fbpx

Tag: retro romance

Historical Romance Review: Raven by Shana Carrol

raven
raven
Raven, Shana Carrol, Jove, 1979, Ray Kursar cover art

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

3 1/2 Stars

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

The Book

Raven by Shana Carrol (aka Christina Savage, aka Mr. Kerry Newcomb & Mr. Frank Schaeffer) is a riveting bodice-ripper. It’s a pirate adventure that features a kickass, resilient heroine whom I adore. It also stars a hero who isn’t worthy to lick the underside of her shoes. This is one of those books I both hate and love and wavered for a long time what rating to give it.

Raven is the 2nd entry in the Paxton family series, although I’m not exactly sure where it fits in, as it’s the only one from the series I’ve read thus far.

The Plot

Part One

The book begins in the Caribbean, in the early 1700s, where a young Marie Celeste Ravenne lives on an island called Mystere with her father. He is a reformed pirate, and she lives to hear his tales of past adventures. One day the island is raided by Spaniards, and they kill her father. Before dying, he urges his daughter to survive however she can.

Marie and the women are taken as prisoners.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Raven by Shana Carrol”

Historical Romance Review: Colorado Jewel by Cate Brandt

colorado jewel
Colorado Jewel, Cate Brandt, Zebra, 1989, Robert Sabin cover art

MILD SPOILERS 😉

1 Star

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Reviewed by Blue Falcon

The Book and the Characters

This review is of Colorado Jewel, a standalone by Cate Brandt. (Zebra Heartfire, April 1989).

Heroine: Magheen Fitzgerald. Red hair, emerald eyes.

Hero: Daniel Calcord. Black hair, blue eyes. Businessman/lawyer.

The Plot

The book opens in Colorado, early September 1878. Daniel Calcord, the hero of the book and a businessman with his fingers in many pies, is heading toward one of his enterprises, a silver mine in the town of Leadville. His trip is delayed, however, as Daniel helps to rescue Magheen Fitzgerald, the heroine of the book, from a stagecoach accident. He nurses her back to health and they face many perils, one of which is their attraction to each other.

When one of Maggie’s brothers, Patrick, a priest, catches them in a compromising position, they are compelled to marry. Their engagement doesn’t go well.

Maggie and Daniel do eventually marry. Sexually, they’re compatible; in other ways, not so much. Things don’t improve when the workers in Leadville’s mines protest working conditions, leading to violence between the miners and the mine owners, with Maggie in the middle.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Colorado Jewel by Cate Brandt”

Category Romance Review: Woman Hater by Diana Palmer

woman hater
Woman Hater, Diana Palmer, Silhouette, 1987, cover artist TBD

Silhouette Romance #532

SPOILER FREE REVIEW 😊

3 Stars

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

The Book

Woman Hater (what a title!) by Diana Palmer is a 1987 Silhouette Romance that seems to be typical of the author’s style. The heroine is young, virginal, and escaping from a tragic past. The hero is a macho, Alpha male who was also burned by the past. He is an unabashed “woman-hater.”

The Plot

Nicole White is a secretary at a prominent Chicago firm. She comes from a well-heeled family from Kentucky, blue-bloods to the core, plus cold and unloving. Her parents’ marriage was unhappy. Her father was a serial adulterer. When Nicole decided to cut contact with her family, her fiance dumped her. Then he got engaged to another prominent heiress, breaking Nicole’s heart in the process.

Distraught, Nicole has now moved to the big city to start over. Currently, her boss is suffering from an ulcer. The doctor recommends relaxation for a month. As he still has business matters to attend to, he requires the services of his secretary. So Nicole accompanies her boss to his family ranch in Montana.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Woman Hater by Diana Palmer”

Historical Romance Review: Sweet Savage Love by Rosemary Rogers

Sweet Savage love
Sweet Savage love
Sweet Savage Love, Rosemary Rogers, Avon, 1974, cover artist unknown

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

4 Stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

Sweet Savage Love, The (Other) Mother of Romance

Ooh boy, 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 epic was a monumental game-changer in an era of social transformation.

