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raptures rendezvous

Historical Romance Review: Rapture’s Rendezvous by Cassie Edwards

book review historical romance
Rapture's Rendezvous by Cassie Edwards
Rating: two-half-stars
Published: 1982
Illustrator: Unknown
Imprint or Line: Zebra Historical Romance
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Romance with Rape Element
Pages: 483
Format: Paperback, eBook
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooksOpen Library (BORROW FOR FREE)
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Rapture’s Rendezvous by Cassie Edwards

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

Rapture’s Rendezvous is not one of Cassie Edwards‘ bests.

First off, let me say that I am a Cassie Edwards fan. I love most of her books and hope one day to own all of them. Having said that, this book–a reprint of a book originally published in 1982–is not one of her best efforts.

cassie edwards 2nd
Rapture’s Rendezvous, Cassie Edwards, 1999 edition

The Plot

Maria Lazzaro and her twin brother Alberto are poor Italians dreaming of a better life in America. That is where their father, Giacomo, emigrated sometime earlier. Eventually, the twins are sent for and they travel on a ship in decrepit conditions to America. Once at sea, Maria and Alberto both lose their innocence. Maria gives hers willingly to the “hero” of the book, Michael Hopper.

Alberto loses his virginity in a far less pleasant way–more on that later.

Michael lies to Maria by telling her he is a buyer for a vintner in America. In actuality, he is a successful businessman investigating the cruel treatment of immigrant miners in one of the many business ventures of an individual named Nathan Hawkins. Why Michael is doing so himself instead of hiring someone isn’t fully explained.

After the ship docks in New York at Ellis Island, Michael and Maria part. They will find each other again in the future.

Maria and Alberto arrive in America thinking their father sent for them. They don’t realize until much later that they were actually sent for by Hawkins. Hawkins needs Alberto to work like his father in Hawkins’ dangerous, unsafe coal mine. Maria, Hawkins wants as his wife.

Brother and sister arrive in the Illinois town of Hawkinsville–also owned by Nathan Hawkins–to realize their lives have not changed for the better as they had hoped. Alberto goes to work alongside his father in the coal mine. Maria pines for Michael.

Maria and Michael find each other again and they have several intimate encounters. Later, Maria is forced to marry Hawkins after he threatens to deport her father and brother.

Eventually, Hawkins gets his comeuppance, Maria and Michael marry and they live happily ever after.

rapture's rendezvous cassie edwards new
Rapture’s Rendezvous, Cassie Edwards, 2011 edition

Sex

There’s a lot of sex, in Rapture’s Rendezvous though not terribly graphic. Or nice. As mentioned, Maria and Michael have several encounters. Michael also has sex with two other women–his secretary and a prostitute–while he and Maria are apart. There is some salaciousness.

Alberto is robbed and raped by a man/woman criminal duo on board the ship to America, which affects him later. Alberto also has incestuous feelings for Maria.

Maria is forced into a sex act by Hawkins after they are married.

Violence

Not much, but some. Alberto gets revenge on his rapist/robbers and hits both the man and woman.

There is also a fight scene in which Michael is assaulted and gets help from Alberto. Hawkins is eventually killed, and although he is shot, it is not graphically described.

Bottom Line on Rapture’s Rendezvous

As stated, Rapture’s Rendezvous is not one of Mrs. Edwards’ best books. The characters vacillate between whiny and barely likable. The “hero” isn’t really heroic, and the heroine, while being attractive physically, is less attractive because she is somewhat of a weak, whiny individual.

If one is interested in Cassie Edwards’ books, I recommend her “Savage” series. Those books are far better than wasting your time on this drivel.

Rating Report Card
Plot
2
Characters
2.5
Writing
2
Chemistry
3.5
Fun Factor
2
Cover
4
Overall: 2.7

Synopsis

A Woman’s Love
Maria Lazzaro was as ripe and as sweet as the full, juicy grapes that grew in her homeland’s vineyards. And as she boarded an immigrant ship for America, the olive-skinned, raven-haired beauty met the only man she could ever love. That night, with feverish desire, frantic passion, and wild, sensuous rapture, she gave herself to Michael in a moment she knew would bond them for eternity.

