed herself. Was it due to shame or could it have been heartbreak?

Whatever the reason, the enmity between the families has grown stronger over time.

The high school sweethearts are on their way out of state to elope. Then a change of heart makes them turn back to contact their parents. Sarah’s father is a police officer, and to their dismay, they are met on the road with sirens and flashing red and blue lights.

Elias, who is a couple of years older than Sarah, is taken away and arrested. Sarah is whisked off to a home for pregnant girls. There she languishes for months, with no word from Elias. But how can he contact her when he’s trapped in jail for months before being released and has no idea where Sarah is? After she gives birth, Sarah’s parents put the baby up for a closed adoption.

Sarah goes to New York to become an acclaimed photographer, snapping pics of models and celebrities. Elias stays behind in their hometown of Taos, New Mexico, and opens a thriving tea business. Time and distance separate them, but they have a bond that will unite them.

The Plot

After Sarah’s father has a heart attack, she receives a call from her mother, begging her to return home. Through the years, Sarah has visited her parents, but never for more than a day at a time. However, it’s time to put old ghosts to rest. Sarah returns to Taos. It’s no surprise when she sees Elias again, and their attraction is as vibrant as it was in the past. Even more so in the present time.

Years ago, there had been many obstacles in their way. They were too young. Their families were involved in a generations-long feud. The Greenwoods were upper class, and the Santiagos, although upwardly mobile, weren’t quite there yet The Greenwoods are Anglo-European; the Santiagos are Hispanic, a mix of Spanish and Amerindian heritage.

Now, some circumstances have changed, while some things remain as they always have. But fate will play a guiding hand, forcing Elias and Sarah to cross paths. Elias has a teenage niece with aspirations of being a model. He reaches out to Sarah, offering to pay her to photograph the girl and create a portfolio. Sarah reluctantly agrees.

As the two meet up again and again, they cannot deny their feelings for one another. How can they mend the wounds of the past when the wounds are still raw and gaping open?

Ruth Wind’s beautiful prose had me immersed in the semi-tragic love story. There were points when the suffering was overwhelming. She had me hissing at the contemptuous attitudes of the senior generations. I was enthusiastically rooting for Elias and Sarah to make it as a forever couple.

Final Analysis of Meant to Be Married

The ending of Meant to Be Married was a bittersweet conclusion. For although Elias and Sarah are finally reunited, theirs is an incomplete joining. A vital piece is missing, and their happily-ever-after is not a perfect one.

And then, the epilogue comes along and gives them a ray of hope. That was a real punch-in-the-gut moment. I truly felt Elias and Sarah’s joy and pain.

This book was a beautifully written romance. Meant to Be Married is so close to perfection. It’s a keeper, although, at times, the anguish was too much to bear. I get misty-eyed simply thinking about Elias and Sarah’s torment. Regardless of what they endured, the power of love proves paramount.

Even if the ending isn’t wrapped up in a pretty ribbon, the pair have found each other again. They will finally get married, as was meant to be.

Rating Report Card
Fun Factor
Overall: 4.8


If only they had married, all those years ago…

But their warring families did everything in their power to keep Elias and Sarah apart — short of destroying their love for each other. And soon enough the Santiagos and the Greenwoods succeeded in tearing the young beauty from her darkly handsome — and forbidden — groom-to-be…

Now Sarah was back in town, but she was unprepared to see the bitterness in Elias’s eyes — or the desire that still simmered there. If only for a moment they could forget the past, they could have it all — the love, the family, the future they once dreamed of….

Meant To Be Married by Ruth Wind

Historical Romance Review: The Forever Passion by Karen A. Bale

The Forever Passion, Karen A. Bale, Zebra, 1979, cover artist unknown


3 stars

Rating: 3 out of 5.

This review is of Karen A. Bale’s 1979 Zebra romance The Forever Passion.

Taken Captive

The Forever Passion begins with an introduction to the heroine of the book, Lisa Jordan, 18. Lisa, chafing under the demands placed on her in her native Boston, has decided to head west to live with her brother, Tom. She arranges to travel by wagon train and falls in love with the train scout, Josh Wade. Then things take a turn for the worst.