Sweet Savage Love showed that women could have passionate sex with the hero outside of marriage and have passionate sex with men besides the hero. Of course, the hero was laying pipe across the United States and Mexico, the main settings 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.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Sweet Savage Love by Rosemary Rogers”

Historical Romance Review: Savage Surrender by Cassie Edwards

savage surrender
Savage Surrender, Cassie Edwards, Charter, 1987, cover artist Don Case

MILD SPOILERS 😉

2 Stars

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Reviewed by Blue Falcon

The Book and Characters

This review is of Savage Surrender, book #1 in the “Savage Secrets” series by Cassie Edwards. (Reviewer notes: The original version was published by Ace in August 1987. The book was later republished by Jove (May 1991) and Leisure (May 1996). The “Savage Secrets” series is NOT to be confused with the “Savage” series which Mrs. Edwards also wrote.).

Heroine: Brenda Denise Pfleugger, 17, Red hair, blue eyes. Pioneer’s daughter.

Hero: Striped Eagle, 25. Black hair, brown eyes. Future chief of the White Bear band of Ojibwa Indians.

The Plot

The book begins in Minnesota, circa 1840, at the home of the Pfleugger family, consisting of father Harrison, mother Carole, and their two children, daughter Brenda Denise, 17, and the heroine of the book, and son Tommie, 5. Sadly, this will be the last night the Pfleugger’s spend together. Their home is attacked by soldiers led by Major Joseph Partain.

Only Brenda survives the attack. She escapes to the woods. She is found by Striped Eagle, the hero of the book, and an Ojibwa Indian.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Savage Surrender by Cassie Edwards”

Category Romance Review: Hard To Get by Carole Mortimer

hard to get
Hard To Get, Carole Mortimer, Harlequin, 1984, cover artist TBD

Harlequin Presents #724

MILD SPOILERS😉

3 1/2 Stars

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

The Book

Oh boy, when I read “the heroine in pursuit plot” synopsis for this Harlequin Presents, was I ever excited to read it. Heroines who are determined to get their men are my favorite kinds! Alas, when the object of said pursuit is a mean arsehole, the chase isn’t worth it. Still, Hard to Get by Carole Mortimer was a wild, emotional whirlwind. With a more charismatic hero, I could have loved this as opposed to liking it.

As with so many Presents, this is an utter trainwreck, so you can’t look away.

The Characters

Lara Sinclair, our heroine, is beautiful, rich, vain, and spoiled–the very opposite of a heroine. She’s a daddy’s little girl type. Lara’s used to getting what she wants with ease. All the boys want her. She flirts and trifles with their hearts, never giving what she knows is so easy to get.

At a party, she sees the hero, Jordan Sinclair, and decides she wants him as another toy to play with. She approaches him with supreme confidence just to be stunned with brutal dismissal.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Hard To Get by Carole Mortimer”

Historical Romance Review: The Wild One by Danelle Harmon

the wild one
The Wild One, Danelle Harmon, Avon, 1997, cover artist TBD

MILD SPOILERS 😉

2 Stars

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

Rating: 2 out of 5.

The Book and the Setup

Danelle Harmon’s Georgian-era historical romance series of four brothers and one sister begins with The Wild One. Lord Gareth de Montforte is one of the younger sons of the de Montforte clan. His eldest brother is a Duke. Another older brother, Charles, was a soldier who went to fight in the Americas and is presumed dead. The family will soon find that particular brother left behind some unchecked baggage they will have to carry.

The Plot

Each one of the de Monforte Clan has a moniker describing their personalities. Gareth is an impetuous rake-in-the-making with a heart of gold and is labeled “The Wild One” of the group. He’s like an overgrown frat boy who likes to party with his buddies and play practical jokes. It is upon his irresponsible shoulders where familial duties will fall.

Gareth daringly thwarts a stagecoach robbery and takes a bullet in the process. On that coach is Juliet Paige, a lovely woman who harbors a secret that stuns the de Montfortes.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: The Wild One by Danelle Harmon”

Category Romance Review: The Other Woman by Candace Schuler

the other woman
The Other Woman, Candace Schuler, Harlequin, 1993, cover artist unknown

Harlequin Temptation #451

MILD SPOILERS 😉

3 Stars

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Reviewed by Blue Falcon

The Book and Characters

This review is of The Other Woman, book #1 in the “Hollywood Dynasty” series by Candace Schuler. (Harlequin Temptation #451, July 1993).

