Tag Archives: sweet romance

reckless heart-

Historical Romance Review: Reckless Heart (aka Elusive Love) by Lois Arvin Walker

book review historical romance
Reckless Heart by Lois Arvin Walker
Rating: two-stars
Published: 1983
Illustrator: Unknown
Book Series: Zebra Regency Romance
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Regency Era Romance, Traditional Regency Romance
Pages: 178
Format: Hardcover, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooksOpen Library (BORROW FOR FREE)
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon

Historical Romance Review: Reckless Heart (aka Elusive Love) by Lois Arvin Walker


The Book

This review is of Reckless Heart, a historical romance by Lois Arvin Walker. This book was originally called Elusive Love and was published in hardcover in 1983. Zebra would later retitle it and reissue the book in 1985 under their Regency line.

elusive love loisarvin walker

The Plot

Reckless Heart begins with the heroine, Rebecca Langford, and the hero, Robert, Lord Compton, meeting at a party. Although Rebecca tries to talk to him, Compton is a bit standoffish with her.

Later, they become neighbors in the English countryside. Again, Rebecca tries to befriend Lord Compton, but he rebuffs her.

There are reasons behind Compton’s cold attitude.

  • He is concerned about his younger sister, Claire, and her introduction to society.
  • Young ladies of the ton–British high society–Need a female to present them. The only female relative Compton and Claire have their Aunt Laurel, who is in shaky health.
  • Compton is cut–(i.e., shunned)—by the ton for his alleged involvement in a scandal years ago.

Rebecca, however, is determined to bring Compton back into high society. Eventually, she wears his resistance down, and he attends a party she is throwing.

Later, Robert–asks the Langfords to help launch Claire into society, which they grant. Rebecca’s father and Robert also enter into a business arrangement.

In time, Rebecca and Robert fall in love and have their Happily Ever After.

The Upside

It’s a traditional Regency romance.

The Downside

Reckless Heart has the depth of cotton candy. Walker does not develop her characters in any way, shape, or form.

The “love” that unfolds between Rebecca and Robert is not set up at all. The romance only happens in the last 30+ pages of the book. It is also completely unbelievable. There is no heat and little chemistry between Rebecca and Robert.


A kiss at the end of the book is the only thing approximating sex. If this book was released today, Reckless Heart would be described as a “sweet, clean romance.”

sweet heat


Rebecca is thrown from her horse and lands in a creek on Robert’s land. That is the closest thing to violence in the book.

Bottom Line on Reckless Heart (aka Elusive Love)

Readers who like “sweet, clean romances” may find something to like in Lois Arvin Walker’s Reckless Heart. Those of us who want a lot more will have to look elsewhere.

Rating Report Card
Fun Factor
Overall: 2.1


Therese de Bourgerre couldn’t believe the man before her was the dashing spy she had known and loved in Paris. This was a man who had given up all hope. It was her duty to reawaken his passion without losing her heart. A delightful Regency from the author of Midnight Masque.

Reckless Heart by Lois Arvin WalkER
tabitha in the moonlight

Category Romance Review: Tabitha in Moonlight by Betty Neels

Tabitha in the Moonlight, Betty Neels, Harlequin, 1972, Bern Smith cover art

Harlequin Romance #1905


4 stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Heroine & the Hero

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

Tabitha in Moonlight is a Harlequin Romance about an efficient, capable nurse (aren’t they always in these books?) in an elderly men’s ward. She falls for the new temporary surgeon, the Dutch-born, Dr. Marius van Beek. Betty Neels wields the typical doctor-nurse romance into a Cinderella story, with Tabitha starring as the poor, down-trodden stepdaughter who gets no love from her wicked step-mother and step-sister.

Dr. van Beek plays the prince’s role, but fortunately, this Prince is far more astute than his fairy tale predecessor, not requiring a glass slipper to identify his true lady love.

When first we meet Tabitha, she is presiding over her ward, checking on patients in a pleasant, personal manner, going as far as taking care of one old gentleman’s cat. She’s no beauty, as Neels describes her, but with her lovely figure, wide smile, and fabulous hair that she keeps primly knotted up, the reader knows Tabitha is actually a swan in hiding.

The Plot

Tabitha lives in a little flat near work. She’s 25, practically on the shelf, and independent, but quite delf-deprecating. She doesn’t think much of her looks. It’s a shame a plain Jane like herself is the type the handsome new doctor would never be interested in. (sigh)

Years ago, Tabitha had lived with her father in their ancestral home, Chidlake. But upon his remarriage and her entrance into nursing school, she left home. Her father died, and by all rights, the family home should be hers. However, her father left it to his second wife, believing she would pass it on to his daughter. At a weekend visit to Chidlake, Tabitha is shocked to see Dr. van Beek in attendance, with her stepsister draped all over him.