The wagon train is attacked by Comanche Indians. Lisa tries to escape but is captured, beaten, and gang-raped. Later, Lisa is found by an Indian warrior named Nakon, the hero of the book. Nakon shows Lisa kindness, and later they are married.

Things get worse for Lisa when one of the Indians who raped and beat her before does it again to her. Eventually, she makes love with Nakon and has issues, but allows it to happen. This results in pregnancy. Later, when Nakon doesn’t come home from a raid, Lisa believes he’s dead and tries to commit suicide. She stabs herself, but survives!

Nakon was actually shot by Texas Rangers; he recovered and eventually returned to Lisa, but found out that her suicide attempt caused her to miscarry. After a time, Nakon decides to send Lisa back to the white world. He asks Josh, who has come to trade with the Comanches, to take Lisa back to her own people, despite Lisa’s strenuous objections. Later, Lisa hears that Nakon was killed in another raid, and she starts to feel romantic feelings again toward Josh; however, she still loves Nakon.

Triple Identities

Later, we learn about who Nakon really is. He is, in fact, not a Comanche or an Indian at all. He is, in reality, a half-Spanish/half-Anglo man who goes by two names: Alejandro de Vargas and by his white name, Eric Anderson, named after his late father. Eric returns to his home state of California to reclaim his inheritance, the Rancho del Sol that his grandfather wants him to have. Standing in his way is his mother, Mariz de Vargas y Anderson, with whom Eric has a very strained relationship. Mariz’ lawyer/lover is Tom Jordan, who is Lisa’s brother. Complicating matters is Eric’s former lover, Consuelo de la Morena, who wants Eric back, and Mariz is more than willing to help her achieve that goal. To make matters further complicated, Lisa and Josh show up.

Lisa is surprised and shocked to see Eric-she thinks he’s dead-and even more surprised and hurt when Consuelo claims she and Eric are engaged. For the next few chapters, Lisa and Eric end up doing two things mostly; making love and arguing. Many of their arguments are over Consuelo, who is doing her level best to break up Lisa and Eric. Later, Lisa and Eric make a wager; if she wins a horse race at a fiesta his grandfather is holding, they will get married according to white custom. If Lisa loses, she becomes Eric’s mistress, never wife, and has to settle for being that. Lisa loses the race-barely-to Eric, but he surprises her by giving her a marriage ceremony, and they get married, much to Consuelo’s anger.

A Double Cross

For a while, Eric and Lisa are happy in their marriage. Then Mariz shows up, and all hell breaks loose after Eric goes away on a business trip. Consuelo then shows up, and she and Mariz do their level best to break up Lisa and Eric’s marriage, claiming that Lisa is having an affair (not true) with Josh, who also has resurfaced. When Eric finds out that Lisa gave Josh a necklace Eric had previously given her, he beats Josh up and stalks off. Lisa is later accosted by Eric’s former friend, now arch-enemy, Chuka, who wants to kill Eric because of their past.

Consuelo pays Chuka to kidnap Lisa, rape, and kill her. Chuka realizes, however, that Consuelo plans to double-cross him, so he turns on her and has her gang-raped. Eric comes and tries to save Lisa. Chuka tries to rape Lisa but is shot by Consuelo, who is later killed by an unknown assailant. Eric and Lisa escape and then separate again. Eric eventually tracks down Lisa, helps her give birth to their daughter, and, for now, they are having their Happily Ever After; I use the term “for now” because there is a sequel to this book.

This book is a prime example of 1970’s romance novels. There are some really good points and really bad ones.

The Good

Strong characters. Emotionally charged situations.

The Bad

An incredibly cavalier approach toward violence against women. A “hero” who is a rapist and an obnoxious bastard most, if not all, of the time.


The lovemaking scenes are not overly descriptive, but there are a few of them.


