KISMET by Monica Burns

These are my thoughts on the Monica Burns historical romance novel Kismet. It was published by Berkley in January 2010. Synopsis can be found here. I didn't enjoy this story at all and rate it 2 stars out of 5, or a D.

The story takes place in Morocco and England in 1893 and spans three months. The heroine is Allegra, 30ish with dark red hair and green eyes. She ends up getting abducted. The hero, Shaheen, aka Robert Camden, Viscount of Newcastle, who's got dark hair and brown eyes, goes to find her and buys her from her kidnapper. The rest of the entire novel, to me, is just very boring. There's some serious drama involving Allegra and a whipping. I didn't paticularly like either one of them. After they're back in England towards the end, Shaheen goes to Allegra's home and confesses his love to her. She tells him she feels the same way but it just doesn't seem believeable to me. Then he asks her to marry him and she tells him she's pregnant. That's how the story ends.

My thoughts: This is another newer romance book where I've found myself not really caring about either the heroine or hero. Both are wounded; the heroine was sold into prostitution by her own mother, the hero witnessed the suicide of his brother James years before. The suicide was the only interesting part of the story and I wish it hadn't taken place in the past. I found this story completely uninteresting and unromantic. I never warmed up to it or the setting. I feel as though both the hero and heroine's characters were underdeveloped, especially Allegra's. We know next to nothing about her. 

I've wanted to read this since I'd heard about it earlier this year when there were a few blogs that were having contests for it. I feel the overly-bright, old school book cover doesn't fit the story one bit. I was totally unsatisfied with this story.

* This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Interesting Old Article and Interview With Male Bodice Ripper Novelists

I came across this old article from the January 1981 edition of Texas Monthly magazine while researching Kerry Newcomb, formerly known as half of the bodice ripper writing duo Christina Savage. I've typed up the article myself and posted it below, and added links.

Even though Parris Afton Bonds is an unqualified sucess in the historical romance field, her sales don't come close to those recked up by Texas writer Christina Savage. Savage's first book, Love's Wildest Fires, sold over a million copies, and Dawn Wind came out last spring with a major advertising campaign and printing of 800,000.

Christina Savage is two guys named Kerry Newcomb and Frank Schaefer. Newcomb lives in Dallas, although on the day I met them they were both in the Dallas office, an upstairs apartment in a run-down Oak Lawn house. There was a cockatiel loose in the apartment, and I noticed a desk lamp with an upended colander for a shade. Schaefer sat at a dilapidated desk quietly trimming his nails while Newcomb stalked about the room.

"I grew up in the Mid-Cities," Newcomb said. "Actually I was born at the Gemini Drive-in during Attack of the Crab Monsters. These crab monsters would not only kill people but they'd steal their brains and switch them around."

Newcomb went on to talk about Inframan, which I agreed was the classic oriental horror film, and he made an impassioned plea for the John Wayne version of The Alamo.

"When that big, ugly guy comes up to this woman and says, 'Ma'am, ah ain't got nobody ta say good-bye ta. Kin ah say good-bye ta yew?' and then she gets up on her tiptoes and kisses him full on the cheek! Oh, goddam, that was beautiful!"

Newcomb and Schaefer first met at the Dallas Theater Center, where they were both actors and directors. They didn't become a writing team until several years later, after both had tried solitary stints at freelance writing. They worked well together, cranking out horror scripts, PBS documentaries, a slide-tape presentation on the Campfire Girls, and one-minute spots for a governors' conference.

Their first book was a Western. No one wanted to buy it, but it impressed a publisher enough to get them a contract for a slave-plantation novel. Schaefer and Newcomb read Mandingo and Sweet Savage Love and then set to work on Rafe. Since then they've produced, besides the Christina Savage books, action-adventure books like Matanza and suspense novels like Pandora Man. They recently finished the first draft of Yellow Rose, a family saga set during the Texas Revolution that will be published under the name Shana Carrol.

"We got into this," Newcomb explained, "not really liking the genre. We worked at it from the angle of what we could do with these books to make us want to read them. With Dawn Wind we felt secure enough to cut out all the silly characters."

"This new book is unique," Schaefer said, "The couple in Yellow Rose don't even argue that much. It's the only historical romance sage in which the hero is a virgin."
Newcomb and Schaefer write their books in a leapfrog fashion, with Newcomb generally writing the first draft of a chapter and then sending it to Schaefer, who reworks it and sends it back. They work hard and resent being classified as genre writers.

"Dawn Wind," Schaefer said, "will hold its own against ninety percent of the hardback books being published." I had read Dawn Wind and tended to agree. Even though its main male character is named Lion McKenna and it has the usual quota of quivering loins, it also has range and bite. There is an impressive account of the Civil War battle of Manassas, some interesting and complex minor characters, and a concern for topics of more consequence than its characters' unslaked lust.

Even as Newcomb and Schaefer grumbled about how their bodice rippers were not taken seriously, they were making plans to move outside the genre. They had a book in the works called The Ghosts of Elkhorn- which fit into no catagory at all- to be published in hardcover by Viking in early 1982. Meanwhile Dawn Wind, by Christina Savage, was just beginning its brief but prominent shelf life on the racks of every paperback outlet in the country. "Forbidden love," its purple cover said, "dark vengeance, and searing Civil War." Dawn Wind would occupy that position for a few weeks, then it would be supplanted by other books promising stories of secret desires, undreamed-of passions, whispered longings, dark and delicious cravings.

Maybe someday a writer will come along and elevate all this into the realm of lieterature, do for the bodice ripper what Dashiell Hammett did for the detective novel. That's probably a long shot, but would be nice to think that at least some of thise squirming and salivating will not be lost to the ages.
See related article.


These are my thoughts on the Cheryl Holt historical romance novel Taste of Temptation. It was published in June 2010 by Berkely. Synopsis can be found here. This is book two in the Sensual Destiny trilogy. I didn't enjoy it at all and rate it 2 stars/D.

The story takes place in London, England in 1814. The hero is 30 year old Captain Tristan Odell, Earl of Hastings, who has dark hair. The heroine is 24 year old Helen Hamilton, who has auburn hair and green eyes. She supports her two younger sisters, 12 year old Ameila and 18 year old Jane. Tristan lives with his younger, legitimate 18 year old brother, Michael, who is heir to the estate. Michael is tall, blond and blue-eyed. He, Tristan and younger sister Rose have the same father.

