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Category Romance Review: A Love to Last Forever by Linda Randall Wisdom


The Book

A Love to Last Forever by Linda Randall Wisdom is a fine romance between two former high school classmates, Stacy McAllister and Clarence “Mike” Harper. It’s 1986, and a 20-year class reunion brings the protagonists together. While Stacy was a popular cheerleader and prom queen who dated the captain/ quarterback of the football team, Mike had been a chubby, pimple-faced nerd who students like Stacy’s boyfriend had picked on.



Stacy’s life is not running as smoothly as it had years before. She’d once had a promising future with a scholarship to North Western University but gave it up to marry her boyfriend a week after graduation. While that marriage resulted in a daughter, it ended in divorce when Stacy had enough of her husband’s abuse.

A second marriage also ended in divorce after she got pregnant with a son.

Now Stacy works in the same small town she grew up in, working as a secretary to a sleazy life insurance salesman. She drives an old jalopy of a station wagon. She has two radically distinct children: a hyperactive but helpful son and a truculent teenage daughter who seems to hate her.

Ex #2 is nowhere to be found, but ex #1 is still around, late with child support payments, occasionally hitting on Stacy, and usually drunk and mean. An ex-boyfriend, the local sheriff, also pops up to give her ten-year-old son tickets for speeding on a bicycle!


Mike’s life has changed, too but on a different trajectory. He was once the youngest kid in class due to being promoted several grades ahead due to his intelligence. Now, he’s a successful juvenile psychologist. Mike’s in good physical shape and at the prime of his life at 35.

Although he has one divorce behind him, Mike is well-adjusted, in touch with his feelings (so it seems), and a clear thinker.


Class of 1966

The attraction is instantaneous and palpable when Mike and Stacy reconnect at the class reunion. Mike had a big crush on Stacy back in the day, and Stacy can’t believe how hunky the former geek is now.

When they meet again, Mike makes no bones about his desire for Stacy. Stacy’s ambivalent about getting into yet another relationship. She’s made bad choices regarding men in the past, but Mike couldn’t be more different from them. He’s got it together, and as an “older” woman (she’s 38), she’s a bit insecure.

Nevertheless, Stacy can’t deny her attraction, and while Mike’s in town for a few weeks, she figured what’s wrong with a few dates?

Class of 1986

The problem is life cannot be compartmentalized so easily. Stacy finds herself falling deeply for Mike. Mike, in the meantime, has to deal with insecurities from the past coming back to haunt him. His marriage failed because a part of him was stuck back in high school, loving memory of a girl whose smiles were the only bright spots of miserable adolescence.

He’s a great father figure to her son. Stacy’s daughter Gail’s persnickety behavior is a mystery to her. Because of Mike’s profession, he’s able to draw Gail out of her shell and get mother and daughter to communicate and deal with Gail’s very complicated emotional issues.

Mike and Gail finally give in to their passion on a trip to St. Louis. They feel an intense bonding never experienced before. This is more than lust; it’s love. Mike wants forever, not an affair. But Gails’ insecurities may be too much and drive them apart. Will they ever be able to leave the past behind and move on to make a life together?

Final Analysis of A Love to Last Forever

Because A Love to Last Forever by Linda Randall Wisdom is an older romance, the writing here isn’t as reflective as one would find in a modern one. Events occur, and people react and move on. There’s lots of head-hopping within the same pages but done in a way to keep the plot moving forward rather than pondering or focusing on internal angst.

As an aside, it’s funny how a book from 1986 makes me feel so young and old simultaneously. Stacy & Mike graduated from high school 29 years before I did, so that I couldn’t relate to her era of grooviness and mod/ midwestern styles. Plus, Stacy’s diet of spaghetti, pancakes, and hamburgers while keeping trim had me rethinking my diet.

Her daughter listening to Duran Duran and Cyndi Lauper and Stacy knowing the artists had me cracking up. If I had a teenager today, there’s no way I could identify any modern music. It’s the same pulsing beats or bland pop to me.

When other women delight in Stacy’s fall from grace, they lambast her for wearing clothes she made herself from patterns in McCall’s (Vogue magazine, actually), I laughed. Can you imagine that today? Have you seen the price of bolts of fabric? Making your own clothes costs much more than buying the semi-disposable garments sold at basic stores.

So, my final analysis of A Love to Last Forever? This novel was a satisfying romance with flawed characters who felt like real people falling in love. The conclusion is fitting. Stacy returns to school, her kids are better-adjusted, and she and Mike are passionately in love with a blended family that accepts who they are. A genuinely joyful, happy ending.

3.62 Stars


Once Stacy McAllister had been Carver High’s Most Likely to Succeed, and Mike Harper had been the class outcast. But at the reunion a devastating new Mike Harper, a man she’d never known, swept Stacy off her feet. With the sadness and failures of her past, Stacy felt worlds removed from her golden days. Love seemed a luxury she could no longer afford. Mike had become an astonishing social and professional success, the talk of the town. Soon he’d go back to St. Louis, taking a chunk of her past and a piece of her heart with him. She’d already given him a lot, but Mike wanted more. But she was a two-time loser. Did she dare to dream of a love that could last forever? 

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!


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.