Illustrator: Sharon Spiak
Imprint or Line: Zebra Heartfire
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Georgian Era Romance, Colonial Era Romance, Historical Romance
Buy on: AbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon
SPOILER ALERT ⚠
This review is of Passion’s Treasure by Betina Krahn, a standalone Zebra Heartfire romance from March 1989. More recently, the novel was republished and retitled Just Say Yes.
Passion’s Treasure begins in the town of Culpepper, Maryland Colony, 1748. We meet Treasure Barrett, one of 10 children born to Aniss and Buck Barrett. Treasure is an intelligent, precocious child. The townspeople are encouraged to allow those qualities free rein. As the book begins, Treasure, age 9, learns about “sport.”
Fast forward nearly 9 years.
A sad pall has come over Culpepper. The town’s most prominent citizen, Squire Darcy Renville, has passed away. His estranged son, Sterling Renville, the book’s hero arrives from England and demands that the villagers–who are all in hock to Squire Darcy in one way or another–pay back their debts. Otherwise, he will seize their property and make them all homeless. He will then return to his home in England.
The town turns to Treasure, the town thinker, now nearly 18, for help.
Treasure comes up with a plan to get under Sterling’s skin and make his time in Culpepper miserable. The plan succeeds quite well. There is an unplanned side effect: he becomes interested in her, and she in him.
Shocked and dismayed to discover their “thinker” is a woman like any other, the townspeople scheme to get Treasure and Sterling married.
The marriage takes place, and the wedding night is great. But the next morning isn’t, as Sterling discovers he’s been tricked into the marriage. (He erroneously blames Treasure).
He wants an annulment, but since their marriage was consummated, that won’t happen. Sterling then takes Treasure away from Culpepper, taking her to England with him.
On the trip and during their time in England, Treasure and Sterling’s relationship takes on its primary form. When they are making love, they are connected; when they’re not, there is a canyon between them, emotionally, mentally, and physically.
When they arrive in England, Treasure and Sterling’s marriage continues down its rocky road. However, their relationship improves once Sterling realizes she loves him and he loves her. He starts working on accepting her for who she is.
There is also a “B” storyline involving members of Sterling’s family, his best friend, and a business deal he is involved in which reaches the highest levels of the British government.
In the end of Passion’s Treasure, Treasure and Sterling return to the colonies, have five children in the next 1tenyears, and enjoy their Happily Ever After.
The ache driving through her was terrible. Now she knew the awful truth of it. She could love these books with all the learning and wisdom they represented with everything that was in her, but they would never love her back. She needed to be held just now, and only a pair of human arms that moved at the impulse of a human heart could provide that. There were some needs that knowledge, however grand, however necessary, could never fill.
In my reading experience–which encompasses many years and thousands of books–it is very rare to see a romance novel where the heroine’s beauty is somewhat de-emphasized. Although Treasure certainly checks off the romance novel heroine boxes for beauty, it’s her capabilities that are emphasized. Treasure’s skills and knowledge as a thinker are the primary focus of the book’s first half. She is a smart, delightful character who is well-written.
I didn’t like Sterling overall, but it’s more complicated than it sounds.
During the first two-thirds of the book, Sterling is an obnoxious bastard. He is arrogant, condescending, egotistical, and elitist. He views the citizens of Culpepper as “colonial bumpkins.” Sterling calls Treasure “that colonial chit” and is shocked–shocked, I tell you!–to discover that she won’t just willingly lie down and spread her legs for him. Doesn’t she know who he is?!
In the last third of Passion’s Treasure (aka Just Say Yes), Ms. Krahn informs readers why Sterling acts the way he does. Without giving too much away, it has to do with his relationship with his father, the pressures of his life, and his personal value system.
Knowing these things, however, does not excuse or justify his bad behavior. When Sterling realizes he loves Treasure, and she loves him, he makes efforts to change his actions. These efforts are somewhat successful.
Multiple love scenes in the book, but none reach any particular level of heat or romanticism.
A person Treasure believes to be a friend tries to rape her; Sterling prevents the attack from taking place. Sterling is also involved in two fistfights. The violence is not graphic.
Bottom Line on Passion’s Treasure/ Just Say Yes
I vacillated a bit on how to rate Betina Krahns’ Passion’s Treasure (aka Just Say Yes).
Does one-third of good behavior override two-thirds of bad behavior? That is an individual decision for those who read this book.
For me, it doesn’t completely. Sometimes, I felt this was a 2-star book, other times a 4-star read.
In the end, if using a 1-10 scale, I would give Passion’s Treasure a 6, and using a 1 to 5-star scale, a solid three stars.
|Rating Report Card|
Violet-eyed Treasure Barrett had a passion for learning. Everyone in the village of Culpepper knew the best way to solve a problem was to ask Treasure-she was a thinker. So when the late squire’s son demanded that the impoverished villagers pay back their longstanding loans, it fell to Treasure to deal with him. But the arrogant, handsome Sterling Renville was not a man to be reasoned with…or ignored. Even as he infuriated her with insulting insinuations, he confused her with calculating caresses. And Treasure soon realized that her thirst for knowledge had not prepared her for the hungers of desire!
Sterling Renville had come to the backwoods village to claim his inheritance and claim it he would. No colonial chit was going to convince him to return to Philadelphia with nothing but debts to show for his efforts. If the beautiful Miss Barrett wanted a battle, he’d be happy to oblige. But while she would fight with logic, he had more enjoyable weapons in mind. He’d disarm her with heated kisses, overwhelm her with astounding sensations, and win her surrender with a blaze of ecstasy that would brand her forever as Passion’s Treasure.Passion’s Treasure (aka Just Say Yes) by Betina Krahn