Helen applies for a job as governess to Tristan's 12 year old sister, Rose. She's not given the job at first but later is hired. Helen's two sisters move in Tristan's home. Jane begins a sexual relationship with Michael and Helen and Tristan begin one. Not much goes on in this book. Lydia is a house maid who likes Michael. She discovers he's got a relationship going on with Jane and becomes very jealous. She tells on them and Jane, Helen and Amelia get thrown out of the house. They're to live somewhere else until they know if Jane is pregnant by Michael. The book was so uninteresting to me that I won't go into details. It's stated many times throughout the story that Helen is 24 years old yet the synopsis says she's 25.

My thoughts: What ties each book in this series together is the man who sells the love potions and his sister. They're in this book much more than in the previous one. This book is too similar to the previous one and just as terrible. Both feature a poor hero or heroine who goes to live with a wealthier person and brings others with them. Both books are two 'love' stories in one. Both books have a jealous female who's out to get revenge on the heroine simply because they're jealous of the heroes affection for them. Both sets of hero and heroine get their unbelievable happily-ever-after at the end. I've decided that I won't be reading any future books by this author. I do have most of her other ones and it'll be interesting to see how her first two historicals, which were published ten years ago, compare to this series. Something tells me they'll be better.

Other books by Cheryl are:

  • The Way of the Heart 2000-01
  • Meg's Secret Admirer(ss) 2000-01
  • My Only Love 2000-04 
  • Mountain Dreams BQ-0071BQ-71 CR 2000-11
  • My True Love 2001-03
  • Love Lessons 2001-10
  • Total Surrender 2002-07
  • Absolute Pleasure 2003-02
  • The Wedding Night(ss) R 2003-07
  • Complete Abandon 2003-09
  • Deeper Than Desire 2004-03
  • More Than Seduction 2004-08
  • Further Than Passion 2005-03
  • Too Hot to Handle 2005-10
  • Too Tempting to Touch 2006-03
  • Too Wicked to Wed 2006-09
  • Secret Fantasy 2007-03
  • Forbidden Fantasy 2007-09
  • Double Fantasy 2008-03
  • Promise of Pleasure 2010-04
  • Taste of Temptation 2010-06
  • Dreams of Desire Dec-2010

* This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT by Georgina Spelvin

This is Georgina Spelvin's self-written memoir, published by Georgina's World, Inc. in 2008. Georgina is a former porn star, who got her start in the 'business' in 1972. I rate this book 4 stars out of 5.

The book begins on the set of her first adult film, High Preistess of Sexual Witchcraft. Georgina is brutally honest throughout the entire book and doesn't hold back. She takes us, year by year, through her life and some of the films she's done. I really wanted to know more about the two suicide attempts that she briefly mentioned. I found that to be the most interesting part of her story. Maybe she'll talk more about it in a future book. One can only hope.

I think her greatest achievement is surviving alcoholism. I'd have liked to have known when it began and what she thought caused it. I'd also like to know what her brother and extended family thought of her career choice. She's definitely lead an interesting life. She's very humorous and is a great storyteller and I'm glad she's found happiness with her husband. I found this to be an enjoyable read because of her humorous style of writing and her honesty. I love the classy cover too. Great photo.

Her book can be purchased at Amazon, Lulu, Barnes and Noble and from her own site. Her filmography can be found here.

* This book was sent to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.


This review is for the Cheryl Holt historical romance novel, 'Promise of Pleasure.' You can read the synopsis here. It was published April 2010 by Berkley. It's book 1 in the Sensual Destiny trilogy. I'm sorry to say I didn't like this novel and all and I rate it 2 stars/D-.

The story begins in England in 1814 at Barnes Manor, home of the heroine, Mary Barnes. She's a petite 25 year old brown eyed brunette. She lives there with her stepmother, 45 year old, overweight, gray haired Victoria and two half sisters, Felicity, 18, plump, with blue eyes and blond hair, and Cassandra, 22, who is widowed.

The hero is Jordan Winthrop, Viscount Redvers. He's 30, tall, with black hair and blue eyes. He has a terrible relationship with his father, 55 year old Edward Sunderland, and has been cut off financially. He's desperate for money so he's planning to marry Felicity only for her money. He's to stay at Barnes Manor for about a month so he can visit with Felicity. He's brought along his best friend, Paxton Adair, who has blond hair and brown eyes, and Jordan's mistress, Lauretta Bainbridge.

When the book begins, a pedler, Mr. Dubois, is trying to sell Mary some elixer that will make her fall in love with Mr. Right. She won't buy it so he gives it to her for free. She has a secret fiancé, a neighbor named Harold Talbot, who's 40 years old and lives with his mother. His mother doesn't like Mary for no apparent reason so he refuses to marry her until his mother dies. He ends up marrying his cousin.

Right from the start, Jordan flirts with Mary Barnes. They begin a sexual relationship, even though he's there to marry her sister. Lauretta spots them outside one day looking upset so she correctly assumes they're having a sexual relationship with each other and have gotten into an arguement. She's very jealous so she tells Mary's stepmother, Victoria. Victoria confronts Mary and kicks her out of the house. She gives her some money to go live in London and find a job. While Mary is walking down the road on her way to hire a coach, Lauretta and Paxton ride by. Lauretta offers her a ride and a place to say with her friend, Barbara Monroe. When they get to Barbara's home, which is really a brothel, they have tea together. Mary's tea was drugged and she passes out. She's to be sold to the highest bidder. Soon after, Jordan finds out, from Cassandra, I believe, that Mary has been thrown out of the house and has been given a ride into town by Lauretta, whom he doesn't trust. Jordan refuses to marry Felicity and leaves her at the altar.

He finds Mary at the brothel, unconscious and tied to a bed, being gawked at by potenital buyers. He takes her away, professes his love for her, offerers to marry her and take her to live at his delapidated home.

Then comes the epilogue, in which we find that they'd married the day before, which is five weeks after they'd first met. They're outside and happen to see Mr. Dubois, who is trying to sell Helen Hamilton a love potion. She's to be the heroine of book 2, Taste of Temptation, in the Sensual Destiny series.

