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.”
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”
Ooh boy, where to begin with this review? Sweet Savage Love by the great Rosemary Rogers is–along with Kathleen E. Woodiwiss‘ The 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.
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 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.
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 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.
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 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.
This review is of Texas Conquest by Caroline Bourne. This historical romance is a Zebra Lovegram, published in 1988.
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”
The book opens with the heroine of the book, Carrie Sue Stover, trying to outrun her past (Carrie Sue’s brother, Darby, is the leader of an outlaw gang, which she also ran with). Tired of looking over her shoulder and worrying about being arrested, jailed, or worse, Carrie Sue decides to take on the persona of Carolyn Sarah Starns, a schoolteacher on her way to Tucson, Arizona. (The real Carolyn was killed in an accident caused by the Stover gang attacking the stagecoach she was on). As Carrie Sue makes her way to Arizona, the stagecoach she’s on is attacked. Saving her is T.J. Rogue, the hero of the book, who is also going to Arizona. His reasons, however, are different than Carrie Sue’s.
This review is of Passions Wild and Free, book #2 in the “Western Wind” series by Janelle Taylor.
The book begins in Wadesville, Texas, undisclosed time but after the Civil War. Randee Hollis, the heroine of the book, has plans to go after the Epson Gang, a ruthless band of killers who killed her aunt and uncle, Sara Elizabeth and Lee Carson, when the gang attacked their ranch. (Randee was the only survivor of the attack). She decides to hire a man to help her track down and kill the gang members. Randee finds resistance to her plans from Brody Wade, the sheriff of Wadesville-named after his family-who is in love with her and wishes to marry her.
If you’re familiar with your romance history, then you must know of this book, even if you haven’t read it. The cover is the infamous one designed by Robert McGinnis with the naked hero standing tall as the heroine kneels before him, her ample breasts pressed firmly against his–er…dongle.
Tender is the Storm was released in 1985 as Lindsey’s 10th consecutive bestseller. McGinnis’ artwork and Lindsey’s novels made for a powerhouse combination. Their first two covers were pleasing enough, but starting with 1980’s Fires of Winter, McGinnis would upend the romance industry. Before that, most clinch covers would show the heroine’s heaving bosoms while the hero remained fully clothed. Fires of Winter portrayed a fully naked hero, his legs bent and splayed open, with the heroine lying between his thighs.
The huge failure of this Zebra Lovegram romance, Desperado’s Dream by Karen A. Bale, rests on the fact that nothing in the book description hinted this was book #2 in a series about a married couple, Eric & Lisa. Of course, Zebra book descriptions never accurately describe the plot, but I didn’t know that back then. If I had known that going into it, I never would have purchased this romance. But at the tender age of 12, I was dazzled by the Robert Sabin cover. Plus, the purported hero’s name, Cruz, reminded me of the daytime soap opera, “Santa Barbara,” its phenom super couple, Eden & Cruz, and the hunky star, A. Martinez, who played half of said super-couple.... Read more “Dueling Historical Romance Review #1: Desperado Dream by Karen A. Bale”
***Welcome Blue Falcon to SweetSavageFlame.com, who will be contributing his great reviews to this site. Here, in his first review, he analyzes Captive Melody by Nadine Crenshaw***
Rating: 1 out of 5.
This review is of Captive Melody, a standalone Zebra from January 1989 by Nadine Crenshaw.
The book starts in July 1876, Northern California. A young wife, Ling Kee (I’m writing her name in the traditional Chinese way, last name first), is brutally attacked by three “men”; among them is Richard Laird, a rancher. After being beaten and raped, Ling Kee commits suicide.
Fast forward five years. Laird has just married Laura Upton, the heroine of the book. Their marriage won’t last, however, as on their wedding night, Laura is kidnapped by Andre Sheridan, the hero of the book and Ling Kee’s husband. Andre plans to hold Laura as bait to draw Richard to Andre’s home and kill him.
Texas Torment, a Zebra Lovegram, is set in Texas, naturally, in the post-Civil War era. In this book, Adelaide has left her husband Daniel and Daniel seeks her out again.
Catherine Creel liked using the “secretly married couple that is separated & then reunited under crazy circumstances” plot, didn’t she? She had a similar thing going on in the much more fun Passion’s Chains.
Daniel’s a Yankee, while Adelaide’s family were Confederates. Daniel and Adelaide fell in love and eloped, but the war tore them apart.
Adelaide’s family moved to Texas to start a ranch. Daniel pursues and finds her, buying a neighboring ranch of his own. He agrees to keep their marriage a secret from her family and the townsfolk but is determined to win her love again.
Adelaide is an abrasive heroine and I really could not understand why she was so adamant against being with Daniel. He is such a better hero than she deserved.