Tabitha’s stepmother is a cruel woman, insulting Tabitha’s looks at every turn. Is it a wonder she feels so insecure when compared to her elegant step-sister?

But make no mistake, Marius is not a cad who chases woman after woman. If they’re drawn to him, it’s because he’s one of those confident, handsome men who excels at his profession. Women highly prize that type of man.

There are a few surprises in store for Tabby. Tabitha finds herself accompanying Marius and a patient on a trip on Marius’ boat and then to Holland. There are quite a few charming side characters in this vintage romance that add to the overall enjoyment.

Final Analysis of The Book

This is a sweet romance about a fairy tale coming to fruition in real life. Dr. van Beek was a great hero. Reserved, cool, but you knew what was going on in his mind, that he adored Tabitha. He’s actually a very nice hero, always praising Tabitha, and trying his best to instore confidence in her.

I could have done without Tabitha’s silly insecurities about her looks. She carried on as if she were a troll. I don’t know if it’s limited solely to books, but it seems so many young women are either woefully insecure about themselves or have too much-misplaced arrogance. Can’t there be a middle ground for self-adjusted women who value their true worth?

That’s a minor quibble, as seeing Tabitha grow into her own and flourish under Marius’ kindness made this romance a delightful treasure.



Category Romance Review: Tangled Tapestry by Anne Mather

Tangled Tapestry by Anne Mather
Rating: two-half-stars
Published: 1969
Imprint or Line: Mills & Boon Romance #419
Published by: Mills & Boon
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance, Vintage Romance
Pages: 18
Format: Paperback, eBook
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader

Category Romance Review: Tangled Tapestry by Anne Mather



I’m cheating a bit with the date range we have here for books on Sweet Savage Flame. Tangled Tapestry was published in 1969 and never was reprinted in paperback in English in North America. This book was released in e-format a few years ago. Still, it’s close enough for government work, as the expression goes.

The Book

Thanks to Anne Mather‘s Tangled Tapestry I realize publishers don’t always put accurate copyright information in the front of e-books. Going into this read, I knew it was a vintage romance, but I only found out it was published in 1969 when I finished.

I’m only stating this because, like many things written in the mid-20th century, it’s aged as if… it was written in the mid-20th century! Tangled Tapestry may offend some readers’ sensibilities. Or, if you’re twisted like me, it will make you laugh as I did at this legendary panel from a Batman comic:

It’s funny because he keeps talking about his boner.

The Plot

British school teacher, Debra Warren, is on a work-exchange program in San Francisco educating underprivileged children. She takes them on a field trip to visit one of the local major movie studios because everyone knows San Francisco is right next to Hollywood.

(Anne Mather got her geography off in this one; it would be like going to Boston and taking a trip to visit the Lincoln Memorial, wouldn’t it?)

The staff at the studio are amazed by Debra’s similar looks to the deceased movie star, Elizabeth Steel, and instantly demand she take a screen test.

Before she knows what’s going on, Debra is whisked away by L.A. writer, Dominic McGill, to meet movie producers. Her appearance to Elizabeth is too close to be just a coincidence and, eventually, the orphaned Debra learns Elizabeth Steel was her real mother. Everyone’s dying to remake one of Steel’s old films that Dominic wrote starring our innocent heroine.

Debra is feeling pushed into a life she’s not sure she wants. She only knows that Dominic makes her feel all tingly, so much that she gives bitchy looks to the nubile females who cling to him. Then there are the unspoken rumors concerning Dominic and her mother. Could Dominic–gasp–have been her mother’s toyboy lover?

Tangled Tapestry Anne mather
Tangled Tapestry, Anne Mather, alternate Mills and Boon

The Romance

There is little romance here. Oh sure, there are a couple of sweet kisses and a whole paragraph at the end of the book where Dominic declares his love for Debra. But Dominic’s not the kind of man who chases women, so when Debra hurts Dominic’s pride, it’s she who follows him, she who does the “big grovel.”

Personally, I don’t care much for groveling, neither from the hero nor the heroine, (unless they really did do something horrid & then groveling is only a drop in the bucket!), so it didn’t bother me, although I know some readers like that sort of comeuppance when the hero’s a bit of an alpha-hole. And yes, Dominic is overbearing, cold, inscrutable, and unyielding, but I wouldn’t have vintage heroes any other way.

I mean, he needed to be a little stoic. It’s bad enough he’s in his late 30’s, parties with teenagers, hosts surfing parties, and dances the Watusi.

(I couldn’t figure out how to post a gif so here’s a picture of a huge Watusi bull.