Plenty. Lisa is raped SIX times, including once by Eric–and nearly raped on two other occasions, also once by Eric. Consuelo is also sodomized and raped. There are also assaults–mostly against Lisa–and other killings.

Bottom Line

This is what 1970s romance novels were. The Forever Passion is not great, but it certainly is compelling. I liked the book because of its emotional strength, but certainly not because of the constant violence Lisa suffers. Karen A. Bale continues Eric and Lisa’s romance in a sequel, Desperado Dream.

Reviewed by Blue Falcon

Midnight Captive pino

Historical Romance Review: Midnight Captive by Penelope Neri

book review historical romance
Midnight Captive by Penelope Neri
Rating: five-stars
Published: 1989
Illustrator: Pino
Imprint or Line: Zebra Historical Romance
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 512
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon

Historical Romance Review: Midnight Captive by Penelope Neri


The Book

This review is of Midnight Captive, a standalone Zebra historical romance from March 1989 by Penelope Neri.

The Plot


Midnight Captive begins ominously.

A man finds a cache of gold and wishes everything he touches would turn into it. Hearing him, the Devil appears and makes the man a bargain. If the unnamed man sells his soul to the Devil, the Devil will grant his wish.

The man agrees. He later realizes, however, that such a bargain has unintended consequences.

This is the theme running through the book.

Part One

We meet Krissoula Ballardo, the heroine of Midnight Captive, and her business partner, Hector Corrales, in Spain.

Their business: rolling rich men and stealing from them.

When they see Esteban de San Martin, the hero, they try to rob him. This plan fails. Rather than have Krissoula arrested, Esteban blackmails her. He needs her to help him get revenge against his uncle, Felipe Aguilar, in Esteban’s home country Argentina.

Felipe is the brother of Esteban’s late father, Alejandro. There is significant bad blood between uncle and nephew.

We also learn about Krissoula’s past, which involves a happy childhood and much-less-happy young adulthood.

As part of Esteban’s plan, Krissoula must lure Felipe into proposing marriage to her.

However, he discovers that she and Esteban are lovers, leading to major trouble for both Krissoula and Esteban.

Esteban is severely beaten by Felipe’s henchmen. Meanwhile, Krissoula and her duena Sofia de Alicante y Moreno must flee. They end up being kidnapped by revolutionaries who want to overthrow the Argentine government.

Part Two

They escape their captivity. Krissoula and Sofia make their way to the Argentine barrios, where Krissoula has to fight off the predatory intentions of Antonio Malvado, the “godfather” of the barrio they’re staying in.

Those efforts end up for naught, however, as Sofia becomes seriously ill, and Krissoula has no choice but to go to Malvado for help. She also plans to kill Malvado for his contribution to the death of a friend of hers.

Esteban–now recovered from his beating–discovers that Krissoula is with Malvado. After a violent battle and a chase, he rescues Krissoula from Malvado’s evil clutches and kills him.

Krissoula and Esteban marry, have one child, officially adopt two others, and unofficially many others. They open an orphanage for the homeless, parentless children of the barrio.

Krissoula and Esteban have their Happily Ever After.


The Heroine

A reader might read the title Midnight Captive and think the book is a “Stockholm Syndrome” romance. It’s not, thankfully.

What it is really is a story about a young woman–Krissoula is 19–who has endured major hardships and trauma in her young life, finding happiness through her own inner strength and courage.

At first, I didn’t like Krissoula–she starts the book as a thief–but as I read more, I grew to like, and later love, Krissoula. Readers will watch her grow up before their eyes.

She has a lot of similarities with another Penelope Neri heroine, Freya Jorgenson from Sea Jewel. The two stories are very different in terms of setting and culture. Yet both are about women experiencing hellish trauma at young ages and finding happiness by tapping into strength they didn’t know they had in order to survive.

The Couple

Both Krissoula and Esteban have fully realized characters. Although neither is flawless, they are very human.

They also have hot chemistry that comes from pairing a Gypsy/Spanish/Greek heroine with a Latinx hero. Esteban is my favorite Neri hero–admittedly, not a high bar to climb, as most of her “heroes” are rapist bastards, but he clears the bar easily.