Series overview: “Hollywood Dynasty” focuses on three siblings, children of a legendary Hollywood couple, as they make their names in the same industry that made their parents famous.

Heroine: Tara Channing, 25. Strawberry blonde hair, blue eyes. Actress.

Hero: Gage Kingston. 30. Dark brown hair, amber eyes. Cinematographer.

The Plot

The book begins in Montana, on the set of a movie, “The Promise.” A love scene is being filmed featuring two of Hollywood’s top sex symbols, actress Tara Channing, the book’s heroine, and actor Pierce Kingston. Also in attendance is Pierce’s brother, cinematographer Gage Kingston, the hero.

Tara and Gage become lovers, but both are unwilling to share more than their bodies. They later learn, however, that passion without protection has consequences. Gage gets Tara pregnant, and they break up.

In the end, Tara and Gage realize they truly do love each other.... Read more “Category Romance Review: The Other Woman by Candace Schuler”

Category Romance Review: Guilty Love by Charlotte Lamb

guilty love
Guilty Love, Charlotte Lamb, Harlequin, 1994, cover artist TBD

Harlequin Presents #1706

SPOILER & SENSITIVE CONTENT ALERT ⚠

5 Stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

The Book

Charlotte Lamb‘s Harlequin Presents romance Guilty Love is crazy and full of over-the-top drama. I loved every wild moment of it. As always, YMMV, although this sort of book is right up my alley.

Lamb always tried to outdo herself in her writings. Whenever I picked up one of her books, I was never certain whether it would be a 5-star keeper or a weird slog through the heroine’s life. This one is a 5-star book. But a word of warning: it handles a dark subject that may cause readers some discomfort.

The Characters

Linzi York is a married woman who has worked for Ritchie Calhoun for about a year. Her marriage is not a happy one. She’s been with her husband Barty for four years and loves him deeply. She’s always wanted a big family. But Barty was in a devastating accident that affected his brain cognition. And performance in the bedroom. He has become a changed man, full of rage and anger.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Guilty Love by Charlotte Lamb”

Historical Romance Review: Desert Slave by Miranda North

desert slave
Desert Slave, Miranda North, Zebra, 1989, cover artist TBD

VERY MILD SPOILERS 😉

3 Stars

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Reviewed by Blue Falcon

Book and Characters

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

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

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

The Plot

Part I

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

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

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

Part II

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

Deric is shot and wounded. Juliette nurses him back to health.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Desert Slave by Miranda North”

Historical Romance Review: Angel in Scarlet by Jennifer Wilde

Angel In Scarlet
Angel In Scarlet
Angel In Scarlet, Jennifer Wilde, Avon, 1985, Elaine Duillo cover art

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

4 Stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

The Book – Angel In Scarlet

Jennifer Wilde, aka Mr. Thomas E. Huff, wrote a few bodice rippers before writing romances that weren’t bodice rippers but not quite traditional romances either.

Angel In Scarlet isn’t a bodice ripper. It’s a Georgian-Era chick-lit. This is a hard one to categorize. It’s not just a romance, but more of a heroine’s journey through life and her relationships with several men she meets along the way.

The Plot

Angel in Scarlet begins when our heroine Angela Howard is a child. At twelve years old, she meets Hugh, the man who will haunt her for her entire life. They have a strange first meeting: she’s a peeping Tom trying to catch an eyeful of some action, when Hugh, who’s 16, discovers her then gives her a spanking as a discipline!

Angela grows up with her cruel sisters and mother. Poor Angie, she’s so unattractive with her rich, chestnut hair, violet-gray eyes, and enormous boobies. Who would ever love her?

She goes through ups and downs.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Angel in Scarlet by Jennifer Wilde”

Historical Romance Review: Texas Blonde by Victoria Thompson

texas blonde
Texas Blonde, Victoria Thompson, Zebra, 1987, cover artist TBD

VERY MILD SPOILERS 😉

5 Stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Reviewed by Blue Falcon

The Book & Characters

This review is of Texas Blonde, book #3 in the “The Lady and the Cowboy” series by Victoria Thompson. (Zebra/Kensington, October 1987). This review is of the ebook version of the book.

