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the coach to hell

Gothic Romance Review: The Coach to Hell by Rachel Cosgrove Payes

The Coach to Hell by Rachel Cosgrave Payes
Rating: two-half-stars
Published: 1979
Illustrator: Alan Reingold
Published by: Playboy Press
Genres: Gothic Romance, Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Georgian Era Romance
Pages: 400
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader

Gothic Romance Review: The Coach to Hell by Rachel Cosgrove Payes


The Book

The Coach to Hell was a bit of a disappointment for me after reading Rachel Cosgrove Payes‘ Moment of Desire. That book had a heroine who was placed in awful situations yet tried to make the best of them while always knowing her mind.

This book’s heroine is a wishy-washy sort that just goes with the flow because that’s what toilet paper does.

The Setup

The Coach to Hell is a paranormal/Gothic/bodice ripper romance that features a beautiful, orphaned woman named Georgina. To avoid the lusty clutches of a local pervert, she is forced out of her home.

Georgina has the gift of the special sight of psychometry. Like some psychic blood-hound, she has the ability to touch an item and immediately glean information about its history or find a hidden object if she touches items associated with it.

Georgie’s ESP is the Chekhov’s gun of this novel as it will be instrumental in the plot’s resolution, what little there is of it.

The Plot

She heads to a far-away town to seek out a distant cousin in hopes that he will care for her, a relative in need. On the coach ride to her new environs, Georgina meets a dashing red-haired coachman whom she falls for.

However, well-meaning fellow passengers warn her that he’s the love-them-and-leave-them type, with different women in every village. Georgie ignores their advice and engages in a secret love affair.

The hero, Charles Collins, supposedly has lots of sex appeal (I didn’t see it here.) but no fortune, as he is the bastard son of a nobleman. He believes he is legitimate, however. Charles is working as a coachman to save money to hire a barrister.

He tells Georgina that the relative she’s going to live with is his younger half-brother, Francis, his father’s legal heir. Charles is convinced there must be some shenanigans afoot. Our Coachman to Hell is certain he– not his brother–is the true inheritor of the manor and title.

Charles and Georgie get down with each other, and he sweet-talks her into promising to search for any information that will prove his claim. Georgie vows to do her best.

Her best is… Well, you’ll see.

So the Lord of a half-brother is also a charismatic hunk (I definitely saw it here.) and lives openly with his mistress, who’s naturally contemptuous of Georgina. If Georgie would say the word, he’d gladly throw his courtesan aside to have Georgina instead.

But Georgie has her dashing coachman and wouldn’t dream of being unfaithful to her beloved.

No, I’m just joking. Remember, this is a 1970s Playboy Press bodice ripper!

One Hell of a Crazy Scene

Back in her hometown, when some creepy old dude had wanted her to be his mistress, Georgie’s upstanding morals wouldn’t have allowed such dishonor. Now, things are different.

Yes, she’s in love with a young, handsome dude, but she’s living with his equally hot and much richer brother…

Morals? Pffft. That’s for poor people who don’t live in fancy manors.

The best part of Coach to Hell is when Georgina has Charles in her room for a late-night tryst. Then his brother enters her chambers with the same intention, forcing Charles to hide in her wardrobe.

Georgina can’t shoo Francis away by being smart enough to say she’s on her period. So while Charles–the hero–conceals himself in the closet like some teenage boy hiding from an angry father, Georgie–the heroine–bangs Francis–not the hero–in her bed!

And Francis is so good at making love that Georgina forgets everything and moans away in ecstasy, giving our sad-sack hero something extra-special to listen to.

As this book is a bodice-ripper, Charles is our supposed “Alpha” male hero. So does he burst out into the room and kill them both in a blind rage? Does he trounce his bro for messing with his woman?

Nope. Charles stays there, sitting and sulking, while his hated enemy joyously screws the woman he loves, bringing her to orgasmic heights.

Did the Scene Redeem the Book?

This scene was so WTF and made me wish that The Coach to Hell had fully embraced its campy nature and included more juicy bits like this!

After that, I admit I lost all respect for the hero. I certainly didn’t expect him to go all wifebeater on Georgina, but he at least could have punched the lights out of Francis.

Unfortunately, I can’t root for a cucked hero, so I just read to get to the end of the story.

tales of ribaldry cuckold
SOURCE: NBC Saturday Night Live “Tales of Ribaldry”

Moving on, then.

This Book Finally Ends!

Remember Georgina’s special kind of ESP? Well, it served the plot’s purpose. She’s able to find the secret evidence that proves Charles’ legitimacy.

You didn’t actually think Charles wasn’t the real Lord, did you?

Oh no, I gave away the ending!

Look, if you’re reading these cheesy romances, you know they’re supposed to end “Happily Ever After”–no matter how discombobulated the path to “Ever After” is.

Final Analysis of The Coach to Hell

I do wish I had enjoyed The Coach to Hell more, but Georgina was just too stupid for words.

I lost any admiration for Charles after he was ignominiously crowned with a set of horns. Instead, I rooted for his brother from another mother to get the girl.

Ultimately, this Rachel Cosgrove-Payes Gothic/ Bodice Ripper romance was a so-so read. It was memorable, alright, but for the wrong reasons.