I also liked the fact that both Krissoula and Esteban were willing to give a “hand-up” to the kids that needed a champion.

Ms. Neri also ties her parable from the beginning of the book into her main story. Esteban becomes wealthy but realizes that it’s no good if he doesn’t have Krissoula, whom he loves very much.

For Krissoula, she almost married Felipe–who is later killed “off-screen.” She comes to realize that though she may gain wealth by marrying, Krissoula would not be loved.

For only Esteban could provide her with the true love she has been seeking all of her life.

Ms. Neri is also a very good “scenic” writer. By that, I mean that she is very descriptive in her writing of scenes and takes me, as a reader, into her scenes.


Like the majority of Ms. Neri’s books, Midnight Captive is overlong. This is the 10th book I’ve read by Ms. Neri, and only one has come in at less than 500 pages. Midnight Captive checks in at 512 pages.

There were way too many exclamation points at the end of paragraphs and sentences.

I also felt the storyline about the overthrow of the Argentine government to be tacked on as a way to extend the page count. It was not really important or relevant to the book as a whole.


Ms. Neri knows how to write a sexy love scene–she did so in Sea Jewel–but here, the love scenes are fairly mild. They’re not Ms. Neri’s best love scenes.


Assault, battery, destruction of guns, and killings take place in Midnight Captive. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line on Midnight Captive

Midnight Captive by Penelope Neri is not a flawless book, but it has more than enough good qualities-including an amazing heroine–to earn a 4.89, rounded–up 5 stars from me.

5 Stars

Rating Report Card
Fun Factor
Overall: 4.8



After a poor, ragged girlhood with he gypsy kinfolk, Krissoula Ballardo knew that all she wanted from life was her share of riches. But there was only one way for the penniless temptress to earn a cent: to fake interest in a man, drug him, and pocket everything he had! Then the sable-haired seductress met dashing Esteban de San Martin, and a hot unquenchable passion seared her soul. The fortune-hunting beauty knew she should flee the handsome devil — but a force more powerful made her run straight into his embrace!


All his life, dark, towering Esteban had been denied his father’s name; now he swore nothing would keep him from his rightful inheritance. In order to regain his vast Argentine acreage, the crafty vacquero blackmailed Krissoula, the unscrupulous wench who’d once tried to fool him. But the more he involved her in his plot, the more Esteban couldn’t deny her effect on him. Her luscious lips begged for his sensual kisses, her ripe curves invited his arousing caresses, and soon he was ready to sacrifice his carefully planned scheme for one searing moment in the welcoming arms of his exotic midnight captive.

midnight captive by PENELOPE NERI
dark fever

Category Romance Review: Dark Fever by Charlotte Lamb

Dark Fever, Charlotte Lamb, Harlequin, 1995, cover artist TBD

Harlequin Presents #1840


1 Star

Rating: 1 out of 5.

I’ve said this before about a Charlotte Lamb book, but now I really mean it: this is the worst romance written by her that I’ve ever read! I don’t think I’ve ever hated a Harlequin Presents as much as Dark Fever. No, it wasn’t boring… It was bizarre and awful and left me with a horrible feeling!

The Plot

Dark Fever was part of a series of books based on the Seven Deadly Sins. The theme of this novel was lust, although there’s no sexual intercourse in this one. Personally, I thought this book’s theme of sin was gluttony because of all the talk of food. It was set in Spain, after all.

Bianca has just turned 40 years old. She is a widow of 3 years, still in mourning for her husband. She has two teenagers and feels down in the dumps, so she goes on a trip to Spain. At her hotel, she sees a handsome man swimming in a pool and instantly falls in lust.

The man, Gil, is much younger than Bianca. He also is deeply attracted to her, and he cares for her as well. They flirt; she teases him. But ultimately, her feelings for her dead husband create an overwhelming sense of guilt over the sexual desire she feels for another man.