Heroine: Felicity Storm, 18. Blonde hair, blue eyes. Photographer.

Hero: Josh Logan, 28. Silver/white hair (it’s a hereditary thing), gray eyes. Owner, Rocking L ranch.

The Plot

The book begins with the hero, Josh Logan, a rancher, rescuing Felicity Storm, the book’s heroine, from several calamities –flash floods, homelessness, hunger. As they spend more time together, they become attracted to each other, become lovers, and decide to marry. We also learn about their respective histories. However, Josh is determined not to fall in love with Felicity.

Even so, Felicity and Josh do fall in love and get married. However, many threats, both internal and external, challenge their happiness.

In the end, the external threats are vanquished, the internal threats are discussed and addressed, and Felicity and Joshua have their Happily Ever After.

Upside

Ms.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Texas Blonde by Victoria Thompson”

Historical Romance Review: Through the Storm by Beverly Jenkins

Through the Storm, Beverly Jenkins, Avon, 1998, cover artist TBD

VERY MILD SPOILERS 😉

3 stars

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Book And The Set Up

Beverly Jenkins’ Through the Storm is a romance about a former slave finding love during the American Civil War and Reconstruction Era with a man from a proud and established Louisiana family of Haitian descent. I’ve only read one Beverly Jenkins romance, her first outing, Night Song, almost thirty years ago. I liked it but never picked up another book by this author and wanted to remedy that. Through the Storm has gained high marks and positive reviews. For my part, I found it engaging, although I couldn’t help but think it needed tightening up in some areas.

Sable Fontaine is a slave of mixed European and African ancestry. At the beginning of the book, she is 29 years old when an elderly aunt reveals her bloodline secret. Sable is told that she is the descendent of African queens and two generations of slave owners. Her current owner–and father–plans to sell her to a depraved man, known to be extremely brutal with slaves. Her aunt will not allow this.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Through the Storm by Beverly Jenkins”

Historical Romance Review: The Present by Johanna Lindsey

the present
the present
The Present, Johanna Lindsey, Avon, 1998

SPOILER FREE REVIEW 😊

3 1/2 Stars

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Over 22 years and under two different publishers, Johanna Lindsey wrote 12 romances about the Malory & Anderson clans. These books were massive hits with her many fans, with some readers claiming them as favorites, especially Gentle Rogue. Her novel, The Present, is moderately short at just over 300 pages. It tells two parallel love stories set in different eras in England, portraying the Malory clan in the past and the “present.” No matter how time changes, the love lives of the family remain the same.

The Plot

It is Christmas time. The Malory’s–wives, husbands, and children–assemble at Haverston, the family patriarch’s estate. Lord Jason Malory is a Marquis and father to Derek, the hero from Say You Love Me. Readers familiar with that novel should know the dark family secret. Derek is not a child of the legitimate union between his father and his wife. Jason had an affair with a mysterious woman and Derek was the result of that. The mystery woman is Jason’s long-time maid, Molly.

Jason’s marriage was for convenience.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: The Present by Johanna Lindsey”

Category Romance Review: Marriage on the Rebound by Michelle Reid

marriage on the rebound
Marriage on the Rebound, Michelle Reid, Harlequin, 1997, cover artist TBD

Harlequin Presents #1973

VERY MILD SPOILERS 😉

4 Stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

Michelle Reid’s Marriage on The Rebound is about keeping it all in the family. Shaan Saketa is unique for a Harlequin Presents circa 1998 heroine, as she’s of mixed ethnic heritage: English and Lebanese. Otherwise, she’s like most other female main characters found in the land of these category romances. Shaan is young (not yet 23), a virgin, and an orphan.

And it’s her wedding day. Unfortunately for Shaan, she’s about to be dumped at the altar.

The Plot

Shaan is in her wedding dress when her fiancé’s brother and former boss, Rafe Danvers, comes to her with a “Dear John” letter. Her husband-to-be, Piers, says he can’t marry her because he’s in love with another woman. Shaan is dejected, and her family is certain that there’s more than meets the eyes to this abrupt breakup. Rafe, ever the responsible fellow, is determined to help Shaan save face. He steps in and urges her to marry him. In shock, Shaan goes through the motions.

