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pino romance

Historical Romance Review: Passion’s Chains by Catherine Creel

historical romance review
Passion's Chains by Catherine Creel
Rating: four-half-stars
Published: 1991
Illustrator: Pino
Imprint or Line: Zebra Lovegram
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 480
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonThriftBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader

Historical Romance Review: Passion’s Chains by Catherine Creel


The Book

Passion’s Chains by Catherine Creel was a crazy book that in 1991 could only have been published by the Zebra romance lines. Or in 1977 by Avon.*

It was utterly unrealistic, but I had a blast with it.

Passion’s Chains was the first romance novel I read after subscribing to the Lovegram line many, many years ago. The plot description on the back of the book sounded like this would be a riot. And it was!

The Characters

Lady Eden Parrish met American ship captain Roark St. Claire in England. The two people from different worlds shared a hidden, forbidden love.

The pair married in secret. However, before they could consummate their union, Eden’s family tricked her into believing the worst about Roark.

Thus, Eden is abandoned by her husband, and her is heart broken into pieces.

Then Eden’s family whisked her off to their Barbados plantation to avoid any taint of scandal.

The Plot

Eden is living a lonely existence in Barbados. Months later, Roark discovers her whereabouts in the Caribbean and follows her there. The American is captured by the British and sold into slavery.

Walking through town one day, Eden sees him at the auction block. To everyone’s scandalized shock, she purchases him as her servant.

Perhaps sentimentality plays a part in me remembering this novel so fondly. I thought this book was delightful.

Roark would sneak into Eden’s room at night and assume his “husbandly rights.” By day, he labored away in the sugar fields, plotting his escape and his revenge.

On the negative side, there was a bland secondary couple and some typical boneheaded villains.

Worse, were the stupid, big misunderstandings Eden and Roark could have avoided if they just talked and listened to each other’s words!

Final Analysis of Passion’s Chains

Fond Memories

I don’t want to re-read Catherine Creel’s Passion’s Chains to see if it stands the test of time. I want to recall it fondly because I had such a blast reading this one!

Roark was such an outstanding hero. Eden was likable enough for a heroine.

Passion’s Chains or Shanna?

*This historical romance was a rip-off/homage to Kathleen E Woodiwiss‘s Shanna, as the plots are similar identical. So are the heroes’ names, except the spellings are different.

Until 2022 I had never read Shanna. I appreciated the celebrated blockbuster considerably more than I thought I would. Still, at 600+ pages, it was a long read.

Passion’s Chains is a leaner story at 400 pages, without much filler. That is amazing for a Zebra romance!

Ultimately, I enjoyed this book more than Shanna. Maybe it’s for the reason I mentioned, out of nostalgia, or just because I read Passion’s Chains first. But I did love this one.

4.5 Stars

Rating Report Card
Fun Factor
Overall: 4.4


Lady Eden Parrish stared in shock at the bare-chested, blue-eyed rogue who stood so proudly on the Bridgetown auction block– he was none other than her husband, the despicable Roark St. Clair! Eden had been sent to Barbados in disgrace after her brief, scandalous marriage to the unscrupulous American spy…after the way he’d betrayed her, she ought to let his contract of indenture be sold to the highest bidder. But memories of how it felt to be embraced by those strong arms and held tight against that well-muscled chest flooded her mind and body, and soon Eden was offering a fortune for the right to claim him as her own!

Roark had come to Barbados for only one reason–to reclaim his runaway bride. Of course, getting captured by the British and sold into slavery hadn’t been part of the plan, but t situation was working out nicely, things considered. He would find a to escape and take the luscious along, with or without her consent. The little minx might be his mistress now, but he’d soon be her master. He knew just how to tame her wild spirit and make those emerald eyes shimmer with passion’s fire. Before long, he would possess every silken inch of her…for this night and all the nights to come!

Passion’s Chains by Catherine Creel
emmies love

Historical Romance Review: Emmie’s Love by Janette Seymour

Emmie’s Love, Janette Seymour, Pocket Books, 1980, Harry Bennett cover art


The Book

Janette Seymours Emmie’s Love is Purity’s Passion, redux. Just as in Purity’s Passion and Purity’s Ecstasy, the heroine is separated from her true love and must “find” her way back to him. “Find” here is a euphemism for another four-letter word that starts with “f.”

The Plot

The same terms and motifs are used in Emmie’s Love, as were in Seymour’s other raunchy books. There is a violent opening involving a near-rape that has nothing to do with the protagonists and also an alluded castration. We see frequent mentions of “handy-dandy”😉 and dampened sheer muslin gowns. There’s another blond stud who performs for an audience. And the heroine has a one-night stand with a doomed soldier.

Of course, there is a blue-eyed, scar-faced hero who is rarely seen.

Finally, there is a heroine with no personality, save for being a busty, lusty wench.

The Romance?

Emmie Dashwood–granddaughter to an aged Marquess who pats her rump in a most loving fashion–lives in a moldy, decaying manor with her large, mooching family. After grandpa’s death, Emmie is sold into marriage to an old man who lives another continent away. On her trip across the ocean, she falls in love with Captain Nathan Grant, the very married ship’s captain.

But love does not come easily to our dear Emmie. Many travails lie ahead. There is a family sex romp in an orangery. There are church sermons brimming with hellfire and damnation, plus a satanic sex orgy in the said church led by a goat-headed stud. Lots of violence galore: a beheaded dog, followed by a shocking use for the dismembered head. We have a blackmailing, Peeping Tom. A robust Irish maid gives Emmie an erotic massage. And there’s much, much more.

Except for a doomed French hunter and his sad tale, there’s not much depth. One salacious encounter is followed by another–not that I’m complaining.