Then a tragedy occurs: Bianca gets brutally beaten and almost raped. Her trauma causes her to become disgusted at the idea of sex. This is what most of the book entails: not the relationship with Gil, but Bianca’s recovery from her ordeal. Sadly, she seems to not truly recuperate.

Bianca says goodbye to Gil and goes back to England. However Gil feels far more for Bianca than she does for him, so he follows her and declares his love.

The Awful Ending

The end of this strange book is the insulting coup de grace:

…I’m not even asking you to marry me, Bianca, I’m only saying I want to get to know you better.”

She met his eyes. “You want to sleep with me—isn’t that what you’re saying?”

You know I do,” he said huskily. “I won’t lie about that—I want you, I said so, but not until you’re ready.”

And if I never am?

He grimaced. “I’ll have to live with that won’t I?

Yes,” she said her gaze defiant.


Bianca stares at herself in the mirror as she prepares for their first date, thinking that she’s too old (at only 40!) for romance and may just be in it for a short-term fling. Who knows what will happen? It’s a mystery that ends unresolved.

Final Analysis of Dark Fever

This was a romance novel? What the ever-loving hell?

I understand some modern romances don’t end with a HEA, but “happy enough for now,” but that is not what I expect when I read a Harlequin Presents! Especially one written long ago in 1995.

Dark Fever was Women’s Fiction published as a romance, and I hated it!


surrender baby

Category Romance Review: Surrender, Baby by Suzanne Forster

Surrender, Baby, Suzanne Robinson, Bantam, 1991
Surrender, Baby, Suzanne Robinson, Bantam, 1991, cover artist TBD

Loveswept #604


5 Stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Book

Surrender, Baby was published by Bantam’s Loveswept line and is the last in Suzanne Forster’s Stealth Commandos Trilogy (Loveswept #541 Child Bride & #581 Night of the Panther were the first two installments) about a trio of ex-soldiers turned bounty hunter/mercenaries. Although the plots are similar to each other in that separated lovers come together to reignite their passions, I haven’t yet to read them.

The Set Up

Miranda Witherspoon needs a man. Desperately so.

That is, she needs a soldier of fortune to find her man. Brazilian drug lords have kidnaped her fiancé, and Miranda will do whatever it takes to find him. To do so, she hires Geoff Dias, ex-military, Special Forces.

Miranda is prim and proper, her engagement not a love match but an expected marriage of two supposedly like-minded individuals who value security above romance. While she worries for her fiancé’s life, she’s also worried about losing the position she’s staked out for herself in the business world, having come from adverse circumstances and poverty.

I remember laughing at Miranda’s thoughts when she met Geoff in his musky, all-male gym. He, wearing torn sweats, she, trying to ignore the holes that might or might not reveal his junk while eying the posters in his messy excuse of an office: posters of guns, naked women, and naked women with guns. Subtle this guy wasn’t about his tastes.

Geoff seems eerily familiar to Miranda, and there’s a good reason why.

The Plot

Years ago, Miranda had been stranded at the altar. Drunk and wearing her wedding dress, she roamed the streets of LA in a daze. Geoff, riding by on his motorcycle (a Harley, natch), saw this strange sight and, Good Samaritan that he was, pulled over to check up on her. He offered her a ride home, and Miranda hopped onto his bike. That rolling vibrator was too much for the emotionally vulnerable Miranda, and she let her hands slip and do the talking. Before these two knew what was going on, they were at it like bunnies.

The next day Miranda was gone, and Geoff has been haunted by her ever since. So intense was their time together that Miranda has been in his dreams and fantasies as his muse, and Geoff, also an artist, created poignant and evocative works of art that sought to recreate that lost moment.

Geoff recognizes Miranda on sight, while it takes her some time to remember him. When she does, she’s torn. Miranda has put her past behind her, which includes torrid one-night stands with long-haired, artistic hunks who ride Harleys. But Geoff is the only man she trusts who can help her save her fiancé.