Rafe gives Shaan no time to think as she whisks her off to Hong Kong.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Marriage on the Rebound by Michelle Reid”

Historical Romance Review: Midnight Princess by Jo Goodman

midnight princess jo goodman
Midnight Princess, Jo Goodman, Zebra, 1989, Pino cover art

VERY MILD SPOILERS 😉

4 1/2 Stars

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Reviewed by Blue Falcon

The Book, Characters & Set-Up

This review is of Midnight Princess, book #1 in the “Marshall Brothers” series by Jo Goodman, a pseudonym used by Joanne Dobrzanski. Published by Zebra/Kensington, November 1989, the book was later reissued as Her Defiant Heart. (This series connects to Ms. Goodman’s “Dennehy Sisters” series). This review is of the original print book.

Heroine: Jenny Holland, 24. Brown hair and eyes. Mystery woman.

Hero: Christian Marshall, 31. Copper hair, aquamarine eyes. Publisher, New York Chronicle newspaper.

Location: New York City, New York. December 1866-May 1867.

Tropes: Historical Romance. Mystery woman. Newspaper publisher. New York City.

The Plot

The book starts in New York City, December 1866. Christian Marshall, the hero, one of the series’ eponymous titular characters, and publisher of the New York Chronicle newspaper is at a hospital for people experiencing emotional distress. He’s watching one of the “patients,” a woman known as Jane Doe, being treated. He feels sympathy for her and decides to help her.

Later, she shows up at his home.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Midnight Princess by Jo Goodman”

Historical Romance Review: Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas

dreaming of you
Dreaming of You, Lisa Kleypas, Avon, 1994, Max Ginsburg cover art

Separately they had different strengths. Together they were complete.

DREAMING OF YOU

VERY MILD SPOILERS 😉

4 Stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas features one of her most beloved characters, Derek Craven. Derek was previously seen in Then Came You, whose reserved hero, Alex Raiford, was more to my liking. This is a beautiful romance by the talented Kleypas where two people from contrasting social classes come together in love.

The Characters

Sara Fielding is a novelist in Regency-era England. She’s not ravishingly beautiful, wears spectacles, and is a rather curious woman. Her novels address the fallen people in society. Sara’s out at night in a rough London neighborhood to investigate material for her next book when she comes upon an altercation. She’s able to prevent the man from being killed, although not before his attackers cut him. The man she saves is the aforementioned hero, Derek Craven.

Craven is the owner of London’s most successful gambling house, which doubles as a house of pleasure. Far from being a traditional English lord, he’s as rough as a hero can get.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas”

Category Romance Review: Timeless Love by Judith Arnold

timeless love
Timeless Love, Judith Arnold, Harlequin, 1995, cover artist unknown

Harlequin Temptation #565

MILD SPOILERS 😉

4 1/2 Stars

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Reviewed by Blue Falcon

Book and Characters

This review is of Timeless Love, book #11, and the final book in the “Bachelor Arms series. It is the second of two written by Judith Arnold, a pseudonym for Barbara Keiler. (Harlequin Temptation #565, published December 1995). 

Heroine: Hope Henley, 25. Black hair, brown eyes. Sales clerk in a retail store.

Hero: Morgan Delacourt, 30. Brown hair and eyes. Cartoonist. New millionaire. 

The Plot

At the beginning of the book, Morgan Delacourt is celebrating his newly minted millionaire status. That happiness, however, is short-lived as Morgan hits Hope Henley with his car. Although it wasn’t his fault, Morgan feels immense guilt as Hope is in a coma as a result of the accident. He vows to take care of Hope, pays her medical expenses, and lets her move in with him.