Yeah, I know it’s 2021. I’m still clueless. I just learned to pronounce the word, for goodness’ sake!)

The Watusi. Not to be confused with the Batusi.

Time Stands Still For No Man

Oh, about the dated aspect of this book?

  • The meals: Hamburgers and coffee. Yuck. Why did people in the ’50s and ’60s eat that way? Yes, I know sodas are just as bad to have, but at least they taste good with food. Coffee is a morning drink and for occasional desserts.
  • The alcoholic drinks: LOTS of them and half of them gin martinis.
  • The smoking: Debra swears she hardly ever smokes, but she’s a liar because she smokes like a mesquite BBQ grill. I counted 48 references to cigarettes in this book! Plus another 10 to smoke/smoking.
  • The language: YMMV about taking offense. There are about a 1/2 dozen observations using old-timey racial terminology.
  • The music: Anne Mather really dug Dave Brubeck, didn’t she? She’s referred to him in other books. I looked him up. Don’t think this is what the teenagers in 1969 were hip to, but if that floats your boat, *shrug.*
Dave Brubeck. Did all the gals in the late ’60s dance erotically to this guy’s tunes?

Since the setting is mostly California, Anne Mather wanted to make sure we knew her hero was American so the book is peppered with cheesy epithets like:

  • Baby – 18 times
  • Kid – 12 times
  • Honey – 29 times
Tangled Tapestry Anne mather

Final Analysis of Tangled Tapestry

As I said, there wasn’t much romance in Tangled Tapestry. Debra basically allowed herself to be carried away by others to do their bidding. She didn’t want to be a movie star, so why didn’t she just open her mouth and say so? Then she pined away for Dominic was pathetic! I swear Anne Mather must have had at least ten heroes with that name!

Dominic played it hot and cold with her. He was never open with Debra until the very end.

Even so, this book wasn’t awful, because there was something charming about how dated it was. Anne Mather’s books are rarely timeless; you can almost always tell what decade they were written by the clothes. T

This sweet vintage romance (no sex, just mild kissing) was even more old-fashioned than Mather’s usual stuff. The characters were partying to old jams and shaking to the latest dances. (Aside: that’s one reason why I avoid modern contemporaries. I have zero interest in reading about a hero/heroine who grinds or twerks.) But their morals were somewhere in the 1950s. Quaint and old-fashioned. Although I can appreciate that when reading vintage romance.

Too bad the romance was lackluster here.

Rating Report Card
Fun Factor
Overall: 2.5


Debra Warren had believed during all her life that she was orphaned, until she went to San Francisco to work. She found she was the daughter of the famous actress Elizabeth Steel. There she knew Dominic McGill.

Lightning that lingers

Category Romance Review: Lightning That Lingers by Sharon and Tom Curtis


The Book

Lightning That Lingers by Sharon and Tom Curtis (aka Laura London) has received acclaim from many readers. By no means was this a terrible piece of fiction, but I found it didn’t mesh with my personal tastes. This book laid the schmaltz on thicker than, well, schmaltz.

There must be something the matter with me. The Curtises are beloved in the romance genre. The consensus seems to be that they are one of the greatest things in romance since Jane Austen. As far as their composition skills go, they’re very sensitive and attentive to detail. The Curtises certainly don’t lack talent.

There was just something too treacly about this one for me. I coined the term “cutsie-woostsie sugar” shock after reading Lightning that Lingers. I’m a bitter GenXer, so perhaps my sarcastic takes have made me too apathetic to enjoy a cavity-inducing love story like this.

The Hero

The hero, Philip, is from a once proud and wealthy family. Now he’s all alone and broke. He lives in his massive, run-down mansion he wants to renovate. Since he’s the most handsome man in the world, he turns to stripping to rake in the big singles dollar bills.

Before you think he’s just doing it for the money, let me tell you, why yes, he is doing it just for the money.

Philip’s not materialistic, as his true love is biology and animals. He’s hoping to go into that field to help conserve nature. First, he has to make his home a showpiece again. Then he’ll use the money from the manor to save wildlife.

His house, by the way, is full of critters, including an owl. I thought that was odd. Dude, if you’re trying to renovate your old mansion into something nicer, maybe you should not have animals in there crapping all over the place.

This is my hang-up, I know, I couldn’t take Philip seriously. If he had been an outright gigolo, dating women for cash, I would have found that a more interesting tale. The conflict of a nice guy doing “bad things” for a good reason would make for a complex plot.

I’m just not into the Chippendale vibe. I never went gaga for the Magic Mike movies. This is just my bias, but I’m not into a hero who waxes his butt, puts on a g-string, and grinds his pelvis for cash in front of a group of screaming, feral females. Not that I need an “alpha male” in my love stories, but whatever Philip was, I wasn’t into it.