Interwoven in this story is the story of Jordan's best friend, Paxton and his sexual relationship with Cassandra. Like with Jordan and Mary, they begin a sexual relationship with each other. Paxton leaves Barnes Manor to accept a plantation in Jamaica, which is father has given to him. He heads home. That's when Cassandra decides she wants to be with him. So she finds him at his home. She professes her love of him, and he does the same to her. They're to go live in Jamaica. I don't think they got married.

My thoughts: I didn't like this story at all. The hero was a slut who was only marrying for money. He didn't care about Mary's feeling at all when she told him to not marry Felicity. He wanted to keep Mary as his mistress after he married her sister. When he found out Mary had been kicked out of the house, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, he's in love with her. I didn't buy that at all, nor did I buy the love Paxton and Cassandra had for each other after knowing each other for about a month. All the characters, except for Mary, were unlikeable. I didn't like that this story was really two stories in one. I didn't find either relationship believable. I don't understand how Lauretta was allowed to stay at Barnes Manor with two unmarried men. That was never explained.

I did like the hero and heroine meeting very early on, on page 6, to be exact. They didn't get along from the moment they met and they bickered constantly. Jordan was quite the instigator, always saying suggestive things to Mary, getting her riled up. But she soon gave in to his flirtatious ways and got kick out of the house because of it. But that's ok because she gets her happily-ever-after.

Other books by Cheryl Holt are:

  • The Way of the Heart  2000-01
  • Meg's Secret Admirer(ss)  2000-01
  • My Only Love  2000-04Apr-2000 
  • Mountain Dreams BQ-0071BQ-71 CR 2000
  • My True Love  2001-03
  • Love Lessons  2001-10
  • Total Surrender  2002-07
  • Absolute Pleasure  2003-02
  • The Wedding Night(ss) R 2003-07
  • Complete Abandon  2003-09
  • Deeper Than Desire  2004-03
  • More Than Seduction  2004-08
  • Further Than Passion  2005-03
  • Too Hot to Handle  2005-10
  • Too Tempting to Touch  2006-03
  • Too Wicked to Wed  2006-09
  • Secret Fantasy  2007-03
  • Forbidden Fantasy  2007-09
  • Double Fantasy  2008-03
  • Promise of Pleasure  2010-04
  • Taste of Temptation 2010-06
  • Dreams of Desire Dec-2010

* This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

STILL MISSING by Chevy Stevens

You can read about this book at It's Chevy Steven's first novel and was published by St. Martin's Press in July 2010.

32 year old Annie, who's a Realtor, was abducted while alone at an open-house. The story is about being abducted by a stranger and how she suffered at his hands for a year. From the get-go I did not like Annie at all. She seems more like an angry, foul-mouthed, crude teenager than a woman in her 30s. I despise the word freak simply because I think it sounds stupid and she always referred to her abductor as The Freak  (real name Simon Rousseau) throughout the entire book. She also kept referring to the police station later in the book as the cop shop. That really annoyed me.

I didn't care for the abductor either and found him to be a bit unbelievable and unpredictable when it came to violence. I don't understand what the whole point of the baby plot was either. Include a baby just to kill it off a month later? I've read a lot of true crime and have watched a lot of true crime on television (and still do on a weekly basis) and I've never, ever heard of a kidnap victim getting away in the abductors own vehicle. That just seemed a bit silly to me.

I was very bored up until almost 2/3 of the way through when her abductor got what he deserved and Annie escaped. Too bad she couldn't have done the deed sooner so that the book could have ended sooner. Right after that incident, I was back to being bored and unhappy with the story. She went to the police station, in the abductors own van, and told them everything. She's back home, out jogging with her dog one day and is almost abducted again. I think before that happened, earlier after she first came home after the abduction, someone tried to break in her home while she was out. Can you say overkill?

Then it's revealed who's behind the kidnapping and it was just too much for a reader to stand. Just not plausible at all.

Needless to say, I did not care for this book at all. I didn't find it to be exciting or suspensefull at all. I won't be trying this author again.

* This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


This book was published by Berkley in July 2010. It's the second in a planned set of four in the Highland Pleasure series. You can read the synopsis here. The story takes place in England in September 1881. The hero is 30 year old Mac Mackenzie. He has auburn hair and copper colored eyes. His estranged wife is Isabella. She's 24 and has red hair and green eyes. They've been married for 6 1/2 years and estranged/legally seperated for 3 1/2. The story spans about a little over a year, including the epilogue. 

At the start of the story, Isabella comes back to see her husband Mac. They're estranged because he's had a problem with alcohol and spends a lot of time away, in Paris painting. She goes to his home to tell him that someone is impersonating him. She'd seen a painting in someone's house with his signature on it. Mac doesn't seem to care at all. This unknown person draws painting and signs them with Mac's name but never makes any money off of them. He sells them but never comes back for the money. Mac's attic catches on fire and Mac and his entire household flee to stay with Isabella.

From here on out, Mac and Isabella resume a sexual relationship with each other though Isabella doesn't seem to want to get back together with him. Later, Mac, Isabella and his brothers are at a horserace and discover that his impersonater had been there earlier, placing bets. There is yet another incident involving the impersonator. A French lady shows up at Mac's with a child named Aimee. She's dying and claims that the child is Mac's. Mac knows this isn't true since he's never cheated on Isabella. It's then that they realized the imposter is the one who got her pregnant. The woman dies that night and Isabella and Mac, who are childless after Isabella had a miscarriage years before, decide to adopt her.

Isabella is out in the park one day waiting to meet with her younger sister when she is grabbed by a man who looks like Mac. Mac just happens to be there spying on Isabella and shouts out when he see's the man grab her. The imposter then runs away. They find out through the police, after the police have been asking around if anyone recognized the suspects description, that the man is named Samson Payne. He's a painter who is obsessed with having Mac's life....and his wife. He's crazed and jealous and obviously unstable. Another time, Mac is in a cab and Samson shoots him then runs away. Isabella and Mac's brothers find him but the shooter, Samson, is never caught and that's the last we hear of him. I assume he'll show up in the next book.

My thoughts: I liked this book more than I thought I would. I was not a fan of the previous one in this series, The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, which came out last year. This was a pretty basic story of an estranged couple who ended up working out everything and getting back together after admitting they still loved each other. Despite Isabella declaring her love for Mac several times, I never believed it. She seemed a bit cold to me and too young. What I did like most is the bit of mystery and suspense that the author threw in right from the get-go with Mac's imposter. I thought this book would be more like romantic suspense but there wasn't quite enough suspense in it for me. 