Against his better judgment, Geoff takes the job, and he and Miranda head to Brazil during Carnaval. The hot, sultry atmosphere of Rio de Janeiro makes for pulsing heart rates. Along the way, their chemistry is sizzling. Miranda tries her best to deflect it, yet Geoff is too much of a virile man to be dismissed so easily. Miranda’s boyfriend is eventually freed, but is she happy with her chosen life? Will Geoff’s free spirit and crazy ways melt her cold heart?

Final Analysis of Surrender, Baby

The writing here is intense but also tongue-in-cheek at times. This book is hot and funny. The fact that Geoff’s a badass with a hog, one with a hot-pink heart, and the words “Surrender Baby” emblazoned on it in honor of his woman? A thing of cornball, romantic beauty.

This book was so OTT crazy, it–dare I say it?–made me laugh and cry. That is a hackneyed cliché of a line in a review, but Surrender, Baby by Suzanne Forster is one of those reads I loved because it’s so brainless. You might hate it for the same reason, or might not, but it will definitely draw out emotions as this book was not boring.

(Note: The cover of this book isn’t that great, I know. Just ignore it and focus on the story, and you’ll have a blast reading this.)

texas tempest

Historical Romance Review: Texas Tempest by Deana James

historical romance review


The Book

Zebra‘s Texas Tempest features yet another great, steel-willed Deana James heroine. James has written many resilient heroines before. Such heroines include the ones from the seafaring antebellum romance, Captive Angel, and the medieval, Lovespell.

The Heroine

The prologue of Texas Tempest begins with Eugenia Leahy being beaten by her no-good drunkard of a husband, Cormac. When he goes after her daughter, that’s when mama bear springs into action. Eugenia grabs a firearm and shoots him, paralyzing the abuser for life!

We then flash forward 10-15 years later. Eugenia is running her ranch and doing a great job at it. Tough, cold, and stern, Eugenia is known as “The Diamondback,” deadly as her namesake is. But she is still a woman in a world dominated by men. She needs some muscle to enforce her rules.

Enter the mysterious MacPherson, a gunslinger who saves Eugenia’s life. He is exactly the man Eugenia needs.

The action is intense here. On page 75, Eugenia Leahy has shot already three men. You don’t mess with the Diamondback!

As usual, Deana James’ heroines are the major draw of her books.

The Hero

In a Deana James romance, a hero who matches the heroine in greatness is pure icing on the cake. And what a hero he is!

MacPherson was the little boy from Texas Storm. His Comanche father rejected him, declaring him dead. So MacPherson was forced to walk naked, following after his tribe. He lived off their leavings. He was adopted by the protagonists of that book, Reiver MacPherson, and his wife, Mercedes-Maria.

Mac is 5 years younger than the 35-year-old Eugenia. This is a major concern for her since in the mid-19th century older women generally did not have relationships with younger men. Even if they were their secret lovers.

Yes, MacPherson and Eugenia become lovers and except for her husband, their romance has the all-clear. Eugenia’s daughter approves and that’s the only person whose opinion matters to her.

The Plot

As usual in a Deana James book, romance is not the only plot point. Texas Tempest is a high-stakes western drama. There’s a lot of lovemaking. There’s also even more action.

An evil rancher has designs on Eugenia’s land. His men capture Macpherson. They then beat and whip him, before attempting to hang him. Yet he miraculously survives despite all his violent suffering.

The grandee arranges to kidnap Eugenia. Then a whoremonger purchases her. Thankfully, MacPherson is able to save her just in time.

There is a scene where Mac is forced by the villains to hurt Eugenia and it disgusts him.

Like an automaton, MacPherson struck again. Only by remaining absolutely motionless could he control the anger that was rising in him. Far from being aroused by the spectacle, his own feelings were revolted. His own sexuality he recognized as propinquity, tenderness, caring, the beauty, and gentleness of a woman’s body. The infliction of pain, even pseudo-pain, excited him not at all.

So our hero isn’t into dominating BDSM or using force on a woman. MacPherson may be a man of mystery, but he’s very simple in his preference. He has nothing but appreciation and love for the female body. Sex is not entwined with violence for him. Very refreshing for a retro hero.