Rating Report Card
Fun Factor
Overall: 2.3


Rescued from poverty to live in an opulent mansion filled with servants…loved by two adventurous and passionate men…Georgina’s new life was wantonly wonderful. But she was caught between her arrogant benefactor and his rakehell coachman brother — and their fierce obsession threatened to shatter everything. Each man claimed to be the rightful heir to a noble title. Each man thought Georgina knew the secret location of the missing proof. And though each man already possessed Georgina’s body — each demanded more…

norm eastman divided heart

Historical Book Review: Divided Heart by Angelica Aimes

historical romance review

Divided Heart by Angelica Aimes
Rating: three-stars
Published: 1983
Illustrator: Norm Eastman
Published by: Pinnacle
Genres: American Revolution Romance, Colonial Era Romance, Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader

Historical Book Review: Divided Heart by Angelica Aimes


The Book

Divided Heart by Angelica Aimes is typical of the many schlocky bodice rippers that glutted the market in the ’70s and early ’80s.

The heroine goes through so many horrific tragedies–attempted rape, starvation, war, death of loved ones, betrayal, disease, imprisonment, beatings, and whippings–that would make the average woman look like a “faces-of-meth” poster.

However, no matter how battered and bruised, emaciated, lice-infested her hair, and filthy and unwashed she is, there’s always a man who desires her, for she is the most beautiful woman in the world. She is Augusta Raleigh with emerald eyes and raven curls.

The Plot

Augusta seals her fate on July 4, 1774, when she meets Captain David Glenville of the British army.

The story starts promisingly, as it’s lust at first sight for the Redcoat officer and the Patriot girl.

Then a harsh reality hits: the writing is terrible! Phrases are redundantly repeated, followed by contradictory thoughts in the same sentence. Sometimes conversations are summarized, other times, there’s nothing but dialogue, and you can’t tell what’s going on as scenes blend into one another.

The plot, as convoluted as it is, is interesting.

David is an unapologetic man-slut horndog. He courts Augusta but intends to love her and leave her. His first time with Augusta goes something like this:

David: Hey, baby… I just saved you from being raped. How’s about a little thank you?
Augusta: Okey-dokey.
David: How’s about I rape you?
Augusta: Okey-dokey. Wait… What?

Later Augusta visits him at headquarters and finds him entertaining a woman in bed. Naturally, Augusta leaves in anger. Then a few paragraphs down, he’s seducing her!

David’s a wonderful cad. So it’s unfortunate the couple is separated for a significant portion of this short 346-paged novel–as often occurs in these books.

A Gender Bender of a Bodice Ripper

After a life-changing heartbreak, Augusta is off to war. She disguises herself as a boy, wraps those boobs up tightly, and spends a year (years?) marching and camping with lots of men.

Hmm. What could possibly go wrong with that?

She fights bravely at the Battle of Long Island, killing all Redcoats in her sights, and she saves her best friend, Tad. Young and gay, Tad–like so many men–falls in love with her.

Dressed as a boy, Augusta’s powers of seduction are irresistible. All men are attracted to her: gay, straight, and bisexual. This book was definitely a gender-bending read, and at times Augusta flirts heavily with transgenderism, thinking:

“What will I be? What will I do? I will have destroyed myself as a woman. The gentleness and softness that men find so appealing will be gone. Yet I can never be a man. I will be neither fish nor fowl…”

Part Deborah Samson, part Scarlett O’Hara, part Mata Hari, and part Helen Reddy, Augusta, spends years searching for revenge and love. She experiences the “cruel sexual humiliation of lustful men” (at least, that is what the cover says) before she gets her happy ending.

Final Analysis of Divided Heart

Divided Heart‘s bodice ripper highlights include attempted rape, forced seduction, heroine-dressing-as-a-boy, whippings galore, adult-man-on-teen-female-sex, adult-man-on-teen-male-sex, sex with men besides the hero, oral sex, anal sex…

Yup. Divided Heart is tawdry.

Is it any good? Well, it wasn’t horrible. It had its moments.

Divided Heart waffles between being a tasteless, balls-to-wall bodice ripper and a dry historical lesson of the early battles in the American Revolution.

Angelica Aimes wasn’t skilled enough to pull off the history part. She should have stuck to what she was good at, the trashy side. Apparently, after writing bodice rippers, Aimes wrote several novelizations of The Young The Restless, which about sums it up.

I’m not knocking soaps. As a youngun, I watched them all, Y&R included. I remember plots from 40 years ago, like Lauren being buried alive by that crazy wacko and then losing her and Paul’s baby (I am old.)

Divided Heart, at times, feels rushed, more like a summary of scenes than an actual narrative tale. Significant events are glossed over. Scenes transition oddly. It’s just a mess.

I can overlook lousy writing if the plot is to my liking. In this case, sort of. 

Despite being horribly written, Divided Heart is not without a sleazy bit of charm. It entertained.

Rating Report Card
Fun Factor
Overall: 2.8


In 1774, Augusta Raleigh is a southern belle with her father’s fiery temper and her mother’s dark beauty, and she’s easy prey to the charms of a handsome British officer. But when war is declared, headstrong Augusta is hopelessly divided between her broud Virginian family and the dashing Redcoat captain…

Torn from her lover’s side, Augusta will be condemned as a traitor, despised by the Colonists and distrusted by the British. She will know the cruel sexual humiliations of lustful men, and she will flee the ravaged battlefields of home for the sophisticated salons of Paris. But her wild, warring heart will not know peace until she is reunited with the one man who is both her country’s enemy and her greatest love.

Divided Heart by angelica aimes