I didn't like that the hero and heroine from the previous book in the series was throughout the whole story. I think a cameo appearance would have been plenty. Mac's other two brothers, Hart and Cameron, were throughout the book too and in fact Cameron is to have his own book, The Many Sins of Lord Cameron, next year. I do want to read about his single brothers. 

Overall, I was pleased with this and rate it 4 stars out of 5 and it's a keeper.

Here's Jennifer's book list:

  • Perils of the Heart HR 2002
  • The Pirate Next Door HR 2003
  • The Pirate Hunter HR 2004
  • The Care and Feeding of Pirates HR 2005
  • Confessions of a Lingerie Addict CR 2005
  • The Single Girl's Guide to Christmas(ss) CR 2005
  • Penelope and Prince Charming HR 2006
  • Viva Las Vampires(ss) FR 2006 The Mad, Bad Duke HR 2006
  • The Calling FR 2007
  • The Gathering FR 2007
  • The Queen's Handmaiden GF 2007
  • Highlander Ever After HR 2008
  • The Redeeming FR 2008
  • Wolf Hunt(ss) FR 2009
  • The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie HR 2009
  • The Longest Night(ss) HR 2009 
  • Pride Mates FR 2010
  • Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage July 2010

* This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Author Meagan McKinney and Her Fraudulent Activities- Crime Doesn't Pay

Author Meagan McKinney, who's real name is Ruth Goodman, born in 1961, published her first historical romance novel, No Choice But Surrender, in 1987. In recent years she's been up to no good. Have a look at this article and you'll see what I'm talking about. Shame on her. She clearly has problems since this is far from the first time she's tried to get money that she wasn't entitled to. And here's an older article that talks about her claiming two diamond bracelets were stolen.

One of my favorite books is by her, Till Dawn Tames the Night, which I first learned about a few years ago on author Sabrina Jeffries website. It was listed as one of her favorite novels but her site has been remodeled since then and that info is no longer there. So I got it and it became one of my favorites too. Her first novel, No Choice But Surrender, takes place in my homestate of Maryland so I got that one for that reason alone but I haven't gotten to read it yet. I really hope she learns a lesson this time around....but her own history shows that history is likely to repeat itself over and over again.

BROKEN WING by Judith James

PUBLISHER: Medallion, 1/2008
GENRE: Fiction/Historical Romance
SETTING: France, 1798-1802

FROM PUBLISHER: Set during the chaotic beginnings of Napoleon's rule, this saga tells the story of Gabriel St. Croix, a street survivor searching for a place to belong. Abandoned as a child and raised in a brothel, he has never known friendship or affection. Hiding physical and emotional scars behind an icy facade, his only relationship is with a young boy he has spent the last five years protecting from the brutal reality of their environment. But all that is about to change. The boy's family has found him, and they are coming to take him home.

Sarah Munroe blames herself for her brother's disappearance. When he's located, safe and unharmed despite where he has been living, Sarah vows to help the man who rescued and protected him in any way she can. With loving patience she helps Gabriel face his demons and teaches him to trust in friendship and love. But when the past catches up with him, Gabriel must face it on his own. Becoming a mercenary, pirate, and professional gambler, he travels to London, France, and the Barbary Coast in a desperate attempt to find Sarah again. On the way, however, he will discover the most dangerous journey and the greatest gamble of all is within the darkest reaches of his own heart.

MY THOUGHTS: The hero is the very wounded Gabriel St.Croix and the heroine is widowed Sarah Munroe. The story spans about four years, beginning around 1798 and begins in Paris, France.

I had high hopes for this one but was let down by it.  The hero was abandoned as a child and raised in a brothel as a prostitute. He has nothing and no one. He doesn't even know his last name so he chose to use the name of the street that he was abandoned on, St. Croix. Knowing he was all alone and forced to prostitute himself called out to me immediately and made me want to read his story. It didn't live up to my expectations at all. After about a year of him living with Sarah's family he goes off with a family friend and gets knocked into the ocean by a runaway cannon on the ship. From then, he's taken prisoner and sold. There's a lot of war and violence for a good part of the story. Once he escapes his captors he lives as a free man. I just found all of that to be very boring and hard to get through.

The synopsis from the back cover is very misleading. It says that Gabriel travels, after he's free, in a 'desperate attempt to find Sarah' and that simply is not true. He never once tried to find her or contact her via letter. He allowed her to believe he was dead for three years for no apparent reason. They find each other and he's very cold and rude toward her. They secretly married right before he left three years before yet now that he's face to face with his wife, his behavior towards her makes no sense at all and I don't understand it. Needless to say, they have their happily ever after.

One thing that really bugged me is that their ages were never given. It was said many times that he was 'young' so I'm assuming he's in his early 20s, and the same for Sarah. I feel as though I never got to know Sarah at all. We got absolutely no backstory on her. I don't like or dislike her because I simply feel as if I don't know her.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

THE ROAD THROUGH WONDERLAND: Surviving John Holmes by Dawn Schiller

PUBLISHING INFO: Medallion Press, 2010
GENRE: Nonfiction/Memoir

From Publisher: Painstakingly honest, this chilling memoir reveals how a teenager became immersed in the bizarre life of legendary porn star John Holmes. Starting with a childhood that molded her perfectly to fall for the seduction of “the king of porn,” this autobiography recounts the perilous road that Dawn Schiller traveled—from drugs and addiction to beatings, arrests, forced prostitution, and being sold to the drug underworld. After living through the horrific Wonderland murders of 1981, she entered protective custody, ran from the FBI, and turned in John Holmes to the police. This is the true story of a young girl’s harrowing escape from one of the most infamous public figures, her struggle to survive, and her recovery from unthinkable abuse.

MY THOUGHTS: Dawn was just 15 1/2 years old when she met 32 year old John Holmes in 1976. She'd moved to California with her father and younger sister after her parents recent divorce. John and his wife Sharon managed the apartments Dawn and her family were living in. Though John was married, and Dawn knew it, they began 'dating' each other and later began using drugs together.