A Man’s Lies
Though they would have to part once they reached America, handsome Michael Hopper couldn’t deny himself the enticing wench. He had to take advantage of her innocent allure. Branding her satin throat with kisses, he promised his devotion forever. Searing her silken skin with caresses, he vowed his undying love. No matter what, he had to have her. And no matter what, he would have to leave her…Rapture’s Rendezvous

Rapture’s Rendezvous by Cassie Edwards
CATEGORIES: , , , , , , , , ,

***

forbidden ecstasy popp

Historical Romance Review: Forbidden Ecstasy by Janelle Taylor

book review historical romance
Forbidden Ecstasy by Janelle Taylor
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1982
Illustrator: Unknown
Imprint or Line: Zebra Historical Romance
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Colonial Era Romance, Native American Romance, Romance with Rape Element, Forced Seduction
Pages: 494
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooksOpen Library (BORROW FOR FREE)
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon


Historical Romance Review: Forbidden Ecstasy by Janelle Taylor

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

This review is of Forbidden Ecstasy (“Ecstasy/Gray Eagle Series #3″) by Janelle Taylor.

The Plot

The heroine of the first four books, Alisha Williams, and her husband, Gray Eagle, the “hero,” have been officially married for four days. They have only spent two days together, however, as Gray Eagle has left Alisha to obtain supplies.

When Gray Eagle doesn’t return to her, Alisha wonders what happened.

What she doesn’t know is that Gray Eagle was shot and left for dead by her friend, Powchutu.

There are two reasons he did this:

  1. To punish Gray Eagle for his abhorrent behavior toward Alisha
  2. Powchutu is in love/lust with Alisha.

Alisha believes Powchutu’s lies about why Gray Eagle hasn’t returned, and they set off together.

On their trip, which culminates in St. Louis, Alisha and Powchutu will meet, or meet again, four people who will play a major role in their lives. They are:

  1. Joe Kenny, a white trapper
  2. Jamie O’Hara, a lodgings owne
  3. Mary O’Hara, a mute young woman and niece to Jamie O’Hara
  4. And, sadly, Jeffery Gordon, the evil ex-Army lieutenant who somehow survived the attack on Fort Pierre.

As time goes on, Jeffery blackmails Alisha, threatening great harm to her and Powchutu if she doesn’t marry him. Alisha hedges and Powchutu is killed by Jeffery’s henchmen.

Powchutu’s death pushes Alisha into marrying Jeffery, who makes her life hell on many levels. What neither knows is that Gray Eagle survived his shooting by Powchutu.

Gray Eagle comes to kill Jeffery, finds Alisha, and takes her back to the Oglala camp, subjecting her to more emotional, mental, physical, and sexual abuse along the way.

Despite all of this, by the end of the book, Gray Eagle and Alisha reconcile, as they discover that the bad things they thought about the other were not true. They decide to continue the ruse that Alisha is Shalee, make up with each other, and are happy.

For now, anyway…

The Upside

When Janelle Taylor is at her best, she ranks with Rosanne Bittner as one of my go-to authors. Mrs. Taylor’s style is lyrical and evocative. she brings her readers and me into the lives of her characters.

I felt as though I were watching the lives of the characters instead of just reading about them. Only the best authors can make me feel like that.

The Downside

While I understand Gray Eagle’s feelings about what he believes is Alisha’s betrayal of him, that doesn’t defend/excuse/justify the abuse he inflicts on her. “This kind of derails the Gray Eagle Redemption Tour” Mrs. Taylor was on in Defiant Ecstasy.

Much of the rancor between Alisha and Gray Eagle was due to a lack of trust and communication, which they haven’t had since the beginning.

Sex

Very little and not terribly exciting. Mrs. Taylor does have a few books which have some spice to them. The first three books in the “Ecstasy/Gray Eagle” series are not among them.