As they spend time together, we learn more about them, including Hope’s connection to the mystery that began in the first book in the series. They also fall in love with each other, although both try to fight it. ... Read more “Category Romance Review: Timeless Love by Judith Arnold”

Historical Romance Review: When Lightning Strikes by Kristin Hannah

when lightning strikes

MILD SPOILERS 😉

1 Star

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

Kristin Hannah is a successful author of women’s fiction. It’s fortunate she found success in that genre because her romances I’ve encountered are–sad to say–lacking in excitement. When Lightning Strikes is a time travel romance that starts promisingly but takes a boring turn into snoozeville with its drawn-out plot. This should have been a category-length romance of 190 pages, not 400 pages long!

The Plot

The setup of When Lightning Strikes is rather intriguing. Alaina Costanza is a single mother and a romance writer living in the present day. Or whenever Geraldo Rivera had a daytime talk show, so maybe “modern era’ would be more appropriate. Our main character is a writer who has no life but her daughter. Now that her daughter is away at a summer camp, she’s got nothing to do but pop pills and drink herself silly.

Rather a dark setup, but appropriate for this emotionally overwrought book.

One night while typing at her computer, lightning strikes and ZAP! Alaina wakes up in totally new surroundings. She’s traveled back in time, not to the real Old West, but inside her own romance novel!... Read more “Historical Romance Review: When Lightning Strikes by Kristin Hannah”

Category Romance Review: The Honey is Bitter by Violet Winspear

the honey is bitter
The Honey Is Bitter, Violet Winspear, 1973 (originally pub 1967), Don Sinclair cover art

Harlequin Presents #6

“Keep your love. Did I ever ask for it?”

Paul’s voice rang out. His face was a taut sculpture, chiseled out of stone-as she felt certain his heart was.

“No,” Domini threw at him, “but you’re not quite so inhuman as to enjoy for very long the companionship of a wife who hates you!”

THE HONEY IS BITTER

MILD SPOILERS 😉

4 Stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

Along with Anne Mather and Anne Hampson, Violet Winspear was one of the three original authors for the Harlequin Presents line when it launched in 1973. Her bestseller, The Honey is Bitter, was first published in 1967 by Mills & Boon. It had about 30 reprintings under Harlequin.

Characters & Plot

The Honey Is Bitter features a Greek hero named Paul. I swear, these classic Presents had about 5 or 6 names for heroes! Paul, Dominic, Nick/Nico, Alex, and Andre/Andreas. Plus, the plots were nonsensical, with an intimidating male running roughshod over the heroine, as occurs here.

This book’s Paul is a Greek tycoon who blackmails Domini into marriage.... Read more “Category Romance Review: The Honey is Bitter by Violet Winspear”

Category Romance Review: The Lady in the Mirror by Judith Arnold

lady in the mirror
The Lady in the Mirror, Judith Arnold, Harlequin, 1995, cover artist unknown

Harlequin Temptation #561

MILD SPOILERS 😉

3 Stars

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Reviewed by Blue Falcon

The Book & Characters

This review is of The Lady in the Mirror, book #10 in the “Bachelor Arms series, and the first of two books in the series written by Judith Arnold, a pseudonym for Barbara Keiler. (Harlequin Temptation #561, November 1995).

Heroine: Jessica (Jessie) Gale, 27. Blonde hair. Blue eyes. Social worker and owner-operator of Rainbow House, a social service center for runaways.

Hero: Clint McCreary, 30. Black hair, gray eyes. Former New York City police officer. Recent law school graduate. Clint has a job with the Bronx County DA’s office when he goes back east. (He doesn’t).

The Plot

The book begins with John Clinton “Clint” McCreary, former New York City police officer and the book’s hero, having just arrived in Los Angeles from New York in search of his missing half-sister, Diana. The first person he meets in Los Angeles is Jessie Gale, the heroine of the book. Jessie is a social worker who owns and runs a social services center for teenage runaways.... Read more “Category Romance Review: The Lady in the Mirror by Judith Arnold”

Category Romance Review: Meant To Be Married by Ruth Wind

meant to be married
Meant To Be Married, Ruth Wind, Silhouette, 1998, Cover Artist TBD

Silhouette Special Edition #1194

MILD SPOILERS 😉

5 Stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

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 teenaged 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 Santiago, 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.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Meant To Be Married by Ruth Wind”

Historical Romance Review: Texas Fire by Caroline Bourne

texas fire
Texas Fire, Caroline Bourne, Zebra, 1989 Melissa Duillo-Gallo art, Fabio cover model

MILD SPOILERS 😉

2 1/2 Stars

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Reviewed by Blue Falcon

Heroine: Laureli Cade, 23, Auburn hair, blue eyes. Heiress to the Wildwood ranch empire.