The book tells of all the drugs Dawn used with John and physical abuse she took from him and John's decent into heavy drug use, from 1976-1981. I feel the book was very well written and detailed. Dawn definitely has a knack/talent for writing. I really enjoyed the book and rate it 4 stars.

What keeps me from giving it five stars is the story basically ends in 1981 with the Wonderland Murders then briefly jumps ahead to 1988 with John's death from an AIDS related illness. There is no mention of Dawn's life between 1988-2010. For some odd reason, she doesn't want us to know about her life after John died. I'm assuming her life from 1981-1998 was consumed with drugs and bad relationships with men but I'm just guessing.

Also, there are no updates about the people we've read about like her younger sister Terry, John's ex-wife Sharon, or John's brother and sister in law, Karen. I'd really like to know what ever became of them and was really let down by Dawn leaving all that out of the story. I'm really disappointed. I'd really like to know why in the world she'd put into writing that Sharon murdered a man, in self defense, when the law knows absolutely nothing about it...until now. Dawn is the one and only person Sharon has ever told that to, when they met in 1988 after John died, and now it's in writing. What's going to happen to Sharon now? Why would Dawn tell on her? I'm really confused by that. Puzzled, actually.

Dawn mentions her daughter and has a photo of her in the book but never mentions how the daugher came to be. We are told nothing about the girls father, when the met, nothing. Dawn is a bit of a mystery. Did Dawn ever ask her horrible father why he did drugs with his underage children and was just an overall horrible father? I guess she didn't. I've read elsewhere that Dawn didn't mention another of John's girlfriends, one he dated while married to Sharon and dating Dawn. Why/how could Dawn not mention that at all? Why did she (intentionally) leave all that out? I do have a problem with Dawn saying John forced her to prositute herself. I saw no signs of force. I'm sure she felt like she had no choice but to do it but still, the choice was her's. She never said how she felt about John getting AIDS or how she even found out about it. Did she ever want to visit him? We'll never know. I want to know why John and Sharon had such an odd relationship and why they stayed married. Did Dawn ever ask him about it? Did she not care that he had sex with other women (and men) for money? We don't learn her thoughts about any of that.

Overall, I was pleased with the book despite the lack of updates on some of the people. If you like biographies, you should really enjoy this one. It's a hefty, trade paperback. I found an online interview with Dawn that you might enjoy.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

PASSION by Lisa Valdez

PUB. INFO: Berkley, July 2005
SETTING: England, 1851
HEROINE: Passion Dare
HERO: Mark Hawkemore
PART OF SERIES? Yes, book one of three

From Publisher:

A woman called Passion. A man who would make her true to her name. In her second year of mourning, lovely young widow Passion Elizabeth Dare never dreamed she would be with a man again–and certainly not a complete stranger. But amidst the crowds of London’s Crystal Palace, Passion finds herself discreetly, yet insistently, pursued by a sensual gentleman who awakens her long-supressed desires. After a loveless marriage of restrained propriety, Passion abandons herself to true bliss for the first time.

Intoxicated by his encounter with the beautiful stranger, Mark Randolph Hawkmore, Earl of Langley, cannot wait to see her again. As a series of rapturous rendezvous follows, he and his mystery lover find something rare and wonderful blossoming between them. But a blackmail scheme against the Earl threatens to destroy everything. As a scandal brews, each will have to choose between duty and desire…their love for their families–and their love for each other.

MY SUMMARY: The story begins in England in May 1851. The heroine is Passion Dare, auburn hair, hazel eyes. Her age is not given. She'd been widowed for two years and had been married for three. The hero is Mark Hawkemore, dark brown hair and blue eyes. His age isn't given either. He's older than his brother, Matthew, and his brother was born in February 1825. It's 1851 so Matt would be 26 and Mark, the hero, would be a little older than that. I dislike when ages aren't given.

This story is easy to follow and I really enjoyed it. At the beginning, Passion and Mark first meet at an exibit at the Crystal Palace. He's there to catch a glimse of Passion's 16 year old cousin Charlotte, who he's to marry because he's being blackmailed by her mother Abigail. Abigail and his mother Lucinda used to be friends over twenty years ago. When Mark was little, his mother got pregnant with her son Matt. She stupidly wrote Abigail a letter telling her all about the pregnancy and Abigail has held on to the letter for over 26 years. Matt's father is their gardener but no one knows it but Mark, his mother and Abigail. Abigail says that if Mark doesn't marry her daughter she will expose Lucinda and Matt publicly.

Mark meets Passion at the exibit and they go off behind a screen and have sex. They agree to meet there the next day and and have sex again. They don't even ask each other's name. They begin a secret affair. Passion is staying with her aunt Matty for a few months and Charlotte comes to visit often. Probably 2/3 of the book is Passion and Mark having trysts. While this is going on, Mark has someone try to find the letter inside Abigail's home but he can't find it.

Near the end of the book, Passion meets the man Charlotte is to marry and discovers it's her lover, Mark. Mark had never told her he was going to marry someone and Charlotte never told Passion that the man she was to marry was named Mark. Passion tells Mark that their affair has to end because she won't continue a sexual relationship with her cousin's husband. Mark is all torn up and heartbroken over it.

The day of the wedding, Charlotte gives Mark the letter he's been searching for. It was given to her by a maid who wanted Charlotte to know about her mother's scheme. Charlotte didn't bother to read the letter and had no idea of its contents. Mark burned it right away. He explained everything to Charlotte and she decided to not marry him, since he was being blackmailed into it in the first place, even though he told her he'd still marry her so that she wouldn't be ruined by the scandal. That morning, the story of Matt's birth was printed in the papers anyway, even though Abigail promised to not do that if he married her daughter. We're not told who sent the letter to the newspaper. Since they were all ruined by the scandal that was about to come, they called the wedding off. Mark no longer had to protect his brother from finding out about his illegitimate birth so there was no reason at all to marry Charlotte. Passion then told Charlotte that she's in love with Mark, had been since before she knew they were engaged to each other.

Mark found Passion and told her he wanted to marry her. She told him she was pregnant and they got married. I'm getting ahead of myself but in the book that comes after this, it says Passion and Mark got married on June 30, 1851, which is only seven weeks after they met. The epilogue takes place one year later. They had an infant named Samuel and had sex while she was holding him.