In Kristin James’ (aka Candace Camp) The Yankee, Andrew Stone is a former Union soldier now living in Texas. He’s a stodgy fellow, not well-liked by the local folks, and has a bad reputation. He had an unhappy marriage and now has a young daughter he has to raise by himself.
Miss Margaret Carlisle is a spinster who cares for her orphaned younger siblings. She’s not exactly the most charming person in the world either, although she has reasons not to be.
Together, Andrew and Margaret decide upon a marriage of convenience, as Andrew needs a mother for his daughter, and Margaret wants not to be dependent upon her cruel aunt’s charity.
I recollect that Andrew was a very cold man, and it took a lot of time for his heart to warm up to his efficient, capable bride. His heart had been pretty much torn to pieces by his ex-wife. With Margaret being who she is, it slowly heals, while she learns there’s more to Andrew than his gruff veneer.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: The Yankee by Kristin James”
In Patricia Potter’s The Silver Link, Antonia and Tristan are from two different worlds. Nevertheless, their forbidden love unites them. They share a link that never can be severed.
Tristan Hampton is a Virginian military man. He is on a mission to ensure Albuquerque’s stable transition from Mexican rule to American governance.
Antonia Ramirez is from a noble, land-owning Spanish family whose New Mexican roots go back generations. Her family– and more importantly her would-be husband, Ramon–are wary of the Yanqui soldier.
When Antonia and Tristan meet, it’s an instant love that threatens both their worlds.
This was one of my first Harlequin Historicals. It was a romantic tale of two people from different societies whose lives are entwined through love. I enjoyed how Tris and Tonia would always find times to meet in secret. Forbidden love is at its best here.
Just a warning for those who shrink from violence: The Silver Link is also very violent and bloody. Tristan is shot, beaten, and has to save Antonia numerous times.
While I enjoyed many of the old Zebra Lovegram and Heartfire lines, what I disliked about some of them is that when they were bad, they were awful, either boring or just freaking bizarre.
Rosalyn Alsobrook’s Runaway Bride was about Katherine, a pregnant woman who left her drunk, abusive husband. She’s on her own in the wilderness, when the hero, Jason comes upon her naked in a water pond. Jason, a rancher, takes her in and helps her heal. Katherine eventually finds love with this new man, who is a fundamentally decent guy, and was even willing to be a father to her child.
Katherine’s abusive husband finds her and begs for forgiveness. I didn’t care how sorry he was. In my eyes, the husband could never redeem himself. He beat her so awfully while she was pregnant that was black and blue and forced to flee in fear for her life and her child’s safety.
As usual, the folks at Zebra were just slapping generic titles onto these books! Only a tiny portion of Veronica Blake’s Texas Princess takes place in Texas. The hero and heroine travel across the western US, and they only get to the Lonestar State at the tail end of the book.
My main recollection of this tepid romance is while reading, I kept wondering: “When do they get to Texas? The book’s almost over. What about Texas?” Not a good sign. The editors could have gone with something like Gypsy Princess (although perhaps in today’s environment, that would be seen as insensitive), Emerald Princess, or Forbidden Passions. I checked & no other romance novels had those titles.
As for the book itself?
Sad to say that Texas Princess was a forgettable Heartfire. Tasmin, the eponymous Texas princess who is not actually royalty from America’s 28th state, is betrothed to the leader of her Roma tribe. He’s a kind and handsome man. However, she falls for a gadjo cowboy drifter, Blayde (I think that was his name) instead.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Texas Princess by Veronica Blake”
His own sexuality he recognized as propinquity, tenderness, caring, the beauty, and gentleness of a woman’s body. The infliction of pain, even pseudo-pain, excited him not at all.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Zebra’s Texas Tempest features yet another great, steel-willed Deana James heroine. James has written many resilient heroines before, such as in the seafaring antebellum romance, Captive Angel, and the medieval romance, Lovespell.
The prologue begins with Eugenia Leahy getting beaten by her no-good drunkard of a husband, Cormac. When he goes after her daughter, that’s when mama bear springs into action, grabs a firearm, and shoots him, paralyzing the abuser for life!
We then flash forward 10-15 years later, and Eugenia is running her ranch and doing a great job at it! Tough, cold, and stern, Eugenia is known as “The Diamondback,” as deadly as her namesake. But she is still a woman in a world dominated by men, so she needs some muscle to enforce her rules. Enter the mysterious MacPherson, a gunslinger who saves Eugenia’s life and is just the man for the job.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Texas Tempest by Deana James”
[He] might after a season let me go, but I had a frightening dread that if he possessed me long enough, he would drain me till I became his thing, his creature—that I wouldn’t go, even if he allowed it…
A LADY BOUGHT WITH RIFLES
Spoiler Alert ⚠
3 1/2 Stars
Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
ALady Bought With Riflesis an amalgam of great writing and stupid characterization. I was extremely frustrated reading it because it could have been one of those legendary bodice rippers that old-school fans would be talking about to this day.