Hero: Court McKennon, 35. Black hair. Gray eyes. Former detective at Scotland Yard, later Texas Rancher.

This review is of Texas Fire by Caroline Bourne. This book, published by Zebra/Kensington in March 1989, is the sequel to her book Texas Conquest.

The Plot

Part I

The book begins in London, 1850, and will span 17 years. A woman is raped, and while trying to escape her attacker, falls and suffers serious injuries. This will set the tone for the rest of the book.

The scene then shifts to Brazoria, Texas, where Laureli Cade, the heroine of the book, lives on a sprawling ranch. Laureli is the only member of her immediate family in Texas right now; her father, Matthew, and mother, Mariah (the hero and heroine of Texas Conquest are in Europe, and Laureli’s younger brother, Timothy, is at West Point.

As she is introduced, Laureli is trying to catch a wild stallion.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Texas Fire by Caroline Bourne”

Category Romance Review: Merry Christmas by Emma Darcy

merry christmas
Merry Christmas, Emma Darcy, Harlequin, 1997, Cover Artist TBD

Harlequin Presents #1923

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

4 stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

Before I discuss this romance, let me address the unfortunate cover. I don’t care how awesome that free book bag was! The editors at Harlequin dropped the ball with this one! That vast yellow oval covers the main couple’s faces. You can’t see the heroine, the hero, or that this was Emma Darcy‘s 60th book.

Simply titled Merry Christmas, Emma Darcy’s category romance foray into the holidays may have you near tears. It may also have you wishing some evil villains get their well-deserved comeuppance. This book throws almost every trope at you but the metaphorical kitchen sink. It’s an angst-filled yet ultimately very happy Christmas Harlequin Presents.

Christmas Past

Many years ago, Meredith or Merry (Get it? Merry as in Merry Christmas?) Palmer had a summer romance with college student Nick Hamilton. Merry lied about her age, as she was technically a minor. She and Nick fell into what Meredith believed was true love. But Merry’s wicked stepmother caught wind of the relationship and informed the 21-year-old Nick he was dating a 16-year-old.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Merry Christmas by Emma Darcy”

Historical Romance Review: The Silver Devil by Teresa Denys

the silver devil
the silver devil
The Silver Devil, Teresa Denys, Ballantine, 1978, H. Tom Hall cover art

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

THE SILVER DEVIL

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

4 1/2 Stars

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

A Legendary Romance

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

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

The Silver Devil is out-of-print, a hard paperback to find. And, if you do, it will cost you quite the penny!... Read more “Historical Romance Review: The Silver Devil by Teresa Denys”

Category Romance Review: Falling Angel by Anne Stuart

falling angel
Falling Angel, Anne Stuart, Harlequin, 1993, Cover Artist TBD

American Romance #513

SPOILER FREE REVIEW 😊

3 1/2 Stars

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

Anne Stuart’s Falling Angel is yet another paranormal from the American Romance line. This is a holiday-themed romance that begins on Thanksgiving and culminates in a Christmas miracle.

Plot

Emerson Wyatt MacVey had lived only for the love of money. He was a corporate raider who thought nothing about ruining lives and impoverishing people, much less breaking women’s hearts—especially the heart of Carrie Alexander from the small town of Angel Falls, Minnesota. But living a life of depravity took its toll upon the blond, handsome Emerson, and he died of a heart attack at the young age of thirty-two.

Our story begins at the Pearly Gates, where the angels above try to decide how to judge Emerson. Instead of sending him to hell, where he will surely suffer torments for all eternity, he is given a second chance. He is allowed to return to Earth in a new form: the black-haired Gabriel Falcone on Thanksgiving Day. His job is to help people and undo the damage that Emerson had wrought.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Falling Angel by Anne Stuart”

Historical Romance Review: Texas Conquest by Caroline Bourne

texas conquest
Texas Conquest, Caroline Bourne, Zebra, 1988, Robert Sabin cover art

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

2 Stars

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Reviewed by Blue Falcon

This review is of Texas Conquest by Caroline Bourne. This historical romance is a Zebra Lovegram, published in 1988.