MY THOUGHTS: Based on the extremely graphic sex, I'd give this book five stars. I liked the blackmail plot too so for that, I'd give it four stars. I liked all the main characters, including Mark's cold mother and Charlotte's scheming mother Abigail.

Passion was supposed to be so in love with Mark but I never once felt it. Even when she was crying her eyes out to him, I never once felt it was believable. An example of why I don't think she was that into him is when she'd told him that after her two months of visiting her aunt were up and she had to go back home, their affair had to end. He was upset at hearing that and like me, didn't understand why it had to end. They could have continued to see each other discreetly. That right there told me she wasn't too into him. Matt was clearly obsessed with Passion, right from the start. I really liked his intensity when it came to Passion. She didn't seem to feel the same way about him to me. But they had their happily-ever-after, so I guess she did love him.

Though this wasn't the greatest book ever written, it held my interest and had likeable characters. I never once got bored with it.

The next book in the series is about Mark's brother Matt and her sister Patience and I cannot wait to read it!


You can read about the book here. It was published in June 2010 by Avon. The heroine is 28 year old Diana Carrick, blond hair, blue eyes. She's widowed and childless. The hero is Tarquin Vale, 32 years old, dark hair, green eyes. The story begins in England in 1827.

MY SUMMARY: There isn't a whole lot going on in this novel. The heroine schemes with her father's boss, Edgar Fanshawe, the Marquess of Burnley, to get pregnant by Tarquin, his son. Tarquin doesn't know that Edgar is his father until the end of the story. The plan is for her to get pregnant by Tarquin, NOT tell him, marry the dying, elderly Edgar, and become heir to his fortune and estates. Edgar had lost his two sons and their families in a fire awhile back. Diana agrees to his plan so that her child, when it's old enough, will inherit everything. Right at the beginning, Diana goes to see Tarquin and flat out tells him she wants to be his lover. He tells her no but then changes his mind.

From here on out, the story is mostly just sex and then a little more sex thrown in. Toward the end of the novel, Diana is ending the affair and Tarquin has her followed so he can know where she lives. He goes in to see her and the deception is revealed and he find out Edgar is his real father. They go their seperate ways when Diana won't agree to marry Tarquin. Diana is pregnant so she and Edgar get married. Diana and Edgar are at the altar, literally, and Tarquin shows up and she decides to not marry Edgar. She and Tarquin get married and raise their daughter. In the epilogue, the child is eighteen months old.

MY THOUGHTS: I'd read on a few romance forums when this book came out that more than a few people didn't like this at all. They didn't like how greedy Diana was. She was willing to have sex with someone she didn't know at all just to gain a fortune. I didn't have a problem with that. What did bother me is that despite the fact that what Diana did was terrible, with her using Tarquin to get pregnant, she didn't come across as greedy or nasty in any way. She did seem a bit cold and unemotional to me.

This is certainly no great love story but I did like it for the 'adult' content. The 'c' word that rhymes with rock was used a lot but that's the only sexual slang that was used, much to my suprise. I did/do like the plotline with her trying to get pregnant without the heroes knowledge and marry someone else while pregnant but I feel as though more could have happened during the whole middle of the book. It really was just them having sex all the time from very early on. I didn't think she'd not marry Edgar. I thought she'd marry him as planned, he'd die soon afterward and she'd then contact Tarquin and they'd get married and he'd inherit what should have been his in the first place but that didn't happen.

I'd rate this book a B-.

Other books by Anna are:
  • Claiming the Courtesan 2007
  • Untouched 2007
  • Tempt the Devil 2009
  • Captive of Sin 2009
  • My Reckless Surrender 2010
  • The Mammoth Book of Regency Romance 2010

THE COURTESAN by Julia Justiss

PUBLISHING INFO: HQN (Harlequin), 2005
GENRE: Historical Romance
SETTING: England


After years of dangerous fighting on the Peninsula, Captain Jack Carrington has returned home to take up family duties and find himself a wife. But his life is thrown into turmoil when he views a fencing lesson unlike any other. The talented student is no student at all, but a beautiful young woman, and the most infamous courtesan in all of London -- Lady Belle.

Who is the mysterious Belle? A jaded cyprian seeking her next protector? A kind friend helping those in need? Or a mistress of sensual delights that tempt a man to madness? Eager to uncover the true woman behind the facade, Jack wagers he can win a kiss from Belle if he bests her at fencing. And though Belle is a woman he can neither afford to keep nor dare to marry, he's willing to risk it all to win her to his bed.

It was mentioned on a romance forum/message board that the heroine was raped in this. That caught my attention because I had no idea that authors were still putting rape in novels. I didn't know it was 'allowed', for lack of a better word. So I got the book, started reading it sometime in 2006 and quickly got bored with it. I traded the book without having gotten very far in it and later regretted it. Three years later I got it again and just now reread it. Here's what goes on in it.

SPOILER SUMMARY: The story takes place in England in the 1800s. Belle, 22ish, blonde, blue eyed, is a courtesan (prostitute to noblemen) and her lover died less than a month before. The hero, Jack, see's her fencing with someone and discovers that she's a woman, not a man like he assumed. He's intrigued by her and later ends up in a fencing match with her. Belle accidently stabs him with the foil and it pierces his lung. He's in bad shape and is taken to Belle's home to recover. Here's where the story gets very, very boring. Jack is there for quite awhile recovering and that's about it. Nothing goes on between him and Belle. They're attracted to one another but Belle is determined to never be a man's 'whore', as she calls it, again.

While Jack is recovering there, Belle finds this young teenager named Jane working in a brothel. She kidnaps her, basically, and brings her to stay/work at her home. Once while traveling, their carriage is attacked and they think it's someone that the brothel owner has sent to get Jane back. They're right but they aren't harmed and Jane isn't mentioned much after that.

Near the end of Jack's recovery, completely out of the blue, Belle tried to seduce Jack but he was having none of it. He could tell Belle wasn't really interested in seducing him but was interested in him, in getting to know him better. I guess she thought the only way to express that was to offer him sex. Sometime after that, Jack told her he wanted to marry her. She told him it wouldn't be acceptable for him to marry an ex-prostitute and refused him. When Jack was almost well, he agreed to stay another week. During that week, they had sex for the first time. He then left her home when he was healed from the stab wound. They went their seperate ways and their lives got back to normal.