I kept thinking about that old Saturday Night skit with the late Patrick Swayze and the late Chris Farley, imaging Philip like this:

Chris Farley and Patrick Swayze Stripping

The Plot

Anyway, about this silly story, Lightning That Lingers. The heroine, Jennifer, is a very young children’s librarian who is incredibly shy.

As a gag, her friends take her to a totally nude (!) strip club, appropriately named The Cougar Club. As she watches the stage, her eyes meet with Philip’s, and practically faints away with the vapors.

Philip sees this and whisks her off to his magical home with said resident owl and bird crap splattered all over the place. Jennifer is awed in wonder at his beautiful face and his–er–beautiful home.

Philip and Jennifer embark on a romance that is supposed to be very moving. However, it was just rainbow and unicorn farts for me. He adores Jennifer’s naivete and innocence, and Jennifer likes…Philip’s everything.

white and pink unicorn plush toy lightning that lingers

Final Analysis of Lightning That Lingers

Can Philip give up stripping, perhaps develop some valuable skillset (like washing poop-stained walls), and find a nine-to-five job? Can he give up on his dream job of becoming the new Noah (you, know, from the Bible)? Will he give up the glamour of stripping in front of horny women who stuff bills down his crotch to settle down with his lovely librarian? Will Jennifer open her mind to new sensual experiences? Will I ever read a Tom and Sharon Curtis book that doesn’t turn me into a snarky b-word?

Tom and Sharon Curtis can wield a way with words, so Lightning That Lingers is not a 1-star read by any means. However, the plot and the characters were gag-inducing. I do enjoy a sappy love story now and then; this was not one of them.

Perhaps if you’re a less jaded reader than I, you’ll find this Bantam Lovewept romance a bit more to your liking.

But for me, I’d prefer to eat a couple of bags of Tropical-flavored Skittles if I have a hankering for something this sweet.

2.74 Stars


Philip Brooks is a man with a passion for biology, wildlife, and restoring his old family home—all of which add up to a pile of bills that require attention. Moonlighting as the Cougar Club’s hottest dancer is a job, nothing more, nothing less—until lovely Jennifer Hamilton nearly faints during one of his shows. Her sweet innocence tugs at his heart and makes him painfully aware of his longing for the kind of love a woman as perfect and real as Jennifer can offer.

Watching her most secret fantasy come to life on the dance floor is almost more than Jennifer can bear. Now, the sexiest man she’s ever met is near enough to hold. For a shy, bookish lady with little experience in the romance department, life feels as if it’s spinning out of control—and not in the direction, or with the kind of man, she ever imagined. Can she believe in the passion Philip ignites and take a chance on a dance that could last a lifetime?

Lightning That Lingers by Sharon and Tom Curtis
elegant barbarian

Category Romance Review: Elegant Barbarian by Catherine Spencer

category romance review
Elegant Barbarian by Catherine Spencer
Rating: five-stars
Published: 1993
Illustrator: TBD
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Presents #1682
Published by: Harlequin
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Format: Paperback
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader

Category Romance Review: Elegant Barbarian by Catherine Spencer


The Book

In the aptly titled Elegant Barbarian by Catherine Spencer our heroine, Laura, needs a break from it all and is vacationing at her grandmother’s beach house in Canada. Things there would be fine if it weren’t for her grumpy neighbor, a barbarian of a man who lives off the ocean shellfish, washes with pink soap, and smokes Cuban cigars.

The Plot

The hero pretty much keeps to himself. Nevertheless, whenever they come in contact, he and Laura clash.

Then a cute baby seal washes ashore and the two have to care for the baby together and they bond because of it.

Despite his gruff outer shell, the hero, Jackson, seems much more of a cultured man than he initially appears.

This book would have been better suited for the Romance line rather than Presents, as the drama is mostly based on internal hurts rather than from outside sources. Jackson spent several years in prison as he was falsely imprisoned for embezzlement and has a difficult time trusting people.

Jackson’s unexplained meanness to Laura might be a turn-off for some, but strangely I liked watching his cold exterior slowly melt as, against his better judgment, he falls for her. Unfortunately, I wanted Jackson to do some chasing, but nope, it’s mostly Laura in pursuit, up until the end.

Final Analysis of Elegant Barbarian

Catherine Spencer’s Elegant Barbarian was a life-affirming romance, designed to make you feel good on a gloomy day.

This nice little Harlequin Presents was a deviation from the regular angtsy books in the line, but I truly enjoyed it. I guess it was just a case of reading the unexpected at the right time.

Rating Report Card
Fun Factor
Overall: 4.5