Violence

There is, however, a lot of violence. Assault, battery, attempted murder, murder, and rape. None of the violence is super graphic, but it’s there.

Bottom Line on Forbidden Ecstasy

The fact that Gray Eagle is still an unrepentant bastard and the “Stockholm Syndrome romance” between Gray Eagle and Alisha keeps me from giving Janelle Taylor’s Forbidden Ecstasy a five-star rating. 

4 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
4
Characters
4.5
Writing
4.5
Chemistry
3.5
Fun Factor
3.5
Cover
4.5
Overall: 4.1

Synopsis

ALISHA was silk and satin, honey and fire. Never before did the possession of a man fill Alisha with such excitement as when she held her handsome Indian lover in her arms. That she was a white woman living in the red man’s world did not matter. They had promised each other their hearts forever – nothing could keep them apart.

GRAY EAGLE was fierce and gentle, powerful and possessive. He would never forsake his bride of two moons; he would never let her go. But when Alisha awoke to dawn’s first light her bronze-skinned warrior was gone. Her lips were tender from his fiery kisses; her body throbbed from his fierce passion – and still she longed for him. Lost between two worlds, she was desperate and alone. Betrayed by her savage lover, she hungered for their forbidden love!

Forbidden Ecstasy by Janelle Taylor
CATEGORIES: , , , , , , , , ,

***

glory days michael herring

Category Romance Review: Glory Days by Marilynne Rudick

category romance
Glory Days by Marilynne Rudick
Rating: one-star
Published: 1990
Illustrator: Michael Herring
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Temptation #308
Published by: Harlequin
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 224
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: Glory Days by Marilynne Rudick

SPOILER FREE REVIEW 😊

The Book

Glory Days by Marilynne Rudick is a Harlequin Temptation from the early 1990s. It’s one of the few books from that line that I truly disliked.

Why? Because it was so dreadfully dull.

The Plot

Glory Days is… an absolutely boring romance.

This is a story about two married professional runners, Ashby and Brian. Their marriage is strained because Ashby is a rising star who is more successful than her husband, who has hit a downward trajectory. Ashby is even projected to win the Olympics one day.

Brian, in the meantime, is experiencing a downward trajectory in his career, as he is recovering from an injury that hampers his ability to run

Then Roger, a handsome running coach, comes in to help train the couple. This creates even more trouble in their marriage as Brian’s jealousy and insecurity reach massive proportions.

Will Ashby fall for Roger’s masculine allure? Will Bryan get his mojo back? No, yeah, and who cares.

Final Analysis of Glory Days

The cover doesn’t of Marilynne Rudick’s Glory Days doesn’t look too bad as pictured. However, in person, I recall it being quite ugly. The blue sky contrasted with the orange-gold tones of Ashby and Bryan’s tanned skin and looked odd.

An ugly cover for a boring book means a miserable reading experience.

This was a rare 1-star Harlequin Temptation for me. 

1 Star

Rating Report Card
Plot
1
Characters
1.5
Writing
1.5
Chemistry
2.5
Fun Factor
0.5
Cover
1.5
Overall: 1.4

Synopsis

What price glory?

Ashby and her husband, Brian O’Hara, shared a dream–to win the Olympic marathon. Only their passion for each other rivaled their passion for running. Training together, they were an unbeatable team–until Brian was sidelined by an injury. Roger Atlee, rumored to take a very personal interest in his women, began to coach Ashby.

A jealous Brian watched Ashby win race after race. Their struggles and sacrifices to make the American team together had now become a solo effort. But Brian realized he was losing something far more precious than Olympic gold. And he faced the biggest challenge of his life … to make sure their marriage went the distance

GLORY DAYS BY MARILYNNE RUDICK
hilltop tryst

Category Romance Review: Hilltop Tryst by Betty Neels

category romance
Hilltop Tryst by Betty Neels
Rating: three-stars
Published: 1990
Illustrator: Will Davies
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Romance #3071
Published by: Harlequin, Mills & Boon
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 192
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: Hilltop Tryst by Betty Neels

VERY MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

Hilltop Tryst is another sweet romance by the famous Betty Neels featuring–as always–a fair-haired doctor as a hero, although this time he’s British, not Dutch. Nor is the heroine a nurse. She’s the daughter of a local successful veterinarian and works with Dad.