Here's where I feel the author didn't know where to go with the story so she just threw a piece of nonsense into the mix. Jack met his younger sister's friend, Kitty. He thought Kitty looked a whole lot like Belle. Kitty told him the story of how her older sister Constance (Belle) and mother died almost seven years ago, when she was about thirteen. They were buried at the inn where they'd all been staying and Kitty went to live with a relative. That sounded similar to the story Belle had told him about how she became a prostitute. She told him her mother died and was buried and her younger sister was planning to live with a relative. Belle, while at the inn, had met some much older, married man who offered to let him stay with him and his wife. I guess Belle knew she was going to have a sexual relationship with him. She didn't want her sister to know so she didn't tell her that. Belle later finds out that the man she was to live with told her sister that she had died right after the mother and was buried beside her out on the inn's property. He even paid to have a tombstone put there. Jack then travelled to the inn to check out Kitty's story and was told that no, the sister, Constance, didn't really die. That's when Jack knew Belle and Constance were the same person.

After that discovery, Belle was at home and Lord Rupert, a man who has lusted after her, paid her an unwelcome visit. He punched her in the head or face and knocked her unconscious. While passed out, he raped her and tied her to the bed. She woke up, they arugued, he told her all her servants were in another building on the property. He left her alone in the bedroom and out of the clear blue sky came her young male employee right down the chimney to rescue her! He pulled out a knife and cut her wrists loose. Right then, Jack appeared. He'd been going there to check on her. He hadn't seen her since he went back home after he'd recovered. Rupert came into the room and he and Belle started fencing, I kid you not. Of course, she beat him. Jack made Rupert promise to leave the country and never return.

While out somewhere at some party, Jack reunited Belle with her sister Kitty. Later, Belle finally agreed to marry him. That's how the story ended.

MY THOUGHTS: I must say this was one of the slowest and most boring books that I've ever read. Words can't really describe how let down I feel. The first two thirds or so was just Jack recovering from his wound at Belle's. To me, that just wasn't believable. There was no reason at all for Jack to have been taken to Belle's when he could have gone to a friend, or family members, home to recover. Why would you stay at a known prostitute's home? And adding Jane to the story was pointless simply because it did noting for it. Jane wasn't mentioned much after she came to live with Belle. And the stuff with Kitty thinking her sister dead, well, it just wasn't needed. I do think the rape was thrown in just for shock value and the strange thing was, it wasn't shocking at all.

She could have had the rape take place midway though the story and the rest could have been Jack helping Belle 'recover' and them falling in love with each other.

I won't be trying this author again. Overall, I was terribly disappointed with the story. It could have been such a great love story; man falling for ex fallen woman and all that pretty stuff. This wasn't a bodice ripper though it did have one bodice ripper-like scene near the the end, with the rape.

The authors complete booklist can be found here.

MIDNIGHT LADY by Rosemary Rogers

You can read the synopsis here. This book was published in 1997 but it seemed so much like an older book. In fact, while I wasn't very far into the story, I kept going to the front of the book to check the publication date because I was sure this was an 80s book.

I'd had the book for six years and finally got around to it last week. It was part of a set of 10 that I'd gotten off the ever popular Ebay in 2004. It's the fifth Rosemary Rogers book that I've read. I enjoyed this book more towards the beginning than I did the last part of it. The hero, Brett Banning, was totally alpha, very forceful and the heroine, Kyla, was a bit fiesty, like I like. I'm a little surprised she gave in to being Brett's mistress so darn quickly. I don't think the HEA (happily ever after) was belivable and it didn't happen until the last few pages. The story didn't get bogged down with history like some of her books can. It was a pretty simply, easy-to-follow plot. I don't buy the coincidence that the man Kyla was to marry just happened to the man who stole Brett's important papers.

So overall, I liked this book OK and I'd grade it maybe a very low B-. Though there was no abuse toward the heroine by anyone, I do consider this a bodice ripper because the hero was so strong and arrogant and he just had to have the heroine...and told her so!

The rest of Rosemary's novels are:

  • Sweet Savage Love  1974
  • The Wildest Heart   1974
  • Dark Fires  1975
  • Wicked Loving Lies  1976
  • The Crowd Pleasers (contemporary) 1978
  • The Insiders (contemporary) 1979
  • Lost Love, Last Love  1980
  • Love Play (contemporary) 1981
  • Surrender to Love  1982
  • The Wanton  1985
  • Bound by Desire  1985
  • The Tea Planter's Bride  1995
  • A Dangerous Man  1996
  • Midnight Lady  1987
  • All I Desire  1998
  • In Your Arms  2000
  • Savage Desire 2000
  • A Reckless Encounter  2001
  • An Honorable Man 2002
  • Return to Me  2003
  • Jewel of My Heart  2004
  • Sapphire  2005
  • A Daring Passion  2007
  • Scandalous Deception  2008
  • Bound By Love  2009
  • Scoundrel's Honor  2010

THE PRINCE OF EDEN by Marilyn Harris

PUB. INFO: Putnam, 1978
GENRE: Historical Fiction
SETTING: England
SERIES: Eden, book 2

From Publisher:  Edward Eden, a noble and passionate man of the people pursued a course decreed by his bastard heritage.

Heir to the vast wealth but not the title of Lord Thomas Eden's estate, he rose to become the most splendid libertine in all London...and fell into the iron grip of a sinister addiction.

Dashing conqueror of hearts more, willing then wise, he drank freely, recklessly from the waters of passion...only to lose himself body and soul to the one woman whose intoxicating thirst he was -- and forbidden -- to quench.

Her world was forgotten, his destiny sealed, a dynasty dammed, in one silent hour of lose.

SPOILER SUMMARY: This is the second in the series. It begins about 36 years after the first book ended. Edward is about 42. He ends up getting addicted to laudanum in the novel. In the beginning of the book, Edward meets a girl at Newgate prison named Elizabeth. He'd go there to bring the inmates treats and stuff. Elizabeth is a teenager, I think, and helps Edward and his friend run a school for poor kids. Edward and Elizabeth are never together romantically.

Edwards younger bother James is not a bastard like Edward so James is to inherit the title and lands and all that. Harriet is to marry James and she and Edward begin an affair. She gets pregnant by Edward, no one but her parents and a nurse know. She's kept prisoner in her home until after the baby is born. It's born and given away.