The Plot

Part II

The book starts in London, England, in 1810. Elsa Palmer is searching for her sister, Claretta, who became a prostitute after the death of her husband. He was a man their father didn’t approve of. Elsa convinces Claretta to travel to America with her and Elsa’s husband, William.

Fast forward 22 years. In Texas, on the Brazos River lives Mariah Palmer, 22, Elsa and William’s daughter and the heroine of the book. Mariah lives with Elsa (William has now passed away) and a younger brother, Jessie, who is away but coming home.

Mariah is a steadfast supporter of Texas independence from Mexico, which will place her squarely at odds with her new neighbor, Matthew Cade, the book’s hero. Even though he is an American, Matthew is the right-hand man for General Antonio Lopez y Santa Anna. Santa Anna has ordered Matthew to buy the home of Mariah’s neighbor, Francisco Gomez.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Texas Conquest by Caroline Bourne”

Category Romance Review: Hilltop Tryst by Betty Neels

hilltop tryst
Hilltop Tryst, Betty Neels, Harlequin, 1990, Will Davies cover art

Harlequin Romance #3071

VERY MILD SPOILERS 😉

3 Stars

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

Hilltop Tryst is a 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.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Hilltop Tryst by Betty Neels”

Historical Romance Review: Sunset Temptation by Jane Toombs

sunset temptation
Sunset Temptation, Jane Toombs, Zebra, 1989, cover artist unknown

SPOILER-FREE REVIEW 🙂

1 Star

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Reviewed by Blue Falcon

This review is of Sunset Temptation, a standalone novel by Jane Toombs (Zebra/Kensington Heartfire, June 1989).

Heroine: Jennara Gray, 29, Brown hair, green-amber eyes. Healer.

Hero: Bramwell Sumner, 34. Brown hair and eyes. Attorney.

The Plot

The book begins at an unspecified time in Minnesota. Jennara Gray, the hero of the book, has just been confronted by Philadelphia lawyer Bramwell Sumner, the hero. Bramwell’s stepbrother, Ronald Claridge, and Jennara’s sister, Susanna, have run off together. Jennara and Bramwell make an uneasy alliance to bring the couple back. Easier said than done.

As they travel to try to find Susanna and Ronald, Jennara and Bramwell meet a Datoka boy named Cub, encounter various perils and become lovers.

Jennara and Bramwell eventually find Susanna and Ronald in Missouri, but also find more peril. In the end, Susanna and Ronald marry, as do Jennara and Bramwell. The latter couple has a baby together and both couples find their Happily Ever After.

Upside

My record of finishing every book I paid for with my own money remains intact.

Downside

Sunset Temptation is a BORING book.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Sunset Temptation by Jane Toombs”

Category Romance Review: Song of the Waves by Anne Hampson

song of the waves
Song of the Waves, Anne Hampson, Harlequin, 1976, Will Davies cover art

Harlequin Presents #209

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

4 stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

A Life Not Yet Lived

Wendy Brown is a not-yet-21-year-old Englishwoman who’s been given the worst news imaginable. She has an inoperable brain tumor and will die in a few months. Rather than spend her last days wallowing in despair, Wendy decides to make the best of her lot. Alone in the world, she sells her family home. She buys a ticket for the maiden voyage of a glamorous cruise ship that’s set to sail the world.

Thus begins Anne Hampson’s Song of the Waves, a vintage Harlequin Presents written in 1976, a year before I was born.

Even for a book so ancient (ha-ha), this romance comes off old-fashioned. It never delves deeper than a few kisses and severely-restrained passion. Anne Hampson’s books might have been among the first published for the Harlequin Presents line, but that sort of antiquated mindset would later cause the publishers to break ties with her in favor of more “modern” minded authors, such as Charlotte Lamb.

A Love That Saves a Life

Introduced into this “love boat” romance is a vast field of characters, couples and individuals, who will get to know Wendy as she charms her way aboard the ship.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Song of the Waves by Anne Hampson”