The Set-Up

The title Hilltop Tryst makes it sound steamier than this book really is. It’s a very clean, closed-door Harlequin Romance, so no trysting here!

One morning, Beatrice is taking a walk with her dog, and she meets the hero, Dr. Oliver Latimer, a heart surgeon, along the way. Oliver’s a nice, stolid type. There’s a bit of trouble with another dog, and Oliver arranges to bring the pup to Beatrice’s father for a check-up.

Everything lines up making it seem as if Oliver’s interested in Beatrice. He’s kind to her, spends time with her family, and–in typical Betty Neels fashion–doesn’t make a move! When Beatrice’s father has a heart attack, they’re fortunate that Dr. Latimer is there to save the day.

Enter our other man, a more debonair and seemingly sophisticated vet. Have you known many vets? Most of them are really nice folks! But hardly dashing when compared to heart surgeons.

Sunnyvale’s Top Vet

The Plot

Anyway, this OM takes a liking to Beatrice as she to him. Oliver’s nice and all, but he’s so placid and just there. Unfortunately, Beatrice discovers that the OM has his sights set on taking over her father’s thriving business. Cozying up to Beatrice was simply part of his plan.

Ashamed, her heart in tatters, Beatrice turns to Oliver, who is there to save the day. He proposes a phony relationship with Beatrice and offers to take her on a Continental-speaking tour.

Along the way, Beatrice realizes she wasn’t really in love with Sam Losco, sleazy pet doc. She was just blinded by his flash. As Beatrice gets to know more of Oliver on their trip, she realizes it’s he whom she prefers.

There’s some bit of dull action before the two meet up again on that same hilltop. They declare their love for each other. Again, no trysting, but promises of marriage and forever are made.

hilltop tryst

Final Analysis of Hilltop Tryst

This was a charming Betty Neels romance, but not really very exciting. I was reading another Harlequin Romance at the same time as this (a Jessica Steele I’ll review later) and found that a saucy read more to my liking.

To my (not) surprise, reviews on sites rate Hilltop Tryst much higher than the other one I enjoyed. Oh, well, I like a little drama in my romances, even the sweet ones.

Hilltop Tryst, I’d mark as good, not great. Oliver gets points for being an animal lover, but not enough to change my overall sentiments.

3 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
3
Characters
3
Writing
3
Chemistry
2
Fun Factor
3
Cover
4
Overall: 3

Synopsis

A Dependable Man

When Beatrice’s world turned upside down, Oliver Latimer was on hand to pick up the pieces. There was something solid and reassuring about Oliver. Beatrice felt safe with him. But he wasn’t an easy person to get to know.

Accompanying him on a lecture tour to Europe convinced Beatrice that there was more to Dr. Latimer than she’d imagined. In fact, she came to believe he was the only man she could truly love. But Oliver kept his feelings hidden. What did he really think of her

HILLTOP TRYST by BETTY NEELS
dont ask me now emma darcy

Category Romance Review: Don’t Ask Me Now by Emma Darcy

category romance
Don't Ask Me Now by Emma Darcy
Rating: five-stars
Published: 1986
Illustrator: TBD
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Presents #984
Published by: Harlequin, Mills & Boon
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 192
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Category Romance Review: Don’t Ask Me Now by Emma Darcy

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

Emma DarcyDon’t Ask Me Now is an unusual Harlequin Presents. Prior to this book, I had seen a similar love-triangle plot done in the Temptation line, which was more sexually explicit. To see this kind of story in an HP was a bit surprising.

The Unusual Plot

What’s the big deal? Well, this romance features two heroes! And the heroine sleeps with both–although it’s not as tawdry as it sounds.