The hero, Nathan, is really not a factor in this book. He’s a prize that Emmie earns at the end for completing her bodice ripper adventures. There’s no epic love story here.

Final Analysis of Emmie’s Love

While I was entertained by this Michael Butterworth (Janette Seymour’s real name) bodice ripper, I do have a few gripes. The book blurb gets some minor plot points wrong. Typos such as “$a1shouted” are annoying. And my pet peeve is the wrong hair color on the cover. Harry Bennett’s artwork shows the hero as blond. Alas, in the book, he’s black-haired, with a white streak running through it.

The heroine is a bit of a twit. No, not the other word, this is no pornographic book, after all! If you are searching for explicitness and gratuity, look elsewhere (and tell me about it when you find it)! Everything is alluded to, with water metaphors galore: waves crashing, crests swelling, waters breaking, dams bursting. It is a saucy tale, replete with ribaldry.

And yes, bodices were ripped.

Titillating though it is, Emmie’s Love is not quite a bodice ripper masterpiece. Still, it’s a satisfying journey, even if the final destination holds little interest.

3.5 Star

a pirate's love hero rapes heroine mcginnis

Historical Romance Review: A Pirate’s Love by Johanna Lindsey

historical romance review
A Pirate's Love by Johanna Lindsey
Rating: one-star
Published: 1978
Illustrator: Robert McGinnis
Published by: Avon
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Pirate Romance
Pages: 373
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonThriftBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader

Historical Romance Review: A Pirate’s Love by Johanna Lindsey


The Book

Johanna Lindsey’s A Pirate’s Love is her second romance, published in 1978. It features your basic pirate plot: a heroine is sailing across the ocean, all set to marry a cruel, faceless fiance. Her ship is boarded by pirates, and the captain takes her as his love slave.

And to no one’s surprise, the hero rapes the heroine. Over and over.

I liked Lindsey’s first book, Captive Bride, which had a similar plot, except with a desert sheik instead of a pirate. Even though it was a flawed book, it had its charm.

This book, on the other hand…

I Didn’t Love This Lindsey

I hated A Pirate’s Love for many reasons, some based on logic, most others based on pettiness. If you’re looking for a great review that does a better job explaining why this book blows, search elsewhere. I’m just going to go on a diatribe based on my ever-waning recollections of this “romance”:

The multiple rapes that the hero commits upon the heroine didn’t really faze me, although they did get redundant. After all, it’s a bodice ripper, and that’s what comes with the territory. If a hero raping the heroine offends you, best not read this genre. It was everything else in Lindsey’s second-published book that I despised.

Embrace the Hate

Hate #1

I hated Bettina and her knee-length hair that’s easily hidden under a hat! (Apologies to the beautiful Johanna, who actually had knee-length hair. She could have easily passed for one of her heroines.)

Hate #2

I hated how Bettina cried over her dresses and how ill-tempered she was and hearing about her flashing eyes that were blue one minute, then green another. Not blue-green eyes, mind you, that look different depending on the light or what colors they reflect. Her eyes just change color randomly with her emotions. She’s like a human mood ring.

Hate #3

I hated Tristan. He was such beta-fish, shaving his beard off when Bets demanded it of him. Some tough pirate, eh? Plus, I don’t like the name Tristan. I joke about the overused names in Romancelandia that are so overbearingly macho and repetitive, but Tristan Matisse just doesn’t inspire fear. He’s French, so why not Capitaine Sauvage? It may sound cliché, but it’s better than that prissy name.

Hate #4

I hated Casey O’Casey. There’s another stupid name for a stupid character.

Hate #5

I hated Bettina’s mother. Or was it the maid? Or was it both women who gave Bettina horrible life advice? Don’t remember, don’t care.

Hate #6

I hated the lack of romance. I hated the lack of variety in action. All the hero does is rape the heroine. It all seemed to blur together: rape, fight, escape, repeat; rape, fight, escape, repeat, etc.

Hate #7

I hated how antagonists were portrayed. In a pirate book set in the 1600s, it is natural to have Spaniards playing the villains to the English/French buccaneer heroes, but in A Pirate’s Love Lindsey laid it on a bit thick, reaching Leyenda Negra levels of ridiculousness. As their wicked deeds fell just short of infant necrophilia and cannibalism.

Hate #8

I hated the stupid coincidences at the end of this book. I mean, really? All of them happening at once?

a pirates love2
A Pirate’s Love, Arrow, British alt cover

Final Rant on A Pirate’s Love

Why would I despise A Pirate’s Love when it’s not so different from Johanna Lindsey’s early, more “serious-toned” works, like Fires of Winter, which was one of my teenage favorites? Or So Speaks the Heart, to which I gave a favorable review? The dimwitted, hunky hero rapes ( and forcibly seduces) the heroine in both those books.

Maybe I was feeling sick the week I read this, or maybe I was stressed by heavy loads of classwork, or I was on my period.

Or maybe–just maybe–this book does indeed reach epic levels of suck. It’s just so blah.

A Pirate’s Love is not the worst Lindsey book because at least I could finish it. As repetitive as it was, it did draw out emotions from me, which is more than I can say for her later soporific works I dislike.

Ah well. Lindsey wrote so many books that it’s natural I’m bound to dislike one or two of them. A Pirate’s Love just happens to be one of them.

1 Star (Cover points do not count)

Rating Report Card
Fun Factor
Overall: 1.8


Sun-Blazed Beaches
With languid tropical breezes caressing her breathtakingly beautiful face, Bettina Verlaine stood before the mast, sailing westward to fulfill a promise her heart never made – marriage to a Count her eyes had never beheld.

Then in a moment of swashbuckling courage, the pirate Tristan swept her away and the spell of his passion was cast over her heart forever.

But many days – and fiery nights – must pass before their love could flower into that fragile blossom a woman gives to only one man.