Coincidentally, Edward and Elizabeth are at an inn and they see the baby, and they don't know it's actually Edward's and Harriet's, being branded with the word 'bastard' by some man so they kidnap it and Edward raises the boy as his own. I just checked my book and the son is named John. About 15 years later,  when John is 15, Edward dies in some accident with a piece of equipment and John goes to Eden to live with his father's relatives. Neither he nor Harriet know that he is her son. That's how that book ends. I think his mother Marianne, from the first book, dies in this one.

This series is pure fiction, not romance. This book was boring. But I know with book three this series will take a disturbing turn.

Here is the reading order for the series:

•This Other Eden
•The Prince of Eden
•The Eden Passion
•The Women of Eden
•Eden Rising
•American Eden
•Eden and Honor

THIS OTHER EDEN by Marilyn Harris

otheredenPUBLISHING INFO: Putnam, 1977
GENRE: Historical Fiction
SETTING: England, 1790
SERIES: Eden, book 1

FROM PUBLISHER: The secret of the entire world is whispered here at Eden....

Since time out of memory, Eden Castle had ridden the storm-swept Devon cliffs like a ghostly figurehead On a ship of the damned.

He was the last Lord of Eden Castle, Thomas Eden, a man of brooding desire and sudden passion ...

She was his servant girl, Marianne Locke, the fiery young beauty who would rather submit to the cruel kiss of the whip than suffer the lust of a man she did not love...

From the wild Devonshire coast to the glittering literary salons of London, the tumultuous union of these two proud people Hazed a raging tempest of enduring love.

SPOILER SUMMARY: In the first book, 'This Other Eden', it's 1790 and the heroine, Marianne is 16 and is whipped by 40 year old Thomas Eden. I can't remember why. Two months later she goes to stay with her older sister Jane and her boyfriend, William Pitch. Thomas Eden wants to rape Marianne and Jane offers to help him set it up by giving him a key to Marianne's room. Thomas goes into the room, Marianne is naked getting ready for bed, she screams, causes a commotion, everyone comes running into the room and William Pitch shoots Thomas. Jane confesses to Marianne her role in the near-rape. Later, Marianne and Thomas get married but she later finds out that it was not legal. Marianne gives birth to Edward (from the second book in the series).

Marianne leaves Thomas. He feels guilty for having her whipped so he has someone whip him 40 times. Marianne nurses Thomas back to health that day and they get married and end up having a second son. By this time she is about 26 years old that's how the book ends.

MY THOUGHTS: I'll admit that the synopsis makes this sound really interesting but it was just boring and longer than it needed to be. It wasn't as dark as I was hoping it would be.

This is the reading order of the series:
  • This Other Eden
  • The Prince of Eden
  • The Eden Passion
  • The Women of Eden
  • Eden Rising
  • American Eden
  • Eden and Honor

VIOLET FIRE by Brenda Joyce

PUBLISHER: Avon, 5/1989
GENRE: Fiction/Historical Romance
SETTING: Mississippi, USA 1875
SERIES: Bragg Saga, #3

FROM PUBLISHER: Impassioned suffragette Grace O'Rourke made a startling first impression on golden-boy Rathe Bragg when she crashed a society party wielding a six-shooter and spouting feminist slogans from atop the grand piano. And from that moment the sparks between them never stopped flying.

Soon, the irrepressible Grace had outraged the entire town of Natchez with her radical ideas -- infuriating Rathe most of all. Yet he was obsessed with taming the vibrant, stubborn, passionate lass ... and making her his mistress. But despite her shocking attraction to the virile rogue, Grace firmly rejected his scandalous proposition. And for Rathe, of course, "no" was the ultimate challenge!

MY THOUGHTS: This book is about one of Derek and Miranda Bragg's son, Rathe and takes place in 1875. He's about 30 with blue eyes and golden hair. He's from Texas but lives in Mississippi. The heroine is 27 year old Grace O'Rourke. She has red hair and violet eyes. She's tall and thin. She's from New York but has travelled to Nachez, Mississippi because she's gotten a job as a governess to Louisa Barclay's two little daughters.

Grace is a school teacher and a women's rights activist. She meets Rathe briefly in the prologue, which takes place in New York. She meets him again two years later, in chapter one, because he's Louisa's lover, and he's there visiting her at her plantation home when Grace arrives to begin her job.

Rathe is attracted to Grace right away and soon recognizes her as the woman from New York two years before. Rathe and Grace don't get along at all. He gives Grace a ride home one night and Louisa gets very jealous and fires Grace. Grace is on her way to visit her friend Allen Kennedy and runs into Rathe again. He overhears Grace telling Allen that she's almost out of money. Rathe then decides to make her his paid mistress.

The rest of the book is just plain boring. Grace is desperate for money and finally gives in and becomes his mistress. They love each other, he wants to marry her but she'd rather be his mistress because that way, she's still her own woman and can do as she pleases without having to answer to a husband. She wants to continue trying to teach school to young black children even though some people, including the sheriff, are trying to run her out of town. She leaves Rathe, with the help of his ex mistress Louisa. The sheriff rips her necklace off of her when he see's her at Louisa's. Later, the new church is burned down and there is a burned body there wearing her necklace. Rathe assumes that the dead body is Grace and is upset, obviously. He travels home to Texas to visit his parents and sister Storm and her family. While they're all out somewhere, he see's Grace. He rushes over to her and they decide right there to get married.

In the epilogue, it's over four years later and they have a four year old daughter named Lucy. She has her own book, one of my top favorites, The Fires of Paradise.

I've read this book at least three times since I first bought it in 1995. I didn't like it too much the first time and I still don't like it at all.

The Bragg series is to be read in this order:

Innocent Fire- This is the story of Nick's parents.
Firestorm- The story of Nick's sister Storm.
Violet Fire- Story of Nick's brother Rathe.
Dark Fires- Nicholas Bragg.
The Darkest Heart- The story of Shoz's (from The Fires of Paradise) parents.
The Fires of Paradise- Nick's brother Rathe's daughter Lucy's story.
Scandalous Love- Nick's oldest daughter Nicole's story.
Secrets- Nick's youngest daugher Regina's story. Her husbands name is Slade Delanza.
After Innocence- The story of Slade's youngest brother Edward and his wife Sophie.