Many years ago, the heroine, Cathy, had a torrid love affair with Hero #1 Anthony Pryor-Jones of the Pryor-Joneses, part of Australia’s creme-de-la-creme. His family disapproved of her as they were a wealthy clan, while Cathy was a nobody.

Hero #1 was obsessed with her, and they had fantastic sex. But the class divide was too much. Finally, Cathy broke free from the toxic relationship and relocated to Sydney.

Years have passed, and Cathy’s made a new life for herself. She’s got a great friend and business partner, Tom. Tom, Hero #2, has always wanted Cathy. Unfortunately, he’s been friend-zoned for some time.

Just when he thinks he’s breaking through her icy reserve, they bump into Anthony at a ball.

Cathy sees him, and her feelings come rushing back. Anthony wants her again, too.

Tom isn’t going to stand by and let it happen. He demands Cathy see him as he really is: a man, a desirable one, who genuinely cares for her.

Moreover, Tom’s not willing to play second fiddle to her ardent feelings for Anthony. Even if Tom knew Cathy loved him, he’s unwilling to be next-best in bed. Tom is rightfully jealous of the passionate relationship she shared with Anthony.

Don’t ask me now, Tom,” Cathy says to him, as she can’t decide what her heart wants. But she must.

Who Gets the Girl in This Love Triangle?

I’m happy to say that it’s the nice guy who wins out in the end. Hero #1 turns out to be no hero at all.

Tom and Cathy get invited to a weekend party at the Pryor-Jones estate. As Anthony sees that Tom and Cathy are drawing closer and Cathy won’t give in to him, he tries to make Cathy jealous. How? By having sex with a young girl in a car in the driveway (what a stud!). Then when he sees Cathy fleeing his family’s party, he cruelly and abruptly abandons the crying, confused girl.

Cathy easily realizes it’s Tom she wants, needs, and–most importantly–desires.

The pair share a memorable scene where they make love and break the bed. This occurs at the party at Pryor-Jones estate, so everyone will see the results of Tom and Cathy’s wildly erotic night.

Final Analysis of Don’t Ask Me Now

Don’t Ask Me Now is a wonderfully unique Harlequin Presents. It was written to keep you guessing who’s the right man in this love triangle, then made you root for that right man to get the girl. I don’t even want to imagine how this kind of plot would be addressed in a modern HP/ Mills and Boon. If it has, I don’t want to know!

Emma Darcy executed this plot with perfection. Although I’ve enjoyed many of her books, like Fantasy, this one is special. It’s one of my most beloved Harlequin Presents; if not a top 10 pick, then top 20 for sure.

5 Stars

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

Synopsis

Only one man was offering the forever kind of love

Four years ago, Cathy Lawrence’s hopes of marrying Anthony Pryor-Jones had been humiliatingly crushed. The country girl from Armidale had been deemed no match for Anthony, whose family sat atop the social register in New South Wales–_ perhaps all Australia.

Since then she’d built a comfortable life for herself in Sydney, and had a steady relationship with Thomas Crawford–her business partner.

But when she bumped into Anthony at the charity ball, one brief look into those green eyes threw her emotions into churning conflict. He wanted her again. And Cathy wasn’t sure she had the willpower to resist the only man she thought she had ever loved. 

DON’T ASK ME NOW by EMMA DARCY
so wild a rapture

Historical Romance Review: So Wild a Rapture by Andrea Layton

historical romance review
So Wild a Rapture by Andrea Layton
Rating: two-half-stars
Published: 1978
Illustrator: Ron Lesser
Published by: Playboy Press
Genres: French Revolution & Napoleonic Era Romance, Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper
Pages: 365
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: So Wild a Rapture by Andrea Layton

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

Andrea Layton‘s So Wild a Rapture is a tawdry rape-romance about a beautiful lady’s misadventures during the French Revolution.

The Characters and the Setup

From the opening pages, we are introduced to the 16-year-old heroine, the noble Juliette de Condillac, and her “won twu wuv,” Francois du Quesnay. He’s a slightly older boy from a neighboring noble family.