The main conflict keeping Eugenia and Mac from getting together permanently isn’t her husband because we readers know:

1) Eugenia doesn’t give a damn about Cormac!


2) Her ailing, wheelchair-bound husband is going to die in the end, anyway.

It’s when MacPherson’s true heritage is discovered that Eugenia’s insecurities come to the forefront. Not only is MacPherson more than the simple loner she initially thought he was, but then Eugenia feels abandoned by her teenage daughter. The girl finds love with the son of a prosperous Spanish family.

Final Analysis of Texas Tempest

Texas Tempest got a little drawn out for me after the 70% mark, so this enthralling read turned into just a very entertaining one.

Regardless, for me, it’s another 4-star keeper by Deana James. This is one I will have to reread just for how tenacious and capable Eugenia was, a woman of that greatest and rarest of strengths: fortitude.

4 Stars

Rating Report Card
Fun Factor
Overall: 4.3


Jet-haired Eugenia Leahy was sensuous and slender with an iron will that intimidated even the most powerful of men. Then a handsome stranger rescued her after a bad fall and the steel-hearted beauty suddenly felt soft and vulnerable. With one caress her body yearned to clasp him in an intimate embrace. But Eugenia had struggled too long for independence and vowed to drive away the man who threatened her freedom with the weakness of desire!

When virile, towering MacPherson first saw the petite, fragile form sprawled at his feet, he knew he would ultimately make love to her. His blood clamored to be one with her and his passion rose as never before. Then Eugenia stirred, opening eyes filled with challenge and anger. In that moment, MacPherson resolved to take her soon, whether she consented or not, with all the force and fury of a raging Texas Tempest.


Category Romance Review: Wildcat by Candace Schuler


To have and to hold

Stacey Richards had finally come home to her Texas ranch, and she was damned if anyone was going to run her off again. Eleven years of exile in Paris had transformed her from wildcat to woman-a woman who’d still fight like a tiger for her birthright. She wanted her land . . . with no strings attached.

She refused to comply with the terms of her grandfather’s will. Refused to marry Ben Oakes in order to receive her legacy. Somehow, she vowed, she’d override the absurd codicil . . . and her own irrational reaction to Ben. Once she would have given everything for the rugged cowboy. He’d spurned her then–now it was her turn.



The Book

Published in 1989, Candace Schuler’s Harlequin Temptation #284 Wildcat is a hot, steamy romance. I cannot believe that 31 years have come and gone since I read it. I read this book as a preteen (way too young)! This drawn-out battle of wills between a tempestuous female and an ultra-macho rancher really appealed to me.

The Plot

Stacey Richards was banished from her Texas home over a decade ago. Her wild, unruly ways were too much for her grandfather to handle. He sent her off to Paris to learn how to become a lady. In the meantime, Ben Oakes, a man whom the teenaged Stacey had the major hots for, capably cares for the ranch.

Stacey’s grandfather dies, and she flies back home. The reading of her grandfather’s will shocks everyone. For Stacey to inherit the property, she must marry Ben.

Beneath her sophisticated airs, Stacey is still a wild girl at heart and will not be dominated into marriage. Ben is no card-carrying feminist, and he tries his cave-man best to reign in Stacey’s wild temper. Will these two crazy kids ever admit to their mutual lusts and come to an agreement?

Final Analysis of Wildcat

I loved the original Temptation cover with Ben and Stacey lying in the grass, Ben on top of her, holding her arms at each side of her head, sweat pouring down his cheeks, while Stacey’s shirt is unbuttoned, and there’s this look of anticipation on her beautiful face…

Great memories. So good I had to read it again.

Sometimes it’s best to keep treasured books in memory to avoid spoiling them by looking at them with jaded, aged eyes. Happily, such is not the case with Wildcat. It’s as fun on rereading as it was the first time around. This is, for me, a fantastic 5-star romance because I loved the OTT drama.

5 stars