Upon her father’s death, the British-raised Miranda is called back to her father’s ranch in Mexico. There she meets two strikingly different American men, Trace, a tall, dark, and mysterious pistolero, and Court Saunders, the foreman of Miranda’s newly inherited mines and lover to her resentful half-sister, Reina. Blond, panther-like, and roguish, his sensual presence is almost irresistible.
We gave each other, with our bodies, the commitment that neither of us dared put into words. We mated. There is no other word for it. We were equal—man and woman; neither asking what we could not give…
THE WILDEST HEART
3 1/2 Stars
Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
In Rosemary Rogers‘ The Wildest Heart, Lady Rowena Dangerfield is a beautiful woman who men value for her beauty, wealth, or both. She was a heroine who intrigued me right from the start. Rowena was indifferent to men; despite their passion for her, she could not love anyone except outlaw Lucas Cord. For Lucas, Rowena was willing to renounce her inheritance or even die with him in the perilous mountains. Despite his conflicted past, Lucas was the only man to love Rowena for herself alone.
The Negative Aspects
Although I read romance mainly for the love story, I enjoy experiencing the heroine’s travails. I can enjoy a great romance novel about a heroine’s struggles through life, and the hero can be relegated to the background while the heroine grows and matures. In a way, The Wildest Heart is one of those books.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: The Wildest Heart by Rosemary Rogers”
[Women] had faces like angels and bodies to drive men wild, and yet they lied, cheated, and would merrily rip a man’s heart from his body for the sheer joy of watching him writhe.
WHILE PASSION SLEEPS
Rating: 4 out of 5.
While Passion Sleeps by Shirlee Busbee made me feel really old. It wasn’t the plot or the characters; it was the actual book itself. This just-under-500-pages of an epic is printed in a tiny font on yellowed paper (my edition is 38 years old). Reading it strained my eyes something awful. I’ve been nearsighted all my life, but now things up close are getting blurry. I’ll be going to the eye doctor this week for a new Rx because I need bifocals. *Sigh.* Damn you, the passage of time!
Storm was her name and her destiny… Born on a night when lightning flashed and thunder rolled, the raven-haired beauty was sixteen before the promise of her name became the path of her life… Born to wealth, the belle of five counties wagered away to a middle-aged rancher by her wastrel uncle. On her way to Texas to marry Gabriel North, she was captured by outlaws — and wagered away again by her captor to a blue-eyed bounty hunter, a dark-skinned gunslinger called El Lobo, the wolf. A man who could kill in cold blood, then take her with fire and tenderness when she whispered to him.
Rating: 5 out of 5.
I read Love, Cherish Me many years ago as teenager so it’s a long-time favorite.
You have to read this book as a lover of the genre because Rebecca Brandewyne is here at her bodice-rippiest.
The girl would be more than a job to him. He had known it the moment he’d looked at her face. Was that why her eyes were so wide and round? Because she knew it too? It was ordained and irrevocable. Sometime. Somewhere. Somehow. He would take her to his bed.
ESCAPE NOT MY LOVE
Rating: 5 out of 5.
My First Historical Romance
As I’ve mentioned before, Elaine Coffman’s Escape Not My Love was not my first venture into the world of romance, but it was my first historical romance novel. And for that, I am grateful.
Superficially, ENML drew me in from the outset. It had a stunning step-back cover, designed with a pattern of a woman’s purple and white-flowered gown, and it opened to reveal the colorful protagonists clinched in a passionate embrace. (Thank God for that step-back! I first read this as I sat in church, waiting for my turn to enter the confessional and talk to the priest. He didn’t know what kind of trashy book I was reading, and I wasn’t about to volunteer that tidbit.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Escape Not My Love by Elaine Coffman”
“Do you understand what I’m saying? If you’re going to be my woman, there’s no way in hell I’ll ever let you go”
A HEART SO WILD
VERY MILD SPOILERS 😉
4 1/2 stars
Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
I just realized I had Johanna Lindsey‘s A Heart So Wild on my Kindle. Since I hadn’t read it in 25 years why not give it a re-read? And you know what? I loved this book more the second time than the first.
Heroine & hero “meet” when the heroine is getting sexually assaulted by an outlaw, and hero shoots the bad guy dead.
Enigmatic hero with a mysterious and tragic past.
The heroine needs a gunslinger to guide her through hostile Indian territory to find her missing father.
Hero fights, beats, kills men who try to kidnap or try to rape heroine.
A snakebite where the heroine sucks blood out of the hero’s wound for an hour (!) and then he gets sick, revealing more in his fever dreams than he would if he was fine.
Quick love scenes that express passion, aren’t too purple in prose, and don’t go on for endless pages.