They quickly consummate their love and, like high schoolers, vow to be “togetha 4 eva” after Francois finishes his university education.

The Plot

Livre Un

But life has other plans for Juliette and Francois in So Wild a Rapture. First in the name of Roger du Deffand and then in the name of the French Revolution.

Against her will, Juliette is betrothed to the deceptively foppish and much older Roger.

Francois marches back to school, giving her his ring. He tells Juliette the ring will protect her whenever needed.

Juliette dithers about her future. Maybe she will marry Roger, maybe she won’t. In the meantime, she is to be educated at a convent and consort socially with nobility to learn to be a proper bride for Roger.

What does she need to learn? Oh, what any Catholic girl should know. Religion and piety, skill in the housewife arts, being social, and… perhaps taking part in a bit of girl-on-girl love. Her husband-to-be, Roger, loves to watch (or even ). Juliette is, of course, shocked. And curious…

Her lessons are cut short when the horrors of the French Revolution begin to take over, intruding on their dark idyll.

Death, thievery, arson, destruction, and rape ravage the countryside.

Fortunately, Juliette is protected wherever she goes by Francois’ ring. When Juliette and Francois meet again she is shocked to learn he is a powerful leader in the Revolutionary movement. (What did that silly twit thing the ring was all about?)

Livre Deux

I don’t know how Francois reached such a high status because–to be blunt–he’s kind of a dickless wanker.

When men repeatedly attempt to rape Juliette, he pleads for mercy. Francois fights the men only as a last resort. Never would he dream of killing her would-be rapists, saying the men have had hard lives and can’t be blamed for their actions.

What a benevolent eunuch of a hero! And that’s being cruel to eunuchs.

And le coup-de-grace is Francois’ reaction when his family is killed and his home destroyed. He mourns the loss of lives and property as a natural and necessary part of the new movement.

Boo! Lame hero!

Maybe the villain is better? Un peu.

Livre Trois

Eventually, Juliette makes her way to her fiancé. Roger lets Juliette know in no uncertain terms that she’s damaged goods. So he no longer has any interest in marrying her. Although he will still make use of her comely charms.

First, Roger makes Juliette his own love slave! Then he pimps her over to a bored King Louis XVI, who is taking refuge in his palace as France crumbles around him in bloody chaos.

Roger forces Juliette to have an abortion, thus destroying any tender feelings Juliette had for her former betrothed. In the meantime, she waits for Francois to free her from her courtesan life before the guillotine takes her head.

Does Francois come in time?

Que pensez-vous?

Final Analysis of So Wild A Rapture

So Wild a Rapture wasn’t a bad ‘ripper. It wasn’t great either, despite the raunch factor. Juliette’s youthful resourcefulness makes her willing to do anything to survive, no matter how degrading, sordid or arousing. She also is vapid and silly, with plenty of scenes lip-chewing and foot-stomping.

I detested the male protagonist whose politics and morals I abhorred. The villain was villainous, yet he lacked that spicy je-ne c’est quoi that makes a villain sizzle.

Here’s another bodice ripper to file away under:

  1. The hero is dishwater dull and missing in action while…
  2. The heroine bangs it out with the lecherous villain, and…
  3. She gets some historical dong along the way.

But hey, I do give So Wild a Rupture — Rapture! — credit for keeping to the history and not being all wallpapery in that regard.

Rating Report Card
Plot
3.5
Characters
2.5
Writing
2.5
Chemistry
4
Fun Factor
3
Cover
4
Overall: 3.3

Synopsis

ENTICED
from the innocent, virgin pastures of the French countryside to the sensuous intrigues and royal splendors of a king’s decadent court

ENTHRALLED
against her will by a passionate liaison with a wealthy baron whose ardent desires devoured her senses, sweeping her to the heights of ecstasy and the depths of degradation

ENRAPTURED
by the sweet, burning memory of the fiery young rebel whose tender caresses had scorched her soul forever–and made her desperate to be free, to belong to the one man who could truly possess her heart.

SO WILD A RAPTURE by ANDREA LAYTON